How to Clean a Hand Crank Sewing Machine

Written by heather inks
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How to Clean a Hand Crank Sewing Machine
Clean your hand crank sewing machine to preserve beauty and function. (sewing machine image by Paul Hill from Fotolia.com)

Hand crank sewing machines are beautiful collectibles that can add beauty to almost any home and decor These antique hand crank sewing machines can be found in various levels of quality made by a handful of companies at antique stores, estate sales and garage sales. One of the most popular is the Singer antique hand crank sewing machine. Hand crank sewing machines from different production years have unique decoration, painting and decals that help to identify the machine, as well as contribute to their aesthetic appeal.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Microfiber cloth or car washing towel
  • Gentle or natural degreaser
  • Cotton cloth or T-shirt rag
  • Dish soap
  • Soft cloth or dish rag
  • Warm water
  • Cotton swabs
  • Wood soap
  • Wood polish

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Use a microfiber dusting cloth or a car washing towel to clean off any large or small visible dust on the hand crank sewing machine.

    How to Clean a Hand Crank Sewing Machine
    Microfiber or car drying towels remove dust build-up on sewing machines. (pink wash cloth image by hazel proudlove from Fotolia.com)
  2. 2

    Apply a gentle degreaser using a white smooth cotton cloth or old white T-shirt rag to areas on the sewing machine body where grease or oil build-up has occurred. Using a natural and non-toxic degreaser like Simple Green is best because it will be gentler and you don't want to ruin the finish on your machine.

    How to Clean a Hand Crank Sewing Machine
    Gently clean any grease or oil build-up on the hand crank sewing machine. (sewing machine image by styf from Fotolia.com)
  3. 3

    Clean the sewing machine body using warm water with dish soap using a soft cloth or dish rag, paying particular attention to cleaning any spots that were cleaned with degreaser. Clean the hand crank sewing machine only in an environment and humidity that will allow fast drying, to prevent rust.

    How to Clean a Hand Crank Sewing Machine
    Clean the entire sewing machine body with warm water and dish soap. (treadle sewing machine image by DSL from Fotolia.com)
  4. 4

    Use a cotton swab to clean any small areas--with degreaser or dish soap, or both--that need cleaning but are too small to be effectively cleaned with the rag.

    How to Clean a Hand Crank Sewing Machine
    Use a cotton swab to gently clean small, hard-to-reach places. (Cotton wool image by Victor M. from Fotolia.com)
  5. 5

    Clean the wooden case and base for some hand crank model sewing machines using a higher quality wood cleaner and polish. Murphy's soap for wood floors and furniture works well to clean the wood cases.

    How to Clean a Hand Crank Sewing Machine
    Clean the wooden base and wooden case with gentle wood soap and polish. (old sewing machine / mini chair image by Rog999 from Fotolia.com)

Tips and warnings

  • Remember to clean and polish the wooden case as well, to prevent spotting, staining and cracking.
  • Keep your hand crank sewing machine in an environment that is not too dark and damp because this could contribute to rust on the sewing machine body and mould on the wooden case and base of some models.
  • Keep your hand crank sewing machine in an environment that is not too hot or dry, like a garage in Florida, Texas, or Southern California, because this can contribute to the oil and grease parts drying out, rubber parts rotting or melting, and the wood case drying out and spitting or cracking.
  • Hand crank sewing machines that are kept in good condition or restored can be used to sew simple straight stitches.
  • Don't clean the hand crank sewing machine outdoors if you live in an area near the coast or salt water. The salt water mist in the air will contribute to rust.
  • Don't attempt to clean a severely dirty, damaged or rusty hand crank sewing machine yourself; bring it to a qualified antique restorer or specialist.

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