In a word, yes, the oil for sewing machines will expire. On average sewing machine oil lasts for around five years. However if your oil isn’t stored properly that lifespan can be shortened. To have the longest life for your machine oil it’s recommended to not store your oil in extreme temperatures or in direct sunlight. It’s possible it could have an affect on the amount of air that resides within the container and this can degrade the oil to have a lesser lifespan. While oil itself is a liquid substance if it’s mixed with water of any kind including condensation it can motivate bacterial growth within the container. Lastly, stay vigilant on storing your machine oil in containers that are not damaged or mix with different kinds of oils.
Above we mentioned that oil lasting for five years is the average but this also changes somewhat depending on the type of oil that they are. Mineral oils generally follow the 5 years rule as long as proper care is used. This also applies to synthetics but if proper care isn’t used there could be a drastic shift in shelf life. The last machine oil type are natural oils and while many brands claim that they don’t have an expiration date that statement doesn’t really hold water. The reason being is that over time and with oxidation these oils can evaporate and of course a damaged container will speed up this process.
Some signs that your oil has gone bad if there is a change in:
Color - From either transparent or white to a darker or murky color
Texture - If sedimentation has accrued in the bottle, or sludge
Viscosity - If it’s seemingly thicker than oil or sticky
Odor - If there is a nasty smell
Noises - If your sewing machine is making unfamiliar noises after oiling
Residue - Either around the label, the bottles opening, or outside the bottle itself While there are multiple kinds of oil so it’s good to use the same type that has been used previously on your machine and not switch up oil types. If you do switch to a different oil type your machine will need time to get used to the new oil type.
Can sewing machine oil be used for hair clippers
If you ever run into the situation where you need to use sewing machine oil for hair clippers then yes it will work, but there are some caveats. There are three different kinds of sewing machine oil which we talk about further down below: Natural, Synthetic, Mineral.
They both use a mineral oil and you’ll want a low viscosity as well as resistance to high temperatures. This is important to allow for the oil to get in within all the nooks and crannies of the machine. With the blades moving as fast as they do then can build up a lot of heat and friction for the machine so oil helps mitigate this.
Can sewing machine oil be used for shredder
If you are in a pinch then yes sewing machine oil can be used (as long as it’s not petroleum based) for a shredder, but it shouldn’t be your go to. It’s always recommended to use the lubricant specifically made for shredders as that’s what it’s designed for.
3-in-1 oil will also work with shredders as long as you gradually coat the shredder a tablespoon for each section until it’s covered. Once that has been completed then for 30 seconds run your shredder in reverse and you shouldn’t run into any issues.
Where sewing machine oil
While every sewing machine is different when it comes to where you apply oil there are in general some places that are common among most machines. Those places are the upper shaft, lower shaft, hook, and needle bar. In the pictures below these were taken on a Baby Lock Esante.
When you oil your machine depending on the container the oil comes in may determine if you use the bottle itself, have a funnel to put it into an oiler, or a pipette. Below we have an example of a pipette and use it on all the machines we service here at Myers Sewing.
Sewing machine oil versus 3-in-1 oil
It goes without saying that most likely if an oil type has the name of the machine you are going to use it on it’s probably your best option to oil your machine with.
Now there are a few different kinds of sewing machine oils: natural, synthetic, and petrochemical.
Now we could leave it at that but let’s dive into 3-in-1 oils and other options too.
3-in-1 oil was an oil that was designed for the use of bicycle chains and over time this expanded to the household with general uses as well. While it’s great for many things it’s NOT something you would want to put in your sewing machine. The reason being is that over time the oil will evaporate and when it does will leave a sticky residue that will hinder your machine and make you worse off than before its use.
Natural oil such as coconut, jojoba, silicone, oe ester oils can work as a substitute to sewing machine oil. Unfortunately they aren’t as effective as other types and can potentially create issues gumming up your machine if not mixed properly. To create an oil mixture you take ⅓ of a cup of jojoba oil and mix it with a tablespoon of both ester and silicon oil. Even if you do everything right it still might not be the best for your machine. Before applying to your whole machine make sure you test with a small drop on your machine to make sure it’s safe and works effectively.
Synthetic oil is fantastic. Not only does it protect from oxidation which not all oils do, it won’t damage any other projects or items that it could drip onto. While synthetic oil is more expensive than other kinds it can also be used on plastic parts and machines and be effective while other oils can’t.
Brewer oil is what Myers Sewing uses, specifically the Lily White Oil. This is what you would consider a petrochemical oil because it’s mineral based. It is a clear mineral based oil and has worked on the machines that Myers has worked on for decades.
When sewing machine oil
Depending on how many hours per week that you use your machine will determine how often you should oil it. If you sew three or more hours per week then your machine should be oiled at least three times per week. If you sew once a week or less then you don’t need to oil as often. It is important to note that it is possible to over oil your machine and in doing so can allow oil to leak onto your fabric and nobody wants that!