How to get candle wax out of clothes

Candles can create a warm, cozy ambience in any room, but they can also leave behind an unwanted mess if the wax happens to drip onto your clothes. Whether it’s a formal dress, a favourite t-shirt, or a pair of pants, getting candle wax out of fabric can seem like a daunting task. However, with the right techniques and a little elbow grease, you can successfully remove those pesky wax stains and restore your clothes to their former glory.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of getting candle wax out of clothes, providing you with a variety of effective methods to try. From using common household items to specialized cleaning products, we’ve got you covered. By the end of this article, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge and confidence to tackle even the toughest wax stains, ensuring your clothes look as good as new.

get candle wax out of clothes

Identifying the Fabric Type

Before attempting to remove candle wax from your clothing, it’s important to first identify the fabric type. Different fabrics require different cleaning methods, so taking the time to assess the material can make all the difference in achieving a successful outcome.

Common fabric types include:

  • Cotton
  • Polyester
  • Silk
  • Wool
  • Linen

Each of these materials has unique properties that will respond differently to various cleaning techniques. For example, delicate fabrics like silk may require a more gentle approach, while hardier materials like cotton can often withstand more aggressive stain-removal methods.

Knowing the fabric composition of your garment will guide you in selecting the most appropriate cleaning process, reducing the risk of further damage to the item. Take a close look at the care label or consult a fabric identification guide if you’re unsure about the makeup of your clothing.

Preparing the Stain

Once you’ve identified the fabric type, the next step is to prepare the wax stain for cleaning. This involves a few simple steps:

  1. Scrape off any excess wax: Use a dull knife, a spoon, or the edge of a credit card to gently scrape away any hardened wax on the surface of the fabric. Be careful not to rub the stain, as this can cause it to spread.
  2. Blot the stain: Place a clean, absorbent cloth or paper towel over the wax stain and gently blot to soak up as much of the liquid wax as possible. Avoid rubbing, as this can also push the wax deeper into the fabric.
  3. Check for colourfastness: Before applying any cleaning solutions, test a small, inconspicuous area of the fabric to ensure the colour doesn’t bleed or fade. This is especially important for delicate fabrics or darker colours.
  4. Work from the outside When treating the stain, always work from the outer edges of the wax mark towards the centre. This helps prevent the stain from spreading further.

Now that you’ve properly prepared the wax stain, you’re ready to begin the cleaning process. Let’s explore some effective methods for removing candle wax from clothes.

Using Household Items

One of the best things about removing candle wax from clothes is that you likely have the necessary supplies right in your own home. Here are some common household items you can use to tackle those pesky wax stains:

  1. Ice cubes: Place an ice cube directly on the wax stain and let it sit for a few minutes. This will help harden the wax, making it easier to scrape off. Once the wax has hardened, use a dull knife or the edge of a credit card to gently remove the solidified wax.
  2. Blotting paper or paper towels: Lay a clean, absorbent paper towel or blotting paper over the wax stain and iron it on a low setting. The heat will help transfer the wax from the fabric to the paper. Replace the paper as needed until the stain has been fully absorbed.
  3. Baking soda: Make a paste with baking soda and water, and gently rub it into the wax stain. Let it sit for a few minutes, then rinse and repeat until the stain has been lifted. The abrasive nature of the baking soda can help to lift the wax.
  4. Vinegar: Soak the stained area in undiluted white vinegar for a few minutes, then blot with a clean cloth. The acidic properties of the vinegar can help break down the wax.
  5. Dish soap: Apply a small amount of mild dish soap directly to the wax stain and let it sit for a few minutes. Gently rub the soap into the fabric, then rinse thoroughly. The surfactants in the dish soap can help emulsify and lift the wax.
  6. Cornstarch: Sprinkle cornstarch generously over the wax stain and let it sit for several hours, or even overnight. The cornstarch will absorb the wax, making it easier to brush or vacuum away.

Remember to test any household cleaning method on a small, inconspicuous area of the fabric first to ensure it doesn’t cause any discoloration or damage.

