How to Remove Candle Wax From Suede

Candles may look great on a table next to a suede chair, but a wax spill on the suede is anything but great. In many cases, you can remove the waxy stain by dealing with the wax while it is still liquid and again after it hardens, treating the oily stain afterward with cornstarch. Act as quickly as possible when cleaning up a wax spill to prevent it from attracting dust and dirt or working its way farther into the upholstery.

Three white burnt candles
credit: Darren Pullman/iStock/Getty Images
Keep candles away from suede furniture to prevent wax spills and stains.

Absorb Liquid Wax

If the wax spill is still fresh, absorbing some of it with a paper towel or a white cloth lessens the amount that soaks into the upholstery. Dab the wet wax with the paper towel and without pressing down -- the paper should just touch the wax enough to wick it away from the suede. Repeat the process with fresh areas of the paper towel until no more wax is absorbed.

Cool Control

Allow the wax spill to cool completely before attempting to remove the rest. Speed up the process by placing a few ice cubes into a zippered sandwich bag and setting the sealed bag on top of the wax. After a minute or two, pick gently at the hardened wax with your fingernail or the bowl of a plastic spoon, scraping and picking from the outside edges of the wax toward the center of the spill. If some of the wax is stubborn to remove, do not pull so hard that it yanks out any suede fibers. Instead, press down on a thick or large area of wax with the edge of the spoon to crack the wax so it comes off in pieces. Keep a trash bag handy to place the wax scraps into so they don't become embedded elsewhere.

Powder Power

If an oily stain remains after you remove as much wax as possible, sprinkle a generous amount of cornstarch over the spot. Rub the cornstarch into the suede a bit with a white soft cloth or paper towel, working in a circular motion. Wait several hours, and then brush the cornstarch off with a suede brush or vacuum it up with an upholstery brush attachment. Then brush the suede fibers with a suede brush to restore the nap.

Heat Treatment

If the suede looks so oily that you think some of the wax has become embedded deep in the upholstery, place a large sheet of brown craft paper over the spot. Heat it with an iron set to the lowest heat setting without steam. Move the iron around and lift it after a few seconds, checking the paper to see if the wax has transferred to the paper. If so, repeat the process with a fresh piece of paper, continuing until all the wax has been absorbed. Test the iron and paper method in an inconspicuous area first, and only use heat as a last resort to prevent potential discoloration of the suede.