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  • Writer's pictureMaggie Thompson

How to Maintain and Clean Your Embroidery Machine

Embroidery machines, whether for domestic or commercial use, are intricate pieces of machinery that require regular maintenance and cleaning to ensure optimal performance and longevity. In this article, we will provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to properly maintain and clean your embroidery machine, catering to both domestic and commercial users.

The Importance of Routine Maintenance and Cleaning

Proper maintenance and cleaning of your embroidery machine are essential for a number of reasons:

  • Prolonging the life of your machine

  • Ensuring consistent, high-quality stitch results

  • Preventing mechanical issues and costly repairs

  • Maintaining the machine's warranty, if applicable

Domestic vs. Commercial Embroidery Machines: Key Differences in Maintenance

Before diving into the maintenance and cleaning process, it is essential to understand the differences between domestic and commercial embroidery machines. While both types of machines require regular care, commercial embroidery machines often demand more frequent maintenance and servicing due to their higher workload and more complex features.

Domestic Embroidery Machines

Domestic embroidery machines are designed for home use and typically have lower stitch counts, making them more suitable for occasional or hobbyist use. Maintenance for these machines typically includes:

  • Annual servicing by a qualified technician

  • Regular cleaning of the bobbin area and needle plate

  • Periodic checks for worn or damaged parts

Commercial/Industrial Embroidery Machines

Commercial and industrial embroidery machines are built for heavy-duty, professional use and can handle higher stitch counts and more complex designs. These machines require more frequent and extensive maintenance, such as:

  • Servicing every 6-12 months or after a specific number of stitches (usually 10 million)

  • Regular cleaning and lubrication of all moving parts

  • Prompt replacement of worn or damaged parts

Step-by-Step Guide to Maintaining and Cleaning Your Embroidery Machine

1. Regular Servicing by a Qualified Technician

No matter the type of embroidery machine, it is crucial to have it serviced by a qualified technician at the recommended intervals. During servicing, the technician will inspect, clean, lubricate, and adjust the machine as needed, ensuring its optimal performance.

  • Selecting a Technician: Look for technicians with industry training and certification from sewing machine manufacturers. Seek recommendations from fellow embroidery enthusiasts or consult your machine's manufacturer for a list of authorised service providers.

  • Understanding Service Intervals: For domestic machines, servicing is generally recommended every 12 months, while commercial machines may require more frequent servicing based on usage (every 6-12 months or after a specific number of stitches).

  • Preparing for Servicing: Before taking your machine to the technician, remove any thread, fabric, or accessories, and make a note of any issues or concerns you want the technician to address.

2. Maintaining a Clean and Stable Environment

To keep your embroidery machine in good condition, it is vital to maintain a clean and stable environment. This includes:

  • Sturdy Worktable: Place the machine on a sturdy worktable to minimise vibration, which can affect stitch quality and put stress on the machine's components.

  • Temperature and Humidity Control: Protect your machine from direct sunlight, excessive heat, and moisture by keeping it in a climate-controlled space. Excessive heat can cause lubricants to dry out prematurely, while high humidity can lead to corrosion.

  • Dust and Debris Protection: Cover the machine when not in use to prevent dust and debris accumulation, which can clog the machine and impede its performance.

  • Pest Control: Implement pest control measures to protect the machine from insects and other pests, such as cockroaches, which can damage circuit boards and other components.

3. Cleaning the Bobbin Area and Needle Plate

One of the most important and easiest maintenance tasks you can perform is keeping the bobbin area and needle plate clean.

  • Bobbin Area: Remove the bobbin cover and use a soft brush or mini vacuum cleaner to gently remove lint and debris. Avoid using compressed air, as it can push lint further into the machine.

  • Needle Plate: For more thorough cleaning, remove the needle plate and clean the feed teeth with a brush or vacuum. Compressed lint in this area can damage the needle plate and affect stitch quality.

  • Frequency: Clean the bobbin area and needle plate every 3-4 uses for domestic machines or daily for commercial machines.

4. Inspecting and Replacing Needles and Other Parts

Regularly inspect your embroidery machine for worn or damaged parts, such as needles, thread check springs, and needle plates. Replace these parts as necessary to maintain optimal performance and prevent further damage.

  • Needles: Inspect needles for signs of wear or damage, such as bent or dull points. Replace needles every 8-10 hours of embroidery work, or sooner if you encounter issues like thread breakage or poor stitch quality. Ensure that the correct needle size and type are being used for the specific fabric and thread.

  • Thread Check Springs: These delicate springs are an essential part of the stitching mechanism. Inspect them for damage or dislodging, especially if you notice issues with thread looping or tension. If damaged, consult a technician for replacement.

  • Needle Plates: Check the needle hole for burrs or damage that can result from needle breakage. If you find small burrs, use a fine piece of wet and dry sandpaper to carefully remove them. For more severe damage, consult a technician or replace the needle plate.

5. Using High-Quality Supplies and Accessories

To maintain the best possible performance of your embroidery machine, use high-quality supplies and accessories:

  • Thread: Invest in good-quality embroidery thread that is less likely to break or fray, ensuring smooth stitching and reducing wear on the machine.

  • Needles: Use appropriate, high-quality needles for your embroidery work. Inferior needles can cause thread breakage, needle breakage, and damage to the needle plate or fabric.

  • Stabilizers: Choose the right stabiliser for the fabric type and weight to ensure proper support during embroidery and minimise fabric distortion.

  • Embroidery Designs: Opt for well-digitised designs that promote smooth, efficient stitching, reducing wear on the machine and ensuring optimal stitch quality.


By following these maintenance and cleaning guidelines, you can ensure that your embroidery machine—whether domestic or commercial—performs at its best and has a long, productive life. Regular servicing, proper cleaning, and the use of high-quality supplies and accessories are all essential factors in maintaining a reliable, efficient, and top-performing embroidery machine.

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