How to remove candle wax from upholstery — 6 different methods that work

Choose how to remove candle wax from upholstery based on what you have to at hand at home already, say our experts

A saucepan covered with a green microfiber dish cloth on a light gray couch
(Image credit: Eve Smallman)

Oops! You've had a spill and need to know how to remove candle wax from upholstery. After all, couches, curtains, and other fabric-covered furniture you can't throw in the laundry are often big-ticket items, and cleaning, rather than replacing, will be the cheapest and most effective plan of action.

The good news is there are six ways to remove candle wax from upholstery, and our cleaning experts reveal them all in this guide, plus extra tips, homemade solution recipes for removal, and the techniques to remove this pesky stuff ASAP. 

Lighting one of your best candles and kicking back to relax is one of life's little joys, but if you've had an accident with the wax, these ways to clean it off successfully will get your break back on track!

Six best ways to remove candle wax from upholstery

There are just a couple of ways your best home fragrance experience can be ruined, and spilling hot wax all over your couch would certainly top our list. 

But fret not. Just 15-30 minutes, a handful of items you already have in the house, and a little elbow grease will help you whip that stain right out. The method you choose should be the one that you have everything to hand for already, as dealing with the wax stain ASAP is the key to successful removal, our cleaning pros tell us.

All prices correct at time of publication.

Method 1: Heat

Iron on ironing board with light-filled kitchen in backround

(Image credit: Carol Yepes/Getty Images)

Cleaning and DIY whizz of Home Talk, Amy Poulton says, "The best products to use are the ones you already have at home; the quicker you remove the wax, the better. My preferred method is to use an iron and a paper towel.

"To remove the wax this way, place a paper bag or towel on the area and use a warm iron on the paper to melt and absorb the wax. Change the paper frequently. To finish, blot any remaining residue with rubbing alcohol."

Amy explains how recently, her partner spilled candle wax at home. "I can personally verify that a hairdryer and paper towels work, though it does take a bit of elbow grease," she adds.

A hairdryer isn't the only quick source of directable heat you can use to clean.

Karina Toner of Spekless Cleaning says, "Use a clothes iron and a few paper towels to melt and absorb the wax. Place a clean, dry cloth over the wax stain. Set a clothes iron to a low heat setting and gently press it over the cloth. The heat will melt the wax, which will be absorbed by the cloth. Repeat with a fresh cloth until the wax is completely removed."

If your irony is looking a bit dirty and crusty, first clean your iron before setting to work on the wax stain.

Method 2: Freezing locally

Close up of ice cubes

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Much like the old wives tales of sticking candle wax-covered items in the freezer to make removal easier, you can still freeze the wax on a couch or big upholstered item — you just do it smartly, locally.

Karina says, "To make the candle wax brittle and easier to scrape off, place a bag of ice or a freezer pack over the wax stain. Once the wax is frozen, use a blunt object like a butter knife to gently scrape off the wax. Vacuum or brush away any remaining residue."

Sounds easy enough, right? Amy adds if the spill is fresh, hold your ice bag or pack on the wax for 5-10 minutes before scraping off. A spoon is Amy's recommended blunt object.

If you don't have any in the house, try your local Walmart for Zip-Close Freezer Bags

Method 3: Baking soda

Baking soda in glass bowl with wooden spoon

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Ah, good old baking soda, the natural stuff that works for so many brilliant cleaning hacks, including cleaning a carpet.

Amy says, "Put baking soda on the wax, then spray WD-40 [a penetrating oil industrial lubricant] on it. Let it sit for a few hours, then scrape the wax off with a spoon. You can even use peanut butter as an alternative, but be mindful that this could stain as well, so it depends on your upholstery."

Method 4: Home-made paste

Cleaning supplies needed for cleaning a washing machine with vinegar, including baking soda, a toothbrush, microfiber cloth, and empty spray bottle

(Image credit: Future)

Another gloriously quick and easy way to remove candle wax stains or spills from upholstery is to mix baking soda, dish soap (we recommend classic Dawn Dish soap, available on Amazon), and vinegar into a paste, spread it on the stain for 15 minutes, then scrub clean.

If you've used a soft cloth to scrub, learn how to wash microfiber clothes without ruining their absorbency.

