How To Polish A Vintage Singer Sewing Machine

Last Updated on 6 months by Susan Mayrich

If you want to know how to polish a vintage Singer sewing machine, you’ll be pleased that it’s only three steps. We’ll share the tricks to identify and test the finish on your model, as well as the technique for waxing and polishing it. But since you own a vintage model, you might also notice some issues with its performance. 

how to polish a vintage singer sewing machine

Perhaps you didn’t see it after buying, but do not worry because our blog also has other troubleshooting tips for Singer. For example, learn how to fix the timing on a Singer sewing machine and more. 


How To Polish A Vintage Singer Sewing Machine At Home


Step 1. Identify the finish on the vintage Singer sewing machine

  • Identify the specific Singer sewing machine you have for easier research of its finish or test the coat yourself 
  • Apply a bit of rubbing alcohol on a cotton swab and dab it at a small spot underneath the Singer sewing machine
  • The finish is varnish or lacquer if the spot turns tacky, while it might be shellac if it dissolved
  • It’s crucial to know the coat your antique Singer has because you might use an incompatible product for it
  • Inspect the entire sewing machine to find areas without coating
  • Antique models can have spots with cracked or spaces without the coat, so you must avoid them during cleaning and polishing to avoid ruining the decals of the Singer sewing machine

Step 2. Clean the sewing machine

  • Give the Singer sewing machine a quick cleaning before polishing
  • The sewing machine will be more comfortable to clean if you remove the covers, plates, presser foot, balance wheel, motor, bobbin, and needle
  • Use a brush to remove debris and dirt
  • Use a gentle soap without any alcohol and mix it with warm water
  • Dampen a soft cloth in the soap mixture and squeeze so it’s not oversaturated with liquid
  • Test the cloth in a hidden spot first before proceeding with cleaning
  • If there are no reactions with the finish, clean the Singer sewing machine and use another cloth dampened with plain water to rinse off the soapy residue
  • Dry the sewing machine with another cloth to avoid the risk of rust

Step 3. Polish and wax the vintage Singer sewing machine

  • Apply sewing machine oil on a clean and dry cloth for polishing in circular motions
  • You can also place the oil in a brush to reach the crevices of the model
  • Use this as an opportunity to remove the sticky residues on your sewing machine
  • After polishing, finish your Singer machine with a wax product 
  • Apply and buff the wax, so your machine is polished equally
  • After a few hours, you can learn how to set up the sewing machine so that you can use your newly polished vintage Singer sewing machine 

How Do You Clean The Body Of A Vintage Singer Sewing Machine So It Shines?

  1. Start cleaning the vintage Singer sewing machine with a dry brush
  2. Apply a bit of sewing machine oil on your fingers to massage the sewing machine, and then remove the residue with another cloth
  3. Vintage singer sewing machines with a shellac finish will have their decals look silver than gold, and when this happens, you only need to clean the machine with the sewing machine oil 
  4. If the sewing machine’s decals look greenish, it should be safe to clean them further
  5. Test any lanolin-based product on the sewing machine’s finish and apply it to a cotton ball
  6. Work one area of the machine at a time until your cotton no longer comes out with residues
  7. Always be gentle with the decals on your vintage Singer sewing machine
  8. Rub the machine again with a clean cloth to remove the cleaner and reveal a very shiny Singer sewing machine

What Do You Clean An Old Sewing Machine With?

There are various products that you can use with soft cloths to clean an old sewing machine. But if you need to scrub harder, you can also use microfiber cloth. Furthermore, cotton swabs, paintbrushes, and toothbrushes are helpful to reach the sewing machine’s tricky areas. 

Here are some of the products you can test on your vintage sewing machine to see their compatibility with its finish:

  • Regular sewing machine oil for sticky residues
  • Synthetic sewing machine oil for the metal parts 
  • Lanolin-based hand cleaner for grimes
  • Kerosene for spot cleaning
  • Automotive polish for paint spots
  • Resin polish for finishing
  • Carnauba wax for polishing after cleaning
  • Lubricant to inhibit corrosion


How Do I Get Rust Off My Vintage Sewing Machine?

Test any lubricant or stain remover on an inconspicuous spot before applying it to your sewing machine. Be careful not to use too many products or soak the sewing machine for too long as they can discolor the machine. Some products are also meant only for rusty parts and mechanical parts but never on painted surfaces. 

Some even swore by cleaning with Oxyclean and boiling water or vinegar and aluminum foil for scrubbing. However, be careful with alcohol and methyl hydrate because they can ruin the paint on your sewing machine. Sandpaper and emery cloth should also work in abrading rust from metal. 



And that’s it! To recap how to polish a vintage Singer sewing machine, you’ll start by identifying the finish and then cleaning the model before finishing it. The emphasis is necessary on testing any product on a hidden spot to avoid ruining the shine and color of the machine. 

Here is also how to service a sewing machine to help you maintain and troubleshoot any sewing machine. 


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