How to Get Rust Off Vintage Sewing Machine? The Ultimate Guide 2023

How to Get Rust Off Vintage Sewing Machine

If you are looking for how to get rust off a vintage sewing machine, then here you can find all the details in simple words. I found that most of the vintage sewing machines are made up of cast-iron material, which is quite vulnerable to getting rusty. So while getting rust off vintage sewing machines, you have to be extra cautious. 

Though it might seem to be an easy task to restore the outer frame of the machine, it actually involves a bit of extra care. With the help of some specific set of supplies like degreaser and other important chemicals, you can get back the original shine of your vintage appliance.

So without wasting any time, let’s start practical work together. 

Disclaimer: Whenever you are using chemicals or tools, please be sure to take appropriate safety precautions. Otherwise, the owners of are not accountable for any personal injury or sewing machine damage caused by their activities. Because the purpose of this post is to provide information only.

How to Get Rust Off Vintage Sewing Machine?


First of all, let me tell you that there are many different ways of getting rid of rust from your old-fashioned sewing machine, but I personally go with this method. 

So without further ado, let’s check this out:

Gather all supplies

You don’t need dozens of supplies except for these few simple ones that you may have even at home.

  • Sanding Sponge
  • Metal Brush
  • A Paper Towel
  • Lemon-Salt Paste
Colorful Minimalist Linear Steps Circular Diagram 2 1

Now let’s start practical work

Now let's start practical work to get rust off vintage sewing machine

The initial step is to wipe the rust-covered parts of the vintage sewing machine with a metal brush gently without causing harm to the machine’s own finish. This step is the most crucial in removing the major rust cover from the metal. 

Let me tell you that sometimes it is extremely hard to remove rust simply by metal brush. So in this case, you need to soak the metal parts in lemon and salt solution for a specific time, and then rub it off with the brush. By doing so, you can remove the hard layer of rust easily at home without taking anyone’s assistance or buying any detergent. 

Other than that, you can wipe the sanding sponge all over the different pieces of the sewing machine and then use the metal brush to give the final touch. Anyhow, this is how you can clean a vintage sewing machine and get over its rusty layers. 

Clean Faceplate too if it is rusty

Vintage sewing machines have nickel-plated faceplates that cover the oiling parts of the needle bar, presser foot, etc. Therefore, there are more chances for them to get rust easier than other parts, so consider removing it as soon as possible.

Follow these steps 

The first and foremost step is to detach the faceplate from your vintage sewing machine using specific screwdrivers. Then check the condition of the faceplate, if it is less rusty, then you can clean it quickly. 

But on the other hand, if it is more rusty, then in this case, you can use a degreaser to wash it all over once and for all. In fact, you can soak faceplates in a degreasing solution for some time; especially when it’s deep-rooted in some parts. Doing this will get rid of all the rust from the faceplate. 

Now you need to give a final touch by getting back the shine of the faceplate. You can do it by using a rotary tool, or even a buffing tool to make it look shinier. After doing all these steps, the last step is to apply a dry and smooth piece of cloth to it. 

Finally, you are done, now attach it with your sewing machine.

Getting Rust Off Vintage Sewing Machine Parts

How to Get Rust Off Sewing Machine Parts

Now comes the most crucial step: getting rid of rust from sewing machine parts such as needle holder, presser foot, feed dog, handwheel, throat plate, etc. 

Well, it might be tricky to remove rust from these parts at home because first you must remove all parts carefully so that you know how to install them back. With that being said, to remove rust from the inner parts of old sewing machines, you have to be a bit more categorical. Besides, make sure to remove all the electrical parts of the machine as well.

By doing so, it’d be easier for you to clean every machine part thoroughly. And that too could be done easily with the help of a wire brush. If the rust is not deep-rooted, it can also be removed conveniently with the help of simple steel wool.

After you have removed all the parts, soak each part in the degreaser and then in the soapy water so that rust and dirtier parts clean completely. After that, dry all parts with cloth without scratching them. 

Now, assemble all the parts carefully the same way you removed them. And then rotate the handwheel by hand, if the sewing machine operates well, then you are good to go, otherwise, you need to take assistance from a professional technician. 

My few Tips on Removing Rust Off Vintage Sewing Machines

Below are some of my tips that you should keep in mind:

  1. Don’t scrub the sewing machine outer finish with any pointed tool to save from damage.
  2. Next up, you can use regular sewing machine oil and water to clean the treadle sewing machine base as it conveniently dissolves all the dirt and gives it a cleaner and shinier appearance than before.
  3. However, you are not supposed to use the same stuff for the sewing machine as it will damage the decals and would cause them to rust later on. Especially, using water to clear it up is clearly not a better option.
  4. At times people tend to use an air dryer to get rid of surface dirt. While it may sound like the easiest approach, it has quite a drawback; which is that the air coming out of the dryer will push the grime into the sewing machine!
  5. In case the needles of the vintage sewing machine have also become rusty, then it is better to discard them and bring new ones; instead of trying hard to get the rust off them.
  6. Last but not least, cleaning and getting rust off vintage sewing machines is not enough until you ensure to keep it maintained. And for that, it is recommended to use sewing machine oils and other lubricants.


If you are into collecting vintage sewing machines, then you must have come across the difficulties of its cleaning process – especially getting rid of rust. Here, in the aforementioned guide, we have tried to enlist all the possible quirks on how to get rust off vintage sewing machines.

It might appear to you that the process of cleaning sewing machines from rust is a piece of cake, but deep down, you have to take care of a lot of things to avoid any permanent damage to the machine. 

So make sure to keep in mind all the tips mentioned above, in order to not face any inconvenience later on.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. How do you clean chrome on a vintage sewing machine?

Ans: Vintage sewing machines have chrome parts at times. Some of you might think it is the toughest to deal with when cleaning a vintage sewing machine. However, you can clean it even with the help of any basic automobile chrome polish. Just wipe it softly over the chrome parts of your vintage sewing machine and it will be cleaned within no time.

Q2. How do you remove rust from antique metal?

Ans: Metals are more prone to rust as compared to other elements. However, these can be treated and restored to their original form. All you need to do is to prepare a mixture of lemon juice and salt. Then dip a paper towel in it and rub it over the rusted metal part gently. Once done, wipe it all with another clean and wet paper towel to remove the rust particles.

Q3. How old is a vintage sewing machine?

Ans: A vintage sewing machine cannot be older than a hundred years, since older than that will make it an antique sewing machine instead of vintage. Having said that, in order to find out the exact model of your vintage sewing machine, you can check the different design ranges to which it belongs.

Q4. Can I Remove Rust Off Vintage Sewing Machine all the time?

Ans: After everything is considered, you have to keep in mind that you might not be able to restore the vintage sewing machine completely in all cases. The reason for this is that rust is intensive enough to ruin metal and other parts. So if your sewing machine is exposed to rust for quite a long time, then chances are that it might’ve started to wear away.

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