The short answer is, yes, sewing machine oil will expire. Typically it has a shelf life of about five years. Now, your machine needs oil to stay lubricated and to prevent rust. Most domestic machines don’t require oiling, but older machines and industrial sewing machines do. Without oil, the moving parts will begin to break down from standard use.
Sewing machine oil comes in three varieties: Natural, synthetic, and Mineral. They all serve the same function, but sewists have their preferences.
Mineral oil comes from petroleum. It’s easy to find, inexpensive, non-toxic, odorless, and colorless. Sewing machine oil goes against the “you get what you pay for” value system. It’s affordable and fulfills its purpose.
Synthetic oil is generally more expensive. It can also lubricate plastic parts, which mineral oil cannot do. Synthetic oils also provide the benefit of minimal damage in the event of over oiling.
Natural oils are a bit of a hot topic because many people choose them for good reasons, but they’re expensive and ineffective. Natural oils for sewing machine lubrication include jojoba, ester, and silicone. They may be environmentally-friendly, but you’ll need to keep a careful eye on your machine.
In almost every case, sewing machine oil should be completely transparent or white and smooth. Changes to the color, texture, viscosity, or odor are good signs that your oil expired.
Any of these signs mean that the oil has expired:
Using expired oil can wreak havoc on your sewing machine. You probably invested quite a bit into your sewing machine, and it’s not worth the price of a bottle of sewing machine oil. Bad oil will hold onto dirt, dust, and debris, making the machine gum up.
It’s critical to note that you cannot substitute sewing machine oil with coconut, olive, or vegetable oil. They will likely cause damage to your machine. It’s worth the trip down to the store or waiting for a delivery. But there are a few substitutes you might have on hand.
The best substitute option is white mineral oil. You can easily find it in many stores. However, you can also mix natural oil by blending 1/3 cup jojoba oil with 1 tbsp ester and 1 tbsp of silicone oil. Alternatively, you can use a bike lubricant or Vaseline, but neither is recommended.
Sewing machine oil is sold in large volumes given how often we use it and that we don’t use much at a time. Although this oil lasts for about five years, it’s common for people to have a lot of expired oil on their hands.
Here are ways to get the most life from your sewing machine oil:
The key is to avoid introducing unnecessary oxygen, condensation, or foreign liquid to the oil. Oxygen and water can both encourage bacterial growth, which will turn the oil bad quickly.
It’s a good practice to keep the oil in a transparent container so you can easily see sedimentation or changes in color. The best environment for your transparent oil container is in a dark but room temperature area.
Sewing machine oil is necessary to keep your machine in top shape! Keep a bottle on hand and check it for aging before applying it.
If you need new oil for your sewing machine, check out the various oils we sell here at GoldStar Tool. There are a wide variety of oils to choose from, no matter what sewing machine you have. If you need assistance finding which oil is right for your machine, please contact us. We will be happy to help you and your sewing machine!