How to Remove Wax from a Tablecloth

Candles make for a great centerpiece (unscented, of course), but sometimes wax drips and can quickly make a mess of your tablecloth. Choosing higher quality candles with fewer additives (e.g. scent-free beeswax candles) can also equate to easier to clean up of melted wax. Regardless, it’s absolutely possible to remove wax from a tablecloth. 

How to Remove Wax from a Tablecloth

Before you get started with any stain removal, check the fabric of your tablecloth. If it’s a natural fabric like cotton or linen, the steps below should work well for you. 

If your tablecloth is made from a synthetic fabric like polyester that is sensitive to heat, you will want to be sure to use the appropriate heat setting on your iron in step 3 below. 

Lastly, if it’s an antique tablecloth with delicate fabric or lace, it might be safest to take your tablecloth to a dry cleaner. Be sure to point out the location of the stain when you drop it off!

Materials Required:

  • Ice
  • Butter knife, old credit card, or similar tool
  • Iron or Hair Dryer
  • Laundry Detergent 

Step 1: Freeze the Wax

Remove candle wax from a tablecloth by first freezing and hardening the wax

If the spilled wax hasn’t already cooled and hardened, you will want to use something cold like an ice cube to help that process along quickly. The less the wax spreads into the fabric, the easier the wax will be to remove! 

Simply rub the ice cube on the outside of the wax until it has completely cooled. If you don’t have an ice cube on hand, grab another freezer item or even place the tablecloth/placemat in your freezer until the wax has fully cooled. 

Step 2: Scrape the Wax

How to remove wax from a tablecloth by scraping with a butter knife

Once the wax has cooled and hardened, you’ll want to grab a butter knife or old credit card (or similar tool) to scrape off as much of the wax as possible. 

Step 3: Melt Away the Remaining Wax Stain

How to melt wax off of a tablecloth

If any wax is stuck inside of the fibers of your fabric, you can use heat to melt and transfer it to another material.

What material you transfer that melted wax to is up to you. Options that work well include thin pieces of fabric (like an old, cut up t-shirt), a folded paper towel (here’s how we went paper towel-free in our kitchen), or a paper shopping bag (here’s how we grocery shop with minimal waste). 

Grab two pieces of whatever transfer material you choose and use them to sandwich the tablecloth at the location of the candle wax stain. Make sure your tablecloth is laying wax-side-down. Grab either an iron or a hair dryer and apply heat to the wax stain until it starts to melt and transfer. 

You might need to lift, reposition, then reapply heat a few times until all of the wax has transferred from the tablecloth to the other material. 

Step 4: Wash the Tablecloth

Once all of the wax has been removed from the tablecloth, you might still be left with an oily stain. This stain should come out in the wash. Launder your tablecloth as you normally would, but do not dry in your dryer. 

If there is a lingering oil stain even after laundering, dryer heat will be sure to set that stain further into your tablecloth fabric. Here are some tips on removing stubborn oil stains

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  1. Help!!! I did everything you suggested and thought it was gone. After drying it I saw it was still there. Is there anything else I can do???

    1. Oh no! Try switching up the material you use to absorb the melted wax? Perhaps using something a bit thinner and more absorbent (like packing paper) would help?

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