Does Sewing Machine Oil Get Old or Bad? 2023

does sewing machine oil get old or bad

Are you a sewing enthusiast who has been using the same bottle of oil for years? Or you may have inherited your grandmother’s vintage sewing machine and have yet to determine if its oil is still good to use.

The question remains: does sewing machine oil get old or bad? It’s important because using expired or rancid oil can damage your machine and affect the quality of your stitches.

In this blog post, we’ll explore everything you need to know about how long sewing machine oil lasts and when to replace it.

Does sewing machine oil get old or Bad?

Sewing machine oil is a necessity for many sewing machines. It helps lubricate the machine’s moving parts, making sewing smoother. However, over time the oil can become old and rotten, leading to problems with your machine.

When sewing machine oil becomes old, it starts to break down and become thick and heavy. This makes it difficult for your machine to move the fabric properly and causes wear on the moving parts.

In extreme cases, this can cause the machine to seize or stop functioning altogether.

Signs of Expired Sewing Machine Oil

The signs of expired sewing machine oil can vary depending on the type of oil and the conditions it has been stored in. In general, expired sewing machine oil may:

  • have a cloudy or milky appearance
  • have a rotten or unpleasant smell
  • be thicker or denser than normal
  • have a sticky or gummy texture

If you notice any of these signs, it is likely that your sewing machine oil has expired and should be replaced.

Can You Use Expired Sewing Machine Oil?

It is not recommended to use expired sewing machine oil. Using expired oil can cause more harm than good to your machine.


Expired oil may not provide the proper lubrication needed for your sewing machine’s moving parts, which can result in increased friction and wear.

It may also leave residue or buildup that can damage your machine. Use fresh sewing machine oil to ensure your machine works at its best.

How long does sewing machine oil last?

Many still determine how long the product will last regarding sewing machine oil. In general, it is recommended that you change your sewing machine oil every 6 months if you use a standard-size needle and thread.

However, this varies depending on the type of sewing machine and the type of fabric being used. Some machines require a more frequent oiling schedule, while others require less.

The longevity of sewing machine oil also depends on how often it is used.

If it is only sporadically used, the oil may last much longer than if used frequently. Additionally, if the sewing machine is not used for a long time (i.e., during vacation), the oil may eventually deplete and need to be replaced.

How to Store Sewing Machine Oil

Proper storage is essential to extend the shelf life of sewing machine oil. You should store your oil in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and heat sources.

The temperature should be between 50°F and 85°F (10°C to 29°C). It is also important to keep the cap tightly closed when not in use to prevent contamination.

How to Keep Your Sewing Machine Oil for as Long as Possible

The life of a sewing machine’s oil depends on the quality of the oil and how it is used. Cheap oils will quickly become old and rotten, while high-quality oils will last much longer. Follow these tips to keep your sewing machine’s oil healthy and effective:

-Always keep a supply of sewing machine oil on hand. This can be a small bottle or jar in your workbench’s cabinet, drawer, or toolbox.

-Check the oil level each time you change the product (this is usually done when the needle goes haywire). If there is not enough oil, add just enough until there is enough to keep the machine operating smoothly. Do not overfill – overfilling can cause leaks and damage your machine.

someone threading the sewing needle

-Do not leave the machine with its lid open for long periods – this will let air into the engine and cause it to fail prematurely due to lack of lubrication. When you’re finished using your machine, close open spaces quickly so air does not get inside, and rust/corrosion begins again.

-Only use manufacturer-recommended oil for your machine.

-Check the level of oil periodically and top off as needed.

-Keep your machine clean with mild soap and water after every use.

-Avoid storing your machine in direct sunlight or extreme heat or cold, which can damage the oil.

Alternatives to Sewing Machine Oil

If you don’t have sewing machine oil or are looking for an alternative, you can try a few options. Some people use minerals or similar oil to lubricate their sewing machines.

However, it is important to note that not all types of mineral oil are safe for use on sewing machines. Always check with the manufacturer or consult a professional before using any alternative to sewing machine oil.


In conclusion, sewing machine oil can expire, and properly storing and disposing of it is important.

Expired oil can cause more harm than good to your machine, so it’s best to use fresh oil to keep your sewing machine running smoothly.

If you’re ever in doubt about the quality of your oil, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and replace it.


Can I use vegetable oil as a substitute for sewing machine oil?

Vegetable oil is not recommended for sewing machines as it can become rancid and sticky over time.

How often should I oil my sewing machine?

It depends on how often you use your machine. As a general rule, it is recommended to oil your machine after every 8-10 hours of use.

Can I mix different types of sewing machine oil?

Mixing different types of oil is not recommended as it can affect the quality of the lubrication and cause damage to your machine.

What should I do if I accidentally spill oil on my machine?

Wipe the excess oil with a clean cloth and use a degreaser or rubbing alcohol to remove any residue. Be sure to let the machine dry completely before using it again.

How do I know if my machine needs oiling?

If your machine is running louder than usual or the parts are not moving smoothly, it may be time to oil it. Check your machine’s manual for specific instructions on how to oil your machine.

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