Spring Cleaning Time! How to Clean Your Sewing Machine the safe way


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Your sewing machine needs to be cleaned regularly in order to keep running like you want it to. Do you open her up at least once a month to get rid of those dust bunnies? I sure hope so!

It’s been a few years since my last post about sewing machine cleaning, and the new electronic machines are more delicate than our old mechanical ones.

Here are some updated cleaning instructions plus tips and tricks for keeping any sewing machine in working order.


You don’t need a lot of tools to clean a sewing machine, but having the right ones makes a huge difference. I use:

  • a soft clean cloth
  • a small soft make up brush (eye shadow size)
  • a small brush with stiff bristles (the kind that probably came with your machine)
  • a small screwdriver for removing the needle and stitch plate screws (if any)
  • a mini-vacuum

I used to use canned air to clean my sewing machines, and while that may be okay for mechanical machines, it is absolutely not recommended for electronic sewing machines. I have switched to using my usb-powered mini vacuum and feel so much better about it!

The mini vacuum that I use is USB powered and plugs into an adapter that I keep close to my sewing machine for occasionally charging my cell phone. It must be plugged in to work and isn’t super powerful, but it’s the only thing that I have found that’s small enough to get into those crevices under my stitch plate. It does a good job at that too.



First a pro tip for keeping the delicate thread path working correctly: when changing or removing a spool of thread, don’t pull it out from the top.

Cut the thread near the spool. Then grab the thread in front of the needle and pull it out from the bottom. 

Repeatedly pulling thread out backwards from the spool can cause lint to build up or damage to the springs or tension disks. Play it safe by removing thread from the bottom.



After removing the thread, give your sewing machine a good dusting with the soft cloth. You could dampen the cloth with mild cleaner, but I usually don’t find that necessary.



Remove the presser foot and needle (it’s probably a good time to throw away that needle, right?) and remove the stitch plate. My stitch plate pops off with the push of a button, but most require removing a screw or too.


Check out all that lint and fuzz!!! This accumulated in just a couple weeks of regular use. 

Just so you know: polyester thread is cleaner and creates less lint. But I love cotton thread too!



Remove the bobbin case, take out the bobbin, and give it a good cleaning. I like to use my soft makeup brush for this. It picks up the fine dust really well.



Then go after all the lint and dust bunnies under the stitch plate and bobbin case. If it’s built up so much it looks like felt, that’s bad!!!

I like to start with my mini vacuum. The flexible tip on the vacuum can reach most of the tight spots.


Then I get the rest of the dust bunnies out with the stiff bristle brush.


Check your sewing machine’s owner’s manual to see if you need to oil it. If so, it will show you the right spots. This electronic sewing machine (and most electronic ones) does not require oil.

Replace the bobbin case and stitch plate.


Put the presser foot back on and a new needle in… and you’re good to go!

Since I sew a lot with cotton thread, I try to follow these cleaning steps about every 2 weeks. Someone who doesn’t sew every day might not need to clean their sewing machine this often, but I recommend at least once a month.

How often do you clean your machine? Do you follow these steps? Let us know in the comments. Here’s a review of my Janome Memory Craft 14000.

Disclosure: some of my posts contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting SewCanShe when you shop! All of the opinions are my own and I only suggest products that I actually use. 🙂