How To Oil Your Sewing Machine (Video)

Did you know that you have to oil your sewing machine the same way you would oil any other kind of machinery? Oiling a sewing machine should actually be part of its regular maintenance. When you oil your sewing machine it helps it run smoothly, gets rid of lint, and relieves any horrific squeaking.

In this video I used my old Janome sewing machine that my mom gave me as a graduation present. Alas, it’s time for me to finally move on and I’ll admit, I didn’t oil it as much as I should have! (I’m disappointed that I didn’t insert clips in this video of the machine running before and after I oiled it — you wouldn’t believe how noisy it was before!)

But don’t stop here, check out this blog post on how to clean and maintain your sewing machine regularly!

Learn how to oil your sewing machine


Hey everyone,

I want to talk to you about taking care of your machine; specifically, oiling your machine and how to do it.

Now, this is my very first sewing machine. My mom got it for me as a gift for my university graduation, and I love this machine. We have been through so much together. We have sewed so many things and we’ve been up a lot of nights working through a lot of projects.

It’s an incredible machine; it’s an old Janome. It basically powers through everything; it’ll sew chiffon, it’ll sew denims. You name it; layers, delicate things, intricate details, it does it all. But it’s just time for me to move on.

I’ve got a new machine that I’ve been working with and I think that it’s time for me to pass this on. So, I have a friend who my machine is going to be going to. I definitely want to make sure it stays in a good home.

But, it squeaks like a maniac. So I want to make sure that when I pass on the machine to my friend that she’s not thinking, ‘What is going on with this machine?’ because it will last her another twenty years. I told her that.

So, I’m going to show you how to oil this machine – how to oil your sewing machine at home – in order to keep it running smooth forever.

Your machine will come with a few supplies suitable for oiling it. You’ll probably have a couple of screwdrivers. And then you’ll have a little tiny tube of oil, like this. Plus a little lint brush.

And then these are some tools I’d suggest adding to that: you might want to get a bigger thing of oil. Just make sure that it’s specifically for sewing machines. You don’t want to use just any oil, and you don’t want to use a 3 in 1. Make sure you’re using sewing machine oil.

And then I like to have on-hand a cheap little toothbrush. I find that’s great for getting lint out. Also Q-Tips; now, these kind of leave lint behind, but if you get the very inexpensive, like no-name Q-Tips, then they don’t have as much fluff and fuzz on them. And I just like them for getting in there and grabbing little bits.

And then I like to keep a little tiny bit of fabric on-hand as well. I’ll often use like a flannelette or a fleece or something that will grab fibers and not leave any threads or lint behind. This is just a jersey, but definitely look for something that will help to kind of grab – through static electricity – grab your lint out of there without leaving any fibres.

So the first thing you want to do is kind of clean and dust your machine; get rid of any excess lint that you see around here. And then, basically, we’re putting oil in wherever you have metal on metal. So I would suggest taking off your presser foot and your needle; just leave those over to the side.

This needle mechanism, it goes up and down; there’s lots of action, lots of movement happening around there. Just put a little tiny dab of oil in there, basically, anywhere that metal touches metal – if it gets a little bit messy, we’ll go around after and clean it up – where metal rubs on metal, metal goes up and down, you want to get in there.

So, this is just right by the needle clamp. I’m just putting a dab of oil in there. You can use the screws to take this off – take the throat plate off, get in there and dust it around.

And then in the front of my machine; I’ll take off this extension, flip this down. I want to clean out in here and oil in the back mechanism here. So, I’m going to move these out of the way and pull out – first pull out your bobbin case and then pull out this whole hook mechanism. So I’m pulling this out, pulling this out. And then another thing you may want to do it put a little bit of the machine oil on your fabric, and that way when you’re kind of wiping this and cleaning it off, you’re going to distribute a little bit of oil on there as well. So we’ll just get some in there.

Make sure you get some right, right, right at that hook portion and then we’ll just get in around the back too. So, I like doing this because it kind of cleans and distributes just a little tiny bit of oil all at the same time. Then I can put a little bit more just right in here where those are going to touch.

Always wipe it off right around here, because you don’t want any excess oil coming up into your machine and on your fabric and on your garments.

And then I’m going to use the same cloth that has a bit of oil and I’m going to go in the back here; just underneath and in and around all base mechanisms.

Now, before you do this, just make sure you get rid of as much dust as possible. Whether you’re using sprayed air – I know some people love to use a canned air. That’s not always necessarily the best just because you might get threads and lint jammed further into your machine, but I know some people love it. But even just a cloth without any extra fibres is great too.

So I’ve smoothed in a little bit of oil back in this mechanism back here. And then just make sure you get it on all of our little pieces that are going to be rubbing in together. And a little bit right at that back centre point, right at the back. Again, once I put in a couple drops, I’ll just take my cloth in there to smoosh it all around and absorb any excess.

Once you’ve got that done, we’ll put everything back in its place. Just make sure everything’s going in properly. And you can always check your machine’s manual for specific instructions. Look up the manufacturer online, because each company has a different recommendation.

Bring these clamps down here to lock everything in place. I’ll just give my bobbin another quick wipe. Make sure that there’s no excess dust and I’ll get in there too.

Then I’ll put my bobbin back in – sorry, the bobbin case. Give the bobbin case a good wipe. Snap that back in, close that all up, and then we want to do the side of the machine.

This can come off. So your machine – you might have access to this in a different way, but this is how I do this particular machine.

Undo this screw right here and this whole side case comes off. So, turn this around to the front. Again, get in there, wipe everything down. You probably want to turn your machine off before-hand just so you don’t accidently sew something or hurt yourself or, you know, do anything else that could be damaging.

And then I’m just taking this cloth – it already has a little bit of oil on it – and I’m going to add a little bit more and then we’ll just kind of get in here, wipe it down.

So, I’m kind of doing like a two in one; I’m getting rid of excess dust while putting some oil in there as well. And, basically, you just want to put little drops of oil anywhere that you see metal touching metal.

So I’m going in a little bit closer and then just wipe away the excess, of course. And then this is kind of the top of where your needle is; that piece is always moving up and down, so that’s a good one to get also.

And then once that’s done, you can close everything up. I’ll put this piece back on, put the screw back in place, and then put the cap back on. I’ll slide this back. I’ll replace my presser foot and my needle and then I’m good to go.

So there you have it. It’s not that difficult to oil your sewing machine once you know what you’re doing and once you have the right tools.

Now how often should you oil your sewing machine? Some people are really, really crazy about it and they’ll do it after every project or once a week, and that’s definitely okay, but I wouldn’t. You know, don’t drive yourself crazy. So I would suggest listening to your machine. See how it feels. See how it sounds. See if anything has changed.

Otherwise, you could do it preventively maybe once a year, once every few years. But with a workhorse like this, I barely did it. So it’s not something that you should go nuts over, I think, but it is a good idea to do it from time-to-time.

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