In this post, I’ll walk you through the process of removing rust from your vintage sewing machine in order to clean and restore it. If there’s rust on it, you don’t want to risk having it spread to other parts of the sewing machine. Generally, most rust I’ve discovered is on the surface of the machine, rather than on internal parts, which were oiled/lubricated–this helped to prevent rust. Faceplates and other external metal parts seem especially prone to rust.
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A Note about Vinegar
I often see the advice to soak something in vinegar to remove rust. I have not found this to be especially helpful in removing rust. For some reason, people go nuts over vinegar as a cleaning solution, but I have never seen the near-miraculous results always promised. It doesn’t seem to hurt anything, but I’ve tried it multiple times now, and it also doesn’t seem very effective.
Using a Dremel to Remove Rust from a Vintage Sewing Machine
For this project, I used my dremel and my metal brush attachments. See my previous post on cleaning rust off of metal bobbins. I mostly used the brush wheel attachment (far left), but the other two were helpful for getting a few stubborn spots that the brush wheel couldn’t.
The Rust Removal Process
This was what I started with. It’s an ornate floral faceplate from a Singer 66.
I used the sanding sponge initially to remove the top layer of rust.
Then I used my dremel and metal brush attachments to finish it up. You can still see a bit of pitting and discoloration, but the rust is gone and overall, I think it turned out well!
Other Bloggers’ Advice on Removing Rust from Vintage Sewing Machines
While the dremel has worked well for me, other bloggers have their own methods for cleaning up rust. I think it helps to try out different methods to see what works best for you. Here are some other posts on cleaning and removing rust from sewing machines:
- Cleaning chrome on vintage sewing machines
- Busting rust on vintage sewing machines
- Cleaning and polishing a Singer 15-30
- Get that silver shiny