The Ultimate Guide to How to Polish a Vintage Singer Sewing Machine

Fact Checked By:Aithley Balder

Post Updated On:

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

These Simple Steps Will Help You: how to polish a vintage singer sewing machine

Are there any vintage sewing machines at thrift shops or flea markets that you’ve been tempted to take home with you? However, you aren’t sure what it will take to bring it back to its former glory, despite seeing the beauty underneath the dirt.

Modern sewing machines and Singer sewing machines are extremely similar. There is a motor, bobbin, and power cable included. Identifying and testing your model’s finish, as well as waxing and polishing processes, are all covered in this piece.

How to Polish a Vintage Singer Sewing Machine

how to clean and polish vintage singer sewing machine

Determine the vintage Singer sewing machine’s finish

The finish of your antique Singer sewing machine will influence the cleaning products you choose. The delicate decals on all of the brand’s sewing machines are protected with a transparent lacquer.

Since clear coatings may be made from many different materials, it’s impossible to know for sure which kind you have without testing. The clear coat will disintegrate if you use the incorrect substance, causing harm to the machine.

Shellac on very early Singers, such as violin base machines, is vulnerable to damage because of its transparent coating. This is how you test your machine:

  • Look for a secret compartment in the bottom of the machine.
  • When you’re done cleaning, use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol.
  • Apply a little amount of rubbing alcohol to the desired location. In comparison to other finishes, shellac is the most prone to deterioration. If it becomes a bit sticky over time, it’s most likely varnish or lacquer.

Examine the finish’s condition

Examine your antique sewing machine’s finish carefully. You may use decals with this step. Does the paint have any blemishes? Cleaning and polishing these sections might damage the delicate decals on your Singer if you do this.

The clear coat may need to be repaired by a specialist. If the finish is still in excellent shape, you may go ahead and clean and polish it.

Make sure the sewing machine is clean

First, make sure your sewing machine is dust-free and clean by using a light soap and water. Keep in mind that your machine’s finish may be shellac or you’re unsure what finish it has.

Many common mild soaps include a small amount of alcohol, which might harm the paint’s finish. By reading the label, you can confirm that the soap you’re considering doesn’t contain any alcohol. Here’s how to clean an antique Singer sewing machine:

  • Make a paste with warm water and a tiny bit of soap.
  • After soaking a clean cotton cloth in soapy water, wring it out well. In a secret area, begin washing the machine with very light and delicate motions. Any time the soap looks to be interfering with the final result, stop using it right away.
  • Clean water should be used to re-wet another cloth. Gently remove the soap using this cloth.
  • After you’ve cleaned the area, pat it dry with a fresh towel.
  • Wash the machine one section at a time after moving it to a new place. Always be on the lookout for signs of risk and exercise cautious.

Make Sure Your Sewing Machine Is Clean and Waxed Often

A clean, dry cloth may be used to add a little quantity of normal sewing machine oil to your machine.

  • Use circular movements to polish the machine. For certain hard-to-reach areas, a paintbrush may aid. Sticky residue from tape or stickers may be removed by leaving the sewing machine oil on it for a few hours.
  • Make sure the finish isn’t being destroyed by inspecting it often. Sewing machine oil may also be used to polish the machine’s exposed metal components.

Preserving the Beauty of a Vintage Singer Sewing Machine

When cleaning a vintage sewing machine, use caution and safety precautions

Cleaning a vintage sewing machine may be accomplished using a number of cleaning chemicals and soft towels. If you need to scrub more forcefully, a microfiber cloth will be more effective. Cotton swabs, paintbrushes, and toothbrushes are all useful tools for getting inside the sewing machine’s more difficult to reach areas.

You may test the following on your vintage sewing machine to check whether they are compatible with the finish:

  • Regular sewing machine oil may be used to remove sticky residues.
  • Synthetic sewing machine oil should be used to lubricate the metal components.
  • Hand cleanser containing lanolin to eliminate dirt and grime from hands
  • Kerosene may be used for spot cleaning.
  • Automotive polish may be used to remove paint blemishes.
  • To finish, apply a resin polish to the surface.
  • After cleaning, polish with carnauba wax to bring out the gloss.
  • Anti-corrosion lubricant to prevent corrosion

How to Clean a Singer Sewing Machine of Rust

Use an inconspicuous area to test any lubricant or stain remover before applying it to your machine. Sewing machines might get discolored if you use too many products or immerse them for an extended period of time. Rusty and mechanical components should never be cleaned with solutions meant for painted surfaces.

There are some folks who swear by using Oxyclean and hot water or vinegar and aluminum foil to clean their homes. The paint of your sewing machine might be damaged by the use of alcohol and methyl hydrate. Sandpaper and emery cloth may also be used to remove rust from metal.

To Restore A Vintage Sewing Machine, Here Are Some Tips

how to clean and polish vintage singer sewing machine cabinet

Pay Attention!

The basic guideline of antique sewing machine maintenance and repair is to “be cautious.” You should always disconnect your equipment before doing any repair.

Even though the knee controller’s foot pedal has not been pressed, machines have started up. When sewing, you don’t want to accidentally stitch yourself. Remove your ancient sewing machine from the wall for your own safety.

Confirm That You Are Doing Everything Correctly

Some sewing machine repairs are simple enough that you can do them yourself, but there are more complex ones that you won’t be able to do. The wiring of your equipment may be fixed if you know how to wire. Get it fixed by someone who knows what they’re doing rather than trying to do it yourself. When it comes to electrical currents, you want to be sure that things are done appropriately.

When not in use, unplug the sewing machine

Be cautious to disconnect your antique sewing machine while not in use. When plugged in, most of these gadgets have no means to turn themselves off since they lack on/off switches.

If you unintentionally press the foot pedal, your machine might go off without your input. Disconnect your machine after you’re finished stitching to prevent any problems.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

old Singer sewing machine

How do you clean rust from an old Singer sewing machine?

To begin the process of removing rust from the internal components of your antique sewing machine, start by using a sanding sponge to remove the rust that is on the surface. After that, you might use a Dremel tool and a brush wheel attachment in order to attempt the removal of deeper rust. With the event that the rust is very severe, you will be need to immerse your sewing machine in Evapo-Rust.

How often does an old sewing machine need to be oiled?

The general guideline is that the machine should be greased after every three to four times that the bobbin is changed. Alternately, after each day of stitching, clean and lubricate the region around the hook.


Over the years, Singer has created a vast variety of sewing machines, just like any other sewing machine maker. When cleaning, you must be careful since the materials used in manufacture might vary.

If you maintain a gentle touch and use mild products, your Singer sewing machine will retain its original charm.

How To Polish A Vintage Singer Sewing Machine

Photo of author

Aithley Balder

Hello there, my name is Aithley Balder from Texas. I am a cookware, sewing, toilet, technology enthusiast and I have been sharing my passion with my friends and likeminded folks for close to 4 years now. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with me via the contact page.

Leave a Comment

For security, use of Google's reCAPTCHA service is required which is subject to the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.