candle wax on tablecloth

How to Get Candle Wax Out of a Tablecloth

A dinner party with all your friends sounds like a grand idea! You can sample good food, enjoy great company, and have plenty of laughs in the glow of a few scented candles.

But as the night draws to a close and the goodbyes pour in, a slow drip, drip, drip of wax slips down onto your precious tablecloth.

A tiny pool of candle wax expands into a puddle of colourful liquid that dares to stain your table covering!

Not quite the ending you had in mind after a splendid evening. But the night isn’t a complete loss because the tablecloth can be rescued.

Follow the steps below to remove the candle wax from your table cover.


Things to Remember When Removing Candle Wax

melted colorful candles on table

  • Act as quickly as you can. Don’t allow the wax to age too much because the dye in it will leave a nasty stain behind.
  • Stop the spread of the stain. If you can see a candle melting and its wax dripping onto the cloth, blow it out and carefully move it away from the area (put a saucer under the candle to catch the drips). And don’t drag or push the liquid wax around on the tablecloth. Similarly, don’t fold the tablecloth in on itself because you’ll just spread the candle wax around. In turn, you’ll have more candle wax to clean off the cover, and it’ll take you longer.
  • Blot, don’t scrub because you could damage the fibres of the tablecloth.
  • Test your chosen cleaning method out first.
  • Always read the care label on your tablecloth to see how it should be treated and washed.
  • Don’t dry the tablecloth until you know for sure all of the stain(s) has gone.
  • Keep kids and pets away from the tablecloth when you’re treating it.


Removing Candle Wax from a Table Cloth

melted white candles

Step 1: Remove the wax using a cold technique


Steps to follow:

  1. Grab some paper towels and soak up as much wax as you can from the surface. Dispose of the paper towels and watch you don’t drip wax over anything else.
  2. Pop a few ice cubes in a sealable bag.
  3. Carefully place the bag of ice cubes onto the back of the liquid candle wax.
  4. Hold the bag of ice in place so it can harden the wax.
  5. Wait several minutes for the wax to go completely hard.
  6. Grab a blunt tool, like a spatula or a teaspoon.
  7. Gently scrape the wax off the tablecloth.
  8. Repeat Step 7 (above) until all of the wax comes off. Don’t scrape too hard because you could rip the cloth.
  9. If a little wax is still stuck on the tablecloth, carry out Step 2 (see below).
  10. If not, treat the stain that’s left behind – move on to Step 3 (see below).

Alternatively, use the freezer as outlined below.


candle wax stain in the freezer

Steps to follow:

  1. Grab some paper towels and blot up as much liquid candle wax as you can.
  2. Carefully place the used paper towels in a container/bin bag. Watch out for drips!
  3. Carefully fold the tablecloth up so the candle wax stain is facing upward.
  4. Put the tablecloth inside the freezer.
  5. Wait about 20 minutes for the candle wax to go hard.
  6. Remove the tablecloth from the freezer.
  7. Use a teaspoon or spatula to scrape off the excess candle wax from the cloth.
  8. Repeat Step 7 (above) until you’ve removed all of the candle wax.
  9. If a little wax is still stuck on the tablecloth, carry out Step 2 (see below).
  10. If not, treat the blemish that’s left behind – move on to Step 3 (see below).

Note: Take care when removing hardened candle wax from delicate materials.


Step 2: Use heat to dislodge more bits of wax

remove candle wax with iron


Note: Don’t try the following method out on plastic tablecloths because they will melt. Use an off-the-shelf multipurpose cleaner to remove any waxy remains instead!

Steps to follow:

  1. Go to a flat surface. This could be an ironing board or a table covered with towels (to protect it).
  2. Pop some paper towels down on the covered, flat surface.
  3. Pop the tablecloth stain side down on the paper towels.
  4. Pop a neutral-coloured hand towel on the back of the candle wax stain.
  5. Pop your iron on and set it up to a medium temperature.
  6. Iron the hand towel that’s covering the back of the wax to re-melt it. Don’t hold the iron in one place for too long. Move it around.
  7. As the remaining candle wax melts, it will grip onto the paper towel, and its bond with the tablecloth will break.
  8. Iron over the candle wax until it is absorbed into the paper towel. Remember to swap your wax-filled paper towels every few minutes. By doing this, you won’t put the wax back onto the tablecloth.
  9. Treat the stain that’s been left behind. Move on to Step 3 (see below).

