Cleaning Your Bernina Sewing Machine

Clean Bernina - Pic 1Let’s face it, most people don’t bring in their sewing machine for annual services. Many don’t even clean their machine in between services! This post will cover the simple cleaning that an owner of a Bernina sewing machine should be doing between services, and is specifically for Bernina machines with oscillating type hooks. If you don’t have a Bernina machine with an oscillating hook, you will not be able to take your hook out for cleaning, however, your machine may still benefit from some of the steps described, so please keep reading.

Take Off Your Needle Plate

The first thing to do is remove your needle plate. On 1000 series machines, you will need to lower your feed dogs, lift the front edge of the needle plate, and then slide the needle plate backwards. Many machines, like the 830 or 930 require that you release the needle plate by pushing a latch. On most newer machines, you can simply press the rear right corner of the needle plate down, and the needle plate will pop up for removal. As you remove your needle plate, take a look at how it is aligned so that re-installation is easier.

Brush Off The Feed Dogs

Linty Feed DogsAll Bernina machines come with a lint brush, so take out your brush and clean any lint from the top of the feed dogs. Lint may be packed into the feed dog, so don’t be afraid to use something to get that lint out. Here in the TVSC service department, I use a pick tool that looks a lot like a dental pick. Rather than brushing, you might try to vacuum out the lint. Just don’t use canned air or an air compressor, because you would probably blow lint back in to the machine, which is bad.

Remove Bobbin Case And Hook

Hook RemovalYou should all know how to remove your bobbin case, and if you don’t, cleaning your machine is going to have to wait for a few minutes! Take the bobbin case out of the machine. The post that your bobbin case was attached to is part of the hook. Push the latch that is located directly to the left of where the bobbin was to open the hook door. Be careful; in some machines pushing the latch in a direction that is not directly left can result in damage to the latch. The latch shouldn’t require great force to release the hook door, so if you are pressing the latch really hard, you should stop and bring your machine to us so that we can show you what to do. If you successfully pressed the latch, then the hook door will pop forward, and you will be able to remove the hook. Note how the hook is aligned.

Remove Lint From Hook Race

The Hook Race AreaWith your thumb and forefinger, remove the hook by grasping the post that the bobbin case snaps on to, and pull it towards you. This hook oscillates in a recessed groove called the hook race, and this area is generally the dirtiest part of any sewing machine. Use a tool like a toothpick or dental pick and remove any lint from the hook race. When you are done with the big stuff, use a q-tip with a little oil on it, and swipe all the surfaces of the hook race. You will notice that the q-tip gets quite dirty, so don’t be afraid to use more than one to clean up the area.

Oil Hook Race and Hook

You most likely applied enough oil to the hook race just by cleaning it, but if it makes you happy, you can put a drop of oil directly on the hook race. The outer edge of the hook itself is a good place to oil, and if you see any link on the hook you should remove it now.

Re-install Hook, Bobbin, and Needle Plate

Take your clean, oiled hook, and put it back in the hook race. It only goes in one way, so take your time and make sure it goes in just how it was before your took it out. It may be easier for some people to lay their machine on its back for this step. Once you have the hook placed in the hook race correctly, close the hook door until the latch makes a click sound. You can now put your bobbin back in, and reinstall your needle plate.

Most owners manuals will cover the cleaning of your machine, but they may not provide enough detail for you to do it effectively. If you use your manual in conjunction with these instuctions, it shouldn’t be hard to clean your machine between services. If you still don’t feel comfortable doing this, then you can make an appointment with us, and we will clean your machine for you. Keeping your machine clean will help your machine last for a long time, and it will sew better!

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Reader Comments (30)

Tracy L. on 9/6/10 @ 4:34pm


Thank you for the reminder on how to clean my Bernina. Most of the time I
forget all of these steps! Sigh. Now I have a place to go to refresh my memory!!

Tracy Lathrop

b.gottier on 9/8/10 @ 12:23am

We are working hard to make this blog a great resource for everyone. It'll make my job easier in the long run, which means everyone wins.

Margie Berwick on 9/12/10 @ 8:30pm

Thank you, Brian! Great reminder! Great idea to have a blog.

Sallie Myatt on 10/4/11 @ 10:21am

I'm having trouble with the bobbin case and the hook popping out now that I've cleaned that area. It's my first time cleaning it... I do realize that the hook only fits in one way and it does seem to fit when I put it back. Please help.

b.gottier on 10/4/11 @ 8:25pm

Sally, when you close the hook door, are you hearing it snap?

Barbara Bocock on 12/17/12 @ 9:39pm

Having difficulty getting the hook to fit into it;s place. Could you be more specific in your directions or show me a picture?

Barbara Bocock on 12/17/12 @ 9:51pm

Dues the hook go on top the round black piece or directly inside the bobbin area on top the large screw first?

Chacala on 1/26/13 @ 5:27pm

Thanks very much for writing this very helpful info for all of us sewers. Your directions are excellent.

