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How Often Should I Oil My Sewing Machine?

by Brian Meloni
Oiling a sewing machine


It’s that time of year again, and as the leaves turn brown and cover our yards, we know it’s time to break out our sewing machines and start working on Christmas gifts. But wait! At Sewing Parts Online, we advocate for regular sewing machine maintenance; therefore, we must urge you to show your machine some love before you start creating! Let’s talk about sewing machine oil.

Of course, you must clean your machine and remove any dust, thread, fuzz, or lint buildup, but did you know your sewing machine also requires regular oiling? It’s true. Oil coating your machine’s moveable parts may deplete during use and storage. Running a sewing machine without proper lubrication might cause damage to your gears, hook, bobbin case, shaft, and more!


So, where do you start? Well, we recommend checking your owner’s manual. It should tell you where and when to oil. However, some newer machines will state that you never need to oil. We don’t entirely agree with this. Instead, we recommend taking newer sewing machines to a certified technician for routine maintenance. For example, if you own a Baby Lock sewing machine, you can reach out to Baby Lock, and they will help you find an authorized Baby Lock dealer in your area. These technicians should lubricate it as a part of the service.

Sewing machine owner's manual
Sewing Machine Instruction Manual


Older sewing machine parts were built incredibly well but require more frequent oiling. That’s because vintage sewing machine parts tend to be composed primarily of metal compared to today’s synthetic parts. Neither is entirely better than the other. However, due to their synthetic nature, newer sewing machine parts tend to glide together better, creating a quieter, smoother sewing experience‚Ķ and they require less frequent oiling. If you do not have a manual for your machine, our best suggestion would be to oil it as frequently as you use it. So, if you sew daily, you should also clean and oil your machine daily. It might seem overkill, but vintage sewing machine parts are often difficult to find or even flat-out discontinued. The extra caution is worth extending the life of your beloved machine.

Side note, if you don’t have a manual for your sewing machine, give us a call! We carry thousands of sewing machine instruction manuals, service manuals, and parts lists. We are happy to help you get your hands on a freshly printed and bound copy of your instruction manual! These manuals tend to have a wealth of information regarding your presser feet, bobbins, and accessories, as well as the functions of the machine. 


So, where do you oil your sewing machine? As a rule of thumb, we recommend lubricating the machine’s moving parts so that you can see without disassembling your machine. For example, your bobbin case/hook. Also, if you’re using a serger, you’d want to lubricate your looper shaft. You shouldn’t have to remove the casing of your sewing machine to lubricate and clean the internal parts regularly. Once a year is sufficient. Just remember to take pictures of your sewing machine before and during disassembly to make putting it back together easier.


The most important advice that we can give regarding oiling your sewing machine is to lubricants intended for sewing machines! Never use any other type of oil. We carry our own sewing machine oil (part #S1749), but Bluecreeper Non-Staining Sewing Machine Oil and Singer Sewing Machine Oil are also great options. Light oiling usually doesn’t require you to access your rotary hook gears or the feed dog gear set. If these parts need lubrication, please use grease instead of oil. Our technician Dennis recommends Tri-Flow Synthetic Grease (part #23004).


We’re so excited to get back into sewing’s most popular season! One last nugget of parting wisdom, make sure you perform one last final cleaning and oiling before retiring your sewing machine to the shelves once all your projects are complete. It will save you a lot of time and effort getting set up to sew again next year! If you have questions regarding oiling your sewing machine or other routine maintenance, feel free to call us.

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