Note: Use a very low heat when handling delicate materials. The iron method also works for candle wax on carpets!


remove candle wax with hair dryer

If you haven’t got an iron at hand, you could try the method above using a hairdryer or a steamer.

Simply hold a hairdryer over the back of the candle wax stain for a few seconds at a time so that the residue melts onto the paper towel.

Don’t hold the hairdryer in one place for too long because you’ll scorch the material. Make sure you move the dryer around.

Or hold the steamer near the back of the stain to melt the remaining wax off of the tablecloth and onto the paper towel.


Step 3: Treating candle wax stains on tablecloths

With the bulk of the candle wax gone from your tablecloth, you may notice a few stains left on the cover.

This is perfectly natural and to be expected if your candles were colourful or you dripped a light candle onto a dark-coloured tablecloth.

Treat the stains using the following methods:

  • Grab some rubbing alcohol and blot the stained area with it. Just dab a little solution into the area using a wool pad and watch the pad change colour as it absorbs the dye from the wax-ridden tablecloth. (Use a new woollen pad each time you blot).
  • Acetone can also be used in the same way as rubbing alcohol.
  • An off-the-shelf stain remover can also be used. Just choose a cleaner that’s known for treating waxy stains and is suitable for the material you need to clean.

Tip: Make sure you do a discreet patch test before trying the methods mentioned above. Rubbing alcohol, acetone, and off-the-shelf stain removers may discolour colourful tablecloths!


Step 4: Wash your tablecloth with liquid laundry detergent

wash tablecloth with liquid laundry detergent

When you’ve treated your tablecloth, you can launder it as usual.

Have a peek at the care label on the cover, check what it says about washing the material, and adhere to the instructions.

You’ll most likely need to use cool water and a gentle cycle to wash your tablecloth.


Step 5: Dry your tablecloth

hanging sheets or tablecloth to dry

Before you dash off to dry your tablecloth, it’s worth giving the material a glance over to see if there’s any candle wax present and if there are any stains. If either are present, you will need to re-treat the table cover using the steps above.

If you dry a wax-stained tablecloth, the heat from the drying source will set the stain. As a consequence, the waxy blemish will be challenging to remove because it’ll have set in.


How to Stop Candle Wax Getting onto a Tablecloth

candle in glass and fake LED candles

Removing candle wax from a tablecloth isn’t the most difficult task in the world to carry out.

Nonetheless, it’s always a bonus if you stop wax from dripping onto your table covering in the first place!

Here are some tips to think about:

  • Pop your candles on a wipeable surface that can catch the waxy drips. This surface will be a barrier between the tablecloth and the melting candle. For example, you could place several colourful jars (big enough for a tealight) onto a wooden strip and make a centrepiece for your table! You could make your own version or have a look at The Range’s Grey Jewel Hurricane Tray.
  • Place a candle inside a large jar/pot (pillar candle holder), like the Hurricane Candle Holder. The jar/pot will act as both a wax-catcher and a decorative piece.
  • Place candles inside containers/saucers so they catch the liquid wax. Vintage tealight holders like these on Amazon are always pretty and can brighten up a table for any occasion.
  • House smaller candles in bigger jars/vases. The idea is to make sure the candle always sits lower than the top of the jar/vase so the wax won’t run out over the edge and onto the cloth.
  • Cover your table with a tablecloth, then place a runner down the centre of the table. You can then put the candles (in holders) onto the runner instead of onto the tablecloth itself. If the candle wax melts and goes over the rim of the holder, the wax should only go on the runner, and you can clean/bin this.
  • Use fake candles instead of real ones.