Joanne on 3/27/13 @ 6:42pm

What does the latch look like? Is it the black object that surrounds the bobbin case? Thank you.

b.gottier on 3/27/13 @ 7:46pm

No, the latch is a silver metal piece on the left side. If you look closely, it is holding the black plastic piece from falling forwards.

lisa on 10/10/13 @ 12:09pm

can you please tell me how to remove the hook etc from my bernina 180e
I need to readjust it as the needle is hitting the hook, and it is out of time..
I have researched what to do for that, and feel I can do it, I took my machine apart, and know what to do with that, but I need to know how to remove the whole piece, it does have a time belt in the back part, and I removed the screw from the back of the hook on the backside but it still won't come out, I also removed the little screw for the finger for the basket etc..
any suggestions or a you tube video of how to correct the timing would be so appreciated..
thank you lisa

b.gottier on 10/12/13 @ 12:18am

Lisa, it looks like you've got it ready to pop out. You just need to use a screwdriver and push the belt off the back of the hook as you pull the hook out. A word of caution. It is extremely unlikely that you will be able to get your machine back together and working properly. There's a reason why we get paid to do the things we do, so I really can't hold your hand and walk you through re-assembly. I'm just sayin', if you can't get the hook out, and getting back in right is even harder, you're better off finding somebody that knows that they're doing to do it for you.

barb kuznia on 3/31/14 @ 9:54am

I have an older machine(from the 80's) and don't use it that often anymore. Anyway, my machine will not go into reverse when I sew. the best machine I have ever had.

b.gottier on 3/31/14 @ 8:16pm

Barb, fixing the reverse on a sewing machine is usually a pretty easy thing to do. If you're close to Temecula, bring it in a let me check it out sometime.

Lilo on 1/29/15 @ 9:06pm

I just cleaned and oiled my machine (Bernina Artista 180) and now I don't have reverse. It just quit... I am in Oklahoma so bringing it by isn't really an option. My husband and I are both pretty savvy when it comes to electrical devices but this has us stumped. Help?

b.gottier on 1/30/15 @ 8:45am

Hi Lilo. Unfortunately, this could be a circuit board issue. You're going to need to go to your Bernina dealer.

Kathy Mathews (@KQuilt) on 4/14/15 @ 7:36pm

Your instructions just saved me! I had that hook out and couldn't get it back in. Thanks to you, I did! Thanks so much!

Donna on 5/29/15 @ 1:44pm

My needle fell out of the shaft and I can't get it back in. It's a Bernina Activa 180. Help please.

b.gottier on 5/29/15 @ 2:19pm

Hi Donna. It sounds like you may need to go to your local Bernina dealer and have them check it out. It's not normal for you to not be able to insert a needle. It sounds as though you may have cracked your needle clamp.

Margaret on 11/1/15 @ 5:31pm

I am a beginner, who just purchased a bernina B 560. I tried to figure out how to remove the hook race, but I do not see any silver button or latch on the left side. I tried and tried to oil and clean my machine, but not able to figure how to remove the hook race. Bernina manual was very helpful either.

Totally lost, thank you for any guidance.

b.gottier on 11/2/15 @ 2:35pm

I suggest going to your dealer for help. It's difficult to explain, yet the dealer would be able to show you in 2 seconds.

Sue on 4/10/16 @ 1:38pm

I appreciated your cleaning instructions. Maybe you could help with a Bernina 830 Record. The feed dogs don't drop. How could I fix it?
Thanks for your help. Sue

b.gottier on 4/14/16 @ 8:29am

Sue, the feed dogs have a linkage that sometimes gets frozen, and even if you knew what you were doing it's not easy to break free. You're going to need to bring your machine to a sewing machine technician.

Hall Cynthia on 10/11/16 @ 7:09pm

The black part came off of my race cover and can't figure out how to put it back together.

b.gottier on 10/12/16 @ 9:39am

If the black part came off, it's usually broken. You're going to need to either buy one and install it yourself, or have a qualified sewing machine technician do it for you.

Maria Le Lere on 7/19/17 @ 11:57pm

Does the 580
Have this or can you not remove it from
The 580

b.gottier on 7/20/17 @ 5:54pm

Maria, I don't know because we are no longer a Bernina dealer.

Shery Sullivan on 6/21/18 @ 3:31pm

I have a Bernina Vituosa 153. My bobbin keeps making clunky noises and bringing up a lot of excess thread on the bottom. It only does this occasionally. My husband and I have cleaned it. Still does this.

b.gottier on 7/15/18 @ 9:17am

Sounds like you're going to need to bring your machine in for service. There are numerous lubrication points and lots of adjustments that need to be checked. Since you already cleaned the machine, that would point to the need for somebody else to look at it.

Frances on 4/29/19 @ 10:22am

I replaced the bobbin hook and now the machine hesitates when i step on the foot pedal. What did i do wrong??

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