Sewing Machine Leaking Oil? 2 Causes (Solved)

If you unexpectedly notice oil dripping out of your sewing machine, you likely have an oil leak on your hands.

These can happen from time to time, but it’s important to find the source of the leak as soon as you can. Stopping and cleaning up your leak will help protect your sewing project and furniture from oil damage.

Sewing machines can leak oil if they have been over-oiled or a problem with a gasket.  If you notice small drops of oil appearing after oiling, you have over-oiled your machine.

If oil is leaking profusely, you most likely have a problem with a gasket:

1. Gasket Problems

One common reason your sewing machine might leak oil is the gasket inside the handwheel.

If the thread has gotten caught between your sewing machine’s body and your handwheel, this can cause your machine to leak oil severely.

Tangles can squeeze a gasket when a thread gets caught and wrapped around in this area.

To fix this problem, you will need to remove the handwheel of your sewing machine. Once this is removed, look for any thread that has gotten caught and wrapped in this area. Remove the thread completely. 

You might need to replace the gasket if it continues to leak oil.

You can bring your machine to your local repair shop to have the gasket fixed and get your machine running again smoothly. 

2. Over-Oiling Problems

Another common reason for oil leaks is if you are accidentally over-oiling your sewing machine.

If you are new to lubricating your machine, you might have accidentally applied too much oil. This can cause the oil to leak out slowly in the days and weeks following the application.

Perfecting your oiling technique is key to preventing this from happening again. You can also bring your machine to the local repair shop for periodic maintenance, where professionals will oil it.

They might even be able to show you how to oil your machine perfectly. 

Remember, when in doubt, always check your instruction manual. This guide will explain exactly the amount of oil your machine needs and how often it needs it.

In the meantime, if you have over-oiled your machine, you can open up the bottom cover of your machine and clean up the excess oil.

You might place a mat or towel under your machine to catch more over-oiling drops. 

2 Reasons Your Sewing Machine May Leak Oil:

You can tell the difference between these two reasons based on the quantity of leaking oil. 

If there are a few drops or even a few small pools of oil, this is probably just from over-oiling. This is especially true if you have recently oiled your machine.

Next time, you can clean up the excess oil and learn your lesson to add less oil. 

If the oil leaking seems more serious and more like a burst or a gush of oil, you have a gasket issue on your hands.

This can be a more serious problem and might need to be dealt with by professionals. 

Can You Over-Oil a Sewing Machine?

Over-oiling a sewing machine is a common mistake. Each part of your machine should only require a drop or two properly spread out with any excess wiped up.

If you add too much oil, fail to distribute it, or wipe up the extra, it can create more problems for you and your sewing machine. 

First of all, excess oil will drip. It might land on other parts of your machine or the surface below when it drips.

Either way, it could easily land on your fabric or your furniture. Accidental oil stains can easily ruin your current sewing project or surface.

Is It Normal for Sewing Machines to Leak Oil?

If your sewing machine is working correctly, it should not be leaking oil. If you notice significant oil leaks or even just small drips, it’s a sign that something isn’t quite right.

If you recently oiled your machine, it can signify that you over-oiled and the excess is dripping out.

If you haven’t added any oil in the last few weeks, it’s a sign that you have another issue that needs to be addressed. 

Make sure you lay down a mat or towel for your sewing machine if you notice it is dripping. This will protect your sewing surface while you figure out the problem. 

How Often Should You Apply Oil?

First, you will want to see if your machine needs to be oiled regularly. Some machines need oil to run smoothly while others do not. 

Metal parts require oil, but oiling won’t be necessary oiling won’t be necessary if you have a newer machine with plastic parts. Check the instruction manual to see the recommendation from the manufacturer.

Some manufacturers of machines with metal parts even prohibit the user from oiling at home. They instruct that oiling be done by a professional since incorrect oiling could accidentally damage the machine. 

If you have a machine that you should oil yourself, you want to lubricate your machine once every few months.

Depending on your machine and how often you use it, you might choose to do this more or less often.

Your instruction manual should be able to give you a more specific range for your particular machine. 

You might also need to add oil more often if you have certain problems with your machine’s operation. For example, your reverse lever can malfunction if it needs to be oiled, which can cause your machine to get stuck sewing in reverse only. 

How Do I Clean the Machine After Leaking Oil?

If oil has been dripping from your machine, it’s a great idea to wipe up the extra oil and give your machine a cleaning.

You can use a soft, absorbent fabric to soak up any pools of oil. Actively trying to wipe up excess oil can cause it to be spread around and continue to make a mess.

Instead, hold your cloth in place and allow it to absorb the oil.

If you are dealing with serious grease and residue on the plastic exterior of your machine, you can use a household detergent to cut through the grease.

Dishwashing liquid will have this effect, but it should only be used in small amounts on a cloth on the outside, plastic parts of your machine.

Final Thoughts

If your sewing machine is leaking oil, you will have to fix this problem to protect your fabric and sewing surface. 

Over-oiling the machine is a common reason for oil leaks.

Snagged thread can also pressure the gaskets, causing more serious leaks. 


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