How To Oil (Lubricate) A Sewing Machine?

Being a part of Amazon Associate and some other Affiliate Programs, we may earn a small commission for every qualifying purchase from affiliate links at no extra cost to you. You can read our affiliate disclosure to learn more and also our review process.

If you are reading this, chances are you love sewing. And if you love sewing, chances are that at some point in time your machine and its related parts will need to be oiled or lubricated. 

However, many people have no idea how to properly lubricate or oil their sewing machine. For this reason, I’m going to talk about the ins and outs of proper lubrication and how it can help ensure that your sewing machine will last you a long time.

The sewing machine is a device that assists in the creation of garments and other items. It works by moving one or more needles at high speed back and forth with a loop of thread on the surface of a material. The needle moves and forms either stitches to gather fabric or lift it from the material to form tucks called “bents” which are then stitched together to make a seam. If you want to keep your sewing machine in top shape, it’s a good idea to periodically oil or lubricate it.

The different types of oils are going to be discussed here as well as the best way to make sure that you are using the right type for your particular needs. Of course, I will also mention some common problems with lubricated machines and what courses of action you should take to prevent them from becoming more frequent.

This blog post is going to help you become more skilled at oiling and lubricating your sewing machine so that the time comes when it won’t need to be done by hand.

Formulation of Sewing Machine Oil

Different oil formulations (like sewing machine oil) will have different things in them, however, the main ingredients that come in all sewing machine languages are as follows:


This is an excellent lubricant that is very low in volatility and high in wear resistance. It’s also not harmful to the environment so it is often used as a substitute for other more harmful types of lubricants. It’s not expensive either, which makes it a great choice for your general needs when working on your sewing machine.

Mineral Oil

This is also a great all-around oil with low volatility and high viscosity. It is slightly cheaper than petroleum-based ones, however, it isn’t as effective and can be somewhat harmful to the environment.

Synthetic Oils

These are most often used in sewing machines that have electronic components in them. They’re highly resistant to oxidation and hydrolysis, which means they are very stable and have a high resistance to the changes caused by heat or air (and are therefore good for use with sewing machines). These oils also contain other chemicals that give them their unique properties.

It is essential to know that the type of oil you use is going to depend on the kind of sewing machine you are using, what kind of needle it uses, and how often it gets used (or not used). You will want to make sure that your particular sewing machine can take a specific kind of oil before investing in one.

Also, there is such a variety available nowadays that you shouldn’t feel overwhelmed when looking at all the different options available. I suggest reading some reviews online before buying any oil for your sewing machine.

How Does Oil Work For Your Sewing Machine?

Oil serves as both a lubricant and cleaner for your needle and other parts. It also helps keep the friction on your sewing machine down as you work with it so that your sewing will go smoothly every time. Oil is also great for keeping parts from getting corroded or rusted after being put aside for long periods.

If you do not oil and clean your sewing machine, rust can easily begin to appear on it, which then causes the needle to get stuck and prevents you from working properly. It can even cause other problems like short circuits in electronic components. Of course, if you are a beginner this is something that you might have never thought of before.

There are three essential aspects of proper lubrication.

  1. Oil must be applied in portions and not liberally slopped in all at once.  You don’t want to find out that your needle got clogged when it needs to be in use.
  2. You should never use any type of oil other than sewing machine oil which is specifically designed for lubricating a sewing machine.
  3. Whether you use too little or too much, oil and the needles are going to get on the inside of your machine and this can be a problem. When too little oil is used, you run the risk of needle jamming. When too much is used, it can dirty up the inside of your machine. Using an excessive amount of oil or using it incorrectly can lead to clogging, jams, and breaks in the thread as well as poor stitch quality.

Now that you know why you should be using sewing machine oil, it’s essential to know just what sewing machine oil is and how it works.

How to Oil a Sewing Machine?

There are two methods for oiling your sewing machine. The most basic is to use a small amount of oil and get out a cotton swab or a clean rag and rub the inside of it. 

You can put some on the end of it and then wipe the threads/needles on your machine as you go along. However, this can be a little messy as you have to turn the machine on to work on it. Plus, depending on how often you use it, the cotton swab can get dirty and need to be replaced before long.

