Removing Candle Wax From Carpet

If you've spilled wax on your carpet, here's how to remove it with household items and a little elbow grease.

Wax is one of the hardest substances to remove from any fabric; you can't wash it out, and because it soaks into the fibers and then hardens, you can't scrape all of it off. But with some work, you can get remove most of the wax when you spill it on a carpet.

Loop carpet

Wax is easier to get out of loop carpet than pile. Here's how to do it:

1. Put ice or a bag of frozen vegetables inside a tightly-sealing Ziploc baggie. Place the ice over the wax to freeze it. You want the wax as cold as possible before you start working with it.

2. While your wax is chilling, get a butter knife and a firm-bristle brush (something with about the consistency of an extra-firm toothbrush). A good dustbuster or other small hand-held vacuum cleaner will be handy, but not necessary. You also want to get some paper towels, a dry washcloth, and an iron without steam (or with the steam reservoir emptied). Plug the iron in near the wax you're removing, and turn it on the lowest setting.

3. Remove the ice; you should have very cold and dry wax. Scrape off what you can with the butter knife, and suck it up in the Dustbuster as you scrape. If you don't have a Dustbuster, sweep the residue away with your hand so that you have a clear working area.

4. When you've removed as much surface wax as you can, scrub the area lightly with the firm-bristle brush until no more wax particles come away; scrub a little harder but not hard enough to damage the fibers. You've done all you can when your brush is starting to catch on fibers, and nothing appears to be coming off the carpet.

Now for the trick:

5. Lay paper towels over the wax stain. Over the paper towels, put a dry washcloth. Put your iron on top of the dry washcloth and press firmly, wiggling the iron, for about ten seconds. Lift the paper towels. If there is a grease stain on the paper towel, your iron is hot enough; if not, make it a little warmer. Repeat until a grease stain shows up on your paper towel.

6. Discard stained paper towel and replace with a new one, cover with the washcloth, and repeat ironing. Check the paper towel; if it has a grease stain, repeat all of this step until the paper towel comes back twice without grease.

7. If your carpet looks okay now, great! You're done. But if there is noticeable discoloration, you will need to clean it with a carpet cleaner. While the wax stain is still very warm from the iron, put undiluted carpet cleaner or a gentle colorfast laundry stain remover directly on the stain, and scrub gently with a damp washcloth. Let sit for about ten minutes; then go over the stain with a carpet cleaner filled with plain water until the stain is gone and you don't see any soapy residue.

Cut pile carpet

Cut pile carpet is a little trickier, particularly if you have a dark-colored wax on a light-colored pile. Your steps, though, are very similar to the ones for a loop carpet, except you are going to need to make allowances for the pile.



1. As with the loop carpeting, put ice or a bag of frozen vegetables inside a tightly-sealing Ziploc baggie. Place the ice over the wax to freeze it. You want the wax as cold as possible before you start working with it.

2. While your wax is chilling, get a butter knife and a SOFT-bristle brush (something with about the consistency of a soft toothbrush); unlike loop carpeting, pile carpeting can be badly damaged by harsh bristles. Continue with the Dustbuster, paper towels, dry washcloth, and an iron that will not steam. Pile carpeting, though, is more delicate than loop; before using the iron on your wax stain, test it on an unobtrusive section of carpet, like the area behind your television, to make sure it isn't going to burn or melt the fibers. If it does, skip all the steps concerning irons and go straight to the stain remover section.

3. Remove the ice; you should have very cold and dry wax. Gently scrape off what you can with the blunt side of your butter knife, and suck it up in the Dustbuster as you scrape. If you don't have a Dustbuster, sweep the residue away with your hand so that you have a clear working area. When you think all the wax is gone, "crumble" the carpet over the wax area - like scrunching your hair - and continue sucking up the residue until no more is coming off.

4. When you've removed as much surface wax as you can, brush the area gently with the soft-bristle brush until no more wax particles come away; scrub a little harder but not hard enough to damage the fibers. If your brush starts to catch on the fibers, stop and go to the next step.

5. Flatten the pile around and in the wax stain so that it all slants in one direction. Lay paper towels over the wax stain. Over the paper towels, put a dry washcloth. Put your iron on top of the dry washcloth and press firmly, wiggling the iron, for about ten seconds. Lift the paper towels. If there is a grease stain on the paper towel, your iron is hot enough; if not, make it a little warmer. Repeat until a grease stain shows up on your paper towel.

6. Discard stained paper towel and replace with a new one, cover with the washcloth, and repeat ironing. Check the paper towel; if it has a grease stain, repeat all of this step until the paper towel comes back twice without grease.

7. Flatten the pile in the opposite direction, and repeat the remainder of steps 5 and 6. You should do this in four directions: up, down, right, and left. Finally, flatten the pile in a burst away from the center of the wax stain, so that the heaviest part of the stain is in the center of the flattened pile. Repeat steps 5 and 6 one more time.

7. If your carpet looks okay now, you're done. But if there is noticeable discoloration, you will need to clean it with a carpet cleaner. While the wax stain is still very warm from the iron, put undiluted carpet cleaner or a gentle colorfast laundry stain remover directly on the stain, and scrub gently with a damp washcloth, squeezing the ends of the pile so that the cleanser permeates the fibers. Let sit for about ten minutes; then go over the stain with a carpet cleaner filled with plain water until the stain is gone and you don't see any soapy residue.

You should have a beautiful carpet by the time you're done. Congratulations! (and move those candles, will you?)

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