Remove Candle Wax From Clothes, Carpet, and Upholstery

tapered candles on a table

The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

Overview
  • Working Time: 8 - 10 hrs
  • Total Time: 20 - 30 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner

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

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 on the fabric because it can cause water spotting.

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

Equipment / Tools

  • Dull knife, spoon, or credit card
  • Iron
  • Soft-bristled brush (Optional)
  • Machine Washer/automatic dryer
  • Vacuum (Hand-held or full size with attachments)

Materials

  • Ice cubes
  • Heavy-duty detergent or enzyme-based stain remover
  • Oxygen based bleach
  • White paper towels
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Home dry-cleaning kit
  • Plastic bag (Optional)

Instructions

Remove Candle Wax From Clothes, Carpet, and Upholstery
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

Before You Begin

Tip

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

items for removing candle wax stains

The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

Instructions

  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 it 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 beeswax) is made from petroleum products, and some oil or dye from a colored candle may remain 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 thoroughly 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 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, it 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 a 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 several 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 you do anything.

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 darker carpets because it may bleach the fibers.

  1. Harden the Wax

    When candle wax hits the carpet, move as quickly as possible to remedy it. Do not try to rub or wipe up the hot wax. Instead, put 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 rugs because it may bleach the fibers.