How to Get Melted (and Messy) Candle Wax Out of Clothes, According to a Textile Expert

published Dec 11, 2022
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Cuff of white shirt stained with blue candle wax. Candle sitting on table nearby
Credit: Photo: Sidney Bensimon; Prop Styling: Anna Surbatovich

Candles smell amazing, and burning them can add a welcome element of warmth and coziness to any space (especially in the chilly winter months). But anytime you melt wax in your home, you’re at risk of spilling it — and being faced with one of the most annoying laundry stains out there. 

The good news is, if you act quickly and take the right steps, you can easily remove wax from your favorite t-shirt, jeans, or even your table linens — and you won’t need any special stain removers or tools to make it happen.

Here’s exactly how to get wax out of clothes, according to Frej Lewenhaupt, textile expert and CEO of the textile care company Steamery.

How to get wax out of clothes 

  1. Put the garment in the freezer. First, Lewenhaupt suggests popping the affected item into your freezer for a few hours. This will make the candle wax hard, and in turn, easier to remove from the fabric. Remember that attempting to remove warm, liquid wax will just spread it around and make the stain more difficult to deal with.
  2. Try to remove the wax with your fingers. Once the wax has fully hardened, try to gently remove it with your hands, being careful not to harm the fabric underneath. You can also use a butter knife, spoon, or credit card to chip away at the hardened wax. 
  3. Melt the wax. If the wax doesn’t come off the fabric after the first two steps, grab your iron (or an iron-steamer hybrid), plus a few paper towels or parchment paper. Place the wax-stained garment between two sheets of paper and gently swipe the iron over it, using low to medium heat. “Adding heat will make the candle wax melt again, and the paper will soak up the oil from the wax,” Lewenhaupt says. No iron on hand? Try a hair dryer on one of the warmer settings. 
  4. Treat the stain and wash the item. If there’s still a stain from the oils on the garment, treat it with your favorite stain remover and put it in the washing machine, being sure to follow the instructions on the care label. Treat the stain again before putting it in the dryer if it’s still visible when you pull it out of the washing machine, as drying a stain with heat can set it and make it much more difficult (if not impossible!) to remove.