How to Clean a Vintage Sewing Machine

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In this era of all the digital and electronic stuff, vintage sewing machines are still used by a lot of individuals. These ridiculously durable machines include superior quality components and can be performed for many years. However, you must clean the machine to keep the look and performance optimum.

Cleaning a vintage sewing machine can be a little bit confusing as the machine consists of a large number of accessories. A typical non-electric or vintage sewing machine includes more than 27 parts. So, while cleaning the device, you can end up malfunctioning the device.

In this writeup, we will discuss how to clean a vintage sewing machine in a step by step guide. Just go through the guide carefully and you will be able to clean the machine easily.

How to Clean a Vintage Sewing Machine

How to Clean a Vintage Sewing Machine

Check out the mentioned steps below to begin cleaning the vintage sewing machine. As the machine includes various components, we will need to acknowledge how to assemble and disassemble the device. If you are confused about this part, we will recommend you to take a picture or video.

This will help you to remember how to put the machine together after disassembling it. Keep a small bowl near to store the small accessories of the machine, like nuts, bolts, screws, etc. These small parts are highly essential as you may not purchase them separately.

There should be an accessories box with the sewing machine that should include a cleaning brush. There you should also find a compatible screw to detach the screws. Now follow the below paragraphs:

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Read the User Manual

Before doing anything else, we suggest you go through the user-manual that arrives with your sewing machine. It is important to check it to acknowledge the correct way of assembling and disassembling. Moreover, the instruction guide should also include the procedure of cleaning the machine. 

Depending on the manufacturer and model, the procedure of cleaning and disassembling can vary on a large scale. So, looking at the manual will help you to clean the machine correctly. You can also know which things to avoid while cleaning the machine in the precaution section. 

Note that, here, our goal is not to fully disassemble the machine. We just want to open it so that you can clean and lubricate the required parts. Our target will be to eradicate the dust around the bobbin case and exterior. 

In case you lost the user manual, you should search for it online. It should be available as a PDF file. Besides, you can contact the manufacturer through e-mail or their website. You can also get help from a certified or professional technician. 

Detach the Accessory Tray

Based on the placement of the bobbin, the accessory tray can arrive in two types, which are the top-loaded machine and the front-loading machine. In the front-loaded sewing machine, you will need to open the accessory tray every time you want to change the bobbin. 

Besides, you don’t require detaching the tray that much on the other variation that much as bobbin can be added without removing the tray. The compartment of the sewing machine can gather a lot of dirt, dust, hair, lint, and such other stuff. You can use the included brush to clean the compartment. 

Clean the Take-up Lever

Now we will clean the take-up lever of the sewing machine. The step will be easier for you if the machine arrives with a detachable left part of the casing. You can get access to the entire area for eradicating the dust and debris around the area. Clean the area using the brush as you did above.

If the machine doesn’t arrive with a removable top left casing, then you can still clean it. Use a piece of cloth and drive it throughout the lever up and down to eradicate the dirt as much as possible. Make sure that the tension lever is set to zero while working for a good clean. 

You can also make use of a portable vacuum cleaner for better cleaning of the area. The vacuum can pick up the small lint, hairballs, etc. apart from the dust. 

Clean the Surrounding of Needle

If possible, detach the needle holder of the sewing machine to clean the area properly. If there is much dust or debris in the area, then it may affect the stitches. So, use the brush and vacuum cleaner to properly clean the area. Start with utilizing the brush to eliminate the lint, fabric, and dust from the area.

You can also detach the presser foot and the needle itself for a better room while cleaning. Vacuum the area after utilizing the brush to get rid of the residue.

Note that you shouldn’t remove the cover of the area if it is not recommended on the user manual. As there are a lot of subtle components in the area, you may end up malfunctioning the machine.

Clean the Surrounding of Bobbin

Now we will clean one of the most important parts of the sewing machine which is the bobbin thread and surroundings. As we mentioned previously, there can be two types of sewing machines based on the bobbin thread which are top-loading and front-loading. We will discuss the cleaning procedure for both types.

If you have a top-loaded sewing machine that begins with removing the bobbin case and the bobbin itself. Now you will require detaching the metal plate around fleet teeth to access the underneath bobbin area. You can do this by loosening some of the screws using the compatible screwdriver.

The area can be greatly affected by the dirt and lint, and you will require a little extra hardworking for this step. Start with removing the visible hairballs and lint using your hands. Then use the brush to loosen the dirt around the area. Then utilize the vacuum cleaner to get rid of them. 

If you have the front-load sewing machine, the step will be pretty easier for you. Simply remove the bobbin case and the bobbin to access the surrounding area. Then make use of the brush and vacuum cleaner, and follow the given steps in the above paragraph for the clean.  

Oiling the Parts

To enjoy a smoother user experience, you should frequently oil the moving parts of the sewing machine. However, it is recommended to avoid excessive oil as it can harm the device instead of doing any good. Excessive oil can assist to produce dust buildup inside the machine quickly. 

Also, make sure to use the oil that is recommended by the manufacturer of the machine.

Wrap Up

The above steps are enough to clean most of the parts of the vintage sewing machine. If the sewing machine allows you to remove more components, you can do so for a better cleanse. When you are done cleaning, carefully put the component back in its place by following the videos or photos that you have captured or the user manual.

As you see, cleaning the antique sewing machine is not that hard. To preserve the performance of the device, we recommend you to frequently clean it. However, if you are confident about doing so, we will suggest you to better leave it to the professional.

About Haven Erdman Website Author

About Haven Erdman

Hi there, this is Haven Erdman, the owner, and editor-in-chief of the “sewing associate” website. I am a full-time businessman who owns several sewing shops. I started my sewing journey from home when I was 19 years old. Apart from the businesses, I am a passionate writer who has featured in several fashion blogs. I love to share my experience in the industry with others through writing.

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