How to Clean a Sewing Machine and a Giveaway!


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.


This past week I won an awesome selection of Superior Needles from Superior Threads!


So as an incentive to get you to change your needles and because it is almost Valentines Day…I am going to share the love!


I am going to giveaway this variety set of Titanium coated needles! Just leave a comment below and you are entered.

Contest ends Friday at midnight, Feb. 14th. Open internationally:)

You can find and follow TheSassyQuilter here on Facebook, Pinterest, Bloglovin’, or by email(form on right sidebar)!

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  1. Would love to win, thanks

  2. This is a good reminder for me to clean my machine again! I really like your pipecleaner idea, I can see how it would really get into the small spaces. Thanks for sharing this helpful info!

  3. I learn so much from your blog. Many thanks for so much useful info!

  4. Thank you for the cleaning reminder and the giveaway

  5. I was really surprised the first time I took out my bobbin case! Lots of fuzzys. Now I try to clean it after every project so I remember to get if done.

  6. I just cleaned mine last night and there were plenty of fuzzier in it too!

  7. I just cleaned and oiled my machine yesterday. I can always tell the difference afterwards. Great needle win! Thanks for sharing your goodies and linking up.

  8. Thanks for reminding me to clean my machine. It has been a while!

  9. Hi, I always change my needle every day, some projects last more than one day, and I only use canned air on the table and cutting mat, used to work in an industrial sewing shop so air was used to clean off tables, never machines. Love the idea of a needle giveaway, sometimes we sewist wait til skipped stitches or other problems, so we should strive to change before we need to….or is that something about our behavors …oh well. still a great idea for a giveaway…..

  10. Rae Gauthier says:

    Thanks for the reminder and tips on how to.

  11. Caroline Powser says:

    Thanx for the cleaning tips!

  12. Thanks for giving us the ‘dirt’ on cleaning your machine! And thanks for the chance at the sweet giveaway! Congrats on your win, Paula!

  13. Great post Paula!! Thanks so much for sharing. Besides telling us how to get inside of our machines the machine manual should also explain how to clean it, remove and replace the parts. There are also a bunch of great youtube video’s available by machine brand and model (in case anyone gets stuck). Thanks for the reminder and awesome pics.

  14. QuiltinGram says:

    Try to clean my machine after each quilt!

  15. Marsha Jean says:

    Gee, my sewing machine bobbin area looked almost exactly like that last picture after I finished most of my Christmas sewing 2 days before Christmas! Amazing how much build up there was. Although, not really sure when I last did a thorough cleaning in there…

  16. I haven’t tried these needles before. Thanks for the chance to win and also the reminder to clean our machines! It’s so gross what we find in there! I’ve never used a pipe cleaner before, great idea!

  17. Connie Cain says:

    Like most everyone, I am bad about cleaning the machine. :( Thanks for the pointers.

  18. Thanks for the reminder for me to clean my machine. It has been a while! I’d love to win the needles! I don’t know when the last time I changed to a new one.

  19. farmquilter says:

    I am terrible at remembering to change my needle! I do clean my machine every couple of bobbin changes, but I need to find some of those pipe cleaners – those rock!!! Thanks for sharing the great info and the love with the Superior Needles!!!

  20. cdahlgren2013 says:

    Isn’t it amazing how fast our machines fill up with all that fuzz! I use a soft paintbrush, never thought of a pipe cleaner, I’m a lot better about cleaning my machine than I used to be.

  21. Susan in OK says:

    Thanks for a great reminder. I have been told by a repairman NOT to use the compressed air. And thanks for the reminder to change the needle. I think many of us are from the old school – change the needle when it breaks. Needles will last longer than they did years ago, too. I was sewing last night and noticed there was a different sound – I could hear the needle actually going through the fabric – Now, do you think it’s time to change that needle. I had a issue and the throat plate moved forward and the needle hit it and after I got it resolved, I was so relieved that I just didn’t even think about changing that blunt needle. Thanks for the great giveaway. You are a blessing.

  22. I cleaned my machine the past friday and it was… like yours ;)

    Thanks for this giveaway

  23. Kathleen Dalecio says:

    Excellent reminder – scary photos!!!
    It is so worth it to clean out the lint build-up in a sewing machine & change the needle after every project. It’s way cheaper than a repair bill and makes sewing much easier. Thank you for the Giveaway! I love Superior needles.

