Cleaning tips and tricks: How to remove wax from clothing
Split some candle wax onto your clothing? Don’t panic! Simply use our tips to easily remove the wax yourself.
Method for removing large wax spills:
- Allow the wax to dry
Although it’s tempting to want to try to remove the wax immediately, the first thing you should do is allow the wax to completely dry. Trying to remove the wax while still hot will likely only spread the stain and could even burn you. So before you begin the cleaning process, allow the wax to set and cool. Allow the wax to air dry, or you can speed things up by placing a few ice cubes in a zip-lock bag and holding on the affected area.
Once the wax has hardened, you’ll need to scrape off as much as you can using a knife, taking care not to damage the garment and working away from your body for safety.Or you can use a spoon and skim gently over the surface.You’ll be able to remove most of the top layers of wax on the surface, but it’s likely there will be residue which has sunk right into the material which you’ll need to remove.
This can seem to go against the initial advice to allow the wax to harden, however this time you will be melting the wax onto a new surface, away from the clothing. This is how you do it: Place the garment on top of a teatowel on your ironing board. Place two paper towels (or if you have it to hand, blotting paper) on top of the wax site. Using an iron set to a low-medium heat, gently press down on the iron while moving it carefully over the stain to re-melt the wax. This time it will come away from the material and attach itself to the paper towel instead. When the paper towel becomes covered in wax, use a new part of the paper towel or a fresh sheet to continue until all the wax has melted away.If you usually iron the garment on a very low heat setting, make sure you do not burn it while attempting to remove the wax. You can hold the iron above the paper towel without making actual contact, and the low heat should still melt the wax.
The ironing method should remove most or all of the wax but particularly if it was coloured wax, there will likely be a stain leftover on the fabric. To remove this, mix a solution of water and an oxygen-based pre-wash stain remover, or alternatively a little liquid laundry detergent, in a bowl and allow the garment to soak for several hours. This should be effective in removing any residual wax. Remember to test the stain remover on an inconspicuous part of the material first.
- Final wash
Wash the garment as normal with your regular laundry detergent to remove any leftover wax or dye. Check the garment once the wash is complete, and if any stain remains, repeat the pre-wash stain treatment and wash again.
Method for removing small wax spills:
If there are just some tiny droplets of wax on your garment, it can usually be completely removed by rubbing with some vegetable oil. But first, as with the large stain method, first wait until the wax has cooled and hardened.Once the solid wax has dissolved away, blot off the excess oil with paper towels.
You can also try using the freezer method to remove little wax spills. Place the garment into a plastic bag and into the freezer for a few hours. This will harden the wax so that you can simply snap the little pieces away.
Removing leftover residue is achieved by spreading the garment over a large bowel and securing with rubber bands, before pouring boiling water directly over the wax stain. Afterwards, wash the item as normal.
Of course, whether you’re confronted with a large wax spill or a small one, if the garment is especially valuable or made of very delicate material, or if the label reads “dry-clean only”, you may need to take it to the drycleaners to allow the professionals to handle it and reduce the risk of causing any damage.