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How to Get Spilled Wax Off of Things

pink candle wax spill on carpet
Xplorer Photography/Shutterstock

Candles are great for adding ambiance or a little light during power outages, but dealing with spilled wax on your stuff is no fun. We’re here to save your furniture, carpet, table, or even your hair with some quick, easy steps.


The clean-up protocol for spilled wax on floors depends on the flooring type. Let’s go through the specifics:

  • Carpet: Scrape off as much wax as you can using a butter knife or an old credit card. Lay a damp cloth over the area and then apply medium heat with an iron. The stubborn wax will stick to the cloth, making it easy to peel away. Afterward, you can apply alcohol to remove residue. If this method doesn’t work, use an ice pack to freeze the wax. Then chip away chunks with a butter knife.
  • Wood: Be extra careful with wooden floors; chipping away at the wax can damage the finish. Try hardening the wax with ice cubes or an ice pack. Then carefully scrape at it with an old credit card. You can also use a blow dryer set to medium, wiping away the wax as it melts. Finish the area with a cream furniture wax.
  • Vinyl: Vinyl is more resilient than other flooring types. Try hot water and a cleaning cloth, adding soap if needed. Let the water soak the area before drying it off. Repeat this process until the wax disappears.

Fragile Surfaces

This goes without saying, but you really should keep hot candles away from fragile surfaces, such as laptops and TVs. But we know life happens. Here’s what to do if wax finds its way to your precious belongings.

  • Glass: If you get wax on a thick glass surface (like a coffee table), you can usually just scrape it up with a butter knife or an old credit card. If it’s a more fragile item, apply heat with a blow dryer on medium heat and wipe away wax as it loosens. Then wash the area with hot, soapy water, cleaning up any residue. If the glass item is small, like a small mirror, put it in the freezer for 30 minutes. The hardened wax should break off in chunks.
  • TV/Computer: Use an ice pack (or ice cubes in a plastic bag) to harden the wax, being careful to avoid water dripping into your keyboard or speakers. Once the wax is solid, you can carefully break it off in chunks. You can also try mineral spirits to clean off stubborn pieces.

Fabric & Furniture

Spilling fabric on your favorite dress or your perfect pair of jeans can feel like a total disaster. But removing wax from clothing is fairly straightforward—especially if the item can fit in your freezer.

  • Clothing: Toss the item in your freezer for approximately half an hour. Most of the cold wax will easily scrape off. Then place a paper bag over the affected area and apply medium heat with an iron. The remaining wax will transfer to the bag. Finish by rubbing laundry detergent directly into the stain and immediately tossing into the washing machine. If the stain is stubborn, try soaking with a stain stick. Just don’t heat dry the item before you’re sure the stain is gone or you’ll risk setting it into the fabric.
  • Fabric Furniture: Start by scraping away the hardened wax with a butter knife. Then use the paper bag method described above (the same as with clothing). Repeat this process, using fresh bags, if necessary. You can use denatured alcohol to remove any remaining stains.
  • Leather Furniture: Use a blow dryer set to low or medium heat and wave it quickly over the stain. Do not linger on the spot for too long or you risk burning the material. Wipe away with a clean cloth. Finish with a specific leather-polish or a mild soap, patting dry.

Everything Else

There is no saying where hot wax will end up. Think about the durability of the surface before proceeding with any method. If it’s fairly robust, such as a sink or bathtub, then you can use hot or boiling water, soap, and other cleaning solutions. If it’s more delicate, such as a freshly painted wall, then use low/medium heat from a blow dryer to melt the wax.

If you get wax in your hair (we’re not asking how), then dip the tips in hot water. If the wax is closer to your roots, massage with olive oil, and then shampoo and condition.

Spilled wax on your shoes? Toss them in the freezer, then follow the instructions for clothing or for leather.

With these tips, you should be able to save almost any item from a drastic wax spill. Remember to keep those candles out of reach of children, away from flammable objects, and in well-contained vessels. And when those accidents do happen, let the wax cool first before messing with it in order to prevent spreading.

Jill A. Chafin Jill A. Chafin
Jill A. Chafin is a freelance writer, aerialist, dancer, food enthusiast, outdoor adventurer, and mama, based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Read Full Bio »
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