Creative articles about sewing

How to oil your sewing machine properly – for long-lasting sewing enjoyment

Sew, clean, oil, enjoy!

Part of sewing is taking good care of your most important sewing tool – your sewing machine. About two weeks ago, I showed you how to clean your machine in a post on the topic of “wellness for your sewing machine”. Today, I am writing about how, how often and where to oil your machine and what oil to use.
Mastering the sewing techniques is important for a successful result, but proper maintenance of your sewing machine also plays a part. If you take care of your machine regularly, you will enjoy it for a long time, and it will be easier for you to create beautiful pieces.

My tips relate mainly to the BERNINA hook, which is used in our newer machines. But don’t worry, the models with CB or rotary hook are also included!

How do I oil my sewing machine?

Before oiling, the machine must first be cleaned. I showed you how to do this and what you need to watch out for in my last blog post. If you haven’t seen the post yet, you can find it here: Cleaning your sewing machine – to make sewing even more fun!

First, the bobbin case and bobbin are removed (on the 8 Series, only the bobbin).

Both the BERNINA hook and the CB hook can be removed. On machines with a rotary hook and on the 8 Series, this can only be done by an authorized dealer, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t clean and oil them.

There are videos for almost every model, showing step by step how to clean and oil them. On some models, you can even see how to oil them directly in the machine tutorial (for example, on the B 790 Plus). Go to “Setup”, “Machine settings”, “Maintenance/Update”, “Lubricating the machine”.

The videos show that the machine should be switched off for safety reasons. For my part, I simply unplug the cable of the foot control so that I don’t accidentally step on it while I’m working in the hook area. Some models have a light in the hook area that can only be switched on if the machine is not disconnected from the power, so you can see what you’re doing even at night! 🙂 

How often should I oil my sewing machine?

This is a question for which there is no concrete answer.

Various factors play a role here: what do you sew, how long have you been sewing, do you embroider and are you constantly at your machine? It is important that you oil your machine regularly and not only when the machine prompts you to do so. There have probably been times when you have thought that your machine sounds “odd”. It just wasn’t purring as nicely anymore. This means that it’s time for some maintenance!

You can do this both after a project and before starting a project. If you are working on a project for a very long time, you can also oil your machine during that time.

Where should I oil my sewing machine?

That depends on the hook.

Important information about the BERNINA hook (new 4, 5 and 7 Series machines)

Although the holes underneath the stitch plate look tempting, please do not put oil down these holes.

Admittedly, on the first generations of the 7 Series (B 710/750/780), it was intended that this “oil reservoir” should be filled. However, many tests carried out by the company showed that filling this reservoir can lead to contamination during sewing and embroidery. The oil reservoir is connected to the hook by a small channel. Lint and dust collect in this channel. If the tank was filled after using the sewing machine and then the machine was put away, the oil could warm up and become runny when the machine was restarted after some time (when the machine was at “operating temperature”). It became contaminated with lint and ran into the hook area, where it soiled the lower thread.

That is why the oil reservoir was eliminated on new machines this year.

So where should oil be applied now? As already mentioned, the BERNINA hook can be removed. Put a drop of oil (no more and no less) into the hook race and one drop each into the felts of the removed hook.

Our video shows you how to do this:

There is also a video on how to oil the CB hook:

This is how to oil the rotary hook:

…and this is how to oil the 8 Series:

What oil should I use?

Be sure to use the original oil supplied by BERNINA! It is a high-quality resin-free and acid-free oil with the right consistency.

I hope none of you have ever tried to use cooking oil. Don’t even think about it! Cooking oil does more harm than good because it congeals into a thick, sticky mass. Of course, the hook can then no longer run smoothly and well.

If you finish the oil that came with your sewing machine, buy a new one from your BERNINA dealer. Please do not buy any machine oil online. Your machine will thank you.

Did you previously have a machine with a CB hook and now use a newer machine with the BERNINA hook? Or do you have an overlocker as well as a sewing machine? In this case, please be very strict and do not use the oil for one machine on the other. The oils are different.

Not to be used for salad ?

What should I do after oiling my machine?

I always sew a spare piece of fabric after oiling. Sometimes a bit too much oil can accidentally find its way into the machine. The excess oil is absorbed by sewing. If you don’t have any scraps of material on hand, you can also remove the needle and thread and then actuate the sewing function to distribute the oil. Depending on the model, it may be necessary to switch off the thread indicator.

Replace the hook – and you’re ready to go again

Of course, after oiling the sewing machine, we have to replace the hook and the bobbin case with the bobbin. In the last blog post about cleaning, I showed you an easy way to insert the BERNINA hook. Today I’ll show you a second method:

It is important that the hole in the hook is lined up with the gray marking on the hook race. It is easiest if this marking is at around the 6 o’clock position. If this is not the case, you can easily move it there by pressing the needle stop button twice (some models).

I hold the hook from the inside with my right and left index fingers, with the hole in the hook facing down. Then I insert the hook, which I tilt slightly downwards, into the hook race. It is attracted magnetically and soon slots into the right place.

The following advice nicely sums up the topic of how to oil your sewing machine: “Just a drop, more often!”
I was delighted with all your feedback on the post about cleaning sewing machines. I hope that you have read this post just as carefully and that it helps you to take good care of your BERNINA. If you have any questions, please use the comment function.

Otherwise, I hope that I was able to inspire you and that you take the next opportunity to treat your machine to a few drops of oil so that everything runs smoothly again and you can enjoy sewing on it for a long time to come.

