How to remove candle wax from tablecloth

Candles can add a lovely ambience to any dining table, but the wax they leave behind can be a real pain to clean up. Whether you had a romantic candlelit dinner that got a little out of hand or your child’s birthday party turned into a wax art project, dealing with wax-stained tablecloths is a common household issue.

The good news is that there are several effective methods for removing candle wax from tablecloths, depending on the fabric and how long the wax has had to set in. With the right techniques, you can get your tablecloth looking as good as new in no time. In this article, we’ll walk you through step-by-step instructions for several wax removal methods, as well as provide some tips to help prevent wax stains in the future.

remove candle wax from tablecloth

Identifying the Tablecloth Fabric

Before attempting to remove wax from a tablecloth, it’s important to first identify the fabric. This will help you choose the most effective removal method without risking damage to the material. Here are some common tablecloth fabrics and what you need to know about cleaning wax from each:

FabricCleaning Notes
CottonA delicate natural fibre that requires a gentler touch. Overly aggressive scrubbing or heat can damage linen, so you’ll want to use more careful methods.
LinenSynthetic fabrics like polyester are also fairly resilient, though you’ll still want to avoid extreme heat which can melt the fibres.
PolyesterSynthetic fabrics like polyester are also fairly resilient, though you’ll still want to avoid extreme heat which can melt the fibers.
SilkAn ultra-delicate fabric that is easily damaged. Wax removal on silk tablecloths should be done very carefully, if at all. It may be better to take silk tablecloths to a professional cleaner.
VelvetHas a distinctive nap that can be crushed by scrubbing. Wax removal on velvet should be done gently to avoid ruining the fabric’s luxurious texture.

Once you’ve identified your tablecloth fabric, you can move on to the wax removal process. Let’s start with the simplest and most common method.

Removing Candle Wax with Ice

One of the easiest ways to remove fresh candle wax from a tablecloth is to use ice. This method works best on cotton, polyester, and other sturdy fabrics. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Grab some ice cubes and place them directly on the wax stain. The cold temperature will cause the wax to harden and become brittle.
  2. Let the ice sit on the stain for 2-3 minutes, or until the wax has fully hardened.
  3. Use a dull knife, spoon, or other flat object to gently scrape the hardened wax off the tablecloth. Go slowly and try to lift the wax in larger chunks rather than grinding it into the fabric.
  4. Once you’ve removed as much of the wax as possible, blot the area with a clean, absorbent cloth or paper towel to soak up any remaining liquid wax.
  5. If any residue or staining remains, treat the area with a stain remover or spot cleaner appropriate for the fabric type. Allow it to sit for the recommended time before blotting or rinsing.

The ice method is a great first step, but it works best on fresh wax stains. If the wax has had time to set into the fibres, you may need to try a more intensive approach.

Using Paper Towels and an Iron

For older, set-in wax stains, you can use a combination of paper towels and hot iron to lift the wax out of the tablecloth fabric. This method works well on cotton, polyester, and linen. Just be very careful with delicate fabrics like silk.

  1. Lay the tablecloth face-down on a flat, heat-safe surface like an ironing board or wooden cutting board.
  2. Place a few clean paper towels over the wax stain.
  3. Set your iron to a medium-high heat setting (around 300-350°F) and gently press it onto the paper towels, holding for 10-15 seconds.
  4. The heat from the iron will melt the wax, causing it to transfer onto the paper towels. Frequently check the towels and replace them with fresh ones as needed.
  5. Continue this process, pressing the hot iron onto fresh paper towels, until no more wax is being absorbed.
  6. Once the wax is gone, treat any remaining stain with a fabric-appropriate stain remover.

Be very careful when using this method, as the iron and tablecloth will get very hot. Also, make sure to check the heat setting – too high can scorch delicate fabrics. Go slowly and lift the iron frequently to prevent scorching.

Commercial Iron-On Wax Removal Sheets

For an even easier iron-on solution, you can try using pre-treated wax removal sheets like Gonzo Wax Away Sheets. These sheets are designed to lift wax stains when placed over the affected area and ironed. They can be a convenient alternative to the homemade paper towel method.

