How to Get Wax out of Clothing

Kathy Adams

Remove wax from clothing by chilling it and scraping the hardened wax away, or by using a hair dryer to transfer the wax to a sheet of absorbent paper.

Any kind of molten wax that drips on clothing tends to stay on the clothing unless you do something about the spots. Treat your unintentionally waxed clothes by freezing the wax to break it off, or by heating the wax enough to melt it so the wax transfers over to a piece of absorbent paper. The same techniques work whether the affected apparel is a sweater, a cotton shirt or a nylon jacket.

Act Quickly

If you're quick enough to notice the wax spill as it happens, dab the molten wax immediately with folded paper towels. Apply pressure to the paper towels without wiping the affected clothing. Every few seconds, replace the paper towels so you don't reapply the wax to the clothing.

Let's Chill

  1. Place the stained article of clothing in the freezer for 20 or 30 minutes -- long enough to make the wax hard and brittle. If you prefer not to place the clothing in the freezer, instead, place several ice cubes in a zippered sandwich bag and seal the bag. Place the bag of ice directly atop the waxy area until the wax becomes brittle.

  2. Hold the clothing above a trash can and wiggle the apparel back and forth along the waxy area, folding and unfolding it to break the wax. Pick at the wax with your fingers or scrape it away with the bowl of a spoon or the dull top side of a butter knife.

Heat Treatments

  1. Sandwich the waxy area between sheets of absorbent paper such as craft paper or plain brown grocery bags. Place one of the pieces of paper on the inside of the clothing, behind the wax, and the other paper atop the wax, so the molten wax won't travel through to another part of the fabric. Set the clothing and paper together atop an ironing board or heat-resistant flat surface.

  2. Warm the iron to the hottest non-steam setting recommended on the fabric's care tag. If the clothing may be damaged by ironing, such as a nylon jacket or some silk shirts, skip the iron and plug in a hair dryer instead.

  3. Place a thin cotton towel atop the top piece of paper if ironing the wax. Skip the towel if using a hair dryer to heat the wax.

  4. Iron the cotton towel for 5 to 10 seconds, moving the iron slowly as you work. If you're using a hair dryer, select a medium heat setting and warm the paper above the clothing. Press down on the paper from time to time using a wooden spoon to avoid burning your hand; the pressure helps the wax transfer to the paper. Inspect the paper frequently, whether ironing or using a hair dryer. Lift the paper once it develops a waxy or wet spot, indicating the wax is lifting from the clothing.

  5. Place a fresh piece of paper above -- and potentially under -- the clothing once the paper absorbs some of the wax. Continue heating the area with the iron or hair dryer until no more wax transfers to the paper.

  6. Wash the clothing using the hottest setting recommended on its care tag. If the clothing still has a slight stain on it before washing, apply a dab of liquid laundry detergent or laundry spot remover to the area before washing the apparel. Dry the clothing as recommended on the care tag.

  7. Warning

    Do not use fabric softeners or dryer sheets on the affected clothing after treating a wax stain since they may leave a coating behind on the clothes, making them harder to wash clean.