Last Updated on January 10, 2023

Sewing machines need to be oiled regularly for a number of reasons. Oil helps the machine run smoothly and prevents it from overheating, which causes damage.

If you don’t know how or if you’re not sure how to properly oil your sewing machine, luckily for you, this guide is all about how to oil a sewing machine!



Why do I need to oil my sewing machine?


Many sewers have observed that their machine works better after oiling it, and this is because of a good reason…

Sewing machine oil is a special type of lubricant that keeps the sewing machine parts running smoothly and quietly by preventing friction between its moving parts.

And as mentioned before, oiling your machine also prevents it from overheating which might cause more serious damage.


How often should I oil my machine?


Every sewing machine is different, so how often you need to oil it will depend on how much use the machine gets.

If you’re using an old sewing machine, we recommend that you oil your machine after 50 hours of usage. You can spread out this 50 hours for a period of days, weeks, or months, depending on how frequently and how long you sew.


Someone holding the screw of the sewing machine needle holder


You can also out oil in your sewing machine once you feel your machine getting clunky. If you hear your machine squeaking, or if you see dust building up in some parts of your machine, then it’s a good sign to clean and oil your sewing machine.

If you’re using a new, modern, or computerized sewing machine, it’s recommended that you oil your machine every 4-6 months, depending on your usage as well. Modern machines need little oiling compared to older sewing machines.

However, you should also check the maintenance and oiling guide in your sewing machine manual to know when and where to oil your machine.


How Do I Oil My Sewing Machine?


Step 1: Unplug Your Sewing Machine


Unplug your sewing machine. For easy access later on and for your safety, remove the throat plate and the needle. If your throat plate is secured via screws, unscrew them, and remember to track where you kept the screws!


Step 2: Clean Your Sewing Machine


Before you oil your sewing machine, it’s necessary to clean your sewing machine first. Remove all dust, lints, and threads within the parts of your sewing machine.

Use a nylon brush to clean the needle bar, the parts where the thread goes, the feed dog, and the bobbin area thoroughly.

Take out the bobbin case so you’ll be able to clean all of the bobbin area and remove any gunk stuck on any hard surface.

It’s not advisable to use canned air because the air might push the dust and lints further in the parts of the sewing machine.


Someone holding the bobbin case


Step 3: Put Oil In The Moving Parts of the Machine


After you’re done cleaning, it’s time to oil the sewing machine.

For some modern sewing machines, it’s usually enough to put oil down the bobbin area where you’ll find the hook that goes around the bobbin.

In some sewing machines, there are designated areas where you can put oil, and to be sure where these designated areas are, check out your sewing machine manual. You’ll find all the right places to put oil in your sewing machine there.

For older sewing machines, you must be familiar where all the moving parts are. To find these areas, turn the handwheel back and forth and put oil where the parts move and create friction.


How to oil a sewing machine featured image, with someone holding a bottle of sewing machine oil


Step 4: Wipe Excess Oil and Reassemble The Sewing Machine


Once you’re done oiling the machine, wipe off any excess oil with a piece of fabric or a damp cloth.

If your hand is oily or greasy from touching the parts of the sewing machine that have been lubricated with oil, wash it in soap and water before proceeding to reassemble the machine.

Once everything has been reassembled properly, plug the machine, turn on the power button and test how smoothly it operates by sewing a few lines of stitches.


How much oil do I put in?


The rule of thumb is to put only a drop oil or two in the moving parts of the sewing machine. It’s not advisable to put in more oil because this can cause an oil build-up inside which harms the sewing machine.

You can also refer back to the manual for how much sewing machine oil should be used and where it should be applied.

If this information isn’t available or if your are uncertain how much oil was last added by an authorized technician, call them up so they can help out with that detail!

Oil spills are not fun.

Avoid creating one when filling the bobbin area of your sewing machine by using a cloth like old T-shirts or towels to cover around the top edge of the opening.

This prevents leaks from happening because there’s less chance for excess fluid to drip down onto surfaces below.




For good measure, oil your sewing machine at least once every six months.

This will ensure that it works in the best possible way and you’ll get longer needles, better stitches, smoother threading of bobbins, etc.

Be sure to use only sewing machine oil when oiling your sewing machines. Other oils can have disastrous consequences on how your needle moves through fabric or how much resistance there is for stitching.

If you’re using an embroidery machine and you want to know how to properly oil an embroidery machine, you can check out our guide here as well. 

We hope that this guide helped you learn how to oil your sewing machine! Happy sewing!



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  1. Bonita


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