Cleaning fusible glue off sewing machine needles

30 07 2009

Following on from my earlier post about cleaning fusible glue off a Teflon-coated iron, here’s the problem I had with gunked up sewing machine needles and how I solved it with the help of a couple of people on the Etsy forums.


I’ve been doing some fast free motion quilting on a piece that’s made up of stiff interfacing onto which is fused a piece of fabric. I’ve gunked up (technical term!) 7 sewing machine needles already this evening.

The speed of the needle going through the layers seems to be re-melting the glue on the fusible and sticking to the needle, ultimately causing the thread to snap and the eye and shaft of the needle to become sticky and full of sticky gluey gunk.

How do I clean the gunk off these needles? I’ve tried an orange-based cleaner (which helped to an extent), and am now trying acetone. Any other suggestions?

These needles are perfectly fine otherwise.


These options were suggested:

  • Sewer’s Aid: “If you put a drop on your needle before sewing through fusible it even prevents the build-up”
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Soak in orange cleaner then wipe off
  • Soak in orange cleaner and use a scourer to wipe off
  • Holy Cow (degreaser)
  • Nail polish remover (acetone)
  • Rubbing with a wet rag
  • Scraping off with a fingernail
  • Acetone
  • Put under a flame and wipe clean

What I did while waiting for all these suggestions to come through:

  1. Soaked the needles in acetone overnight.
  2. Wiped down and then scraped with a fingernail and a pin.
  3. There was still a bit of gunk in the eyes and the slot along the shafts of these needles, so I put them in one of those little sort of ‘sonic’ things for cleaning jewellery, then scraped them again. That pretty much got all the gunk off them.
  4. I’ve also ordered some Sewer’s Aid from the local fabric store…

The next day I discovered something else: Leave the fused fabric alone for some hours before sewing it!! I left another piece for 24 hours before starting to free motion quilt it and had no problems with glue getting on the needle, whereas the first piece that caused the grief I was sewing within an hour of fusing. I shouldn’t be so keen and eager!



6 responses

21 05 2013

Nail polish cleaner did not work. I’ve just been trying it. I don’t think I have acetone, but will try rubbing alcohol. This above is similar to my problem, don’t know where the glue gook came from, maybe canvas I sewed, but seemed to begin now sewing on Velcro – or trying to, onto a pouch. Four years later, glad to find this here.

9 08 2013

When the gunk gets on the needle have you had issues with the stitches skipping? I am having an issue with both of my machines and believe it is all caused by the gunk. Love all the suggestions. Thanks for this post.

22 10 2014

I am having the same problem with stitches skipping after using fusible interfacing. I have changed and cleaned needles with no success. I think the “gunk has gotten elsewhere in my machine. One viewer suggested waiting some time after fusing before sewing the project. After I get my sewing machine back in order, I will plan to try this. Very Frustrating!
Would also love to hear some input

4 04 2017

I bought some satin with glued sequins on, this has been left for a couple of months before sewing and I still have trouble sewing through it, gunking up my needle and causing missed stitches! Anyone found the sewer’s aid helped??

5 04 2017

Sewer’s Aid is a liquid silicone as far as I know. It doesn’t cost a lot, so would be worth a try.

5 06 2018

Using liquid Goof Off on a small square of muslin, wiping down the needle every few minutes is helping me on a glued-on sequined fabric project. Just hope the glue gunk doesn’t also get on the bobbin case or machine interior. Will never work on this type fabric again!

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