Candles make for a great centerpiece (unscented, of course), but sometimes wax drips and can quickly make a mess of your tablecloth. Choosing higher quality candles with fewer additives (e.g. scent-free beeswax candles) can also equate to easier to clean up of melted wax. Regardless, it’s absolutely possible to remove wax from a tablecloth.
How to Remove Wax from a Tablecloth
Before you get started with any stain removal, check the fabric of your tablecloth. If it’s a natural fabric like cotton or linen, the steps below should work well for you.
If your tablecloth is made from a synthetic fabric like polyester that is sensitive to heat, you will want to be sure to use the appropriate heat setting on your iron in step 3 below.
Lastly, if it’s an antique tablecloth with delicate fabric or lace, it might be safest to take your tablecloth to a dry cleaner. Be sure to point out the location of the stain when you drop it off!
- Butter knife, old credit card, or similar tool
- Iron or Hair Dryer
- Laundry Detergent
Step 1: Freeze the Wax
If the spilled wax hasn’t already cooled and hardened, you will want to use something cold like an ice cube to help that process along quickly. The less the wax spreads into the fabric, the easier the wax will be to remove!
Simply rub the ice cube on the outside of the wax until it has completely cooled. If you don’t have an ice cube on hand, grab another freezer item or even place the tablecloth/placemat in your freezer until the wax has fully cooled.
Step 2: Scrape the Wax
Once the wax has cooled and hardened, you’ll want to grab a butter knife or old credit card (or similar tool) to scrape off as much of the wax as possible.
Step 3: Melt Away the Remaining Wax Stain
If any wax is stuck inside of the fibers of your fabric, you can use heat to melt and transfer it to another material.
What material you transfer that melted wax to is up to you. Options that work well include thin pieces of fabric (like an old, cut up t-shirt), a folded paper towel (here’s how we went paper towel-free in our kitchen), or a paper shopping bag (here’s how we grocery shop with minimal waste).
Grab two pieces of whatever transfer material you choose and use them to sandwich the tablecloth at the location of the candle wax stain. Make sure your tablecloth is laying wax-side-down. Grab either an iron or a hair dryer and apply heat to the wax stain until it starts to melt and transfer.
You might need to lift, reposition, then reapply heat a few times until all of the wax has transferred from the tablecloth to the other material.
Step 4: Wash the Tablecloth
Once all of the wax has been removed from the tablecloth, you might still be left with an oily stain. This stain should come out in the wash. Launder your tablecloth as you normally would, but do not dry in your dryer.
If there is a lingering oil stain even after laundering, dryer heat will be sure to set that stain further into your tablecloth fabric. Here are some tips on removing stubborn oil stains.
How to Remove Pesky Candle Wax From Fabric
Consider this to be your most immediate task: Wait until the candle wax has cooled and hardened on the fabric before you begin the wax removal process. To hasten the cooling process, you can ice the waxy area on the cloth with ice cubes in a plastic bag that’s placed right on top of the stain. “You can also fold up the tablecloth with the waxy section exposed on top and pop it in the freezer for a few minutes,” Rapinchuk adds.
Once the wax has hardened and cooled, you’ll have an easier time breaking it up so it either crumbles or slides off the fabric—instead of spreading and making an even bigger stain. Hold on tight to the soiled section of fabric, and with your other hand, use a butter knife or credit card to make a quick scoop of the accumulated wax.
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If there’s still wax remaining on the fabric, use heat to remove it. You can either pour hot water on the stain or use a hair dryer or iron to heat the area. Just make sure the iron isn’t too hot as you don’t want to burn the cloth. “I always use parchment paper or a paper bag on top of the stain while ironing it,” Rapinchuk recommends, “the goal is to re-melt the remainder of the wax and get it to peel off and stick onto the paper itself.”
If your cloth is light-colored and there’s still residue remaining from the candle’s oil, which is likely since candle wax is an oil-based stain, consider spreading sea salt on the stained area. “Avoid using Kosher salt as it may be too abrasive and might end up breaking up the fibers of a tablecloth, especially if this is a fine cloth,” Rapinchuk says. Instead, use a finer grind, like table salt.
