If you hear a popping sound as you sew or your bobbin thread starts nesting then I would consider changing your needle before it starts damaging your fabric. Do not wait until your needle breaks to replace it! I have heard sewers complain that their machine has tension issues. I usually ask them when they changed their needle last. Most common answer - it hasn't broken yet! When questioning them further they mention that they have never changed it since buying their machine!
There are differnt needles for different fabric and styles of sewing. Each needle type is built differntly. For example, topstitch (embroidary) needles have a larger eye which prevents decorative threads such as rayon's from snapping as you sew. Ballpoints / Jersey are designed to sew knits fabrics. There is a lot of information on needles available at: https://www.schmetzneedles.com/all-about-needles/ and https://storage.googleapis.com/vw-superiorthreads/docs/superior-needle-graphic.pdf
It is also important to consider the quality of the needles you are buying. Cheap is not usually best. Some brands the needles are polished and others they are dipped in an acid. Some look straight to the eye but infact can be slightly bent thus causing damage to your needle plate or bobbin shuttle/case.
Your machine manual will also give you recommendations on the correct needle type for your machine. For example, some of the Singer sewing machines require needles that are slightly shorter than the generic machine needles. Check your manual and if you are not sure, check with the supplier you purchased your machine from.
Make sure when changing your needle that you insert it as high as it can go. Tighten the needle screw with a screw driver to ensure your needle doesn't drop out.
Now back to my post heading. Why you should use a sewing machine needle cushion.
We have watched our mothers, grandmothers or other sewers take their needle out of their machine and place it back into the packet. Hmmmmm - how do you know which are your new needles?
Please don't put a used needle back into the packet it came from. Make a machine needle cushion that can sit next your machine.
I use a Clover needle cushion (top right). Notice the seperate sections? Its easy enough to make your own. I have made smaller machine needle cushions for my class as gifts (left). I have separated and labelled each section.
So how does it work?
I frequently sew with different dress fabrics and also quilt so swap my needles regularly. I have completed machine quilting a baby quilt and now I want to start making a cotton dress. I know that I haven't used my quilting needle for 8 hours sewing so I remove it and place it in the quilting section of my cushion. After completing my dress, I place my needle into the 80/12 section. Before I commence a new project, I check my needle cushion for the required needle and only reach for a new one if a used one is not available.
One more thing. I have a small glass jar (jam size) in which i put all my blunt pins & safety pins, old machine needles, blunt rotary cutting blades and any other "sharp" items I want to dispose of. Once the jar is full, then they are disposed of or recycled (if possible).