Using Specialized Cleaning Products

If the household methods aren’t fully removing the candle wax from your clothing, you can also try using specialized cleaning products designed for this purpose. Here are some effective options:

  1. Wax-removing solvents: Look for commercial products that contain solvents like mineral spirits or turpentine, which can help dissolve and lift wax stains. Follow the product instructions carefully, as these solvents can be harsh on delicate fabrics.
  2. Dry cleaning solvents: Taking your wax-stained garment to a professional dry cleaner can be a great option, as they have access to powerful solvents and specialized equipment to tackle even the toughest wax stains.
  3. Enzyme-based stain removers: Some stain-fighting products contain enzymes that can break down the molecular structure of wax, making it easier to lift from the fabric. Look for enzyme-based cleaners specifically formulated for grease and oil-based stains, such as Biz Enzyme Spray or Persil ProClean Liquid.
  4. Citrus-based degreasers: Products containing d-limonene, a compound derived from citrus fruits, can be effective in dissolving and removing candle wax. These degreasers are often gentler on fabrics than harsher solvents, such as Goo Gone Citrus Degreaser or Greased Lightning Degreaser.

When using any specialized cleaning products, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and test the solution on a small, inconspicuous area of the garment first. This will ensure the product doesn’t cause any damage to the fabric or color.

Removing Wax from Different Fabric Types

As mentioned earlier, the approach to removing candle wax from clothes can vary depending on the fabric type. Here are some tips for tackling wax stains on common fabric materials:

Cotton and Linen

These sturdy, natural fibers can often withstand more aggressive cleaning methods. Start by using a combination of ice cubes to harden the wax, followed by blotting paper and a warm iron to transfer the wax to the paper. If any stain remains, try using a small amount of dish soap or an enzyme-based stain remover, such as Persil ProClean Liquid.

Polyester and Synthetic Fabrics

Synthetic materials like polyester can be more delicate when it comes to stain removal. Avoid using too much heat, as this can set the wax stain. Instead, try using a citrus-based degreaser like Goo Gone Citrus Degreaser or a specialized wax-removing solvent, being careful to test first and follow the product instructions closely.

Silk and Wool

Delicate fabrics like silk and wool require a gentler touch. Start by gently blotting the stain with a clean cloth or paper towel to absorb any excess wax. Then, use a small amount of mild dish soap or a specialized stain remover formulated for delicate materials, such as The Laundress Silk & Wool Wash. Avoid vigorous scrubbing or excessive heat, as this can damage the fibers.

No matter the fabric type, it’s always a good idea to consult the garment’s care label for any specific cleaning instructions. This can help you determine the safest and most effective approach to removing the wax stain without causing further harm to the clothing.

Preventing Candle Wax Stains

In addition to knowing how to remove candle wax from clothes, it’s also helpful to understand how to prevent these stains in the first place. Here are some tips:

  1. Use candle holders: Place candles in sturdy holders or on a heat-resistant surface to minimize the risk of wax dripping onto fabrics.
  2. Trim wicks: Before lighting a candle, trim the wick to about 1/4 inch to prevent excessive dripping.
  3. Avoid placing candles near fabrics: Be mindful of the placement of candles, keeping them away from clothing, curtains, and other textiles.
  4. Extinguish candles properly: When finished with a candle, blow it out gently to avoid splattering wax.
  5. Act quickly: If wax does happen to drip onto your clothing, act quickly to blot and remove the stain before it sets.

By taking these preventative measures, you can significantly reduce the chances of dealing with those pesky candle wax stains in the first place.


Removing candle wax from clothes may seem like a daunting task, but with the right techniques and a little elbow grease, it’s a challenge that can be conquered. Whether you opt for household items or specialized cleaning products, the key is to work quickly and be gentle with the fabric.

By following the step-by-step process outlined in this guide, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge and tools needed to tackle even the toughest wax stains. Remember to always test cleaning methods on a small, inconspicuous area first, and adjust your approach based on the fabric type.

With a little persistence and the right cleaning strategy, you can restore your clothes to their former glory, ensuring they look and feel as good as new. So the next time a candle mishap occurs, don’t fret – simply put these wax-removal techniques to the test and enjoy the satisfaction of a successfully removed stain.

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As the founder of Clean It Spotless, I am Melissa Walker, a leading expert in removing tough stains from fabrics, carpets, and upholstery. With over 10 years of experience in the cleaning industry, I have developed my own natural, non-toxic stain-fighting formulas that lift stains while preserving the integrity of the underlying material. My stain removal tutorials are widely read online, and I have appeared on local TV segments demonstrating my techniques. I also present popular stain removal workshops at community centers and schools.