How To Oil A Sewing Machine: Complete Tutorial

Last Updated on 9 months by Susan Mayrich

You can quickly learn how to oil a sewing machine in three easy steps. The great thing about this article is it also discusses how to prepare and clean the machine before oiling it. We’ll also talk about what kind of oil is the sewing machine oil. 

how to oil a sewing machine

Other than oiling, feel free to explore our blog for other sewing machine-related practices. If you have a Kenmore, we also have a tutorial on how to thread a Kenmore sewing machine. Please take the time to read all about sewing machines to master their usage and maintenance. 


How To Oil A Sewing Machine At Home


Step 1. Familiarize yourself with your sewing machine model

  • Please read the instruction manual of the specific sewing machine model that you have to familiarize yourself with its parts and specific maintenance instructions
  • If you can’t find your model’s manual, browse the brand’s website; for example, you can enter your model’s number in Singer’s website to find its manual
  • Ensure that your sewing machine is not self-lubricating since these models don’t need to be oiled

Step 2. Prepare the sewing machine

  • Clean the sewing machine according to the brand’s instructions or after every 10 hours of use
  • Use a small lint brush to clean off the collected lint or pull them off manually with tweezers
  • Clean the bobbin hook with a soft cloth or small brush
  • The bobbin area and underneath the needle plate is easier to clean with compressed air
  • Place the sewing machine over some papers before you oil it
  • The needle, bobbin, plate, and presser foot of the sewing machine don’t require oiling
  • Refer to the model’s manual to disassemble the sewing machine safely and correctly

Step 3. Put drops of oil on the sewing machine and wipe the excess

  • Get the proper sewing machine oil from sewing shops or use the included oil with your sewing machine
  • Remember the parts where you must drop the oil by studying the machine’s manual
  • Be careful in dropping oil in the sewing machine parts so you won’t accidentally use too much
  • The needle, bobbin, and presser foot must not get oiled because they’re the ones in contact with the fabric when sewing
  • If the areas that touch the fabric got some oil on them, wipe them away
  • Wipe away the excess after putting the oil drops on the machine parts
  • Run a muslin through the sewing machine to absorb the oil if you accidentally used too much
  • Soak a towel and squeeze it for wiping the outside of the machine
  • Use the sewing machine on a random fabric to test for any excess oil 

What Parts Of A Sewing Machine Need Oiling?

If you’re unsure where to oil the sewing machine, refer to the manual to avoid issues. But in general, the parts of the sewing machine that need oiling are the moving ones to maintain good friction. You can then move them back and forth after oiling to work it further in. 

  • Area or unit that holds the bobbin case
  • Shuttle hook because it moves inside the bobbin case
  • Hook race and machine housing since they rub together
  • Bobbin hook’s outer ring because it moves along the hook race

What Kind Of Oil Is Used To Oil A Sewing Machine?

What is sewing machine oil?

From the name itself, sewing machine oil is specially formulated for the moving parts of the sewing machine. This will ensure that your machine will work quietly and smoothly, so it’s a crucial part of maintenance. Therefore, you can’t use oils for bicycle chains because they will leave residues on the sewing machine. 

What is sewing machine oil made of?

Sewing machine oil like mineral oil is typically made from petrochemicals. However, there are also synthetic and natural sewing machine oils that you can buy on the market. You should easily find one in sewing stores where the oil is whitish and odorless inside a small bottle. 

  • Mineral oil is the most common and cheapest sewing machine oil available, but it can’t be used to protect the sewing machine parts from oxidizing
  • Natural sewing machine oils are typically made from coconut oil or jojoba oil, but they can be tricky to mix
  • Synthetic sewing machine oils are the most expensive, but they offer protection from oxidation

Can you use WD40 for sewing machine oil?

Never use WD-40 as sewing machine oil because it won’t lubricate the machine efficiently and safely. In addition, it’s incompatible with the graphite on the machine’s gears, so you risk worsening the condition of your sewing machine. You cannot also use car oil or other household oils because they don’t have the ideal consistency for the sewing machine’s moving parts. 


How Often To Oil Sewing Machine?

Refer to your machine’s manual to know the frequency of oiling it. But in general, you can oil the sewing machine once every few months, depending on usage. Any noises can also indicate that the machine needs lubrication. 



And that’s it! To recap how to oil a sewing machine, you’ll start by reading the manual, cleaning the machine, and finally, lubricating the moving parts. The key is studying the manual to avoid issues. 

Do you also want to know what is a serger sewing machine? Then, read our article about this specialized sewing machine. 


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