Extend the Life of Your Embroidery Machine: Proper Oiling and Maintenance

Kris Daub
Published by Kris Daub | Senior Editor
Last updated: December 15, 2023
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Operating an embroidery machine requires regular oiling and lubrication to keep it running smoothly for years to come. Properly caring for your machine not only prevents frustrating problems, but can double or even triple its lifespan. This comprehensive article will teach you when and how to properly oil your embroidery machine.

Why Oil Your Embroidery Machine?

An embroidery machine has many intricate metal parts that move against each other at high speeds, including the rotary hook, take-up lever, needle bar, and more. Constant friction from metal-on-metal contact causes microscopic wear on surfaces over time. This can lead to wobbling, increased noise, thread breakage, and eventual failure as tolerances are lost.

Proper lubrication allows these tight-fitting parts to glide smoothly…

Proper lubrication allows these tight-fitting parts to glide smoothly instead of grinding. High-quality sewing machine oil or lubricant creates a thin cushion between surfaces to prevent direct contact and associated damage to joints, bushings and bearings, and moving components.

Well-oiled machines run quieter as parts turn instead of scrape against each other. Heat buildup is reduced as kinetic energy is freely dissipated rather than trapped. Most importantly, lubrication greatly slows wear so your embroidery machine lasts two, three, or even four times longer than a dry, unmaintained unit. But you have to be consistent – oiling just occasionally when problems arise is not enough!

When Should You Oil Your Machine?

Home Embroidery Machine

For home embroidery machine owners, ideal oiling intervals are:

  • Each morning before beginning a work session
  • Every time the bobbin thread is changed
  • After cleaning the machine or when it has sat unused for over a week

This routine maintains a fresh oil film on moving mechanisms and prevents issues from dried lubricant.

Commercial Embroidery Machine

Commercial embroidery machines used for hours a day require a stricter preventative maintenance schedule. Guidelines are typically:

  • Oiling critical wear points every 4 hours during operation.
  • Other components oiled on daily, weekly, and even yearly intervals per the manual.

Don’t wait until something sounds funny – consistency is vital!

What Oil Should You Use?

Only use specialty oil formulated specifically for sewing and embroidery machines. Top brands like Liberty Oil and Singer sewing machine oil have customized additives to prevent corrosion while resisting gumming as temperature fluctuates inside your machine.

Equally important is using light viscosity oil with a low pour point that flows easily to reach tight areas, yet won’t splash or leak out. Thicker oils also attract more lint and dust that can clog mechanisms. The correct oil protects metal components without damaging delicate rubber gaskets, nylon gears, or control board electronics also found inside your embroidery machine.


General lubricants like WD-40 dry out too quickly while motor oils and greases are too viscous. Using the wrong oil can actually cause more wear and tear! Only use what your manual specifies for your make and model.

Where To Apply Oil

Though requirements differ between various machines, key areas needing regular lubrication typically include:

Rotary Hook and Bobbin Components

Responsible for forming stitches, precision moving parts here see the most action. A drop applied into the bobbin case and on the hook race falls between surfaces.

Takeup Lever

This arm pivots to pull thread up from the needle eye after every stitch. A touch of oil where the lever joins its pivot prevents binding.

Needle Bar and Drive Gears

Oiled from bottom to top, the needle bar’s linear movement pierces fabric. Nearby gears and shafts rotate at high speed to time each stitch.

Tension Discs

These tiny spring-loaded discs pinch and relax to control thread tightness. Oil their fulcrum points lightly.

Joints and Bushings

Oil visible pivot pins, ball joints, and anywhere metal or plastic interfaces show relative motion.

How To Apply Oil Properly

Follow this procedure when lubricating your embroidery machine:

  1. Use a lint brush and cloth to thoroughly remove built-up dust and lint where possible.
  2. Position mechanisms like the takeup lever halfway through their movement so seams align.
  3. Using an oil dispenser pen or needle, carefully apply just 1-2 drops per pivot point. Less is often more to start – over-oiling attracts dirt.
  4. Turn mechanisms through their full range of motion slowly to evenly spread oil film. Rotate handwheels or run utility stitches without thread.
  5. Inspect closely and wipe away if excess oil accumulates. Pooling oil attracts contaminants while migrate onto sewing projects.
  6. Refer back to your make/model’s manual for any specific lubrication notes before reassembling components.

Caring for your embroidery machine may seem complicated at first. But following some simple guidelines for cleaning and consistent oiling makes all the difference for longevity and performance.

Just a few minutes around each work session keeps intricate mechanisms operating like new for years beyond expectation. Proper lubrication truly saves money and headaches over your machine’s lifetime!