The bobbin of my 30+ year old Ruza Bagat Seletronic sewing machine

The Complete Guide To Basic Sewing Machine Maintenance

You bought a sewing machine, you have used your sewing machine, you love your sewing machine, but did you ever stop to think about sewing machine maintenance?

Well, don’t worry! Maintaining your sewing machine is easy and will only take you a few minutes. Clean it, oil it, and you are ready to go.

However, don’t overlook how vital sewing machine maintenance is. Yes, it is simple. Yes, it does not take long. But, those few minutes are essential for your sewing machine. A well-maintained machine will run smoothly, stitch better, and stop small problems from becoming large ones.

There are so many sewing machines out there that it is impossible to cover everything for every one of them, but there are everyday maintenance needs for every machine. Use our tips combined with your sewing machine manual, and you will add years to the life of your beloved machine, and complete every project that comes your way.

In This Article

DIY Maintenance Tips

Sewing machine maintenance is quick and easy. In fact, it might take longer to read this article than it will take to maintain your machine. But, please, stick with us. We want to cover everything so that you spend less time worrying about any potential problems.

Use these quick tips to keep your machine running smoothly.

Clean Your Machine Part By Part

Your user manual is your best friend. When it comes time to clean your machine, there will be directions included. The exterior is fine, but once you start opening things up, it can quickly become confusing. And, when you begin taking a sewing machine apart, you can be left scratching your head.

We recommend that you clean one part at a time. Follow the instructions to remove that part from the machine, clean it, and then replace it. This way, you will never forget where a piece goes. Of course, you may have to remove multiple parts at once but, as long as you work in sections, you should not run into any problems.

Brush Your Machine

A build-up of dirt or dust can inhibit the operation of your sewing machine. To combat this, a quick brush of your machine will clean it up and stop dirt accumulating and becoming a bigger problem later.

Start with a clean brush, and replace that brush if it is old and brittle (bristles can break off and become trapped in your sewing machine).

Gently brush around the moving parts of your machine to remove any debris.

Use Compressed Air For Cleaning

After each completed project, you should clean your machine. The thread can cause lint build-up and, while new thread will limit this build-up, it is still inevitable.

Compressed air can get to the parts that you cannot, and enables you to remove this lint, and any other build-up, without taking your sewing machine apart.

When using compressed air, pay particular attention to the feed dogs, tension discs, bobbin area, and any other areas that come into contact with your thread.

Keep the nozzle four inches from the area that you are cleaning to ensure that no moisture is forced into your machine.

Pay attention to the exit route of the debris. You should always try to find a path for the lint to exit your sewing machine. If you blow on the lint and there is nowhere for it to go, then you might only be forcing it deeper into your machine.

Wipe Down the Machine After Each Use

Simple and easy. After each use, wipe down your machine, and you won’t need to clean and brush it as often.

Unplug the machine first, and then use a clean rag to wipe any dust from the bobbin case and any other places where dust is accumulating.

Cover Your Machine

You should be wiping the dust from your machine regularly, but you won’t have to wipe it as often if you protect it from dust. When your machine is not in use, cover it.

Some machines do not come with a cover and fold away instead. Take the time to fold your machine away or cover it with the included cover. If you do not have a cover, why not make your own? You can find patterns online to sew a protective cover.

A sewing machine cover keeps your machine dust-free, protected, and minimizes accidents.

Oil Your Machine

Sewing machines have multiple moving parts. Just like you add oil to your car, you should regularly oil your sewing machine. A well-oiled machine means parts that move naturally and more freely, and fewer problems for you to deal with.

Some sewing machines will come with their own oil, or you can buy oil from craft stores and online. You should never use anything but sewing machine oil on your machine, or you risk doing more harm than good.

Always check your user manual before oiling your machine. You might find that your machine self-lubricates and does not need to be oiled.

If it does need to be oiled regularly, make sure that you clean your machine first before adding new oil. Apply the oil as your manual instructs, and then run a few stitches across a scrap of fabric to remove any extra oil that may have accumulated. You only need a few drops of oil, so a small bottle will last for a long time.

Change The Needles Often

Needles become dull over time, especially if you are sewing layers of fabric or tough fabrics. A blunt needle can cause looped threads, skipped stitches, and pull on your fabric. Each of these can cause damage to your machine along with your material.

It is recommended that you change your needle after every project. Some projects are smaller than others, so switch out your needle after every 8-hours of use if you are completing multiple simple projects.

You should also keep in mind that different fabrics need different needles. Switch the needle to match the material that you are working on, or you risk dulling your needle quicker.

Video Guides

Having an expert show you how to maintain your sewing machine is ideal, but not many of us have access to these industry professionals. Thankfully, there are other options. There are many instructions videos out there that you can take advantage of.

Rick, at Super Stitch, knows what he is talking about. This informative video will give you all you need to know about general maintenance on your sewing machine.

Oiling and cleaning your machine can seem daunting at first, but it is easy once you know what you are doing. Check out this simple step-by-step instructional video.

Tension problems are something that you will run into from time to time. This video helps you to pinpoint the issues and shows you exactly how to fix them.

Timing is everything, and sewing machines are no different. If your timing is off, your stitches are going to be a mess. Follow these simple tips to get the best out of your sewing machine.

Annual Servicing & Professional Machine Repair

Regular cleaning and maintenance are going to keep your machine in prime condition, but you will still need to schedule annual maintenance on top of that. No matter how much maintenance you do, you should always have a professional look at it once a year.

Your regular maintenance is going to stop any small problem from becoming bigger ones, but some issues need a professional touch. An experienced technician can adjust the timing and tension of your sewing machine and fix the parts that you cannot get to. Having an expert take a look at your machine will prolong its life.

There are also times when something unexpected will happen, and your machine will need to be repaired. A professional will be required, and you should try to find a technician that specializes in your make or model.

Related: Easy Fixes For 10 Common Sewing Machine Problems

For most sewing machines, finding a local technician can be hit or miss. For the more popular brands, there is more chance of finding someone who is qualified, but for other machines, you may have to look far and wide or seek online help.

How To Prevent Sewing Machine Problems

Keeping your sewing machine running means preventing problems from occurring. Following these simple tips will help you to do that.

  • Switch out your needle after every project or 8-hours of use. A sharp needle gives you fewer problems.
  • Always match the correct needle to the type of material that you are using.
  • Don’t place too much tension on the thread by overwinding your bobbin.
  • Always use high-quality threads.
  • Match the correct presser foot to the type of fabric that you are sewing.
  • Steer clear of pins and other metal obstructions when you are sewing.
  • Feed your fabric gently and uniformly.

When sewing seams, hold the thread tails out of the way when you start to avoid them becoming caught in your machine.

Wrapping Up

Sewing is a handy skill. Keeping your sewing machine running without any problems keeps you working, and helps you to complete your projects.

This is my BAGAT Ruža Selectronic heavy-duty sewing machine. With regular and proper maintenance, it’s still going strong after 30+ years.

My 30+ year old Ruza Bagat Seletronic sewing machine

Modern sewing machines are becoming more complicated, but maintenance remains relatively straightforward. Spending a few minutes every time you use your machine to clean and maintain it can solve a lot of problems before they arise.

Andrea Soke

Andrea has a background in economics and finance, but she's also passionate about gardening, sustainable living, and finding new ways to maintain a clean and orderly home. She believes in quality over quantity.

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