Follow our tips for treating tabletops, linens, and upholstered furniture that have been marred by melted wax.

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Flickering candles set the mood for a dinner party, but there's nothing charming about spilled wax. Don't despair, though; it's relatively easy to remove wax on your own, and a professional dry-cleaner can help you with more delicate items. If the fabric is durable, as cotton is, try to clean it yourself. If the material is fragile, however, you should not attempt to scrape off the wax as the friction may cause damage. "With silk or any other delicate fabric that has wax spots, the best thing to do is have it professionally cleaned," says Jerry Pozniak, owner of Cameo Cleaners in New York City. "Dry-cleaning solvents will dissolve the wax without damaging the material itself. No mechanical methods are needed, so there is no risk of the fading that can happen if you try to remove the wax yourself."

Still, if you're determined to mend things yourself, here are the methods recommended by Pozniak.

Melted Candle Wax on a table
Credit: Getty

Tabletops

To remove it from tabletops, heat pooled wax with a blow dryer on the lowest setting for several seconds, then scrape it off using a credit card, plastic spatula, or flexible dough scraper (don't use anything made of metal). You should be able to buff the excess away with a soft cloth. To harden soft wax (from a fresh drip), place ice cubes in a plastic bag and rest the bag against the wax. The hardened wax can then be scraped away easily.

Table Linens

Allow wax to harden before you attempt to remove it. When wax is frozen, it becomes even more brittle and is easier use ice to freeze wax or place the item in the freezer. Once the wax is hard, gently flake it off with a dull butter knife. (Do not scrape since this may damage the fibers.) The dyes used in colored candles may leave behind a stain; if an oily spot remains, have the item dry-cleaned.

Upholstery

Although a dry cleaner should remove wax from delicate fibers such as silk, for durable fabrics such as cotton, you can try to clean them yourself. First, let the wax cool on its own or hasten the process by placing an ice cube wrapped in plastic on top of it. Once firm, carefully scrape off as much wax as you can using your fingernail or the dull edge of a butter knife. If the wax is on a cushion cover that can be removed, take it off and place several layers of damp paper towels on each side of the fabric, ironing over the paper on a low setting; the wax should be absorbed by the towels. Apply a fabric stain remover to eliminate any lingering residue (check for colorfastness first in an inconspicuous spot, then follow label instructions on the spot remover); blot with clean paper towels before laundering. If the drippings are on a cushion or pillow cover that can't be taken off, Pozniak suggests that you ask your dry-cleaner to recommend a tailor who can carefully pull out the stuffing so the covering can be treated separately. As always, light candles only when the wick is a safe distance from flammable materials such as curtains or other loose fabrics. And before going to bed, be sure to extinguish every flame.

Rugs and Carpeting

Candle wax on the carpet looks a lot worse than it is. Let it harden, then scrape up as much as possible with a spoon. Place a white cloth or paper towels on top, and run a warm iron over it. (On synthetic carpet, make sure the iron is on the lowest setting.) If any wax remains, try dry-cleaning fluid. Little burn marks can't be removed, but they can be camouflaged-trim those black bits away with scissors. Cut some fibers from a hidden swatch of carpet, then use superglue to secure them into the burn mark and even out the top with scissors. After all of this, if a stain has gotten the best of you, don't despair: You can always rearrange the furniture.

Comments (15)

Anonymous
November 27, 2018
A hairdryer works like a charm!
Anonymous
December 1, 2010
I recently dripped red wax on a beige carpet. I did not want to use as iron as I was afraid I might melt the carpet. I used my stream cleaner and it worked like a dream. I applied steam for about 10 minutes dabbing the spot with and absorbent towel. Although it is not perfect, only I can see a faint red tinge left on the carpet.
Anonymous
December 1, 2010
I have question - candle wax was knocked over and spilled on painted wall. Any suggestions on how to remove that stain? Stumped
Anonymous
November 30, 2010
First remove most surface wax using the freezer method. Then carefully position the spot over a large metal bowl or bucket. You could peg it in place. Then pour boiling water over the remaining wax. It melts and runs into the bucket.
Anonymous
November 30, 2010
I have a better/easier way to remove wax from candlesticks, tablecloths etc. Simply put the object in the freezer. Leave ther for 1 hour or up to 24 hours depending on how much wax is involved. Remove the object from the freezer and the wax literaly pops off. Done it for years and IT WORKS
Anonymous
November 30, 2010
I have a better/easier way to remove wax from candlesticks, tablecloths etc. Simply put the object in the freezer. Leave ther for 1 hour or up to 24 hours depending on how much wax is involved. Remove the object from the freezer and the wax literaly pops off. Done it for years and IT WORKS
Anonymous
November 30, 2010
White water spots on wood furniture you can iron out. Here is the web-site link http://www.finishing.com/102/75.shtml IT WORKS!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous
November 30, 2010
Someone blew out some candle on our mantle. The wax spayed up in orange dots all over the pale yellow paint. Help me before I make a big mess.
Anonymous
November 30, 2010
The color from the bottom of the candle stained my light colored wood dining room table. Would this technique work or would it damage the table?
Anonymous
November 30, 2010
I have been using this technique for years. Got if from Martha! You can remove wax from hard wood floors by using the same technique. Just be careful how long you leave the iron on the paper bag on the floor. ( I use paper bags from the grocery store.) Will probably work the same way on cement floors. My husband has watched me use this technique for years but really laughed when he saw me "ironing the floor" one day. It worked however!
Anonymous
November 30, 2010
On Valentine's Day my husband picked up a votive to blow it out and ended up getting wax all over his black shirt and khaki pants. He was going to trash them the next day, but I pulled out the iron and a paper bag and was able to remove every trace of wax from both garments! I also removed burgundy wax from a beige berber carpet the same way. Miracles do happen!
Anonymous
November 30, 2010
I had a candle fall onto a cement area. How can that be removed?
Anonymous
November 30, 2010
spilled wax on the floor - how can you remove those? thanks for helping out...
Anonymous
November 30, 2010
It really, really works... burning off "fall candles" to put up "Christmas candles" I spilled wax on my new placemat!!! I went to Martha's website, found these instructions, found the paper bag, and turned on the iron. PRESTO- the orange wax on a burgundy place mat was gone!!! Shared this with friends while out for dinner on Saturday!!! Thanks!
Anonymous
November 30, 2010
Paper towels work as well. If cloth is washable, spray with fabric pre-treat and launder after wax has been absorbed.