I have had the privilege of hosting our Thanksgiving dinner the past several years. I really enjoy cooking for a big crowd, so this is a treat for me!
The tablecloth you see in the pictures is one from my mama, and it’s decades old. So when my daughter turned a candle over on it, I tried not to be upset. Instinctively, I picked up the matching napkin beside it and dabbed up the wax.
Such a mistake, because now I had two favorite linens with wax on them!
Thankfully, the wax was from a white candle, and that is fairly simple to remove.
Just follow the steps below for removing candle wax from your own tablecloths this holiday season.
Steps to Remove Candle Wax from a Tablecloth
Removing candle wax is a whole different beast than removing blood from fabric. When removing blood from sheets or clothes, you want to move quickly, however, you can take your time with candle wax. You want it to dry first before you try to remove it.
If you know that in advance, it takes away the whole dab-with-a-napkin thing like I mentioned above.
Please make sure you read the notes after these instructions so you know what not to do as well.
Here are easy step-by-step instructions for removing candle wax:
1.) Let the candle wax dry completely.
2.) Once it is completely dry, douse the waxed area with liquid laundry detergent straight from the bottle. Rub it in gently with your finger and let it set 15-20 minutes. You don’t want the laundry detergent to dry on the wax; you only want the liquid detergent to loosen the wax and provide a lubricant of sorts.
3.) Using a clean brush, gently rub the wax under warm running water. The wax will come off easier if the water is warm or even hot.
4.) Once you gently rub all of the wax from the front side of the fabric, turn the tablecloth over and scrub the back side as well in the exact same gentle manner.
5.) Scrub until there are no longer traces of wax on the front and the backside of the fabric. Continue to rinse under warm running water.
6.) Launder on the delicate cycle as you typically would.
7.) Do not dry the tablecloth in the dryer. Hang it up to dry so you can ensure the wax is completely removed. The cloth is darker when wet and may not show traces of wax. Since dryer heat sets in stains, make sure you hang to dry and then examine the area.
8.) If there are traces of wax that remain, repeat this whole process and launder again. As long as the tablecloth hasn’t been dried in the dryer, you have a chance at removing the wax since it hasn’t set.
Removing Colored Candle Wax
Be forewarned that colored candle wax (red, green, etc.) is going to be more difficult to remove.
You will probably be able to remove the actual wax fairly easily, but it’s the coloring from the wax that will be difficult. Just prepare yourself that you might need to go through this process a few times.
After you have completely removed the wax, check to see if there is a stain from the coloring in the candle. If there is a stain from the color, do this:
1.) Douse the stain in liquid laundry detergent and let the detergent dry on the stain. Just let the tablecloth sit with the detergent on it for a few hours.
2.) Launder on the gentle cycle as you typically would.
3.) If this stain removal didn’t do the trick, consider soaking the stain using this method. It’s a bit laborious and time-intensive, but it works. Usually.
Tips for Removing Candle Wax from a Tablecloth
The steps for removing wax are exactly what you should follow to restore your tablecloth once wax has spilled. Due to much of my own trial and error, here are some steps of what not to do when removing candle wax and a few general removal tips.
— Use a brush that is clean. The brush you use to gently scrub the fabric needs to not have grime, sludge, hair, or any other gross thing in it. It does not need to be a brush that is used to clean other gross things, such as mildew. If it is not clean, the sludge from the brush will come off on your tablecloth, and you will not be happy.
— Make sure your sink is clean. I am fortunate enough in our current house to have a laundry sink. I spent 15 years without one, so I understand having to rinse things out in the kitchen sink or in a bathroom. It is not ideal. Whichever sink you use, make sure it is clean before you start with your tablecloth. If you’ve just poured coffee down the kitchen sink and haven’t rinsed well before you start with your tablecloth, the coffee splatters can transfer to your fabric and then you have another stain problem to deal with.
— Do not use a green scrubber or other colored brush. Everything needs to be white if possible. Scrubbers that are colored tend to transfer their color onto fabrics. I have learned this lesson many times over! So find a brush (not a scrubber!) with white bristles.
— This method works for wax regardless of how long you have let it sit. After my most recent wax incident, I let the tablecloth sit for months. Literally. The wax came off using the above method seamlessly. So don’t worry about washing your tablecloth immediately after your event if you have other irons in the fire. It can wait.
— Do not pick at the wax with anything sharp. It seems as if it would be a good idea to pick at the wax with the edge of a sharp knife. Resist the urge. You will never be able to dislodge all of the wax that is embedded in the fibers just by using a sharp implement to pry it out. You also run the risk of poking a hole in the fabric, and that’s not something that is easily repaired.
Any questions on removing candle wax from your tablecloth or other linens? Just ask in the comments!