Longarm maintenance is important to keep your machine running smoothly. We have paid a lot of money for this equipment and want it to last for a long time. I'm going to talk about Handi Quilter because that's what I have.
Every time I put in a new bobbin I use a brush and really get in there and brush the lint out of the bobbin area. You need to really get the brush way back in all around the whole bobbin area. I'm always surprised at how much lint comes out of there. Just a tiny piece of lint in the wrong place can mess up your tension. I sometimes take off the throat plate to clean from the top. While I have the bobbin out, I put a drop of oil in the hook race area of the bobbin case.
Next I check the wheels on the carriage to see if there's any thread wrapped around them. Using my needle nose pliers I remove any thread I find. The wheels can get dirty with grime. Here's a picture of the grime on the silver wheel.
Using a piece of scrap batting I clean the wheels. Really rub hard while you slowly move the machine to roll the wheel. It should be nice and shiney when you're done. I'm always surprised how much dirt is on the batting when I'm done.
The black wheels on the carriage get dirty down in the groove. Sometimes I wet my batting a little to clean it down in there. I use my fingernail or a flat screwdriver to get the batting down into the groove and move my machine to roll the wheel.
Have you ever noticed the blue track ant the dust and lint that gets in the grooves. I use my toilet brush that I use to pick up threads off the floor to scrap the track. You could also use and stiff brush like a toothbrush. Here are before and after pictures.
I don't do all of this before every quilt but probably every couple of weeks. I oil my hook race every bobbin change faithfully. I want to keep my machine in great condition so I can have fun quilting.