Method 5: Acetone

Usually reserved for removing nail polish, acetone can be a nifty chemical to use elsewhere for stubborn, sticky stains. 

However, heed our warning that acetone can strip color from upholstery, and fabrics, and dissolve acetate linings on items. If you want to use this method, we suggest a patch test on an inconspicuous area of your item first.

Although the method below sees you applying acetone to the candle wax, the harsh chemical is a liquid and may well run down to other parts of your upholstery so proceed with caution. I have personally seen acetone strip paint off my vanity dresser, and bleach the front of a perfectly good pair of black jeans.

To use this method, Amy says, "Apply nail polish remover or acetone to the wax stain. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes, then carefully scrape off the wax with a dull knife, spoon, or plastic card."

Velvet upholstery requires extra caution as it can be delicate and prone to damage. Avoid using heat or excessive pressure when removing wax to prevent crushing or flattening the velvet fibers. With velvet, it would be advisable to opt for the freezing method instead and gently scrape off the wax with a soft brush or cloth rather than applying acetone to this material.

Method 6: Oil

Dreo air fryer with bottle of extra virgin olive oil faux houseplant and green ombre Le Creuset salt and pepper mills

(Image credit: Future)

Amy says, "You can blot up fresh candle wax with olive or baby oil, but don't use any heat afterward as it can damage upholstery. Just remove any remaining oil and vacuum thoroughly."

This is where having one of our best handheld vacuums comes in super handy.

Good to know

Close up of neutral couch and cushions

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Once you've removed the candle wax, you may encounter some secondary snags.

Amy says, "Candle wax isn't the only problem. It also leaves behind oil and dye, making stain removal on upholstery a little trickier. Depending on the color of the wax, you may need to tackle the stain differently."

For dark or bright-colored wax on light upholstery Amy recommends using an oxygen bleach product such as OxiClean, available on Amazon, to help remove the dye or contact your local drycleaners for options, such as steam cleaning.

Karina adds, "If you’d prefer to purchase a ready-made solution, or if these homemade remedies just aren't cutting it, you can also use Goo Gone Adhesive Remover, from Amazon. It’s highly effective at removing tough adhesive residue, including candle wax, from upholstery without damaging the fabric. 

"Its powerful formula breaks down the wax, making it easy to wipe away. It comes in a convenient spray bottle, making it easy to apply directly to the affected area. Simply spray, wait a few moments for the formula to penetrate the wax, and then wipe away with a clean cloth. It's quick and straightforward, requiring minimal effort to achieve great results."

Karina recommends always testing any cleaning method or product on a small, inconspicuous area of the upholstery first to ensure it doesn't cause damage. Blot, don't rub, when removing wax to avoid spreading the stain or damaging the fabric. After removing wax, follow up with a gentle upholstery cleaner to remove any remaining residue and restore the fabric's appearance.

We have a guide on the best cleaning supplies we have tried and tested.

Meet our experts

Profile photo of Hometalk editor Amy Poulton
Amy Poulton

Amy Poulton is a DIY expert at Hometalk, a DIY home and garden website for those passionate about DIY projects, decorating, cleaning hacks, and home improvement, reaching 23 million DIY enthusiasts.

Profile photo of Karina Toner, operations manager at Spekless Cleaning
Karina Toner

Karina is an Operations Manager at Spekless Cleaning, a prominent cleaning company based in Arlington, VA. With over a decade of hands-on experience in the cleaning industry, she's honed her expertise in providing top-notch cleaning solutions and is a dab-hand for brilliant cleaning tips around the home.

If you've spilled some on yourself, learn how to remove candle-wax from clothes, and dive into the many other ways you can use baking soda to clean around the home.

Punteha van Terheyden

Hi! I'm editor of Real Homes. I've been a senior journalist and editor for magazines and the UK national newspapers for 16 years, specializing in consumer, real-life, and lifestyle articles. I have a BA in English Language and Communication and am also founding editor of Lacuna Voices, an independent platform. I love to cook, add character to my newly-built home, try my hand at DIY projects, keep my collection of plants alive, and make memories with my little family of three. For Real Homes, I specialize in articles on pest control, DIY, declutterring and cleaning.