How to Clean Your Menorah After Hanukkah, Including Wax Buildup

Two experts on Judaica share their tips for restoration, whether it's made of silver, gold, or another precious metal.

glass menorah
Photo: Ryan Liebe

The holiday season is fast approaching—and for some of us, that means it's time to pull out our favorite menorahs and prepare to celebrate Hanukkah. The Jewish holiday, also known as the Festival of Lights, takes place over the course of eight days. And the menorah is a candelabra used during this celebration.

A candle is lit over the course of each of the eight days, says Jackie Collier, direct sales operations manager at Simon Pearce. "At the end, the menorah is fully lit, resplendent with its nine candles," she says.

However, once Hanukkah has ended, we're often left with menorahs covered in hardened wax, explains Tsadik Kaplan, an appraiser of antique Judaica and author of Jewish Antiques: From Menorahs to Seltzer Bottles. "Since many of the candle holders are lit night after night, there can be some serious wax build-up, especially on the first, second, and third candle holders, as well as on the ninth 'servant light', which can be used to light the other lights," says Kaplan. "The wax does not need to be removed after the holiday, you can procrastinate (like I do), until the following year, when I spend a little time the day before the holiday cleaning my menorah."

Curious about how you can safely clean your menorah and remove any stubborn wax buildup? We asked Collier and Kaplan to share their tips.

How to Clean Menorahs

How you clean your menorah depends entirely on the material it's composed of, as well as the finish, says Kaplan.

Sterling Silver

For starters, Kaplan says sterling silver iterations will need to be cleaned with particular care since silver can easily acquire dents, dings, and scratches. "Use soft cotton cloths (like an old T-shirt) or paper towels to wipe down silver menorahs, and look for a high-quality silver cream polish—stay away from silver chemical dips—to make it sparkle," he adds.


When cleaning a solid brass menorah, Kaplan recommends using a metal polish liquid, such as Noxon Multi-Purpose Metal Polish Liquid, to safely remove dust, dirt, and other debris. However, he says it's important to double-check that your brass menorah doesn't have a painted finish before using one. "Most brass menorahs made in Israel from the 1950s through the 1970s had a green finish applied to them, known as 'verdigris,'" he says. "Countless examples of these types of menorahs have been ruined because owners mistakenly thought this green finish was some type of oxidization, meant to be cleaned with a brass cleaner."

How to Prevent Wax from Sticking

Once you've cleaned your menorah, there are several tools you can use and methods you can follow to keep the wax from sticking in the future.

Try Nonstick Spray

For starters, Collier says you can spray a tiny amount of nonstick spray in the candle holders to help keep the wax from sticking. "However, this advice only applies to certain metal and glass menorahs," she warns. For this reason, she recommends first researching whether or not your unique menorah is actually safe to spray with cooking oil, especially if it's made of a precious metal.

Use Drip Cups and Glass Inserts

There are an assortment of reusable Hanukkah candle drip cups on the market, like these from Traditions Jewish Gifts, designed specifically to prevent wax from building up on your menorah. "There are also many types of glass inserts available, including these from aJudaica, that hold oil and a wick, so the menorah doesn't get covered in oily residue," he says.

How to Loosen Up Wax Buildup

If nonstick cooking spray and drip cups haven't stopped wax from accumulating on your menorah, Kaplan suggests soaking your menorah in hot water to help loosen up the buildup. "I never use any kind of tools to remove wax, as it could scratch the menorah itself," he says. "For heavy wax buildup, I fill up the kitchen sink with very hot water and let the menorah soak in it for 15 minutes." After this point, Kaplan explains that most of the wax comes off easily and he uses his fingernails to scrape off any stuck-on wax deposits.

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