This is why you want to consider an oiling kit for your sewing machine.

Oil is much easier to keep track of when it is in a small fountain pen-like container than when it’s just hanging off the end of a cotton swab. Also, you never have to worry about replacing it when it gets dirty as long as you’re careful not to get the ink on the inside of your machine with the oil on it! Some come with replacement tips for easy cleaning so that you can be sure that your needle stays clean and doesn’t get clogged with mud or oil.

Here are a couple of things to keep in mind when doing this,

Make sure that you have the proper oil

Some sewing machine oil can be harmful if it’s not removed properly and can build up over time. This is why I recommend using Procter & Gamble Forge Oil which is a very safe choice. It has been specifically designed just for use with your specific model of the sewing machine and will ensure that you don’t create any problems with your equipment. When selecting the oil, always take into account the size of your machine or type to make sure that you get a solution that will work as intended and won’t cause any problems when used.

Try to use as little oil as possible

Oftentimes, many people will use just about any type of oil for their machines. However, this can be dangerous and does not provide the proper lubrication that your machine requires to run properly. For this reason, try to only use one brand and pick up bottles that are specifically labeled for the type of machines you have so that you can make sure they are compatible with it.

Keep your machine clean and store it properly

It’s important to keep your machine clean because it will make sure that you have a much better experience with it. The more care you put into your sewing equipment, the longer it will be able to last for you. Store everything in a well-organized manner so that there is no issue with anything getting lost or broken.

Following these tips should help ensure that you are using the right oil for your sewing machine and cleaning up any spills as quickly as possible. I recommend cleaning up spills immediately to prevent buildup on any of the components of your machine so that you can create much less issues in the future while keeping everything nice and organized.

Where to get oil for your sewing machines? Look at your local craft store or marketplace. You can also look online and see what is available there. You can always consider using an all-purpose oil as well, but it won’t work as well as a sewing machine oil that has been made with your specific type of machine in mind.

Where Do I Put Oil on My Sewing Machine?

You should only oil your machine’s feed dogs and the working parts. These are the removable parts of your machine’s mechanics as opposed to the wheels or drop shaft. So don’t use oil on these parts.

Feed dogs are what help guide your needle as it moves through fabric and lock it in place when you’re stitching through thick fabrics and batting.

The working parts are what actually make the action of your sewing machine work. These include:

The Needle Bar

This is the mechanism inside a sewing machine that the needle slides into when you’re stitching through fabric, usually from top to bottom. It’s where the thread goes, and this is where all of your fabric is being threaded to go through the machine. The Needle Bar usually consists of the “needle bar, needle bar spring, needle bar arm and needle roller bearings.”

Needle Bar Springs

These are what hold the needle in place when it’s in the working parts. They’re usually made of a few layers that include some kind of rubber or vinyl (or other material).

Needle Rollers

This is what rotates when you’re stitching, which causes your fabric to be pushed through by means of a spring that keeps it moving so that it can be stitched correctly.

Feed Dogs

This is where your fabric is fed through when you are stitching. The feed dogs are what push your fabric through from behind the needle.

The Drop Shaft

This has everything to do with the tensioner and what keeps the bobbin thread from coming up through the top of your machine. It houses a few different components that work together to keep this mechanism working correctly, including the bobbin winder shaft, tension spring and arm, upper thread guide arm, and take-up spring for the wheel shaft.

Bobbin Winder And Thread Tension

The bobbin winder and the thread tension assembly are responsible for keeping the tension on the cable in place so that it is not too tight or too loose. It functions by shifting gears to lower or raise your needle tension when you make a stitch. This holds the cable out of harm’s way from your foot pedal so that when you press down, it does not go flying through the air and smash into whatever it is that you are sewing.

Foot Pedal

The foot pedal is responsible for two things. First, it keeps the machine on and running. Second, the needle will not start to move until you press down on your pedal. If you have an emergency and need to stop in a hurry, that’s what your emergency stop button is for. You will usually see a red one on top or in the front of your machine that is used in case of emergencies when you need to stop quickly and don’t have time to hit the pedal.