  24. I just cleaned my machine last night. Thank you for the great tutorial and a chance to win much needed needle

  25. Thanks for all the great info on cleaning our sewing machines & also the tip about changing needles more often – I’m afraid I’m guilty of that one! And it does make such a big difference in quality of stitches. Thanks for the chance to win the fantastic Superior needles.

  26. Thank you for the cleaning tips and reminder!! thank you for the giveaway!

  27. Melissa Greenfield says:

    I do need to clean my machine and cant remember the last time I changed the needle. What a wonderful reminder and giveaway thank you!

  28. I usually clean my machine when the oil light comes on. I buy my needles at Joann’s when they are 50% off so I always have plenty of needles to change quite often.

  29. I’m actually very good at cleaning out my machine and changing the needle. My machine seems to be pretty sensitive and the tiniest bit of fluff or a slightly blunt needle makes it throw a tantrum

  30. It’s amazing what comes out from my sewing machine and I try to clean it regularly! As for changing needles, I’ve read somewhere that this should be done with every new big project and I try to remember. Would love to win more needles – thanks for the chance!!

  31. Thanks for all the tips and the chance to win some top-notch needles.

  32. Joyce Mitchell says:

    Thanks for the cleaning tips & thanks for the chance to win.

  33. OH! Batting lint catcher. Nice. Thanks for the tip! (ha, tip – needle – sharp. funny again. Will it ever end?)

  34. Always a good reminder to clean your machine! Proper care can make your machine live forever! Thanks for the giveaway chance :)

  35. I clean my machine and change needles after every piecing finish and after every quilting finish. It is amazing what builds up in there and how different the machine even sounds with a fresh needle and being clean :)

    Thanks for the giveaway chance – love Superior needles! :)

  36. Great post Paula! I love using q-tips and I agree with no compressed air. Thanks for the giveaway! :)

  37. Thanks for the reminder and tips! And also for the chance to win some needle love!

  38. Everyone needs to know ow to clean their machine! You’re right about the needles. Why do we try to “save” money on the necessities? Thanks for the chance to win!

  39. Thanks for the tutorial on cleaning the machine – mine needs it so I’ll be working on it now.

  40. Great post! Thanks for the giveaway!

  41. i clean my machine regularly…those needles would be nice to have

  42. How sweet of you to share! I was just reading about these needles and they sound great! And thanks for the tutorial on cleaning the machine!

  43. loved how you cleaned that sewing machine. thank you for the tutorial. also, ive never tried the titanium needles and would love to try them out. thank you for the chance to win.

  44. Thanks for the info and the giveaway!

  45. Lori Rocheleau says:

    Thank you so much for the fantastic advise! I a brand new quilter (less then a year) and would love to try these needles ( have no idea what is a good needle)

  46. Cheryl Jordan says:

    Thank you for this valuable article! I will be giving this a try.

  47. I’m not very good at changing my needle – I never know which kind I should be using.

  48. Great tips ~ I know I don’t change my needles often enough ~ but I did just make a cover for my machine! Thanks for the chance ~ fingers crossed!!

  49. always good to re-read tips on cleaning our expensive machines. No compressed air here, either. Thanks for sharing the love with your giveaway! And Happy Valentine’s Day!!

  50. Mary from TN says:

    Thank you for the great information on cleaning your sewing machine. I did read somewhere that you should clean it after every project. I’m don’t always do that and I know I should. I do have a sticky note pad near my sewing machine to write down what kind of needle and what size it is. I just realized that maybe I should write the date down when I replace it.

  51. Oh my goodness, changing needles is so hard for me! You are so right – what’s the cost of a needle compared to the cost of a quilt? I’m usually pretty good about cleaning my machine out (I’ve been using 100% cotton thread lately and it is SO linty), but I definitely need to change needles more often. :p

  52. omg I really need to clean my machine too, thanks for showing, and thanks for the give-away

  53. Thanks so much for the reminder and the great photos, too!

  54. Whoa, that’s a lot of lint! Well, I will have to thank you for reminding me to clean my sewing machine!

  55. Barb Anderson says:

    Thanks for the reminder! My goal is to clean my machine after every project. But I am very quilty of neglecting to do this.

