How to Oil a Sewing Machine: A Detailed Guide with Video

Do you own a sewing machine?    If you do, learning how to oil a sewing machine is an important part of keeping it in tip top shape. 

We can all agree that buying a sewing machine is one of the best investments that DIY'ers and sewing enthusiasts can make. Most sewers tend to get carried away by the rewards a sewing machine offers.  

What happens is this: that they end up overlooking one crucial part- maintenance.

In this article we will discuss:

  • Why oiling a sewing machine is important
  • Different tools that you can use to oil your machine
  • A list of the best types of sewing machine oils to use
  • How often to oil your machine and much more!

Let's dive off into the post.

Why is Oiling a Sewing Machine Important?

Heres the thing:

Sewing machines need oil to keep their parts lubricated and prevent them from rusting. While its easy to assume that most of them are maintenance free. But this is not the case.

In fact, like cars, sewing machines need regular maintenance to keep them running in tip top shape. This is because sewing machines have a lot of internal and external parts that are prone to rust and dust build up.

But, with proper maintenance you can keep your sewing machine in great shape for years to come.

In this article we will cover tips for oiling your sewing machine, provide a list of recommended sewing machine oils, and feature a few maintenance hacks.

Why Should You Use Sewing Machine Oils?

As previously mentioned, after buying a new sewing machine, one you want to make sure that it stays running for a long time. The only way to make this happen is to maintain your sewing machine properly.

 Here are the top 3 reasons why oiling your sewing machine is beneficial:

 1. To reduce maintenance costs

Frequent trips to the service and maintenance shops can get costly. In fact, most sewing machine maintenance and repair shops charge anywhere from $100 and up for service on basic machines. For more advanced machines (like computerized ones), maintenance costs more. 

In addition to being very cost-effective, knowing how to oil a sewing machine is crucial to your own safety.   This prevents parts from breaking and potentially causing you harm.

2.  To prevent parts from rusting

Do you have a sewing machine and hear "weird or strange" noises coming from it?  Does it sound like your sewing machine is about to "kill over"?

If any of these apply to you, it's most likely due to a lack of sewing machine oil.  Here again, because sewing machines have a lot of moving parts, frequent use will cause them to wear down.  To prevent this from happening, it's best to apply oil to your machine.


3.  To keep your sewing machine running a peak performance

Investing in the maintenance of your machine is worthwhile over the long haul, especially with improving its performance and life.

It's like a car:

If you want to keep your car running and make sure that the motor doesn't lock up on you, you have to get frequent oil changes.

Well, the same thing applies to your sewing machine.   If you are a professional sewer that spends a lot of time working on sewing projects. Even if you are buying a new machine, lubricating your machine will keep it in great shape.

What are The Must-have Tools For Oiling a Sewing Machine?

Now that you know how important oiling your sewing is, we are sure you are ready to get started.   One of the questions that you may be asking yourself is: “What resources do I need?”

Well we have you covered in this section of the post.

Before applying oil to your sewing machine, remember that your machine needs to be cleaned first. Here's a helpful article that shows you how to clean your sewing machine.

Okay, we have singled out some of the essential tools that you can use to lubricate your machine successfully.

 Here they are:

  • Sewing Machine Oil:  this is the oil that you will be applying to your sewing machine. 
  • Sewing Machine Manual: This will give you an insight on where each part is. It will also provide a list of things you should pay attention to in order to keep your machine running correctly. 
  • A small synthetic brush: For cleaning and dusting individual pieces of the machine before you lubricate.
  •  Magnifying glass: Will help you view the small parts in your machine.
  • Cotton balls / small pieces of cloth: For cleaning the larger machine surfaces and wiping off excessive oils.
  • A pair of rubber gloves.

What Are The Recommended Sewing Machine Oils?

Now that we've covered a list of tools to use for oiling a sewing machine, you may be wondering, "What are the best sewing machine oils to use"?

 In this section of the post, we will answer this question, plus provide helpful links to a list of sewing machine oils that you can purchase.

3 Different Types of Sewing Machine Oils

Sewing machine oils are tailor-made to suit the lubrication of sewing machines. They all contain different ingredients and work differently.

Typically, sewing machine oils come in three main distinctions: mineral oils, synthetic oils and natural oils.

  • Mineral Oils:  These types of oils hail from Vaseline-based petrochemicals and tend to be odorless. In addition, they lack residues, hence will leave your machine very clean after you have completed the oiling process.


  • Synthetic Oils:  Although costlier than mineral oils, synthetic sewing machine oils are suitable for application on plastic or rubber surfaces.


  • Natural Oils:  These oils are created from natural ingredients such as jojoba, coconut oil and ester oils. But, for optimal performance and lubrication, their synthetic and mineral oil counterparts are the best.

For clarity on which is the best for your machine, consult a sewing machine technician or your local dealer. Or you can just use the oil that comes with your sewing machine.

In addition, you are strongly advised to avoid using products like petroleum jelly, WD-40, waxes and multi-purpose grease because they will damage your machine

3 Great Sewing Machine Oils to Use on your Machine

Here is a quick glance some of the top sewing machine oils that you can purchase:

#1:  Singer Machine Oil

Besides being multi-purpose, this oil also has a pout that can access even the most hidden parts of your singer sewing machine. It is also very affordable and highly recommended for singer sewing machines.

