brush out bobbin case

How to clean a sewing machine (buh bye lint!)

How to clean a serger

If your sewing machine needs a good clean, your serger needs it more.

Sergers’ high speeds and cutting element are always going to generate a lot of junk. And if you’re serging more linty fabrics like fleece or flannel, it’ll be extra fluffy on the inside.

Take off the presser foot and throat plate

Start with a serger that is turned off.

Use your same little screwdriver to pop off the throat plate and presser foot. Cut your threads and take out the needles if you like.

I’ll admit to never having removed my throat plate on my serger. Boy howdy it was dust bunny city under there!


Use your lint brush to brush out the lint from the feed dogs and the exposed bits.

Open the looper covers

Next, brush out around the loopers on both sides. Take special care around the knife and the loopers themselves.

It’ll take quite a bit more doing to clean here than it did for your sewing machine. Just keep at it.

Should I use a vacuum to clean my serger?

You can use a small vacuum cleaner attachment to speed the serger cleaning process. I would look around for a computer cleaning attachment for your household vacuum.

I’ve bought mini vacuums from craft stores before that were basically useless.

A nicer standalone mini vac like this Metro Vacuum is pricey for the task unless you’re really into cleaning your machines or you use your computer alongside bags of Cheetos (ew).

If I ever find the magic combo of useful and reasonably priced for a little mini vac, I’ll share it. Otherwise, I’m sticking with a lint brush.

How to oil your serger

Check your manual here. My manual for my Janome 7034D listed several different key points to oil inside the looper covers.

Add a drop or two of oil in each spot listed in your manual. Wipe off the excess with a tissue or piece of flannel.

Check how often you need to add oil. My manual says once a week or every 10 hours.

Finishing up cleaning your serger

Rethread your machine, then close up the looper covers.

Screw the throat plate back in place and pop on the presser foot.

much better!!

Wipe any dust off the top and sides of your serger and around the thread cones.

Again, if your serger seems like it’s running “off” somehow, take it in for a service and a deeper cleaning than what you just finished.

How to clean a coverstitch machine

A coverstitch will be your easiest clean yet!

With the power off, take off your needles (if you want) and presser foot.

Next, unscrew your throat plate and use a lint brush to clean out the feed dogs.

Open the looper cover and brush out the area around the looper. After cleaning your serger, you’ll be surprised at how much cleaner it is inside!

Reassemble everything and wipe off your coverstitch on the tops, sides and around the thread cones.

So that is how to clean a sewing machine as well as how to clean out your serger and coverstitch. Do this periodically to keep your machines running well, and don’t forget to take your machines in for a more thorough service when they need it!

More things to keep your sewing room running in top-notch condition:

How to store fabric
How to store fabric

Storage hacks for all your fabric

Sewing pattern storage ideas
Sewing pattern storage ideas

Because 99 cent pattern sales are tomorrow’s problem

Sewing books for beginners
Sewing books for beginners

Just the helpful ones here that will help any sewist!

2 thoughts on “How to clean a sewing machine (buh bye lint!)”

  1. Whenever my machine starts to act out (not stitch well) I know that it’s time for a cleaning.
    I try to clean (respect) my machine after every project, but sometimes enthusiasm gets in the way!

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