  56. orchidlover says:

    I’m lucky as my hubby cleans my machine for me. He’s an engineer and loves taking things apart so it gets a regular service aswell. xxxGina

  57. I have the vacuum cleaner attachment which has a tiny brush. I use that to suck up the dust bunnies. Actually, I clean the bobbin case after every 1-2 bobbin changes, the lint builds up quickly, and can cause tension problems.

    You are correct, you don’t want to blow the dust into the machine. And I have seen baggies filled with lint from the repair shop from people who don’t clean their machines regularly. It actually makes pieces of felt like material from all the lint, and it packs it up and can actually bend the metal from the force it creates over time.

  58. Must be catching, I just cleaned my machine also on Saturday. I would love needles, since I changed mine also at that time. I will go back and use pipe cleaners now to make sure in the bobbin area is cleaner.
    Thank u for the information.

  59. Awesome! I am ALWAYS amazed at what comes out of my sewing machine. :) Thanks for the tips!!

  60. Dixie Walls says:

    Good advice on cleaning. Also I use a small vacuum attachment to pull out the fuzzies not blow them in and possibly clog up something. I really like the titanium needles, thank for a chance to win.

  61. Great tutorial on fuzz busting and machine cleaning. Thanks for the giveaway!

  62. Janet Capito says:

    I’ve started changing my needle often and it does make a huge difference! I’d love more needles! Thank you

  63. My machine does get a bad case of the fuzzies! Sometimes I think they breed in there . . .

  64. You are so right concerning the needle. I have 13+ totes of material and probably 10 needles. Ridiculous!
    Of course, I do not clean my machine enough, but that is the first thing I will do today when I start sewing.
    Thanks for the chance to win new needles.

  65. Quilting Tangent says:

    Love the pipe cleaner. The needles are welcome. Thanks for all the tips.

  66. Oh my! I must be a very dirty girl as I have never cleaned my machine like that. I do change my needle fairly regularly though. Thanks for a great giveaway.

  67. Your blog post was timely to me. My last sewing project ended with a broken needle (right at the end, luckily) and I’ve been meaning to change that but I also thought I should take the opportunity to do a little maintenance. I’ve had the machine not quite a year now and haven’t cleaned it yet. However, I really wasn’t sure what to clean or oil or whatever so I meant to get my manual out and read it again, then your post! Now I feel quite sure I can figure this out without messing anything up. Thanks!

  68. Great tips! I also oil my machine after doing a thorough cleaning. Thanks for the giveaway! :-)

  69. Thanks for the reminder to maintain my sewing machine. Its so easy to just sit down and start sewing instead of doing the clean-up first. I usually change needles for each new project.

  70. Congratulations on your win and I would love to try out these needles. Thanks for the lesson on cleaning our sewing machines, I need to do it more often.

  71. Oh dear . . . I don’t think I’ve ever removed a bobbin case! I wonder what’s under mine?! Thanks for the lesson.

  72. thanks for tips, love the pipe cleaner….. would love the needles better..

  73. Great tips, thanks so much! I’m still learning my new machine, and finding out where all the lint goes and lives. :)

  74. I could use some new needles. Thanks for the chance to win some. Also, have a nice Valentine’s day.

  75. Thanks for this Paula! My machine is way past due for a cleaning.

  76. thank you so much for sharing this post! it is so important to clean that machine!

  77. Thank you for sharing! I take my machine in for service yearly, but maybe I don’t need to!

  78. I’ve used these……….they are great!!!!!!

  79. Everyone should watch the free Craftsy class. I have been sewing for over 20 years…and found it a great review with a it of new info. I clean my machine sew often the last time I took it in for a yearly service she said….you can wait 2 years…this machine is in great shape.

  80. Tabitha Keener says:

    Count me in, I’d love some new needles! Thanks

  81. I need to clean my machine and change the needle. thanks for the tip.

  82. I clean my bobbin case every time I change the bobbin. If I don’t my machine skips stitches. But I know I should clean the rest more often and I don’t change the needle often enough so Id love to win the needles. Thanks for sharing.

