Clearing the Fluff ~ How to Clean Your Machine

While self-servicing your machine might not always be the best idea, knowing how to occasionally clean your machine to clear out the fluff is a must! I know when my machine is too 'fluffy', it messes up everything. Doing minor regular maintenance on your machine, such as cleaning, changing needles regularly, etc, only prolong the life of your machine... and who doesn't want that?

Clearing the Fluff ~ How to Clean Your Machine

My machine is a Brother SE400, so that is the machine I will be using in my pictures. Most drop-in bobbin machines will be very similar. It's a relatively painless procedure, but very necessary for keeping your machine running smoothly, so let's begin.


First of all, you need to make sure a needle isn't going to come down on you while you're working, so you have a few options. The safest (and the one I use), is to just power down the machine. Another option is to remove the needle, but that doesn't stop the other inner parts from moving, so powering down is your best bet. If you need more light, move your machine near a window, or move a lamp closer.

Once you have light, it's time to open your machine up. My machine has these 2 little screws that secure the throat plate. After I unscrew those, the whole plate easily lifts out of the way. Remove the bobbin spool and then you can assess the damage. I recently cleaned my machine, so mine isn't too bad this time around.

The Cleaning Process

At this point, you have a couple of options. My go-to is cotton swabs and occasionally isopropyl alcohol. At some point, though, I will trade up from that and into one of these. One thing I cannot stress enough, though, is to NEVER blow air into your machine. That's bad. It could easily gum it up and make things worse.

The mini-vac method is pretty easy. Just hook it all up and suck the fluff out. The cotton swab method can be a little trickier at times but works well. If it's super fluffy in there, that's when I recommend the alcohol. It'll help clear out the dust easier and it evaporates almost as fast as you can apply it, so no chance of damaging the machine. Just dip the end of the swab and go at it. When it gets too dirty, switch to a clean swab and keep going until it's all clean!

If you aren't using alcohol, you will use fewer swabs, but you will need to pull the machine fluff off the end of the swab constantly. When the swab is too dirty or raggedy to continue, switch to a clean one.

Now, sometimes I'll lift out the bobbin casing and sometimes I won't... it just depends how dirty the inside is. But make sure you know how to put it back properly before you remove it or don't do it! Even though my machine was cleaned fairly recently, I still managed to pull a fair amount of fluff out of it.

When everything is all clean, just put it all back together, power up, and off you sew!

If you have any further questions, comments, or suggestions, please leave them in the comments below! And if you feel so inclined, please join our AMAZING community of seamstresses to share BSD questions, trials, and triumphs in our Facebook group! Until next time, Happy Sewing!
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