How to Clean and Care for Your Sewing Tools
Iron and Ironing Board
Refer to the iron's manual for the recommended cleaning method. Generally, you can wipe the cold iron with a damp cloth to remove dirt and dust. Then turn the iron on high and rub the soleplate with a dry towel until buildup is removed. There are also special cleaners to remove dirt and grease from your iron, available at crafts stores. If your iron has a water reservoir for steam, fill the reservoir with a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water, turn the steam setting to high, and steam the iron over a towel to remove the residue. Use a cotton swab to wipe out the steam holes.
If you use a lot of fusible adhesives, spray starch, or fabric spray, it's important to clean your ironing board frequently. Refer to the manufacturer's washing instructions and replace the cover as needed.
Keep your machine in tip-top shape with regular cleaning. Each machine is different, so reference your machine's manual for the details or schedule a professional servicing with a machine dealer. In general, clean the surface of your machine using a clean cloth. Use the brush that came with your machine or a chenille stem to carefully remove the lint from the inside of the machine. Set up a recurring reminder on your calendar to clean your machine regularly (such as the first day of every month).
To remove lint and threads from your cutting mat, rub an eraser over the mat. If your mat needs a deeper clean, wash it with a few drops of mild dish soap and a soft bristle brush in room-temperature water. Rinse it with water and dry it right away. Cutting mats should be stored flat and out of the sun. If you don't have space to lay a cutting mat flat in your sewing space, hang it from clips on a pants hanger and store in a closet, or store it flat under a bed or sofa.
Store rotary cutters with the blade closed and in a cool and dry location. Change the blade periodically (you'll know when it's time if you see uncut threads or get hand and wrist fatigue). Each time you change out the blade, do a quick cleaning of your rotary cutter. To do this, take the cutter apart one piece at a time, laying the parts out in order. Wipe each piece down with a clean cloth to remove any lint or residue. Add one drop of sewing machine oil around the center of the blade before reassembling the rotary cutter.
Take a moment to designate each pair of scissors in your sewing space for either fabric or paper. Wipe blades with a clean cloth as needed. For stubborn dirt or stickiness, use a cotton ball dipped in a solution of 1 tablespoon vinegar and 2 cups water. Dry immediately after washing to prevent rust. If you have a nice pair that you want to keep in great condition, have the scissors professionally sharpened at a local quilt shop or by someone the shop recommends.
Rulers and Templates
Acrylic rulers and templates can pick up oil and dirt from your hands, lint from fabrics, and stickiness from fusible web. To clean rulers, wipe them down with a clean cloth and a solution of 1 tablespoon vinegar and 2 cups water. You also can use a glass cleaner that's safe to use on acrylics; read the label carefully.