How to Get Candle Wax Out of Carpet and Other Fabrics

I was cleaning up after a project and realized that I had spilled candle wax on my carpet.  I didn’t notice it at first.  Otherwise, I would have cleaned it up right away.  When I did notice it, I tried to simply wipe it up with a wet cloth, but that did not work so well.  I think because the wax had already solidified, a simple wet wipe was useless.  So, I decided I needed to figure out how to get candle wax out of carpet.  I had some ideas, but I thought a little research might help solve my problem.

So, how do you get candle wax out of carpet?  First freeze the wax, so it is easier to scrape off as much excess as possible.  Then, heat the wax so it softens up (melts) and is easier to absorb or wipe up with a wet cloth or paper towel.  Finally, finish it off with a carpet cleaner and vacuum for good measure.

This is the most common way to clean candle wax out of carpet, but there are actually other ways that could work as well.  Keep reading to find out other methods that you could use to clean candle wax out of your carpet and other fabrics, such as clothes, as well.

Cleaning Candle Wax Out of Carpet

Have you ever accidentally spilled candle wax on your carpet?  This happened to me and I wanted to figure out the best way to get the wax out of the carpet and get it cleaned up without spreading the stain, ruining the carpet, or making it worse, especially because I did not notice it right away, so it sat for a while.  What is the best approach to clean candle wax that has sat for a while?

I found that there are three basic approaches.  All with similar steps and these methods could be combined in various ways.  All the methods start with icing the wax so it is easier to scrape off any excess, then it comes down to technique.  The first and most common method is using a heat source to melt the wax to dab it up and absorb it into a cloth.  The second method is to also include a step where you use a vinegar solution to pick up any left-over wax or dye stain.  The third method is using rubbing alcohol to treat any stain that the other two methods may have missed.

Ice, Then Heat Method

My initial idea was to heat up the wax right away and try to get it absorbed or picked up as much as possible.  However, from what I discovered this could make the process more difficult.  It’s easier to freeze the wax first before you heat it up.  The more excess wax you can get rid of initially the better. 

  1. Freeze the wax.  Put an ice pack or some other cold pack on top of the wax.  However, you don’t want to put the ice on the wax directly.  From what I learned, any condensation or wetness on the wax could cause it to stain the carpet.  So, you want to wrap the ice pack in a cloth or towel.  Then, once the wax freezes, scrape off as much of the wax as you can with a spoon, butter knife, or other tool.
  2. Heat the wax.  Then, once you have as much excess wax scraped off as possible, you will heat the wax to melt it.  There are a few different ways you could do this step.  You could use an iron, heat gun, or hair dryer.  If you are using an iron, turn the steam setting on.  Start with laying a damp cloth or paper towel on top of the wax.  Once the wax heats up (melts) it will be absorbed into the cloth or paper towel.
  3. Alternative paper bag approach.  I also read you could use a paper bag instead of a paper towel.  I did not try this method myself.  There is some argument on whether using a paper bag is a good thing or a bad thing, so I think just sticking with a damp cotton cloth or paper towel is probably the best approach, because it seems to be the method everybody seems to agree on. 
  4. Dab it up.  Put a hot iron on top of the cloth.  Or if you don’t have an iron, you can use a heat gun or hair dryer to melt the wax.  As the wax melts, dab it up, so it is being absorbed into the cloth.  Use a new cloth or paper towel if needed or as necessary.  Continue until all the wax has been absorbed.

Next, take a carpet cleaner to clean up anything left behind.

Finally, vacuum the area for good measure to return it to its former, pristine state.

Vinegar Method

If the above method did not work, you can also use a solution of water and vinegar to clean your carpet.  The ratio of water to vinegar varies, depending on who you ask.  You can start with a more dilute solution use a recipe of a 1:3 vinegar to water ratio, which would be ¼ cup vinegar and ¾ cup of water. If this does not work, you could try a more concentrated solution, as high as a 1:1 ratio.

Combine ¼ cup vinegar and ¾ cup water in a spray bottle.

Follow the same steps as above:  icing, then heating the candle wax.  However, instead of using a regular carpet cleaner, try using this vinegar solution.

Of course, there are some nay-sayers with this method, as well.  This may work on your carpet or it may not.  It really depends on the type of wax and the type of carpet you have.

Rubbing Alcohol

Perhaps you might get the candle wax out, but the dye has stained the carpet.  In that case, you could try rubbing alcohol as a solution. 

Using a cloth soaked in rubbing alcohol, dab the carpet to get as much of the stain removed as possible.  You can again place a cloth or paper towel on the carpet and use your heat source as before to get anything left behind.  Remember, if you are using an iron, use the steam setting.  We are trying to get the dye to absorb into the cloth and away from the carpet.  Let me know how this method works for you!

Technique Tips

The technique you use for each of these steps and methods matters and will make a difference on how well they work.  Here are a couple tips to help with cleaning the wax out of your carpet:

  • Blot, don’t rub.  Rubbing will just make matters worse, by setting the stain deeper or spreading it.  The best approach is to dab or blot as you go.  Try to avoid rubbing.
  • Never pour straight vinegar onto the carpet, always dilute it with water first!  The best approach is to actually put it in a spray bottle and not pour it on.  Let the vinegar-water solution sit on the carpet for 10 minutes before blotting with a paper towel.

Related Questions

How to get wax out of clothes?  Similar principle.  In this case, let the wax dry.  Scrape off as much of the hardened wax, as possible.  This time you are placing a dry cotton cloth or towel underneath the fabric, a damp paper towel on top of the fabric, then apply the heat source to melt the wax.  Once all of the wax is removed, soak the fabric in water and Oxy-Clean, which should remove any colored dye that stained the fabric.  You could also try applying a stain remover or small amount of liquid detergent directly to the stain as a pre-treatment.  Once the stain is gone, give it a good wash.  This similar method can be applied to tablecloths, other cotton fabrics, etc.

Does vinegar ruin carpet?  Vinegar is an acid, so it works best on alkaline stains, such as pet urine and wine.  Vinegar can damage the carpet fibers of delicate material, such as wool, silk, and other natural fibers, due to its acidity. 

Recent Posts