Singer All Purpose Sewing Machine Oil

#2:  Zoom Spout Sewing Machine Oil

Some of the most acclaimed features of this oil are its telescopic spout and anti-rusting properties. You can use it to clean and oil your machine, as well as any other equipment related to sewing.

Zoom Spout Lubricating Oil

#3:  Liberty Oil

This particular oil contains paraffin as an ingredient. It has impressive anti-oxidizing properties. It comes in a 4 Oz bottle and you can get it on Amazon.

Liberty All Purpose Synthetic Sewing Machine Oil

How Often Should You Apply Oil To Your Sewing Machine?​​​​​

The most frequently asked question by novice sewers,is "how often should I oil my sewing machine"?

Well, this usually depends on a number of factors.  The Singer Sewing Machine company recommends the following:

"If you use your machine once a week, lubricate once a month. If you only use your sewing machine once a month, lubricate once every three months. We also recommend that you have your machine tuned-up by a qualified technician every 3 to 4 years to keep it in good running order. "

How To Apply Sewing Machine Oils

So far, so good.

The final step is to get ready to oil your sewing machine. This section offers a step by step guide, with all the tips and tricks that will help make it more fun.

Now, for a quick rundown of what we are covering in this list, check out this video tutorial and guide below that you can follow along  with.

Step 1:  The Machine Should Be Drawn up For Cleaning and Oiling

Before starting any maintenance work on your machine, make sure you disconnect it from the source of power to avoid any electrical issues.

Next, disengage the removable machine parts that may cause issues during the maintenance process. For most machines, it is usually the bobbin cases, extra threads, the needle plates, stitch plates, and the presser foot.

For both front and top loading (bobbin) machines, most of the dirt and lint usually accumulates on the stitch plates and behind the needle plates. So these are the parts you should pay the most attention to.

 Having a hard time? Follow this tutorial for more information.

Step 2: Use Small Brushes To First Clean The Machine

It would be pointless to oil your machine while all the dust and lint is still intact. Cleaning is a crucial step to making sure that the applied lubrication works for a longer period. 

When cleaning your machine use small brushes that can access the small hidden machine parts. You could also use a magnifying glass to have a clear view.

  •  Use your lint brush to remove lint or dirt from the parts you separated from the machine. Tweezers may come in handy for the parts that the brushes can’t access.
  •  For the larger surfaces, simply use a piece of cloth to wipe any dirt off.
  •  For brother sewing machines, their dealers permit using a vacuum cleaner to remove the small pieces of dirt that may mix with your oil.

Step 3: Oil The Machine


First apply small amounts of oil on the machine parts. Please try to avoid applying excessive lubricant, because this will slow down the components of your machine.

Now this is where you will need to pay attention to your manual.

Typically, your manual will instruct you to smear a few drops of the sewing machine oil at the center of the shuttle hook.

Use a nylon brush to spread out the oil so that it is not over concentrated on one part. Being the ring that enables the bobbin hook to fit properly, there’s a lot of friction from the consistent rubbing. You may also be required to apply sewing machine oil to the outer part of the bobbin hook.

If you are a beginner, you may find yourself at cross roads when it comes to the machine parts that need oiling. If you do, just stick to any machine components that come into contact with each other. Also remember that any plastic components SHOULD NOT  be oiled.

The next step is to get rid of any excess oil using a piece of cloth. Place the cloth strategically beneath the presser foot for it to absorb any unrestrained oil.

 Also, remember that it is advisable that you use a wet cloth that is also soapy. Allow it to soak up the excess oil, and repeat this process until all of it is soaked up.

Step 4: Return all the parts that you had removed or disassembled once the machine is dry

Just like that, your sewing machine is well cleaned, oiled, and ready for your next sewing project. 

Easy, right?

We understand that having to repeat this process may not be fun for some of us. With a few tips, however, you can guard your machine from rusting and failing parts by taking good care of it.

Additional Tips and Maintenance Hacks

Here are a few additional maintenance tips to take into consideration when applying sewing machine oils: 

  • Tip 1:  When disengaging different elements of the sewing machine in the preparation phase, DO NOT overdo it.
  • Tip 2:  For parts that you can access without removing, let them stay intact. If you remove too many machine parts, you expose them to breakage, or being misplaced. One way of reducing the need to oil your machine is by covering it once you are done. This will prevent dirt from accumulating in between the machine parts.
  •  Tip 3: The type of fabric and thread you use for your stitches determines the amount of tilt that accumulates in your sewing machine parts. Shun poorly quality threads, especially those manufactured from short fibers.
  • Tip 4:  Using old sewing machine oil is NOT recommended when oiling your machine. It's better to buy fresh oil than to use one that's old.  Using old sewing machine oil can harm your machine.  One way to tell if your sewing machine oil is old is to watch out for thickness, odd smell or a yellowish appearance instead of white.

Wrapping Up the Post

We hope that you enjoyed this post featuring tips for oiling a sewing machine like a pro! If you haven't already, be sure to check out our latest blog posts and sewing machine reviews to find the perfect machine for your sewing projects.

Happy Sewing!


Shelly is the main editor and author of this website. She is passionate about helping fellow sewing enthusiasts find the right sewing machine for your sewing projects plus design beautiful sewing spaces that inspire your creativity. If you're ready to DIY a stunning sewing room (on a budget), be sure to check out the Sewing Room that Sizzles Workbook bundle (complete with a 50+ page workbook) and two Bonus Guides that will put you on the fast track to setting up, designing and organizing a sewing room that is TOTALLY you (on a shoestring budget).