  83. I love this post! Great job!

  84. Mary Duhon says:

    I am are avid machine cleaner! I realized recently that in my 40 years of sewing as an adult (so not counting sewing on my mother’s machine as a child/teen), I have never had to bring a machine in for repair. I have 4 daughters so many, many hours at the sewing machine!

  85. I clean my machines regularly especially my embroidery machine. It only takes one little tiny thread to cause a disaster.
    My Babylock dealer says it’s ok to use canned air, but to remember not to tilt it as that is when the moisture could get in the machine. I mostly use it for my serger.
    Thanks for the chance to win the needles!

  86. I’ve been thinking that I need to clean my machine. Now that you showed us that’s is so easy and worthwhile, I’m on it tomorrow for sure! I don’t have any of those fancy pipe cleaners, but just the regular ones. I would love to try those needles!

  87. Thanks for this important information!
    Must try these needles sometime

  88. Kelly Crosby says:

    Great advice! I wind 4-5 bobbins at a time…when I wind new bobbins, it’s time to clean the machine. Not so diligent about changing the needle, but I will try to make that a habit, too. Thanks!

  89. Thanks for the chance. Always a good reminder to get in there and clean up the machine.

  90. Great post, this will be very useful!!

  91. Kathy Davis says:

    I have been afraid to clean my machine. It is fairly new, but it looks like I probably need to. Thanks for the reminder. Would love the needles. Thanks, Kathy

  92. Yum! I can always use a new pack of needles!

  93. Pipe cleaners and new needles. Thank u!

  94. Great advice! I use Q-tips to coax out the lint hidden underneath the bobbin case, and I slide a piece of muslin to remove lint between the tension discs. I clean and oil my machine between projects, then change needles. I could always use more needles!

  95. Jamie Todhunter says:

    I have found out that cleaning my machine does wonders for my sewing, especially after making something for the kids that uses a fabric that produces a lot of lint, like Halloween costumes. Thank you for a chance to win some great needles.

  96. Mmm that’s a good point! I should probably clean my machine soon seeing as it hasn’t been done since I bought if last year! Even with not using it for 3 months! Thanks for the reminder!:)

  97. Bev Brewer says:

    I thought my machine was dirty, but you win! Love the pipecleaner tip. Thanks

  98. Great idea to give a reminder ….and a chance for a giveaway. Thank you.

  99. Debra Kay Neiman says:

    I was so glad to see your tutorial…I just had my computer open and cleaned out…wow! crystalbluern at onlineok dot com

  100. I am crazy about making sure I keep my machine clean. It costs a lot of money and I take good care of it.

  101. Elita @ Busy Needle Quilting says:

    You are such a sweetie, sharing the love! Every retreat I run we start with the Clean Machine Tutorial and the ladies are always shocked at what’s built up in their machines. :-) I’m of the no-compressed-air in the machines & especially the newer, more electronic ones. Too many nooks & crannies to get moisture stuck! You’ve put together a very nice tutorial!

  102. Thanks for the reminder! :) It’s been on my mind to clean my sewing machine but haven’t done it. I used to clean my sewing machine every time I changed the bobbin. Then I started relaxing more about it and do it after every quilt. But when I have more than one quilt going at a time it’s easier to lose track. Thanks again. Good tutorial.

  103. Timely reminder about changing those needles. Just cleaned my bobbin area!

  104. Barbara Schultz says:

    I clean my machine regularly and could really use a new pack of needles!

  105. Lori Morton says:

    Thanks for such a grrrreat informative Tutorial on cleaning our machine! Thanks!! :)

  106. Oh my goodness, I “sew” need to change my needle! Why do I keep thinking I can get a little more use out of it when I know it is time for a new one?! Thanks for the reminder and for the giveaway!

  107. Awesome giveaway! I really want to try out this brand! Thanks!

  108. Nice job on the cleaning tute! I clean mine about everyday but can’t get all the way in there. I hate taking it in for service when the 1 million stitch light comes on but I do think it is a must.

  109. Awesome!
    for years I’ve been using my mom’s old (old!) Kenmore and it was soooo hard to keep clean. this last Christmas i got a new machine and it is so much nicer

  110. I try to clean mine regularly, but hadn’t thought to use pipe cleaner, it is amazing how much gunk gets in there.

  111. It is amazing to see how much gunk gets in your machine.

  112. Great tip with the pipe cleaners! I use a cheapo paint brush and swabs… I probably have some pipe cleaners somewhere from little kiddo projects.

