So here is a little tutorial to help you with that cleaning process! I will be cleaning my Brother sewing machine which needs it DESPERATELY. I was almost embarassed to take pictures of how bad it was but it does show a good before and after. *This post is very picture heavy as I wanted you to see all of the details inside the machine.
First, let's gather some tools. A little screwdriver may have come with your machine. It is in the little bag that the extra presser feet are in. You will need that. Sometimes machines come with another little tool that is all metal and has sides that you can use like a flathead screwdriver. You can also use that.
Your machine may have also come with a little brush. I also have a bigger brush (blue handle) that I bought in the sewing notions isle when they were half off. The bigger brush does a great job of cleaning out the lint. Grab some q-tips as well. The dust bunnies cling right on to the cotton ends.
Okay, time to get started! Now this machine has a drop in, top loading bobbin. For those of you with a front loading bobbin, there will be another tutorial for you all.
First, on this model, slide towards you the grey coverplate. It should slide off and out of its groove. Some other brands do not have this grey plastic cover plate. That is okay...we will catch you all in a minute.
Next, you will need to take either the screwdriver or that little metal tool and loosen the screws that hold down the metal cover plate. I had two screws to remove. I loosened the screws with my tool and then unscrewed them the rest of the way with my hand. Set those little screws aside somewhere safe!
You can see all of the dust bunnies now, can't you?
For some of you, you just have a large metal cover plate to remove like on my Janome below. Remove the screw(s) using the same method and then remove the plastic bobbin case cover.
Next, take out the bobbin and the black bobbin case that it sits in. It should lift up and out of your machine.
Yikes! Look at all of the lint in there! And I have not been sewing anything unusual either. I don't sew on fleece and I really have not sewn anything fuzzy like flannel, minky or fun fur either lately. This is lint from cotton prints and home decor fabric. So even if you don't THINK there should be lots of lint and dust bunnies, there probably are.
Okay, time to start cleaning! Starting swabbing out all of the major lint build up and really try to get down around the bobbin casing as well. You can also turn your handwheel to move the bobbin casing around so that you can really get in there.
And remember to brush out the lint that is stuck in the grooves of your feeds dogs (the little teeth that pull your fabric through the machine for you). Those often have a build up of lint.
Now this is much better!!
Remember to also brush off your black bobbin case and turn it over and brush off the bottom. You can see in the background the lint I cleaned out of my machine.
You are all done cleaning!! Now let's start to put everything back together.
First, set the black bobbin case back in. It sets on a little ledge and there is a little black nub that goes in the front next to the metal part with the screw.
Next set your metal cover plate back on the machine. On some machines, the right side needs to slide in first. Try to make sure it is level and that the screw holes line up. Replace the screws into the machine. I hand tighten the screws and then use my little tool to really tighten them up at the end.
Next, students usually ask me "how often do I have to do this?". Well, once a month would be great especially if you have been sewing a lot. I clearly let more than a month go by so I am not the best example. Just be your own judge...start off with once a month and if it looks really clean each time, go to every other month. A large build up of lint can cause your stitching to mess up. The black bobbin case can get a dust bunny under it so it won't sit level and then your machine makes a loud, strange noise (yep, I have been there too). Sometimes, no loud noise but the stitches don't look their best.
There are little vacuums made for sucking out all of the lint in a sewing machine (I have seen those on the Nancy's Notions website) and sometimes you can buy a small hose to put on your vaccum to get in there and clean it out. Some folks use the cans of compressed air but I have to admit that I am not a big fan of those. I don't want to blow anything further in, I want to get it OUT!
I hope this little tutorial helps and that you feel confident enough to get in there and clean out your machine!