Saturday, December 6, 2014

Using WD-40 On Sewing Machines

There's a lot of controversy about using WD-40 on sewing machines.  Let's talk...


I use WD-40 on sewing machines, almost every day at work.  However, I don't use it as a lubricant, I use it as a solvent.  WD-40 breaks down the old, gummy oil very well.  If you're not equipped to remove the WD-40, it will continue to break down the oil.  At work, we use an air compressor and flannel rags to remove the WD-40 and the gunk it dissolves.  If you don't have an air compressor, you can use a can of air -- but it has to be a full can with some good pressure.

Don't use WD-40 on certain longarm quilting machines and industrial sewing machines.  Some of these have porous bearings that will hold onto the WD-40.

The procedure goes like this...
   1)  Blow out all the lint with an air compressor.
   2)  Generously spray the gummed-up area with WD-40.
   3)  Work the mechanisms until they are moving freely.
   4)  Blow out the WD-40 and gunk with an air compressor.  This takes a while.  You continue to blow until there are no more wet spots.  Turn the hand wheel to get all sides of the sprayed parts.
   5)  Wipe up the mess with flannel rags.
   6)  Go back and blow some more with the air compressor.
   7)  Apply new oil.  Only use clear "sewing machine oil," not 3-in-1 oil (or sewing machine grease except for very specific spots).

Some people will say that "someone" told them to NEVER use WD-40 on a sewing machine.  But I have to ask, who is "someone?"  And was "someone" talking about using it as a lubricant?  This "someone" LOVES to use WD-40 on sewing machines!  It works very well to remove the gummy stuff.

I've also seen where "someone" used WD-40, and it made matters worse.  I think they probably didn't use enough WD-40, and didn't get the gunk dissolved completely.  So, the gunk was still there. 
I've only had 5 years
(almost) of experience, but have never had a problem with WD-40 making things worse.

Some may say to just keep oiling the machine, and it will eventually break loose.  Nonsense!  The old, gummy oil is still there!  The old gummy oil needs to be removed, and WD-40 is the tool for the job.

OK, there's my very own, personal, private, take on the WD-40 controversy.  But then, I tend to figure things out and think for myself.   I know I'm not the only sewing machine mechanic who uses it! 

26 comments:

  1. Wow, great Blog, I really appreciate your thought process and having it explained properly, thank you!

    Geminy Sewing Machine

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  2. Can we use this on HA-1 Sewing Machine as well with the ordinary machine???

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    1. If the mechanical parts on the machine are gummed-up, yes, the WD-40 should break it up and remove it. However, if the industrial machine has an oil pump, you don’t want to get WD-40 in the pump system. That would continue to break down the oil, and could be very bad.

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  3. I have to admit that I was like most people and thought the WD40 was for lubrication. That is cool that you used it for a different purpose though. How well did other substances work in getting the gummy stuff off?
    http://www.sewing.net/shop/category/sewing-machines/

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  4. Your style is so exclusive compared to other individuals. Thank you for posting when you have the chance, guess I would just make this bookmarked. GrandmaLikesToSew

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  5. Hi Annette, I'm wondering if you have any experience with hand-crank machines? I have a very old Singer 241 zig-zag. I just had it serviced but the resistance when cranking is still very strong. The mechanic says it might have been dropped at some point, I do know it had this problem even when I bought it (used) in 1990. I have tried extra oiling, maybe it's time to try de-gumming. Any other suggestions?

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    1. If it’s been dropped, the main shaft may have been bent, and there’s nothing you can do about that. But it’s definitely worth trying to de-gum it with some WD-40.

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  6. Hey, great blog, but I don’t understand how to add your site in my rss reader. Can you Help me please? best sewing machine for beginners

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  8. Thanks for adding the use of WD-40 as a Solvent. It will be easy to use because of, procedure you given it.
    It loos like home remedies.

    Best Sewing Machine

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  9. It is good to highlight the alert in red color, it can be very helpful to others.

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  10. For industrial sewing machine related stuffs, you can check this http://reviewkid.com/industrial-sewing-machines/ as well.

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  11. Its really good information,Thanks for sharing this blog,keep updating more threads,Best sewing machine in chennai

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  12. Hi, Annette. I recently took classes to become a sewing machine mechanic myself. I am really enjoying it! I am intrigued by your use of WD-40. Is it safe to use on the plastic parts inside a pattern selector module? (Singer 6235) I have a customer whose machine is making a clicking noise in there. I can see what is sticking, and when I heat it with a hair dryer, the part works fine with no clicking. I have both WD-40 and an air compressor. Just hesitant to do this without some advice from someone who has done it before. Thanks so much for any help you can provide. I have so much more to learn!!

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  13. Yes, I would use WD-40. It has a way of penetrating. The air from the air compressor penetrates pretty well, too. So it’s a great way to remove it.

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    1. Thanks! This is the first time I have seen this situation. The pattern cam stack is horizontal in this machine. On the front side of the cam (facing the pattern selector dial), there are three springs that rotate on the disc. The disc seems to get "hung up," so one of the springs (consistently the same one) stretches out and the disc stalls. Then the spring snaps back together and the disc rotates again. I cannot find any diagram or description that explains to me what these springs do or why one might stick. Without removing the entire pattern selector module, there doesn't seem to be any way to fully examine the part. (Mind you, this does not affect the stitching functions of the machine. It produces consistent, beautifully balanced stitches. ) ???

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  14. Hi Pat,

    Once you get a mechanical machine moving, the more you use it, the smoother it get. That wonky spring thing just might go away after a full day of sewing.

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  15. Hi Annette, I have stumbled onto your blog as the stitch selector switch on my Toyota RS2000 clicks and turns, but no longer changes the stitch or moves the needle. It's stuck somewhere between a zig zag and a straight stitch which produces just a hopelessly wonky line of otherwise perfect stitching! I have taken the cover off and am looking at all the metal discs behind the stitch selector knob and wondering if I should have a go with the WD-40/ compressed air then apply sewing machine oil. It does look gunky in places, but could this be the sewing machine grease that you speak of? It has a consistency similar to petroleum jelly. Can I do further damage by trying this? Many thanks for your time.

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  16. Hi Anna-Marie,

    It sounds like the tracer that rides on the stitch cams isn’t moving like it should. Using WD-40 may be the answer. When the grease has a consistency of petroleum jelly, it’s OK to leave there. When it turns into a hard wax is when it needs to come off. I don’t know if you can see where the tracer rides on the cams, but it’s usually on a shaft, and there’s a spring that helps it move. If you could see in there, you might see an amber colored, almost clear, tacky, grease mess, similar to the crud on an old frying pan. When that shaft is gummed-up, you can’t get the stitches to form like they should.

    Another thought is maybe the tracer isn’t lined-up with the cams. There should be a way to adjust that, but every machine is so different.

    I hope you’re able to get your machine stitchin

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  17. Thanks so much for your time and advice, Annette. I will let you know if I get anywhere with it.

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  18. Good to know, I have used WD40 but not anymore, thanks. my page

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  19. Hi my name is Eadter, thanks for sharing your knowledge! I'm new to sewing. Have a 1975 Singer Fashion Mate. It has been serviced but will slow and gets hot and freezes with a squeal after about 15" of hem. I've seen a lot of help requests online for Fashion Mate machines various model #s. Can you advise me?

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  20. Hi Easter,

    When there's a squeal, it needs some WD-40. It's hard to tell where the frozen shaft or linkage is. I'd spray the take-up area and the main shaft (in the top) at both ends. If that doesn't find the squeal, then spray the bottom shaft and linkages.

    Good Luck to you!

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