Keep your sewing machine well oiled and lint-free and it can last a lifetime.
Keep it covered
Dust that settles on your sewing machine can work its way into the moving parts, turning the lubricating oil into gunk.
Keep your machine in the case if it has one, or closed if you have a cabinet model.
Otherwise, use a plastic cover that you can purchase at a fabric store.
Don’t forget the pedal
Residing on the floor, your machine’s foot pedal is subjected to more dust and dirt than the machine itself.
Keep it clean when not in use by slipping it into a plastic bag and tying the bag around the cord with a twist tie.
Pull the plug
Before you do any cleaning or lubrication work on your sewing machine, make sure it’s unplugged.
Give lint the brush off
Sewing involves piercing fabric with lots of little holes.
This process produces a surprising amount of lint that can gunk up the works, shortening the life of your machine.
So keep a small lint brush on your sewing table — one may have come with your machine.
A small paintbrush will work, too. Get in the habit of brushing off all easily accessible, movable parts each time you use the machine.
These parts include the take-up lever and thread guides, the presser foot and needle bar, and the bobbin case and needle-plate areas.
Clean the exterior
If the surfaces and covers on your sewing machine become dusty or dirty, clean them with a damp, soft cloth and mild soapy solution.
Tweeze the stubborn stuff
You may find at times that there are little bits of thread or lint that your brush can’t pull out of your sewing machine. But don’t give up.
You can usually pluck the stuff out with a pair of tweezers. A blast of compressed air from a can does a great job, too.
You can even try blowing the lint out with a hair dryer on a cool setting.
Floss your machine
Another way to banish the fuzzies from your sewing machine is to slide the edges of a thin piece of muslin between the tension disks (those metal pieces the tread passes through).
Make sure that the presser foot is in the up position to slacken the tension springs.
If you don’t have any muslin, gently slide a credit card between the disks to loosen dust and dirt caught between them.
Use the right lube in the right spots
Every sewing machine has its own set of lubrication points, sometimes as many as 30 of them!
Check your owner’s manual to find the lubrication points.
About once a year, depending on how often you sew, put one or two drops of sewing machine oil onto each indicated spot or hole.
Don’t use just any oil
Use only the oil sold especially for sewing machines to lubricate your machine.
Other commonly available lubricants tend to dry too fast and eventually may cause your machine to seize and stop.
A thorough servicing for your machine
If your sewing machine is giving you problems, a more thorough cleaning may be all that is needed to get it humming smoothly again.
This involves some disassembly of the machine.
You can take the machine to a shop where they will clean it and replace any parts that might be worn. Or you could do it yourself.
This doesn’t take special skill; you just need to be organized and keep track of the parts you remove.