This prevents jams and breaks in stitches. This area should be oiled after you have completed your project and when you are done, you can use a lint roller or soft brush to get rid of any excess lint or junk that may be around it.

Some sewing machines will have little marks on their bodies to help you remember which areas need oil, while others might just say so in a manual. You might also find that your machine has a diagram that shows exactly where you need to oil it and how much needs to be applied for each spot as well.

What Are The Steps In Oiling The Sewing Machine?

There are many steps that you must take when applying oil to your sewing machine.

  1. The first of which is the placement of the oil on the machine. To get started, you must begin with a clean piece of cloth and wipe down all of the parts that I mentioned before.
  2. The next step consists of wiping down the bobbin winder, thread tension assembly, and foot control mechanism.
  3. After that, you must then wipe down the needle bar and shaft that holds the needle in place. This is done by using small dabs of oil on the cloth each time so that you can keep all parts moving freely.
  4. The oiling of these areas is also very important because they are responsible for keeping your machine running smoothly and not breaking or jamming up while you are sewing.
  5. After you have completed all of the above, you must then move on to the area that I mentioned above that is responsible for oiling the bobbin winder and thread tension assembly.
  6. The last step to cleaning oil is to get rid of any excess oil on your machine. The thread tension assembly and bobbin winder can experience this as well, which is why it is important to wipe these areas clean with a cloth to get rid of any excess oil. Use a lint roller or soft brush to do so and make sure that the excess oil is cleaned off of your machine as well.

You mustn’t forget to clean up any messes that might occur while you are oiling your sewing machine. You can do so with a lint roller or soft brush. Your machine will be properly lubricated if you use the steps mentioned above and it will continue to run smoothly after each time that you have used it.

What Happens If I Don’t Oil My Sewing Machine?

Most of the time, sewing machine users don’t think about lubricating their machines. However, this is something that needs to be done on a regular basis in order to ensure that your machine is working well and will last a long time. Here are some common problems caused by not lubricating your sewing machine:

Needles Skipping Stitches

This happens because of the fact that the needle is sliding across the surface of internal parts instead of being pushed through them. This creates an irregularity in stitching, which can also cause unraveling or stitching that may come apart after some time. The needle will also be damaged if this occurs and will need to be replaced.


One of the most common issues that people will run into is that their needle clogs from time to time and it won’t matter if it’s at the front of the machine or at the back. This can cause some serious headaches for you as you work on your project, but it doesn’t have to be a problem. Putting just a little bit of oil on a swab or using an oiling kit can be enough to get your sewing machine running smoothly again so that you can enjoy sewing with it again.

Strange Sounds and Vibrations

This is a sign of slippage in the internal components, which can eventually lead to the above-mentioned problems. Vibrations during operation can also cause motor failure and damage, so it is important to fix any issues created by them as soon as they arise.


This happens because of loss of lubrication in the moving parts, which causes friction between them and overheating. This can also happen when oil is used improperly or when your machine has gone through a period of inactivity and isn’t getting the oil it needs.

Machine Won’t Start Up

This happens because of a blockage and will either cause the motor to overheat or fail. For this reason, it’s important to always check the oil level after your machine has cooled down and be sure that your machine is starting properly before using it again for any length of time.

If you notice that this problem occurs after using your machine for an extended period of time, then you should try replacing the needle as well as checking everything thoroughly before the issue continues to occur.

As you can see, even a single problem related to your machine’s oil can cause a number of different issues and is definitely something that you should keep track of.

Things You Should Consider When Oiling the Sewing Machine

You can oil the areas mentioned earlier after each use or I would recommend doing so at least once a week if you use your machine consisting of your sewing machine helps to keep it in good working order, which is important if you are a serious sewer.

