A sewing machine is a major purchase for many people. Once you've invested in a sewing machine, you want to ensure years of good service from your machine. To keep your sewing machine running smoothly, it will need regular maintenance, much like your vehicle. Applying oil is a regular maintenance step of caring for your sewing machine. One thing you may wonder is what is the best oil for your sewing machine. We've researched sewing machine oils to take the guesswork out of which products to choose.
The best sewing machine oils are included in this list:
- Zoom Spout Sewing Machine Oil
- Lily White
- Singer 2131E All Purpose Machine Oil
- Liberty Oil
- Sew Rite Precision Machine Serger Oil
- Helmar Colonial 29 Super Lube Machine Oil
- Juki Genuine Defrix
Regular maintenance of your sewing machine and oil application will keep it running in top condition for many years. Use one of the oils we've recommended here for reducing wear and tear on your machine. Keep reading to learn all about specific oils and other details about caring for your sewing machine.
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Let's look a little more closely at each oil on our list and find out what makes it special and why you should choose it. You'll be able to find any of these products by clicking on the Amazon links provided.
1. Zoom Spout
Zoom Spout is a mineral oil-based sewing machine oil. This oil is highly rated. It is completely clear and highly pure, making it a favorite for using near fabric because it won't leave stains behind.
2. Lily White
Lily White is a highly recommended sewing machine oil that is a great option for beginners. It is colorless and will not damage fabrics if you accidentally over apply the oil, which beginners often do.
3. Singer 2131E All Purpose Machine Oil
Singer has long been a name associated with premium sewing machines. Not surprisingly, their sewing machine oil is a great product for lubricating your machine. Singer sewing machine oil can be used on any make of machine, not just Singer models.
Dritz sewing machine oil is designed to lubricate, clean, and prevent rust and oxidation. This oil is affordable and results in the smooth performance of your sewing machine.
5. Liberty Oil
Liberty oil is designed with a special applicator that makes difficult to reach, small areas of your sewing machine easy to access. This oil also comes with a return policy that allows you to try it risk-free. Liberty oil will protect against rust, oxidation, and friction of the moving parts of your sewing machine.
6. Sew Rite Precision Machine Serger oil
This oil also comes with a spout that is designed to reach remote areas of your sewing machine. It is designed to oil all moving metal parts and will keep your sewing machine running smoothly for many years to come.
7. Helmar Colonial 29 Super Lube Machine Oil
This product is a multifunctional sewing machine oil. It can also be used on bicycles, locks, and other gadgets, making it a versatile oil to have on hand.
8. Juki Genuine Defrix
This oil is a lightweight clear oil that can be used on both industrial and home sewing machines. While this oil has a higher price point, it is highly recommended.
Safe Alternatives to Sewing Machine Oil
While it's best to use an oil designed specifically for sewing machines, there are a few options you can use as a substitute. Using an oil that is not safe for sewing machines can damage the parts inside your machine. Use these substitutes only until you can obtain a regular sewing machine oil and then return to using an oil designed for your sewing machine.
1. Mineral Oil
White mineral oil is an option you can use as sewing machine oil. White mineral oil is petroleum-based oil. Mineral oil is inexpensive and available at most drug stores.
2. Three-in-One Oil
Three-in-one oil is designed for bicycles; however, you may safely use it to lubricate a sewing machine temporarily. Three-in-one oil is a general-purpose lubricant safe for moving metal parts.
3. Marvel Mystery Oil
Marvel Mystery oil is a trade secret formula originally designed for use in carburetors. This oil is safe to use in small motorized appliances, including sewing machines.
4. Tri-flow Oil
Tri-flow oil was designed for bicycle chains but can be safely used for sewing machines if no sewing machine oil is available.
5. Clock Oil
While not a perfect match for sewing machine oil, clock oil can be used in a pinch as a substitute. You can use this product in an emergency but switch back to a sewing machine specific oil as soon as possible.
6. Clipper Blade Oil
Clipper blade oil is a lightweight oil with a similar consistency to sewing machine oil. It can be used temporarily as a substitute for sewing machine oil.
Avoid These Oils
When considering a substitute for sewing machine oil, it's also important to know which products to avoid. This list of oils are not recommended for use in sewing machines:
- Baby oil
- Lamp oil
- Olive oil
- Vegetable oil
- Cooking spray
- Butter, lard, animal fats
- Kerosene, gasoline, or fuels
These oils do not have the special properties of sewing machine oil and may damage your sewing machine.
What is special about sewing machine oil?
