What Kind Of Oil Do You Use On A Sewing Machine?

Like every other mechanical tools, sewing machines require oiling to prevent them from wearing out or rusting. While most people know they ought to oil their sewing machines, the question has always been how? Do you use just about any oil or is there a special kind of oil meant for sewing machine maintenance? To ensure you don’t make any mistakes that will damage your machine, I’ll be giving recommendations for oiling sewing machines in this article.

What Kind Of Oil Do You Use On A Sewing Machine?

What Kind Of Oil Do You Use On A Sewing Machine?

While there are natural and synthetic oils that could do a decent oiling job, the best kind of oil meant for oiling sewing machines is mineral oil. This oil is created from petrochemicals or certain substances made from crude oil. The sewing machine oil is white watery, odorless, and has a light viscosity.

Sewing machine oil helps to reduce the friction between different parts of your machine. This ensures they don’t grind against each other and wear down. Unfortunately, you can’t use just any kind of oil on your sewing machine. Oils like ‘3 in 1’ which can be used on bicycle chains will evaporate and leave gummy residues when used to oil sewing machines. This is why it is paramount to use natural oils for your machine. Apart from being effective, natural oils are readily available and considerably cheap.

While natural oil can do a lot of wonders for your sewing machine, it is important to find out if your machine needs oiling in the first place. Sewing machines with nylon or plastic parts do not require oiling at all. Meanwhile, there are certain machines that are self-lubricating and do not require additional oiling. Always read through your machine’s user manual to see if oiling is recommended.

Natural Oil Alternatives

Natural Oil Alternatives

If you can’t lay your hands on a natural sewing machine oil, there are a few alternatives that could pass off as a lubricant. They are:

Synthetic Oil: These are artificial oils that can be used as alternatives for natural oils on machines. Synthetic oil can be used on painted surfaces, plastic, and rubber. Clock oil is an example of a good synthetic oil that works for sewing machines. The biggest downside to using synthetic oils is that they’re a lot more expensive than mineral oil.

Triflow Oil: This is hands down the best alternative oil for sewing machine maintenance. Triflow oil is made from byproducts of petroleum and contains particles of Teflon which is responsible for its slippery and lubricating characteristics. This oil can keep your machine’s gears moving smoothly even when they are under high pressure and heat. They can be used on rubber, plastic, wood, and metal. Although they are a bit more expensive than mineral oil, their quality is worth every bit of the extra dollar you have to pay.

How To Oil Your Sewing Machine

How To Oil Your Sewing Machine

Before going ahead to oil your sewing machine, be sure to check your user manual for safety precautions as each sewing machine have their unique settings. If you can’t find your sewing machine’s manual, you can get it on their website by searching for the machine’s model. Once you have read through the manual, proceed to get the right tools.


  1. Before oiling your machine, you’ll first need to clean it. To do this, you need lint brushes, soft fabrics and dust cleaners. It is important to clean those parts your hands can’t get to as they usually accumulate the most amount of lint. If you can’t get a lint brush, you may use a toothbrush as a substitute. You can also use compressed air to clean those gunk that is difficult to reach.
  2. You may also need sewing machine spare parts if you need to make any repairs. Make sure the parts you get are suitable for your machine model.
  3. The final tool you need is your lubricating oil which should be mineral oil or an ideal substitute like triflow oil.

Step 1: Clean your Sewing Machine

As I mentioned above, before oiling a sewing machine, the first step is to clean the accumulated lint. To do this, be sure to remove machine parts to make it easy to clean everywhere. Remove hooks, needles, stitching plates, and excess thread. If you can get your hands on compressed air, use it to blow out accumulated debris and dirt. After blowing off dirt with compressed air, use a piece of clothing to clean the machine’s bigger parts.

Step 2: Oil Sewing Machine: Once you’re done with cleaning your machine, the next step is to oil it. Put a few oil drops on your sewing machine’s moving parts. Most people are unsure which part of a machine to oil and that’s understandable especially if the machine’s manual does not give directions on how to oil them.

To determine if a part of your machine should be oiled, simply check if they rub against other parts when the machine is working. If they do, you’ll need to oil them to reduce friction between the two parts. If you have mistakenly poured too much oil on your machine, use a piece of cloth to clean off the excess oil.

To oil the shutter clock, put a few oil drops inside your sewing machine’s hook race. The shutter clock is the ring area that lets the bobbin hook fit seamlessly. Lubricating it will stop the small part from rubbing together and wearing your machine. After oiling each part, try to move them manually to ensure the oil applied spreads across the parts evenly.

General Precautions To Take While Oiling Your Sewing Machine

When oiling your sewing machine, special care has to be taken to prevent damaging any part of your machine. The following safety precautions are necessary to ensure your machine is oiled properly.

  • Do not try to oil your sewing machine while it is still connected to an electric circuit. This is to prevent electric shock.
  • Dismantle your sewing machine one after the other to ensure you’re able to clean and oil every part.
  • Check to see if your oil has not expired before applying it to your sewing machine parts as this can have a disastrous effect on your machine. If your mineral oil that’s naturally clean, clear and odorless turns to another color that smells, discard it and get fresh soil.
  • It is important to oil your sewing machine as frequently as possible. This is to ensure that it keeps working properly. If you use your machine every week, you should oil it weekly.

Final Thoughts

oiling sewing machine

With the instructions above, you should be able to oil your sewing machine without much hassle. If you still can’t oil your machine properly despite the instructions above, you may want to consider hiring a professional to oil it for you.

In fact, some manufacturers purposely leave out instructions on oiling certain sewing machines from their usual manual because they believe only a professional can oil them properly. If this is the case with your machine, don’t hesitate to hire a professional. Lastly, oiling your sewing machine not only prevents your machine parts from rusting or wearing off, it also helps improve your machine’s longevity. It is, therefore, important to take oil your machine as frequently as possible.

Related Questions

Do Industrial And Regular Sewing Machines Use The Same Type Of Oil?

Industrial And Regular Sewing Machines Use The Same Type Of Oil

It is possible to oil regular sewing machines with the same type of oil meant for industrial machines. The only difference is that industrial machines use heavy chemicals like paraffin as ingredients. These kinds of harsh chemicals are not ideal for home use.

Can I Use Wd-40 On My Sewing Machine?

No, it is not ideal to lubricate your sewing machine with WD-40.in fact, It can cause the graphite on your machine gear to lose its own lubricating properties. Hence, using WD-40 can damage your sewing machines.



I'm Jessica Flores, a professional fashion designer and an expert seamstress. Crafting has always been a deep-seated passion of mine, one that has flourished and evolved over the years. I've dedicated considerable time to both studying and practicing in the realm of fashion and sewing, amassing a wealth of experience and skills. It brings me great joy to share these insights and experiences with you all, hoping to inspire and foster a similar passion for the art of sewing.

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