How to Remove Candle Wax From Clothes, Carpet, and Upholstery

Candles on table

The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

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

Candles are romantic and lovely, and they're also practical when the electricity is out. But the waxy stains they can leave behind are not pretty—or easy to remove. The wax leaves behind oil, wax, or dye, all of which require special treatment to remove from fabrics and carpet. Keep reading to learn how to expertly remove wax without leaving a stain.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Dull knife, spoon, or credit card
  • Iron
  • Soft-bristled brush (optional)
  • Washer and dryer
  • Vacuum (handheld or full size with attachments)

Materials

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

Instructions

How to 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 by fabric

Before You Begin

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. As soon as possible, take the garment to a dry cleaner, 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.

Tip

Be aware of when wax may spill. As a candle burns down, the wax may drip onto fabrics. Melted wax can also splatter onto clothes and table linens when someone blows out a candle. Always use a candle snuffer, or place your hand behind the flame when blowing out a candle.

Cleaning products for candle wax

The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

Instructions

  1. Harden the Wax

    When a drip or splatter happens, if the wax hasn't hardened, place an ice cube on the stain to freeze the wax. Don't put the ice it directly on the fabric. You don't want to try to remove hot wax because, most likely, you'll push it deeper into the fibers of the fabric.

    Someone putting ice on wax

    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.

    Someone 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, such as Tide or Persil, 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 15 minutes, and then thoroughly rinse the stained area in hot water.

    Someone brushing wax stain

    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

  4. Wash the Garment

    If no trace of the wax remains on the fabric, wash it in the hottest water suitable, following the care label guidelines.

    Fabric in washaer

    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

  5. Check the Stained Area

    Check the stain before tossing the garment in the dryer. Don't dry a stained garment on high heat because it can permanently set the stain.

    Fabric in dryer

    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

  6. Treat Any Dye Stain

    If there's color remaining on the fabric, there has been a dye transfer that must be removed. Mix a solution of oxygen bleach (brands include OxiClean, Nellie's All Natural Oxygen Brightener, and 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.

    Fabric in oxygen bleach solution

    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

How to Remove Candle Wax From 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's a colored stain on the carpet from the dye in the candle, use a bit of rubbing alcohol on a white paper towel to blot the stain.

  1. Harden the Wax

    When candle wax hits the carpet, move as quickly as possible to remedy it. Don't 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 hard.

  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 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) to 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 Remaining Dye Stains

    If there's a colored stain on the carpet from the dye in the candle, use a few drops of rubbing alcohol on a white paper towel to blot the stain.

    Tip

    You can also use hydrogen peroxide to remove dye stains from white carpet, but it should be avoided on dark rugs because it may bleach the fibers.

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