Warmest regards,

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Comments of this post

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  • nonasthreads

    This is very useful. I oil my machine frequently and I can hear when it needs attention. Only twice in 7 years of heavy sewing have I waited for the prompt. Now I need to move my machine to a new home during a Canadian winter. Temperatures are below freezing. Is there any danger that an overnight stay in the van could affect my Bernina 780? 

    • Mirjam von Thile

      Congratulations! It seems that you take good care of your machine.

      The difference in temperature could cause problems because water condesation is produced, also in the machine which could influence or even damage the electronic parts.
      That’s why I would not recommend a stay below freezing.

      Best regards

  • Rosalind Sinon

    Help please. I have a Bernette e65 TOP loading sewing machine. I need help on how to oil it please… 

  • Peggy Reed

    Help! I have a Bernina Artista 180. I have had it for may years, but have just recently had more time to actual sew again…Yeah! Now I am trying to reacquaint myself to the machine. What type of hook does it have? How do I oil it and what type of Bernina Oil do I use? The instructions in the manual are very basic and does not say what type of oil I should use.  

    • Mirjam von Thile

      Dear Peggy,

      so nice, that you start sewing again!
      The BERNINA 180 has a rotary hook. You can see how to oil on the picture in the blog.

      Best regards

  • Richard Williams

    Hi Mirjam, I have an Activa 140, and if I understood the manual correctly, it said the LM (low mass) hook on this model does not benefit from oiling. True?

    • Mirjam von Thile

      Dear Richard,

      you are right, that’s the recommendation of the manual. Nevertheless a drop of oil in the hook race area (as shown in the video turorial BERNINA 335/325, Sec. 01:02) does no harm.

      Best regards

  • Sherryl Mance

    Hello There, Thank you for the detailed post. Do you know what kind of hook a Bernina 1080 has? My mom bought it a while ago, and we do have the instructions, but this post is prompting me to ask and I would love to watch a video if possible (I’m slightly anxious about doing it myself). More information on the sewing machine: Bernina 1080 GB, Special Computer, the instructions are copyright 1992. Thank you for any kind of help you can give.

  • Sophie Daniels


    I got a vintage bernina 700 for Christmas and its in perfect condition and works like a dream! Also was recently serviced when bought too.

    Can you advise on oil to keep my machine running well.


    Many thanks.

    • ramonawirth

      Hello Sophie, what a wonderfull Christmas gift, I wish you tons of fun with it!

      Regarding oil, its best to contact a BERNINA dealer near you. You can purchase the correct oil for your machine from him 🙂

      Happy New Year!


  • Esme RIMELL

    I inherited a Bernina Record 830 machine.  I don’t know Bernina at all.  I took the spool out of the cabinet to change the cotton and cant get it back in correctly.  I tried to sew and the needle is hitting the metal casing of the spool.  How can I find out how to do it?  Where can I get lessons?

    • ramonawirth

      Hello Esme! Regarding the spool issue, maybe this video helps: How to Thread BERNINA 830 Record
      There are a lot of other tutorials for the B830 on youtube which might be interesting.
      For sewing lessons, you can either google or ask a Bernina store near you. Not all stores offer sewing courses, but even those who dont, often know people who do and can refer you to someone 🙂 hope this helped?

  • Kirsten Wedes

    I have a 910 that occasionally makes a screeching sound that appears to come from the top of the machine. I suspect something needs lubrication but my manual only recommends lubricating the hook. Are there other areas that I can check?


    • Mirjam von Thile

      Dear Kirsten,

      the BERNINA 910 has a CB hook. You can follow the tips in the article.
      Your manual also shows, how to oil the CB hook.

      Regarding the noise: I would propose, to contact your local dealer to find out what it is.

      Best regards

  • Barbara Corcoran

    I purchased a bottle of Berina sewing machine oil last week. I am disappointed in the glass container because the oil doesnt want to come out. What should I do?

    • Mirjam von Thile

      Dear Barbara, is the bottle really of glass? Because BERNINA only sells oil in plastic bottles. Please have a look on it.

      Best regards

  • Patricia Hazeltine

    I still have my first Bernina, an 830 from 1976. Where do I order oil to lubricate my Bernina, and do I need a gear grease?

    • Mirjam von Thile

      Dear Patricia,

      wow, amazing!

      I guess, this BERNINA has a CB hook. If so, you can apply the hint in this blog. For the appropriate oil, please ask your local dealer.

      Best regards,


  • Melinda Barry

    Hi, I have an older model – virtuosa 153. The manual says it does not ever need lubricating. Is this correct? If not, where should I be oiling it? Advice would be appreciated//1

    • Mirjam von Thile

      Dear Melinda,

      the virtuosa 153 has a CB hook, so please oil the machine as mentioned above.

      You’re are right about the statement in the manual, but I asked in the technical department and they told me, to use the following oil: Velocite 10 oil for sewing machine, Nr. 0013225.1.01

      Best regards


  • Alison Haggett

    Please post a video on how to clean the B580. Is this an unusual Or old model? It does not have a removable bobbin case and there are not many videos on the functions of this model.

    • Mirjam von Thile

      Dear Alison,

      the B 580 is a model with a rotary hook. You can also find an information about how to oil a rotary hook in this blog. Also the manual (page 158) shows, how to oil your BERNINA.

      Best regards


    • Renee Arnett

      I’m needing to purchase oil for my Bernina Sewing Machines. What specific oil should I buy/use for the 1260, Artista 165 and Activa 220?

      • Mirjam von Thile

        Dear Renee,

        all of the mentioned models are equipped with a CB hook, so you need to buy oil for a CB hook at your local BERNINA shop.

        Best regards

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