Candles provide a wonderful sense of romance and atmosphere to your house or apartment. Humans have been using them for thousands of years to provide light and visual warmth to the spaces we use, but our ancestors never had to worry about candles dripping on carpet. Like bubble gum in hair, wax on carpet has the reputation of being one of the hardest things to remove.
Sure, it can be a challenge. But here, we give you two ways of getting rid of wax without leaving a trace. Best of all, they don’t require expensive products that you’ll buy and probably use just once. The trick to wax removal is to change the way wax clings to a surface. If you have ice or a clothes iron, you are all set.
1. Freeze the Wax
Step #1: Get the wax really cold
Freezing the wax gets it really hard and brittle. Find something that will cool the wax down and harden it but won’t get it wet. Don’t use an ice cube directly. A freezer pack, a bag of frozen vegetables, or ice in a Ziplock bag will do the trick.
Step #2: Scrape
Use a dull edge like a butter knife to scrape away as much of the wax as possible. This will set you up for success for the next steps in this process. Depending on the amount of wax and how it settled, you may be able to remove a good portion or all of it.
However, f this step doesn’t get it all out, proceed to the second step.
If your carpet is Berber, be very gentle. The fiber loops can fray if you scrape them too hard.
Step #3: Use a Cleaner
Any standard carpet cleaner will work for this step. Spray the cleaner on the spot and then rinse with clean water. Get a clean cloth and blot up the water until dry.
If you had a colored candle, the wax might have stained the carpet. If that happens, use a tiny bit of rubbing alcohol on a cloth and gently rub it out. The alcohol will dissolve the remaining wax bits.
Step #4: Vacuum
All this activity probably will flatten your carpet a little. Don’t worry. Just vacuum the area, and the fibers will return to their original shape.
2. Heat the Wax
Step #1: Cover the Wax
First, cover the wax spot with a paper bag or a lightly dampened cloth. If using a paper bag, have a dry towel handy.
Place the iron on the paper bag. The paper bag will absorb the wax as it heats up. When one spot on the bag gets saturated with wax (starts to become clear), move to another spot on the bag. Place the dry towel under the spot on the bag you just finished. This will keep any wax from getting back on the carpet in another location.
DON’T USE PLASTIC
A plastic bag will not absorb the wax and will actually melt (or burn) to your carpet and your iron, ruining both.
Step #2: Iron the Area
Set your iron to a warm level. It doesn’t have to be super hot. If there’s a steam setting, make sure it is turned off. You only need the heat.
Carefully iron the paper bag or the damp cloth using small circular motions. Keep moving the bag or cloth until the wax is gone. Don’t leave the iron on the spot for more than 30 seconds at a time.
Step #3: Remove the Stain
If the candle was colored, it might leave what looks like a color stain on the carpet. Actually, it’s just very small bits of wax that are still stuck in the fibers. Dabbing a little rubbing alcohol on the colored spot with a cloth will actually dissolve these final tiny wax bits.
If you don’t have alcohol or are worried about damaging your carpet, you can go back to your iron and repeat step #2 but use the steam setting this time.
Step #4: Clean the Area
After the wax is all gone, use a carpet cleaner to get anything left that you cannot see. Blot the cleaner up with a clean cloth. Then vacuum the area to get all the fibers pointing in the correct direction again.
Tips and Tricks
If these steps don’t work, or you don’t have an iron, try these tricks:
Hairdryer: A hairdryer can take the place of an iron. Use the hottest setting on the hairdryer, but keep it just close enough to heat the wax onto the paper bag.
Use a hot pot: A hot pot can also replace an iron, but it can take a little more time since these don’t heat up as high as irons.
Use dry ice: If you want to get really fancy, use dry ice. It will freeze the wax A LOT quicker and won’t get the wax or your carpet wet. However, it is really cold, so wear gloves to protect your skin. Dry ice on bare skin can actually burn you.
Removing a stuck stain: Carpet cleaner or household ammonia can also get the color out of the carpet. Just be sure to open a window or make sure your room is well ventilated.
Refresh the carpet: If the candle was scented, some of that smell could stay in your carpet even if you get the actual wax out. Using 16 ounces of baking soda mixed with 15 drops of essential oil can cover up the scent. Sprinkle the mixture on the carpet and let sit for one or two hours. Vacuum up the remaining baking soda.
Act fast: Whichever method you choose, do it quickly. The less time the wax has to set on the fibers, the less effort it takes to get it out.
Is It Safe to Use a Hairdryer to Melt the Wax?
Yes. Many people like to use a hairdryer instead of a clothes iron. It is easier to control, and there’s less of a chance of damaging the carpet. It works best with paper towels.
What Can I Do If the Wax Isn’t Hard?
If the wax you spilled isn’t from a candle, such as hair removal wax, it probably won’t dry on your carpet. You can freeze the wax to harden it or use the hairdryer to melt it more before you blot it away.
Can Vinegar Remove Wax from a Carpet?
Vinegar works well on many stains, but it won’t remove wax on its own. At the end of the steps above, you can use equal parts vinegar and water instead of carpet cleaner.
Wax On, Wax Off
Before you panic over spilled wax on your carpet, remember that you can get the stain out by following these steps. If you act quickly, you can get that stain up in no time.