Candle wax is the most common type of wax to be spilled on carpet and one of the most difficult waxes to remove due to the high heat and coloring of the wax during the spill. Other types of waxes that can find their way into textiles include those used in polishes, cosmetics, hobbies, and cooking. These are usually easy to remove with extraction and dry solvents.
You may think that the removal of candle wax should be easy and at times removing the visible wax is easy, but there often are residues and colors left behind that make the job much more difficult than you thought!
Understand wax before cleaning
Wax can come from many sources, such as from beehives,
petroleum products, plants, animals, etc. Most waxes used in candles come from petroleum by-products,
commonly referred to as paraffin wax. It typically melts slow and allows the
user to enjoy a burning candle for hours, if not days.
In order to appreciate how wax can bind with fibers, think of the characteristics of fibers. Olefin and polyester are oil loving fibers, and will tend to bond faster and stronger with anything petroleum based like candle wax. Although it may not be noticeable during cleaning, to some degree you will often find olefin and polyester somewhat more difficult to remove the
“greasy” aspect of the candle wax, but at the same time, repelling the colors that can be in the wax. Nylon may be more forgiving to the waxy partof the spill, but not as forgiving to the colors in the wax. Wool is mostly a nightmare when it
comes to removing wax, but it can be done.
Removing the wax
Most carpet cleaners use hot water extraction, and by using high heat, can often extract the wax from the carpet using “chop
strokes”, which are short, forward and backward movements of the cleaning wand. If you decide to use this method, remember that adding heat to the fiber can also aid in driving color into the fiber, because the fiber dye sites are more absorbent during the cleaning process. In other words, try to get the job done in a few minutes; don’t let the fiber cool and dry, as that
makes the color more difficult to remove later on.
If you do not have the ability to remove wax with hot water extraction, you can use a heat transfer method with a typical clothes steam iron. Some recommend using unprinted paper with the heat transfer process, but often a better choice is to use a white cotton towel that can be disposed of after the spotting procedure is completed. The white towel is more absorbent
and protects the carpet better from burning or melting. Place the towel over the hardened wax and with the clothes iron on low, place the iron on the towel and allow it to soften the wax. Gently push the iron onto the towel, allowing the newly-melted wax to absorb into the towel. Repeat a few times, as necessary to remove as much visible wax as possible. I have also used the heat transfer method to remove red candle wax from light color wall.