How to Clean a Sewing Machine Tutorial


Are you having tension issues or skipped stitches?

Well, you might just need to do a little sewing machine maintenance! This means cleaning your sewing machine and giving it a little TLC:) This post will give you some tips and show you how to clean a sewing machine. Now I am as guilty as the rest when it comes to cleaning my machine, but it is seriously one of the most important things you can do as a quilter….these babies are our lifeline, right?

Why do I have to clean my machine?

Our thread and fabrics produce a lot of lint and dust that gets down in the feed dogs, bobbin case and under the throat plate while we are sewing. You will be really shocked if you have never looked inside these parts of your machine! This dust and lint can cause the parts of your machine to not work properly and the result is tension issues, skipped stitches and even machine failure. My machine has a lot of electronic sensors and if I don’t clean it, I notice they start to not work properly.

What do I need to clean my machine?


A screwdriver, a lint brush and my favorite….a pipe cleaner.

How do I get inside the machine?

First and foremost, consult your machine manual! Some machines are different, but here is the basics. Remove your bobbin cover and bobbin and then using a small screwdriver, remove your throat plate. My favorite screwdriver didn’t come with my machine, but it has a magnetic tip on one end that helps me catch those tiny screws so I don’t lose them.


What do I do now?

Using your lint brush and your pipe cleaner, gently remove all the lint you can see. I use a pipe cleaner that has these fluffier parts, they really grab a lot. Swipe all the areas that your thread travels; the tension discs and the take-up lever can also get linty.



I use a piece of scrap batting to wipe it on so it doesn’t try to run away:)


Yes, I took some of these pics after the fact….are you ready to see what I pulled out first????


Um, what the heck is this thing! Disgusting. I told you I was bad.

You will also need to lift out your bobbin case. Take note of how you got this out so you can put it back. Take a pic with your cell phone if you want to keep a reference. Most of these parts only go back in one way.


Get ready for more nasty!


Some references will tell you to use compressed air to blow out the dust, but others believe this forces dust into other areas where is shouldn’t go….use your discretion, but I skip the forced air(and I think most of us don’t have any!)

Put everything back in place and do some test stitching to make sure you are back in working order! Craftsy has a free video on how to clean your machine called Sewing Machine 911. It has lots of other good machine maintenance tips too. Click on the link below to check it out! This is great for beginners.

FREE Online Sewing Class

What else can you do to take care of your sewing machine?

•Keep a cover on it. This keeps all the dust and maybe even pet hair that floats around from settling in your machine.

•Change your needles often! Why do we spend hundreds of dollars on our quilts and shrink away from changing a one or two dollar needle? Your machine likes it and your quilting/piecing will be more accurate. About every 8 hours or even every project is good.


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  1. Definitely a first step to diagnosing tension issues…cheaper than a shop too. Thank you

  2. Lesley Taylor says:

    I use the vacuum on mine regularly. Just have to be careful not to suck up any lose parts.

    • Pamela Dumbleton says:

      put a stocking or pantyhose over the nozzle that’s sucking out the dust it will save anything that may be loose

  3. Serger type tweezers and a small piece of fleece fabric work very well for collecting the lint.

  4. Barbara Brizendine says:

    Last summer I took my sewing machine in for service. After a several weeks went by it still hadn’t been looked at. I took it home and cleaned and oiled it my self. Works like new now and I saved $80. on the service charge.

  5. Julia O'Keeffe says:

    Gosh, that machine really did need cleaning but good for the demonstration. I use an old long handled mascara brush (properly cleaned) it slides into all the nooks and crannies and is much better than the supplied cleaning brush.

  6. When my machine starts slowing down. I break it down, dust it then oil it well.

  7. It’s actually a great and useful piece of info. I am happyy that
    you simply shared this useful info with us. Please stay us up to date like
    this. Thank yyou for sharing.

  8. Mavis Ens says:

    I used the same machine for over 45 years – it was NEVER ever that dirty – not even once!

  9. I like to use a cosmetic blush brush. An electro- static charge from it draws the fuzzes out.And the tiniest piece of fuzz can cause your machine to make clunking noises.


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