What Kind of Oil Is Safe to Use for a Sewing Machine?

Oiling a sewing machine is often part of its regular maintenance. Properly oiling your machine will keep it running smoothly and extend its life by preventing it from wearing out or rusting.

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Use only oil designed for sewing machines.

Identification

You should use only oil designed for sewing machines on your machine. Sewing machine oil is a white mineral oil, meaning it is clear and has no smell. The oil has a light viscosity and will not collect on the machine's gears. It is usually marketed as machine or sewing machine oil.

Warning

You shouldn't use cooking oil or automotive oil in your machine, since doing so may clog the gears and damage any fabric used in the machine. Also, 3-in-1 oil is not suitable for sewing machines, according to Threads magazine.

Considerations

Before oiling your machine, read your manual to make sure it actually requires oiling. Machines with plastic or nylon parts do not need oiling. Some sewing machines are self-lubricating and do not need additional oil.

Expert Insight

Threads magazine recommends cleaning and oiling your sewing machine every time you finish a sewing project. In addition to oiling your machine, you should change the needle and wipe away any dust. Threads also recommends using only the smallest amount of oil each time you clean the machine so you do not overoil it.