Cleaning a Spill: How to Get Candle Wax Off Wood

dry candle wax on counter

Source: Gabi D/

Candles are a great accessory to have in a home. Both decorative and functional with their natural soy wax blend-filled jars, you can place candles almost anywhere. But when your beach candle accidentally spills over a little wax or creates a splatter on your coffee table or wood floors, what do you do and how do you get it off?

Don’t worry! Accidents happen. But while removing wax seems like an easy thing to do, the trick is not to damage the wood. Whether it’s hardwood flooring, a coffee table or a nightstand, here is how to get candle wax off wood. Use one of these three wax removal methods to clean a spill or splatter quickly. 

#1. The Scraper Method

One of the most straightforward ways to get candle wax off wood is by using the scraping method. Whether you hasten the process using a bag of ice, as suggested by This Old House, or allow the wax to settle and harden on its own is entirely up to you. However, what you really want to avoid is spreading the wax around even further. 

Here are the basic steps to removing the wax: When the wax is cold, take a plastic spatula, plastic spoon or even an expired credit card (in case it gets damaged) and scrape the wax off in the direction of the wood grain. Next, use the edges of your blunt object to get into deeper crevices to dislodge the wax and, as you chip it away, dust it into a piece of paper. Once it’s removed, buff the area with a lint-free cloth.

Keep in mind that this method is best used on lighter wax spills and splatters and is not intended for a bigger mess. However, the scraping method does take patience and a delicate touch to prevent scratches on the wood. 

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#2 The Hair Dryer/Iron Method

San Francisco candle

The scraping method is perfect for smaller drops and spills, but for bigger accidents, the best way to get candle wax off wood is to use the hair dryer or clothes iron method. This tried-and-true method is excellent for getting wax that is buried deeper and embedded itself into the wood grain.

With a hair dryer set on the low setting and held at least three inches away from the area, you warm the wax just enough so that it becomes soft and pliable. Once it’s soft, begin to peel it up with your fingers and wipe the area with a paper towel or clean cloth, keeping furniture free from scratches. Repeat this process until the wax is thoroughly removed. 

If you have an iron instead, you will follow the same steps almost to a T, with a few exceptions. First, ensure the iron is not on the steam setting and press the iron directly on top of the area for three seconds or so, with a thick washcloth (iron side) and a stack of heavy-duty paper towels (wax side) to absorb the wax as it melts. 

Adjust the temperature as needed to get the paper towels to soak up the wax. Repeat as necessary. Even better than the iron, this is the absolute best method for drawing out wax from floor grains.

#3 The Wax Removing Product Method

Another way to get candle wax off wood is to use a specifically-made wax removal product. While it’s not as accessible as using your home hair dryer, paper towels and a used-up gift card you have lying around, they are affordable and get the job done. 

Goo Gone and Weiman Wax are two trusted products for removing minor wax spills. Just follow the instructions on the bottles and go from there. 

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Extra Tips to Remember

With these methods in mind, here are some additional tips to remember for a successful candle wax removal:

  • Clean the area as soon as possible and don’t allow it to sit for hours or days. The longer the wax sits, the worse the damage could be to the wood.
  • With each method, touch up the area and give it a good wipe down with furniture polish or wax.
  • Avoid mineral spirits to remove the wax, as it is considered a stripping agent and can damage the wood.
  • If the hair dryer/iron method doesn’t work to your satisfaction, sand the wood ever so gently.
  • Did the wax spill on an antique or heirloom furniture piece? Then, take it to a professional, pronto! 
  • Why is my candle flame so high? It could be because it’s burning too hot, creating a large wax pool or leaving behind smoke. Maintaining your candle and its wick can prevent wax from spilling in the first place. 

Reed Diffusers: A Candle Alternative

spring cleaning candle

If you enjoy having a scent throughout the home but worry about wax spills and open flames, we get it! Whether you have rowdy dogs or energetic kids, we have the perfect candle alternative: reed diffusers. Homesick offers a collection of reed diffusers in many of our candle scents. Plus, a reed diffuser won’t leave behind candle wax on wood or anything else.