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Is Sewing Machine Oil Toxic? (Everything You Should Know!)

Sewing is becoming an ever-popular hobby due to the increased demand of self-sufficiency due to current events.

With this increase in popularity comes the issues of maintaining the gears and tools you use to sew with, namely the sewing machine. One way to look after your sewing items is to oil them regularly.

Using sewing machine oils and making it a consistent occurrence is a good thing, but there are certain matters you must pay mind to. One of these issues is knowing if the oil you are using is toxic or not, and how to store them appropriately.

Is sewing machine oil toxic?

Sewing machine oil comes in 3 forms: natural, synthetic and mineral. Mineral and synthetic sewing oil is known to be non-toxic, but none of them should be ingested, and in some cases, heavily inhaled. Sewing machine oil, or any other lubricant for that matter should be handled carefully.

Sewing machine oil is used to keep the said machine rolling smoothly and make the overall sewing experience pleasant and satisfactory.

Since it should be a regular thing you need to do, you should make sure you are handling it properly, since any lubricant or machine oils can be dangerous if improperly handled.

Ingesting toxic components of lubricants is a dangerous and poisonous deed so you must always remain cautious. If the oil contains hydrocarbon and it is consumed, it increases the risk of aspiration.

In case it is swallowed but not exposed to the lungs, it can cause nausea and discomfort. If exposed to the skin and eye, it can make it red and cause burns unless removed swiftly.

Basically, if the oil has high volatility and low viscosity it is noxious, while the contrary is believed to cause aspiration less likely.

Is there any non-toxic sewing machine oil?

As mentioned earlier, there are variations of the machine oil that can be non-toxic. Mineral and synthetic oils are known to be safe, one of which is known as the UniKitchen Sewing Machine Oil.

It is also known as a multipurpose oil that tend to be easy to wipe off in case of mishandling.  There are also some non-synthetic oils that can be non-toxic.

Universal Sewing Machine Oil in Zoom Spout Oiler is also a popular choice amongst users for its non-toxicity and affordability.

PlanetSafe’s Lubricants are also a good, safe choice with solid reviews. All in all, there are safe alternatives out there which can be easily found online, if not in your hardware stores.

What is sewing machine oil made of?

Sewing machine oil is a lubricant that helps lessen the friction between various sewing machine parts so they do not grind against each other and wear and tear them down.  It is advised that you oil the parts around every 8 hours of sewing to keep things running smoothly.

Usually, these oils are either synthetic or natural, but it can also be made from petrochemicals, such as mineral oils. So basically, the oils come in three varieties, natural, synthetic and mineral. While they all function the same, the sewing community and their members have their preferences.

Mineral oil is from petroleum which is rather easy to find, significantly cheaper and non-toxic. They also tend to be odorless and colorless. Synthetic oil is more expensive but as a tradeoff you get to lubricate plastic parts. Synthetic oils are easier to clean if a mess happens.

On the other hand, natural oils are a bit controversial since they are pricey and some may call, ineffective. They are environmentally friendly, which is the primary reason people go for it but they require more upkeep.

All three oils are a good choice to keep your gears lubricated, since proper oiling prevents rust and inefficiency.

What type of oil can be used for a sewing machine?

As mentioned earlier, the oils come in three forms and they generally do their job. But if you want to find the best option for your machine out there, it is advised to go for mineral oil.

Since mineral oil is made from petrochemicals or certain ingredients from or of crude oil, this oil is rather liquid-like, odorless and low viscosity. Mineral oils for sewing machine tend to be white or clear and does not collect deposits on the gears.

It is advised that you do not go for “3 in 1” variants for while they work on bicycle chains, it evaporates on sewing machines and leaves a gummy residue.

You should always check your machines manual to know which parts need to be oiled or whether any lubrication is needed at all.

Is there a substitute for sewing machine oil?

Let’s say you cannot find a natural sewing machine oil in your time of need. Fear not, there are certain substitutes that will get the work done for now.

Synthetic oil is a good replacement since they can be used on painted surfaces, plastic and even rubber. Clock oil will be decent example. Another choice is a triflow oil which is a byproduct of petroleum and so has a slippery or lubricating quality.

You can try making a natural oil by mixing a one-third cup of jojoba oil with 1 tablespoon of ester and another tablespoon of silicone oil.

What can be substituted for sewing machine oil?

 As the previous section clarified, there are substitutions for sewing machine oil that can be found, made and used. The common substitutes are clock oil, marvel mystery oil, white mineral oil, the obvious and aforementioned triflow oil and even clipper oil.

Sewing machine oil and clock oil are used interchangeably so it is a safe replacement, with the difference being their fluidity. Since marvel oil is not very thick, it can also work as a back up when you are in a hurry.

The other three mentioned are also a preferrable choice since they are all light or has a lighter consistency than others and so can be used as a substitute.

What should you not do when using a sewing machine?

There are certain do’s and don’ts when it comes to using a sewing machine, as is any machine that has a complex system and mechanical cogs backing it up. As it is something you need to practice regularly to get used to it and then finally master it, there are some precautions you should take to avoid errors and accidents.

Make sure you are using the right feed dog for your machine for the incorrect fit can decrease the life of the motion and machine. Also, you should not start up the machine without regularly checking the thread tension of your device.

You should also make sure to switch the needle so it suits the fabric you are using, for continuous usage of the same needle can make it dull, and even break mid-sew.  It is recommended to change the needle after every two garments or so.

If you are using an electric machine, do not keep magnets (IE pin magnets) near the device since it can mess with the electronic parts in the device.

In the same manner, do not turn off the device by unplugging it from the socket, rather use the switch that is available on the machine itself.

General advice remains as not rushing when you are using the machine, keeping the accessories in a box so you don’t lose the small parts, and not using the foot pedal as a footrest unless working.

Sewing machine is a wonderful device that allows the seamster or seamstress in you to bring out your vision through your fabrics. In order to do so, you should make sure the appliance is running smoothly and effortlessly, where proper oiling and lubrication is key.

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