Free Shipping on All U.S. Orders!


How to Clean & Polish Your Singer Featherweight


Have you ever wondered how some Featherweight machines look polished and beautiful while others look dull or oily?  Watch the video tutorial below all the way through and learn how to take your average looking Featherweight and turn it into something beautifully reflective.  Note:  The instructions on the Zymol containers are for automobiles. However, for sewing machines follow the instructions below in the video tutorial.  (You do not want to wash your sewing machine like you would a vehicle.)

Because it is impossible to know what environments, chemicals, cleaning agents and other products old sewing machines have been exposed to over the years, it is always wise with any cleaning or polishing product, to find an inconspicuous spot on your machine and sample a very small area first, slowly working out little by little to make sure it does not have any reactions.  Even previous exposure to extreme heat and cold weather conditions can affect how the surface will react.


Clean and Polish a Singer Featherweight 221 222

Waxing your machine provides a protective layer to help preserve the clearcoat and decals of the machine, but it also gives your treasured Featherweight a beautiful and attractive shine that others will be sure to notice. If your machine has not been polished in a long time and is very dirty, you may want to remove a few items so that you can get the polish everywhere. This could include removing the needle plate, bobbin winder tension bracket, the tension unit itself, light bulb housing, and possibly even the motor. If you don’t feel comfortable removing any of those things then just do your best to polish around them.

The tools we will use for this demonstration are:
  1. A 100% Cotton Rags about 3 inches square (old cotton T-shirts work great)
  2. Sewing Machine Oil or Kerosene (see note about Kerosene below)
  3. HD Cleanse & Zymol Carnauba Carbon Wax Set
You will want to start by dusting off your machine with a dry or an almost dry rag. Do not use household cleaners or soap and water to clean your machine. Many of these contain alcohol, or degreasers or even citrus that will harm the clearcoat of your Featherweight machine. Many of us who have been in the Featherweight business for years have learned the hard way what not to use on our Featherweight machines. Hopefully, we can help some of you avoid those trial and error mistakes.

If you have tape, stickers or other residues, you can use sewing machine oil, olive oil or even kerosene to clean the adhesive off the machine and before you begin the waxing process.  Smaller containers of kerosene can be found at your local Wal-Mart or hardware store in the camping section.  Because each Featherweight has had a different environmental and cleaning history, we do not recommend using sewing machine oil or kerosene over the entire surface as a general cleaner, but only recommend these to remove adhesive residue from tape and stickers.  That being said, kerosene is great to have on hand because it is great to use for cleaning the internal gears of a Featherweight.  We even carry small, empty oil bottles for this purpose - allowing you to carefully direct where you want the little drops of kerosene to go.
If the machine does not have any adhesive residue then just begin with the HD Cleanse.  The bottle instructions indicate to wash first, but this is referring to an automobile, not a Featherweight.  You've already dusted the machine off, so you can go right to the HD Cleanse.  The Cleaner is applied directly to the machine, working in small areas with a soft, dry, 100% cotton terrycloth towel.  Rub the area gently, in a back-and-forth, up-and-down motion.  Work the cleaner into the area for about 10 to 15 seconds, and then wipe it clean with a separate soft, dry, 100% cotton terry cloth.

Sidenote: If the clearcoat has worn off or been removed from your Featherweight machine, and your decals are exposed, be very gentle with any cleaning and waxing around the decals, or avoid them as much as possible.  Exposed decals can sometimes be the wild card depending on what they have been exposed to over the years.  If the decals are silver, the machine has no clearcoat left in that area, so proceed very carefully. A light coat of wax, however, will help to keep them from diminishing further but too much friction from rubbing too hard isn’t good either. You need to find a happy medium in being gentle but still giving it a good wax to protect it. If you do nothing, then sewing with fabric, pins, etc. will cause the decals to wear faster. 

Sometimes when cleaning, any residual oils on the machine may come off in a brownish tint on your rag.  But, if you get a nice shine with one coat of wax then the color of your rag is not that important.  We have used Zymol for years and years but other dealers have their own preferences.  Any wax that is a high quality/high content carnauba wax should work well.

The Zymol Carbon wax is extremely easy to apply, yet gives the best and most protection for your machine because of the high levels of carnauba (almost twice as much as the liquid carnauba wax!).  And, it won't leave a haze either, like so many other waxes.  Simply use your fingers, applying a small amount -- waxing over the area you just cleaned.  Use the same application motion as the cleaner -- waxing in both directions to assure proper coverage.
High-quality carnauba carbon wax can be very expensive... and you definitely get what you pay for with protecting and preserving the finish of your Singer Featherweight.  Just like car collectors or those with high-end vehicles want the best protection for their automobiles, we Featherweight owners want to keep the finish on our machines protected as well - not just for show, but also for daily use!  Therefore, we contacted Zymol and they made this smaller "Featherweight-size" container - made especially for us at the Featherweight Shop!  Not only is it super easy to now clean and polish your machine, but these smaller containers helped bring the cost down considerably for obtaining both the cleaner and the wax.  Each container will be enough to do about 20 machines, making each application less than a couple dollars.  Most importantly, it preserves and protects the finish of your Singer Featherweight 221 or 222K!  You won't need to clean your machine each time, but you should wax your Featherweight a couple of times a year ... or more depending on use.
You can use the HD Cleanse & Zymol Carbon Wax on your black Featherweights, tan Featherweights, white Featherweights or even your custom-painted Featherweights, too.

We try to answer all questions that come to the shop, so if you have a project machine that you are working on, please feel free to contact us and we will be glad to assist you.