Simply toss the cloth in the wash. Just don’t forget to follow the cleaning instructions on the label.
A Comprehensive Guide to Remove Candle Wax Stains from Any Surface
Allow wax to harden before you attempt to remove it. When wax is frozen, it becomes even more brittle and is easier use ice to freeze wax or place the item in the freezer. Once the wax is hard, gently flake it off with a dull butter knife. (Do not scrape since this may damage the fibers.) The dyes used in colored candles may leave behind a stain; if an oily spot remains, have the item dry-cleaned.
Although a dry cleaner should remove wax from delicate fibers such as silk, for durable fabrics such as cotton, you can try to clean them yourself. First, let the wax cool on its own or hasten the process by placing an ice cube wrapped in plastic on top of it. Once firm, carefully scrape off as much wax as you can using your fingernail or the dull edge of a butter knife. If the wax is on a cushion cover that can be removed, take it off and place several layers of damp paper towels on each side of the fabric, ironing over the papemarthastewart.com/…/how-wash-and-care-silkr on a low setting; the wax should be absorbed by the towels. Apply a fabric stain remover to eliminate any lingering residue (check for colorfastness first in an inconspicuous spot, then follow label instructions on the spot remover); blot with clean paper towels before laundering. If the drippings are on a cushion or pillow cover that can’t be taken off, Pozniak suggests that you ask your dry-cleaner to recommend a tailor who can carefully pull out the stuffing so the covering can be treated separately. As always, light candles only when the wick is a safe distance from flammable materials such as curtains or other loose fabrics. And before going to bed, be sure to extinguish every flame.
Rugs and Carpeting
Candle wax on the carpet looks a lot worse than it is. Let it harden, then scrape up as much as possible with a spoon. Place a white cloth or paper towels on top, and run a warm iron over it. (On synthetic carpet, make sure the iron is on the lowest setting.) If any wax remains, try dry-cleaning fluid. Little burn marks can’t be removed, but they can be camouflaged—trim those black bits away with scissors. Cut some fibers from a hidden swatch of carpet, then use superglue to secure them into the burn mark and even out the top with scissors. After all of this, if a stain has gotten the best of you, don’t despair: You can always rearrange the furniture.
How do you get melted candle wax out of fabric?
If you can’t just pop it off with a butter knife, Dulude recommends using a hair dryer to melt it, then using a soft cloth to wipe it away. If an oily residue remains, apply a vinegar/water mixture to the surface with a clean cloth.
What is the easiest way to remove candle wax?
Lay a damp, lint-free white cloth over the wax and apply medium heat with an iron; the wax will adhere to the cloth. Use rubbing alcohol to remove residue. Or freeze the wax with an ice pack, then shatter the frozen clump with a blunt object, like the handle of a kitchen utensil.
Will candle wax wash out of fabric?
Small spots of hardened candle wax can be removed from fabric by rubbing with a generous dollop of vegetable oil. Wipe off any excess oil with paper towels, then launder as usual. Another way to remove small amounts of wax from a tablecloth is to put the linen in the freezer.
Does vinegar remove candle wax?
Spilled candle wax is easy to remove with the help of vinegar. Just heat up the wax with a hair dryer and then sop it up with a paper towel. Remove any leftover wax with a paper towel soaked in a solution of half water and half vinegar.
How do you get wax out of cloth?
Allow wax to dry and remove excess by scraping it off or by freezing the garment and snapping off the frozen wax. To remove any remaining wax, place white unpatterned paper towels on either side of the fabric and use an iron on a low, non-steam.
Does candle wax stain?
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.
How do you get wax out of a washing machine?
Pour two cups white vinegar into the washing machine and fill it with hot water. Run the machine through one regular wash and rinse cycle, using no laundry detergent. This will remove any residual wax from the washing machine, as well as soap scum and other dirt and grime.