Remove Candle Wax From Clothes, Carpet, and Upholstery

tapered candles on a table

The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

Candles are romantic and lovely. They're also practical when the electricity is out. But the wax stains they can leave behind are not lovely. The wax leaves combination stains of oil or wax and dye that require special treatment to remove from fabrics and carpet.

Stain type Oily-waxy
Detergent type Heavy-duty or enzyme-based stain remover
Water temperature Warm to hot
Cycle type Varies depending on type of fabric

Project Metrics

Working time: 30 minutes

Total time: 8-10 hours

Before You Begin


As a candle burns down, the wax may drip onto fabrics or melted wax can get splattered onto clothes and table linens when someone blows out a candle too enthusiastically. Always use a candle snuffer or place your hand behind the flame when blowing.

If the garment or table linen is labeled as dry clean only, allow the wax to harden and then carefully remove with a dull edge. If you need to harden it quickly, place an ice cube in a plastic bag and put it on top of the wax. Do not put the ice cube directly onto the fabric because it can cause water spotting and that's just another problem.

As soon as possible, take the garment to a dry cleaner and point out and identify the stain. If you opt to use a home dry cleaning kit, be sure to treat the stain with the provided stain remover before putting the garment in the dryer bag.

What You'll Need


  • Ice cube
  • Heavy-duty detergent or enzyme-based stain remover
  • Oxygen-based bleach
  • Paper towels
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Hydrogen peroxide


  • Dull knife, spoon or credit card
  • Iron
  • White cloths
items for removing candle wax stains

The Spruce / Letícia Almeida


  1. Harden the Wax

    When a drip or splatter happens, if the wax has not hardened, place an ice cube on the stain to freeze the wax. You do not want to try to remove hot wax because, most likely, you will push the stain deeper into the fibers of the fabric.

    hardening the wax with an ice cube

    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

  2. Remove the Wax

    When the wax is hard, use a dull kitchen knife, the edge of a credit card or your fingernail to gently pick it up off the surface of the fabric.

    Even if the wax is gone from the surface, you should still treat the spot. Most wax ( other than natural bee's wax) is made from petroleum products and some oil or dye from a colored candle usually remains on the fabric.

    removing hardened wax

    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

  3. Treat the Stain

    Start by treating the oily/waxy component of the stain with an enzyme-based stain remover. If you don't have a stain remover, use a bit of heavy-duty liquid detergent (Tide or Persil are highly rated performers) or a paste made of powdered detergent and water on the stain. Work the cleaner into the stain with your fingers or a soft-bristled brush. Let the cleaner work for at least fifteen minutes and then rinse the stained area in hot water.

    removing wax with a soft bristle brush

    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

  4. Wash the Garment

    If no trace of the candle color remains on the fabric, wash in the hottest water suitable for the fabric following the care label guidelines.

    loading the fabric into the washer

    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

  5. Check the Stained Area

    Check the stain before tossing the garment in the dryer. Do not dry a stained garment on high heat which can permanently set the stain.

    placing the fabric into the dryer

    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

  6. Treat Any Dye Stain

    If there is color remaining on the fabric, there has been dye transfer that must be removed. Mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach (brand names are OxiClean, Nellie's All Natural Oxygen Brightener or OXO Brite) and cool water following the package directions. Submerge the entire garment or table linen. Allow it to soak for at least four hours or overnight and then launder as recommended.

    submerging the fabric in an oxygen bleach solution

    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

How to Get Candle Wax Out of Carpet and Upholstery

The same tips for removing candle wax from carpet can be used for upholstery. If the fabric is silk or vintage, consult a professional before treating with alcohol or hydrogen peroxide.

If there is a colored stain on the carpet from the dye in the candle, use a bit of rubbing alcohol on a clean white paper towel to blot the stain. You can also use hydrogen peroxide on white carpet but it should be avoided on dark carpets because it can bleach the fibers.

  1. Harden the Wax

    When candle wax hits the carpet, move as quickly as possible to get rid of the stain. Do not try to rub or wipe up the hot wax. Instead, place a few ice cubes in a plastic bag and place over the wax stain. Allow the ice to remain until the wax is completely hardened.

  2. Remove the Visible Wax

    Use a dull knife or the edge of a credit card to scrape away the hardened wax. Use a hand vacuum or vacuum attachment to suck up the loose wax. Keep scraping gently until no more wax remains.

  3. Remove Any Residual Wax

    To remove any residual wax, place several layers of white paper towels over the stain. Use a warm iron (not hot because that could melt the carpet fibers) and press over the area. The wax in the fibers will soften and the oily stain will be absorbed into the paper towels. Keep moving to a clean area of the paper towels until no more wax is transferred.

  4. Treat Any Remaining Dye Stains

    If there is a colored stain on the carpet from the dye in the candle, use a few drops of rubbing alcohol on a clean white paper towel to blot the stain. You can also use hydrogen peroxide on white carpet but it should be avoided on dark carpets because it can bleach the fibers.