Using an Absorbent Powder

Another effective wax removal technique involves using an absorbent powder like cornstarch or baking soda. This works well on cotton, linen, and polyester tablecloths.

  1. Generously sprinkle the wax stain with cornstarch, baking soda, or even talcum powder.
  2. Let the powder sit on the stain for 15-30 minutes to absorb the wax.
  3. Brush or vacuum up the powder, which should have lifted much of the wax.
  4. Repeat the powder application if any stain remains, letting it sit for longer this time (up to an hour).
  5. Once the wax is lifted, treat the area with a stain remover appropriate for the fabric.

The powder works by drawing the melted wax up into the absorbent particles, making it easy to brush or vacuum away. This method is great for set-in stains, though it may take some patience and repeated applications to fully remove the wax.

Diatomaceous Earth Powder

For an even more absorbent powder option, consider using food-grade diatomaceous earth. This natural powder is highly porous and effective at lifting grease, oil, and wax stains from fabrics.

Treating with an Enzymatic Cleaner

For particularly stubborn wax stains, an enzymatic cleaner can be an effective solution, especially on delicate fabrics like silk and velvet. Enzymatic cleaners use natural enzymes to break down the wax and lift it from the fibres.

  1. Blot up any excess wax with a clean, absorbent cloth.
  2. Apply the enzymatic cleaner directly to the stain, following the product instructions.
  3. Allow the cleaner to sit for the recommended time, usually 30 minutes to an hour.
  4. Gently blot the area with a clean cloth to lift the dissolved wax.
  5. Rinse the area thoroughly with clean water to remove any cleaner residue.
  6. Launder the tablecloth as usual, being careful not to put it in the dryer if the wax stain is not fully removed.

Enzymatic cleaners are very gentle, making them a good choice for delicate fabrics. However, they may not be as effective on heavy, set-in wax stains as some of the other methods. For stubborn stains, you may need to combine enzymatic cleaning with one of the other techniques.

OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover

One popular enzymatic cleaner for wax stains is OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover. This powder formula contains active enzymes that break down organic matter like wax, grease, and food stains.

Using Commercial Wax Removal Products

If you don’t want to DIY your wax removal, there are also several commercial products designed specifically for this purpose. These pre-formulated stain removers can be very effective, though they may be more expensive than homemade solutions.

Some popular wax removal products include:

  • Creams and gels – These thick, spreadable formulas are good for localized stains.
  • Sprays – Aerosol sprays allow you to target specific areas and work the product into the fabric.
  • Pre-treated wipes – Convenient wipes are pre-soaked in the cleaning solution for quick, easy application.

When using a commercial wax remover, be sure to follow the product instructions carefully. Pay attention to any fabric care warnings, and test the cleaner on an inconspicuous area first to ensure it won’t damage your tablecloth.

Goo Gone Candle Wax Remover

One highly-rated commercial wax removal product is Goo Gone Candle Wax Remover. This spray formula is designed specifically for lifting hardened candle wax from fabrics and other surfaces.

Tips for Preventing Wax Stains

Of course, the best way to deal with candle wax on tablecloths is to prevent it in the first place. Here are some tips to help you avoid those pesky wax stains:

  • Use Candle Holders – Place candles in proper holders or votives to catch any drips before they can land on the tablecloth.
  • Trim Wicks – Keep candle wicks trimmed to 1/4 inch or less to minimize excessive dripping.
  • Watch Placement – Position candles away from the centre of the table where they’re less likely to get knocked over.
  • Use Emergency Candle Catchers – Keep a supply of absorbent coasters, placemats, or tins nearby to catch drips and spills as they happen.
  • Blot Immediately – If wax does get on the tablecloth, blot it up right away with a clean cloth before it has a chance to set.
  • Wash Promptly – Launder the tablecloth as soon as possible after a wax incident, while the stain is still fresh.

With these prevention tips and the wax removal methods we’ve covered, you can keep your tablecloths looking their best – even after the most candle-filled celebrations. Just remember to always test cleaning techniques on a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure you don’t damage the fabric.

Now that you have all the information you need, go forth and dine by candlelight without fear! Your tablecloths will stay pristine, no matter how many candles you light.

Sharing Is Caring:

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.