UNL Extension – helping you turn knowledge into "know how"

Wax Removal

Submitted by Lorene Bartos, UNL Extension Educator

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Whether you're lighting a menorah, a kinara or just creating a wonderfully festive atmosphere, the winter holiday season is filled with the soft glow of candlelight. Then at the end of a fun-filled night, along with a sink full of dishes, you may find some wax drippings on any number of surfaces. Try the tactics below for safely removing wax.


Apply an ice pack to the wax on a hard surface to freeze it. Then take a thin object, like a credit card, to gently scrape. Don't use a knife because it may damage the surface you're trying to remove wax from.

If any wax residue remains, use a product that cleans finished wood to remove remaining smudges and other soils. A polish or wax may be used if a shine is desired. Buff with a soft cloth. Be sure wood is properly finished. Any substance, even water, used on unfinished or improperly finished wood can damage the surface.

Carpets or fabric:

Put a paper bag on top of the wax and then iron over the bag, pressing gently until all of the wax is transferred off the carpet or fabric and onto the bag. (For fabric, put one paper bag underneath and one on top, then iron.) Be cautious when using this method for colored candle wax. Heat may set the color.

For fabrics that can be laundered, use a dull knife to scrape off surface wax. Place stain between paper towels and press with a warm iron, transferring the wax to the towels. Continue, using clean towels, until the wax no longer transfers. Then, place stain face-down on another clean paper towel and sponge with a prewash stain remover; blot with paper towels. Let dry, then launder.

Scrape excess from fabric with a dull knife or use ice to harden was and then remove it. Spray or sponge with a cleaning solvent, then rub with heavy-duty liquid detergent before washing. Launder using hot water and chlorine bleach if safe for fabric.

Vinyl flooring:

Soak the area with hot water and then wipe away the wax with a dry cloth. Repeat as necessary and then follow up, if needed, with a bit of multipurpose remover.


Scrape off surface wax with a dull knife or edge of a credit card and apply heat with a hair dryer set to medium. Wipe off the wax with a rag as it softens. Wash the area with hot, soapy water to remove residue.

Painted Wall:

Apply heat with a hair dryer set to medium and wipe away excess wax as it softens. Remove residue with a solution of one part vinegar and three parts water.


Scrape up the wax when cooled with the edge of credit card. Or heat up the area with blow dryer and wipe away the rest of the remaining wax with a paper towel.

When using candles and other wax items around the home be sure to place them in a safe place and away from children. Candles are one of the leading causes of home fires. Consider using battery candles for decorating.

Ask Lorene

(This resource was added November 2013 and appeared in the Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper Sunday edition. For information on reproducing this article or using any photographs or graphics, read the Terms of Use statement)

Contact Information

University of Nebraska-Lincoln in Lancaster County
Web site: lancaster.unl.edu
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