How To Remove Candle Wax

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Wax spills happen often. You forget about the lit candles on the dining room table, or the dog knocks over the citronella candle on the patio table. Whether those candles contain paraffin, soy wax or some combination of several substances, you can use heat, cold and a gentle scraping tool to get rid of those waxy messes.

How To Remove Candle Wax
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Fabric Recovery

Cold and heat team up to remove wax from fabric surfaces such as tablecloths or clothing. Wait until the wax hardens, then wiggle the affected fabric back and forth along the waxy area to break the wax into smaller pieces. Pick off as much wax as possible. If any wax remains, place the item in the freezer, or place a zippered bag full of ice on top of the spot until the wax becomes brittle. Pick the wax off, or wiggle the fabric again to snap off the remaining wax. Remove any remaining bits by rubbing the bowl of a plastic spoon over the wax.

Wood Cleanup

Whether candle wax dripped onto the dining room table, a wood floor or the deck chair outside, cleanup begins by scraping up as much of the hard wax as possible, without damaging the furniture. Use a plastic paint scraper or a plastic spoon bowl to loosen as much as possible, then wipe wax bits into a trash bag. If the furniture has a varnish finish or another sealant, rub a cream-based furniture wax over the spot to remove any residue. For unfinished wood, place a folded sheet of brown craft paper over the wax, then iron the spot on low heat until the paper absorbs the wax. Keep ironing with a fresh piece of paper until all the wax comes up.

Nonporous Surfaces

Remove wax from heat-resistant nonporous surfaces such as countertops, sinks and tile floors by first picking off as much as possible with your fingernail or the bowl of a plastic spoon. Discard the wax pieces to prevent creating a new mess. Set a hair dryer to medium or high, aiming it at the spot. As the wax melts, dab it up with paper towels, using a fresh area with each dab to avoid reapplying the wax. This method also works on vertical surfaces such as windows, mirrors and painted walls. Remove any remaining residue with a spritz of one part white vinegar and three parts water. Test painted surfaces before spraying with the vinegar solution to ensure the liquid doesn't affect the paint.

Carpet Care

Cold and heat team up to remove wax from rugs and carpets. Place a zippered plastic bag full of ice over the affected area to make the wax brittle. Remove the bag once the wax hardens, then scrape the area with the edge of a plastic knife. Vacuum up the wax as it comes off the carpet to avoid spreading it around. Run a lint-free white rag under hot tap water, then wring out as much excess water as possible before setting it atop the carpet stain. Don't use a dyed cloth, as the color could transfer over to the carpet. Iron the towel on medium heat, holding the iron over the spot for 30 seconds at a time. Wet the cloth again as needed, folding it so the waxy stain is on the inside, away from both the carpet and iron. If you've removed all the wax and an oily area remains, use a carpet stain remover designed for grease spots to dissolve the stain.


Kathy Adams is an award-winning writer. She is an avid DIYer that is equally at home repurposing random objects into new, useful creations as she is at supporting community gardening efforts and writing about healthy alternatives to household chemicals. She's written numerous DIY articles for paint and decor companies, as well as for Black + Decker, Hunker, SFGate, Landlordology and others.

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