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Does Sewing Machine Oil Get Old or Go Bad? (Explained!)

Many people will try to convince you that sewing machine oil or natural oils don’t expire. But don’t let them fool you because they don’t last forever and can easily go bad if not kept properly.

Almost all sewing machines require oiling for durability and making sure you are applying the right oil is important. 

Does sewing machine oil get old or go bad?

Sewing machine oil can get old and go bad. Typically, sewing machine oil lasts up to 5 years and can go bad if not kept under the right circumstances. Some last longer. Not storing it properly can reduce its shelf life. This is why the quality of the oil, where and how it’s stored matter. 

Five reasons why sewing machine oil go bad

Storing in direct sunlight:

This can increase the speed of its degeneration and make it evaporate faster. 

Storing in cold temperatures:

This can make your oil turn cloudy and change its moisture if you store your sewing machine oil in the freezer. Never keep your sewing machine oil in the fridge. 

Bad or damaged container:

Any hole in the container can let air inside the container which speeds up the evaporation process as more oxygen is getting in. Because of this, water can get in as well that can damage the oil even further. 

Mixing with another type of oil:

Mixing two different types of oil is a really bad idea. This is because they will have different consistencies and texture. The oil that is not appropriate for your sewing machine should not be used and kept separate. 

Any contact with water or other liquid:

Water increases bacterial growth in oil which makes sewing machine oil go bad quickly. 

The best place to store your sewing machine oil is in a dark and optimum temperature area especially away from the sun and the cold. 

What are the signs Of Spoilage?

Changes in color. (cloudy or dark color):

Any change of color means your sewing machine oil has gone bad. Sewing machine oil should always be transparent. To make it easier to notice, keep your sewing machine oil in a transparent container. 

A cloudy or milky appearance:

Your sewing machine should not have a cloudy appearance. This means your oil has been contaminated with water or some liquid. It can also turn cloudy if the temperature is less than the oil’s freezing point. 

A bad odor:

Sewing machine oil doesn’t have a scent because they have mineral oil in them. Any smell coming from them could be a sign that the oil is no longer fit to serve your machine. 

Sedimentation in the container or the formation of sludge:

Don’t use it at all! That is a warning sign. That kind of oil holds onto dust, debris, and dirt which will eventually make your machine gum up. 

A change in consistency:

Consistency is key when it comes to any oil. Sewing machines are sensitive and any change in consistency can cause problems in it.

Make sure your sewing machine oil is thin and not gooey. If your oil feels more greasy than oily and is thicker than usual, throw it away! 

Odd and unexpected noise coming from the sewing machine:

This occurs when the damage is already done. Bad oil can decrease the speed of your machine as well as misalign components.

If you hear any odd sounds from your sewing machine, try to identify where it’s coming from and the root of the problem. 

Residue near the bottle’s opening, outside the bottle, or around the label:

This oil is definitely past its prime! Better replace it with a new one. 

What to do if you’ve already used a bit of the bad oil? Well, no worries. You can always make better choices for your sewing machine. For starters, get some new sewing machine oil that is suitable for your sewing machine. 

The old oil will probably be tacky to touch and feel like glue. It’s time to clean it off of the machine. You can use a toothbrush to clean it with some cleaning lubricant such as WD-40. If it still doesn’t go away, you can use sandpaper. 

Reminder: Do not use WD-Oil as a replacement for sewing machine oil. It is only a cleaning spray and not the same as sewing machine oil. 

How long does sewing machine oil last?

They last for up to 5 years more or less. But mishandling your sewing machine oil can shorten its lifespan. Your oil can go bad before you expect it to. If you notice any of the signs of spoilage as mentioned above, do not continue using it. 

It is advised that you buy the same sewing machine oil you have used before for your machine as sewing machines can take time to adjust to new and different types of oil. 

Does sewing machine oil expire?

Unfortunately they do expire. Don’t believe manufacturers who tell you that their sewing machine oil doesn’t expire because it will and it will damage your sewing machine too. 