Here are some of the things that you must do to oil your machine properly,

  • Always work in a well-lit area so that you can see any oil that is on your hands. Remove any loose lint or debris with a lint roller or a soft brush before you begin the process. Place a clean piece of cloth under where you are going to be doing the oiling. This will make it easier for you to get rid of any excess oil that might drip off of your machine later on and makes it easier to clean up after you’re done.
  • Unplug your sewing machine from the wall and set it aside so that you can work on it without worrying about getting shocked. Remove all parts from your sewing machine before beginning to oil it as well.
  • Using a small dab of oil on each area that was mentioned before can keep the machine running smoothly and make sure that it is not malfunctioning. You should make sure to always apply an approved sewing machine oil to your machine because these are specifically formulated for your specific sewing machine model and will perform the best for them.
  • Never over-oil your sewing machine parts as this will damage them and make them unusable. Over-oil can cause the material to stick and jam as well.
  • It is advisable to clean your machine from time to time, especially after using oil on it. You can use a cotton swab dipped in warm water for cleaning. Then, dry it with a soft cloth.
  • After you have finished applying the oil to all of these areas, you can then plug your machine back in and turn it on to see if there are any problems with anything malfunctioning. Once you are done, clean up any spills that might have occurred from messing up your sewing room with a lint roller or soft brush.

If you are able to take proper care of your sewing machine and use the right techniques, the parts will last much longer and the performance of your machine will directly reflect that! It doesn’t matter if you’re a novice or an experienced sewer, knowing how to take care of your equipment is vital regardless.

The Advantages of Using Oil on Your Sewing Machine

If you use oil once or twice a month, you will never have a clogged needle again. When the sewing machine needle is cleaned with oil, the amount of thread sticks is regularly reduced, and it is much less likely to jam and cause problems.

Oiling your sewing machine regularly will help to keep the metal parts from rusting. This makes them last longer and will keep your machine running smoothly for much longer than machines would have otherwise.

Regularly maintained sewing machines are more likely to create better-looking stitches, more even stitches, and will help to prevent uneven stitches.

Using oil or some other type of lubricant on your sewing machine is an investment in keeping it going for a long time. You will have much better use of your machine and be able to work on many projects without having to worry about breakdowns or malfunctions. You won’t need to worry about replacing parts or getting your machine fixed.

If you are in a household where sewing is being done, it is usually a good idea to oil the sewing machine regularly and keep it well maintained so that everyone can get the most out of the machine.

The Disadvantages of Using Oil on Your Sewing Machine

Oil can be messy, although there are some tips on how to make things go more smoothly.

You need to be extremely careful when you are working around the machine or the oil spills or drips. It can get on your clothing and cause stains.

There is a possibility for your needle to clog, especially if you are using oil that has been improperly made and/or if you are using oil that is too thick.

Oil can also be messy, although there are some tips on how to make things go more smoothly. An example of this would be adding the oil in small portions and applying it with a cotton swab or rag instead of all at once. 

How often do you use an oil sewing machine?

When it comes to oiling your sewing machine, it is important to ensure that it is done on a regular basis so that your sewing machine has the lubrication or oil it needs in order to function properly. This will also help ensure the safety of yourself and others from injury from overheating and other issues related to lack of proper lubrication. The frequency at which you should do this depends on how often your machine gets used as well as how frequently you use the needle. Here are a few general oiling recommendations:

Machine gets used very often: every other day or more, you should oil once or twice in a month.

Machine gets used daily: then you should oil your machine once a week. But remember to check the needle for wear and replace it if necessary.

Machine doesn’t get used very often: make sure to empty out the needle, then use a clear silicone lubricant spray to ensure proper lubrication. Do this after each time you use your machine so that it stays clean and fresh. If possible, consider only using one type of oil in order to make things easier on yourself.

Here are a couple of useful tips to keep in mind when oiling your sewing machine,

Always check the oil level before using the machine: This is something most people do while they are looking at their sewing machine. However, this should be done before and after you use your machine so that you don’t run into problems later on. If you notice that your machine starts acting in some strange way after you’ve used it for a while without any oil, then it’s likely time to do something about it. I recommend checking the oil level on both machines (hands and feet) so that you can find out which one needs attention and replace it accordingly.

Be sure to keep the needle clean: This is important because if it isn’t, then the internal components will be more susceptible to problems and wear. I recommend keeping a needle case in your sewing machine (like many of your other sewing accessories) so that if it becomes apparent that you need to replace the needle, you have easy access to it. When oiling your machine, always follow the directions for proper lubrication that came with your machine or the manufacturer of the oil.

