How To Clean Tension Discs Sewing Machine: 2 Steps

Last Updated on 6 months by Susan Mayrich

You can learn how to clean tension discs sewing machine in two steps. This article discusses how you can clean between the tension discs with a fleece. 

how to clean tension discs sewing machine

We have also included troubleshooting techniques regarding sewing machine tension. And for maintenance, why not read how to clean a sewing machine?

Our detailed guide should help you keep your machine running smoothly and ensure that it lasts long. After all, the tension discs are not the only part of the machine that can accumulate debris. 


How To Clean Sewing Machine Tension Discs 

Here are the steps on how do you floss a tension disc with a strip of dry fleece. You don’t need to disassemble the tension assembly since you’re only cleaning the tension discs. 


Step 1. Set up the sewing machine for cleaning

  • Raise the feed dogs and release the tension discs so you can access the space between them 
  • Pull both ends of a piece of fleece so it turns into a tube that will be thinner and longer, making it easier for flossing the discs
  • Put the tube-shaped fleece strip between the tension discs


Step 2. Floss the tension discs

  • Clean off the grease from the tension discs by reapplying pressure to them with the feed dogs lowered 
  • Pull the fleece back and forth as if you’re flossing in between the tension discs
  • If the oil residue has turned sticky and harder to remove, add a bit of alcohol to the dry fleece strip
  • Do not oversaturate the fleece strip with alcohol and do not have alcohol over the sewing machine finish that can get damaged 
  • If some alcohol got into the machine exterior, dab it as quickly as possible and wipe with sewing machine oil 
  • Continue flossing the tension discs but be careful not to damage the check spring by ensuring the fleece does not touch it


What Is Flossing A Sewing Machine?

From the name itself, flossing a sewing machine is a cleaning practice on the sewing machine similar to flossing your teeth. You’ll use a flossing material strip or string that can go between the tension discs back and forth. 

  1. Thread the machine accordingly but stop before threading the actual needle eye
  2. Raise the presser foot so you can access and go between the tension discs
  3. Pull the flossing material through the discs to remove debris, lint, and thread buildup on the tension assembly
  4. The emphasis is necessary on never using any coated or waxed flossing material that can leave residues
  5. Feel around the tension assembly to ensure there are no more objects between them 


How Do You Clean Thread Tension?


Method 1. Unclog the thread path

Look for the side cover on your sewing machine, open it to access the thread path, and clean the tension discs. If the model has no side cover, you can blow out the lint yourself, but be careful not to add moisture from your breath. 


Method 2. Floss the thread channel

According to the New Mexico State University, you can floss the upper tension discs with a cloth soaked in cleaning liquid followed by another dry cloth. Flossing the tension discs is the most popular way to clean them, but remember to have the presser foot up to disengage the discs. 

You can even use wax-free dental floss or cotton to remove the residual dirt in this area of the machine. 


How Do I Fix The Tensioner On My Sewing Machine?

You may find that the thread tension is stuck or does not change even when you rotate the dial. This can typically be solved by loosening the set screw, taking off the tension assembly, and examining it for issues. 

You can also read how to replace the tension assembly on the sewing machine in case your unit indeed has issues that warrant a complete replacement of the assembly. But if you’re not confident with fixing the machine yourself, bring it to the brand’s authorized dealer. 


How Do You Fix Sewing Tension?

Before you check the tension regulator, the issues with the sewing tension might stem from improper sewing machine set-up. For example, the sewing machine may need to be rethreaded since you’ve missed some guides or you forgot to raise the presser foot. 

The sewing tension can also be affected if you didn’t wound the bobbin correctly. And finally, the thread, needle, and fabric might not be compatible with each other, so your sewing tension is always underperforming. 


What’s Wrong With My Sewing Machine Tension?

You may need to increase the sewing machine tension or turn the knob to a higher number if you notice loops at the back of the fabric. On the other hand, lower the sewing machine tension if you find loops at the top of the material because your tension is too tight. 

A helpful tip is always to sew on scrap fabric and note your tension settings for various projects and materials. It will also prevent tension issues if your sewing machine is well-cleaned and lubricated.  



And that’s it! Learning how to clean tension discs sewing machine is as easy as raising the presser foot and flossing in between them. 

You can use a fleece strip or any material that can go back and forth between the tension discs. And as for tension issues, it’s more likely that the problem arises from other parts of the machine and not immediately the tension assembly itself. 

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