Sewing machine oil is critical to ensuring that your sewing machine lasts a long time. It is a lubricant specifically made for sewing machine parts. The oil will lessen the friction between the moving parts of your machine. This lubrication reduces wear and tear inside the sewing machine and will keep it running smoothly and quietly.
The thickness of sewing machine oil is referred to as viscosity. High viscosity oils are thick, like the consistency of maple syrup. For sewing machines, a thinner, or less viscous, oil is desired. This will flow easily through the machine to lubricate and prevent friction of the sewing machine's moving parts.
When choosing a sewing machine oil, there are three things to look for:
- Color: sewing machine oil should be colorless.
- Odorless: there should be no smell to your sewing machine oil.
- Consistency: the consistency of the oil should be similar to water.
There are three types of sewing machine oil:
Mineral oils are made of petrochemicals or petroleum-based. They are odorless, clear, and very effective. Most sewing machine oils are mineral-based oils.
Synthetic oils are a man-made, artificial alternative to mineral oils. They are safe for use on plastics. Sewing machine oils that are synthetic tend to close more than mineral-based oils.
Natural oils are substitutes for mineral or synthetic oils. They may consist of jojoba, silicone, or ester oils. They don't work as effectively as mineral or synthetic oils and may damage your sewing machine if not mixed properly.
Can sewing machine oil go bad?
Sewing machine oil that has been stored should last for about five years, but it can go bad. Store your oil out of direct sunlight and avoid extreme temperatures. Keep the oil in a clear container so you can easily see if the color is changing. Check your oil for any of the following signs to determine if it has gone bad:
- color changing or becoming cloudy
- odd or foul odor
- sediment in the container
- thick consistency
- your sewing machine is making a lot of noise
How often should I oil my sewing machine?
The more often you use your sewing machine, the more frequently it will require oil. Oiling your machine ensures that all the moving parts are in good working condition. Without proper oil, the parts will develop rust and wear out faster. A good rule of thumb is to oil your machine after every 50-hours of use.
Light to moderate machine users will need to oil their machine about every two months. If you hear any squeaking or your machine seems not to be running smoothly, clean and oil the machine. Your machine will run quietly when properly oiled.
For even more details on oiling your sewing machine, check out our post, "How Often Should You Oil Your Sewing Machine?"
Do modern sewing machines need oiling?
Many of today's modern sewing machines have lubricant already injected into the parts. They are considered self-lubricating. You may even have a machine that's lubricant is referred to as "permanent." While these machines do not need to have oil added to them, they may eventually need servicing. A machine that is pre-lubricated should not need any additional lubricant throughout its warranty period.
Can I use baby oil on my sewing machine?
Do not use baby oil as a substitute for sewing machine oil. The viscosity of baby oil is not appropriate for lubricating sewing machine parts, and it may also contain other additives that could damage your sewing machine.
Can I use WD40 instead of sewing machine oil?
You may have heard that WD-40 can be used to oil a sewing machine. WD-40 is not an acceptable substitution for sewing machine oil. WD-40 will act as a solvent and break down old oil that has hardened, but it will not function as a lubricant for machine parts and would have to be completely removed before reapplying an appropriate oil.
Can I use gun oil on my sewing machine?
Gun oil and sewing machine oil are not interchangeable. You should only use oils specifically designed for sewing machines. Gun oils viscosity differs from sewing machine oil, and it may damage plastic parts in the sewing machine.
Where do you lubricate a Singer sewing machine?
To oil a Singer sewing machine, lubricate the housing unit the bobbin case sits in and the shuttle hook inside the bobbin casing. Always check the manual that came with your machine for specific instructions. If you do not have access to the manual, you may be able to look it up online.
It doesn't take much oil to lubricate your sewing machine. Just a drop or two is sufficient. Many machine owners over apply oil, which can lead to building up over time.
This YouTube video illustrates cleaning and oiling a Singer sewing machine.
Where do I put oil in my Brother sewing machine?
To oil a Brother sewing machine, remove the bobbin case and apply a drop of oil to the hook inside the case housing. To avoid using too much oil, you can put the oil on your fingertip or a cotton swab.
This YouTube video will show you how to oil your Brother sewing machine.
There's a lot to know about types of sewing machine oils and when and where to use them. With this guide's information, you'll have some specific products to try and some substitutions that will work in a pinch. Regular maintenance of your sewing machine with a quality oil designed specifically for sewing machines will ensure you'll have years of good service from your machine.
If you are interested in learning more about sewing machines, read our post, "How Much Does a Sewing Machine Cost?"