Always follow all of the recommendations made by the company that manufactures your sewing machine and any lubricant recommendations put out by them as well.

How To Clean Sewing Machine Oil?

I’m sure you know a little something about how to clean oil spills, but I think it’s important that we go over a few quick tips for preventing any issues from arising on your machine. Here are some tips for cleaning your sewing machine.

Wipe Up Any Spills Immediately

This is the easy part. It’s important that you make sure the spill is completely wiped up so that you don’t introduce new contaminants into the work area. The best way to do this is with a paper towel and then using water and detergent spray.

Clean Up Any Residue

This is one of the most important parts of the process. If you don’t clean up the residue properly, then you will likely have a problem with whatever part of your sewing machine was in contact with it. For this reason, I recommend completely cleaning out the oil reservoir so that nothing goes past the area it’s supposed to and that no other contaminants come in contact with it. 

Follow this by wiping down anything else that was exposed to the oil. Be sure to use a paper towel or something similar as some solvents could potentially damage your equipment if they get on them.

How to Oil A Singer Sewing Machine?

Nowadays, the Singer sewing machine is a household name. It’s known for its reputation for reliability and durability, which is undoubtedly what has made it one of the most popular machines for over a century.

If you need to get your Singer in tip-top shape, then there are certain things that you will want to do in order to keep it going as well as possible.

When it comes to the actual oiling of your machine, you have several options that you can choose from.

  1. You need to disconnect the power cord from your sewing machine in order to make sure that it is off. It is important that you turn the power off because it will not start up again until it has been properly oiled and this will eliminate any accidental start-ups while you are working on cleaning or oiling your machine.
  2. Next, you need to unscrew the case of the Singer using a screwdriver so that access can be gained inside of the case. Once inside, locate where your needle threader is located. Thread one end of a new supply of thread onto these threads and then grasp it with one hand and pull back on this thread so that it creates tension.
  3. Next, you need to pick up a few drops of oil on the needle threader. You will then want to make sure that you oil the rest of your machine. Do this by placing a few drops of oil in several different places around the machine where there might be some friction or other issues that may cause problems down the line. This includes around any screws and other areas where there may not be a lot of use.
  4. You need to also oil the bobbins of your machine. Pick up a few drops of oil and apply it to each bobbin in order to make sure that it is lubricated properly.
  5. Use a dry rag or paper towel in order to clean up the excess oil on the outside of your machine. Do this because it will cause a buildup if you don’t and over time, this can lead to problems.
  6. Set your machine back together, replace the case, and then turn it on. You should feel a little resistance when you turn it on. This is normal and demonstrates that it is working properly once again.

A modern sewing machine is quite a heavy piece, which is why it’s so easy to damage it. In the period when they were made, the machines were necessary and they were all made with metal parts. However, today, these are no longer used, which is why we have to use more plastic parts and this means that your sewing machine will become more sensitive to damage very quickly.

You need to know that the moving parts of your machine will work better with good lubrication and you can never hope for lubrication alone. The oil has to be chosen correctly and you can simply buy a bottle at any local store that sells oils or you can buy one online as well.

Check Also: How To Oil A Singer Sewing Machine (Detailed Guide)

How to Clean Sewing Oil Stain From Fabric?

There are many kinds of fabrics available to you. These can be cotton, linen, and more. When cleaning these fabrics, you must know that they will get stained easily. It is important that you clean the fabrics regularly to keep them in good shape. If you want them to last longer, then it is better that you clean them before using them. You can either buy a brush or use your hands to clean the stains.

The easiest way to remove a stain is by using a solution of water and vinegar. A solution such as this can be used by mixing one part of each in cups of water and making sure that it is mixed very well.

Once mixed, apply this mixture over the stain on the fabric and allow it to sit for at least an hour. Then, you can use cloths or other materials such as paper towels to remove the stains from the fabric. Take care that you do not rub or force the fabric when cleaning to avoid damaging it.

You can also use a solution of baking soda to clean the fabric. You need to make a solution of baking soda and water and then apply this on the stain with a brush or your hands. Make sure that you are aware that this can discolor some fabrics very easily.