  113. I try to clean my machine after every quilt I finish. Too bad for my machine that I don’t always finish a quilt.

  114. Thanks for all of the good information. Great post. Thanks for the chance to win.

  115. People forget that giveaways for stash and jellyrolls will wear out NEEDLES. Than you

  116. You can not believe how I had to nag my sisters to clean their machine. When I told them they needed to change their needle they couldn’t see why as it hadn’t broke.

  117. Thanks for the tutorial; very helpful!

  118. It must be the new year/sewing up a storm winter weather because everyone is posting about cleaning their machines – always helpful to know how to do it right! And what a great giveaway – I know I could certainly use some new needles for my notion drawer. Thanks for the chance!

  119. I try to clean my machine after every project and I use pipe cleaners as well. My machine is a year old now so I need to get it to a dealer for a checkup but I hate the thought of parting with it! Thanks for the giveaway. I can always use more needles. BTW, in your “So You Wanna Make a Quilt” series, did you cover needles – which types to use and when, etc? I still struggle with whether or not I’m using the correct needle for my projects.

  120. Awesome, Paula! I change my needle with every single quilt. I usually put in a brand new one for the FMQ, then I just leave that one in for the piecing of the next quilt. Fresh needles really make a difference! And great tutorial on the sewing machine cleaning!

    Thanks for linking up with Needle and Thread Thursday!

    :) Kelly @ My Quilt Infatuation

    ps- you’re still coming up as a no-reply. :(

  121. Vicki Bovee says:

    Never thought to use a pipe cleaner. Thank you!

  122. thank you for the kind instruction! I am guilty of not cleaning:( & now I will treat myself to a new needle as often as I should!

  123. i need to get those pipe cleaners!! great idea!!

  124. I clean my machine every other day. I know I’m OCD but I’ve had her for twenty years and never had any problems. When I take her to the spa for her yearly R&R the machine tech always comments on how clean she is. I change needles after every project so would love to have some more. Thanks for the chance.

  125. I have not thought about using a pipe cleaner. thats a good idea.

    thanks for the giveaway!

  126. Veronica Rushton says:

    A clean machine is a happy machine!

  127. Hi, this is such a neat tutorial+giveaway!
    Thanks for sharing!

  128. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  129. Thanks for the tips!:)

  130. I would love to win some new needles, thanks!

  131. I would be absolutely terrified to see what might lay under the bobbin case :/. Good and timely reminder for me. Thanks Paula

  132. barb verstraete says:

    Could use some new needless:)

  133. I used to be so terrible about cleaning under my bobbin case! Thanks for the chance for these great needles. They are my all-time favorite for free-motion quilting. They don’t break on me at all!

  134. Since my sewing room is my dining room table, I am just now getting the machine out and starting a new project and cleaning the machine, and can also put in a new needle. So I would be happy to win this contest.

  135. Dawn Jones says:

    Thanks for this giveaway!

  136. Deborah DeBerry says:

    I clean my machine often, but it has looked like yours in the past. Mine does get dusty, and I have pattern to make a cover, just not confident enough to try to put it together. Would love to win the needles. I was reading an article not too long ago that said using the topstitch needles (titanium, of course) was best. I am anxious to try it and see.

  137. How informative! and thanks for the reminder that I really need to clean my machines…

  138. Courtney Q says:

    Hope to win! Thanks :)

  139. Thanks for all the tips!

  140. This is awesome! I was just thinking today that I needed to take my machine in to get it cleaned. Perhaps I could do it myself. Thank you for the courage boost!

  141. Great tutorial/pictorial on cleaning your sewing machine. I clean mine about every other bobbin change. Thanks for the opportunity to win Superior’s titanium needles. I have heard good reports on titanium needles.

  142. Carole Williams says:

    I think cleaning my machine often is so important. This was a good tutorial for doing that job. I also change my needles often so I could use some as a gift. Thanks for the chance to win them.

  143. Thanks for all of your tips and tricks! Always can use extra needles!!

  144. Could always use extra needles! i’m a bit scared to see what i’ll find behind my sewing machine though..


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