Make sure to buy new sewing machine oil every 5 years at least to keep your sewing machine in good condition. Sewing machine oil is cheap and readily available. There is no reason to risk using expired sewing machine oil. 

Buying sewing machine oil in bulk is not suggested because they will all expire around the same time. 

How to keep your sewing machine oil good for as long as possible?

To keep your sewing machine oil good for as long as possible, store it in a dark but room temperature area. This is the ideal environment for your oil. And make sure the container is in good condition. 

Keep your sewing machine away from direct sunlight, in room temperature, and a dark place. High temperatures and sunlight can make your oil go rancid quicker.

Store it in a cabinet but not near your kitchen, dishwasher, or stove. This is because temperature changes can affect your sewing machine oil. 

A transparent container is recommended because this will allow you to notice any changes in your sewing machine oil. You will be able to detect it before it damages your machine in case there is a change in color or texture. 

What is the best oil for sewing machines?

The best oil for sewing machines IS sewing machine oil. Often sewing machines come with a bottle of oil. If you got one as well, that is the ideal oil for your model. There is no better oil for sewing machines than oil that is exactly made for it.

It is inexpensive and widely available. Moreover, at times you can buy a refill of the same oil from the manufacturing companies.

It reduces the friction between the components of the machine by keeping them from grinding on one another and wearing off. Extra lubrication ensures that the machine lasts long and runs smoothly without making noise! 

Tri-Flow oil is the next best option. It has many uses and should be kept in every household. Similar to many sewing machine oils, it is made out of petroleum. It is slippery and durable and works well in high temperatures.

Although, they are more costly when compared to sewing machine oil. 

Household oil such as vegetable/cooking oil, olive oil, and coconut oil should be avoided. They are not good for your machine and have a completely different purpose. 

What kind of oil is sewing machine oil?

Sewing machine oil is usually of two kinds. They are petrochemicals and synthetics oils that contain mineral oil. Most of them are transparent, thin, and have no odor. Moreover, many manufacturers do not give all the ingredients they use in the oil. 

Most sewing machine oils are derived from mineral oils taken out of petroleum compounds. They are light and colorless. If you have a natural sewing machine oil, you must use it with care. They are not better than other oils and go bad quicker than the rest.

They are usually made out of silicone, ester oils, and jojoba. Synthetic sewing machine oil is used on sewing machines that are made out of plastic. It is an artificial variety oil and costs more than mineral oils.

Is there a substitute for sewing machine oil?

Using a substitute for sewing machine oil is not the wisest idea but you never know when you might need it. It should at least be similar to sewing machine oil.

Make sure it is thin, transparent, and odorless. Some good alternatives are tri-flow oil, clipper oil, clock oil, marvel mystery oil, and white mineral oil. 

You can also create your sewing machine oil at home. You will need the following three ingredients, ⅓ cup of jojoba oil, one tablespoon of silicon oil, and one tablespoon of ester oil. Add them in a jar and mix them up.

Test it out first by adding a little amount onto your sewing machine. (Caution: Most Jojoba oils have a scent that can damage your machine in the future. Only use this as a temporary substitute for sewing machine oil)

However, before resorting to one of the substitutes, check your sewing machine manual. Often, your manual itself tells you what kind of oil is appropriate. Besides, some sewing machines don’t require oil at all and are self-lubricating. 

If you’re not sure if it’s appropriate for your sewing machine or not, put a few drops of oil at first to see if your sewing machine adjusts to it. 

Before oiling your sewing machine, check the manual on how to apply the oil correctly. Make sure it spreads in all the required places. Now you can spot it easily if your sewing machine oil goes bad!

It is highly suggested that you use ‘sewing machine oil’ only on your sewing machine instead of substitutes to prevent mishaps from happening. 

Frequently Asked Questions:

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Are Sewing Needles Magnetic?

Is Sewing Machine Oil Safe for Plastic?

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