Never put too much of it on the fabric and also, and never use it while the fabric is still in its wet condition. You should wait until everything dries, after which you can take care of cleaning it out by rubbing with your hands or using towels and more brushes.

FAQ About Oiling A Sewing Machine

Do Modern Sewing Machines Need Oiling?

Yes, If you don’t oil a sewing machine, then it will not work well. Particularly in today’s modern world, you cannot rely on a regular household supply of fabric to keep everything going. There are many different fabrics and types of materials that will present negative side effects if they are not properly oiled.
Modern sewing machines need to be oiled in order to be able to function at their best and this is true for all types of sewing machines including the older styles, such as the Singer models. You can never go back once you have placed your order for a modern sewing machine.
You need to do everything that you can to take care of it, otherwise, you will be replacing the machine before you know it. This is why I recommend that you pick up your oiling supplies as soon as possible and learn how to use them properly.

What Part Of The Sewing Machine Should Be Avoided When Oiling?

We all know that it’s essential to clean our sewing machines, but we also know that there are some places that we shouldn’t be cleaning with any type of oil. There are some sewing machine parts that should be avoided as well.
In most cases, the key to avoiding any oil buildup is just to be careful and wash parts with warm water and a cotton swab. When you spray the areas with your machine with a paper towel, you will also keep any dirt or excess substances from going into them in the first place. Just remember that some devices such as lockstitch machines are much more sensitive to keep clean than others.
In order to make oil the appropriate place, you should pay attention to the following points, the sewing machine must be completely dry. Oil shouldn’t be sprayed on a wet machine. A cloth or cotton swab should be used to wipe off the dirt and particles on the part that is to be oiled. The cotton swab should also be dipped in some lubricant prior to going inside the sewing machine. Make sure that none of the oil goes in any openings of your sewing machine otherwise it can cause unnecessary damage.

Is WD 40 Light Machine Oil?

I have an old sewing machine and the only oil I use is WD 40 LIGHT. It works very well for me. I have no issues with needles getting stuck or anything. I just put a little on the hand wheel and ran it. It keeps my machine running smoothly without any issues and never clogs up the needles. If it’s gonna be a little while before you use your machine then use whatever you want to keep it from rusting as long as it’s not too thick of a coat.

Why Do Sewing Machines Lock Up And Won’t Sew?

There are a couple of things that can happen when your machine won’t sew. You can try to use it and it can refuse to run properly or it might not even start up in the first place. One way that you can get around this problem is to make sure that you’re oiling your machine every now and again. This way, you shouldn’t have any problems running through different types of stitching and creating beautiful pieces of clothing.

Can I Use Cooking Oil As Sewing Machine Lubricant?

I actually don’t recommend cooking oil for this purpose, since it will leave an oily residue on your machine, you might as well just use an actual sewing machine oil. Most people would think that this is completely unnecessary since we just put a bit of oil on a swab and rub it all over the area that’s in need of some lubrication. However, this isn’t the best way to go about doing things so here are some tips to consider, though how much or how often you do this really depends on the machine and how often it gets used.

Final Thoughts

It can be difficult to keep your sewing machine clean and well-maintained. However, with the right oil and some consideration, you can easily keep your sewing machine running smoothly without any issues.

Hope this article will be helpful for you about how you should oil your sewing machine and all the issues regarding oiling a sewing machine.


  1. Esty – What is Sewing Machine Oil Made of
  2. Wikihow – How to Oil a Sewing Machine
  3. Quora – How do I oil my sewing machine? When should I oil it?
  4. Quilting board – Sewing machine oil
  5. Reddit – PSA: Oil your machines!
  6. Survivalist – Sewing machine oil?
  7. HotRodders – Sewing Machine Maintenance (oiling)
  8. Reddit – TIL: Cleaning and oiling your sewing machine is necessary and will save yourself a lot of stress.



I have been working as a seamstress since I was 12 years old, and I would be happy to teach you what I know. I, along with the rest of my team, investigate numerous sewing, quilting, embroidery, and fabric related how-to guides, and present our findings to you.

Leave a Comment