Cleaning Your Sewing Machine | Top Tips

Sewing machine maintenance is really important; not just to keep your machine running smoothly but to help avoid issues with your sewing projects too. The main things you’ll be cleaning out of your sewing machine are tiny thread off-cuts and fluff. Our machines don’t really get “dirty”, just fluffy! The fluff comes from the fabric and thread used during sewing projects…different types and brands will produce more or less fluff but they all create some which gradually builds up inside your sewing machine.

So what issues can all this fluff cause? It can throw off your tension which can cause all sorts of issues, it can create those not-so-lovely thread bird nests (where the thread all snags and bundles up under your fabric), and it can get fluff into your project.

Cleaning Top Tips

Before you start cleaning your machine, always check the manual first in case your machine has any specific dos and don’ts. And always remember that regular cleaning does not replace a proper servicing.

If your machine came with a cleaning tool then this is a great starting point (and may be all you need!). Mine came with a little brush which is great for getting fluff our of most areas of the machine bit it doesn’t reach everywhere so I like to use a fluffy pipe cleaner. These are great because they are cheap, their flexibility means they can bend round corners, and fluff clings really well to them.

My top cleaning tips are:

  • Clean Regularly
    I aim to clean every time I start a new project, and especially after I’ve been quilting (I find when working with batting/wadding too that really adds to the fluff inside the machine).
    But cleaning would also be my first “go-to” any time I have an issue when sewing.
  • Clean Gently
    There are a lot of different elements inside a sewing machine (even the most basic models) so you need to be careful that nothing gets pushed out of place or damaged…this will cause far more problems than a little bit of fluff!
  • Clean Thoroughly
    Fluff can get anywhere and everywhere inside a sewing machine so you need to make sure you clean every nook and cranny.

Things NOT to do…

Don’t use an air blower; these can be too powerful and move the workings inside your machine (this might only be a tiny amount but it could have a big effect).
Don’t blow to remove fluff; although blowing with your mouth is much more gentle than compressed air, you will get moisture inside your machine (again this will only be the tiniest amount but over time this could cause parts of your machine to rust).
Don’t forget where all the pieces go! If you are new to opening up your machine for cleaning then you need to be careful you know where to put all the pieces when you have finished. Take a photo before you remove every piece so you remember the order to replace them and exactly where they go.

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