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.
How to Get Candle Wax Out of Washable Clothes and Fabrics
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)
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. 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. Start by treating the oily/waxy component of the stain with a stain remover like Shout, Zout or Spray 'n Wash. 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.
Next, 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. Check the stain before tossing the garment in the dryer.
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 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.
Candle Wax and Dry Clean Only Clothes
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.
How to Get Candle Wax Out of Carpet and Upholstery
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.
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. 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.
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.
Follow the same tips as those for carpet to remove candle wax from upholstery. If the fabric is silk or vintage, consult a professional before treating with alcohol or hydrogen peroxide or if you need more stain removal tips.