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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Removing wax lip balm from clothing

By Dr. Laundry July 6, 2012

Is there a way to remove lip balm from clothing that it melted onto in the wash?

Wax can be easily removed from many fabrics by heating it slightly so it will transfer from the fabric and absorb onto a brown paper bag. If the clothing has been through the dryer, the wax has likely worked its way into the fabric so it could be more difficult to remove, but you can still give the following a try.

1.  Scrape away as much of the wax as possible with a dull knife.  Look for wax both inside and outside the pocket, too.

2.  Cut open a brown paper grocery (light weight) or lunch bag.  Be sure the bag does NOT have any wax coating on it!

3.  Place the bag over the wax spot (and inside the pocket if there is wax inside it, too), and then gently press with a dry iron on its LOWEST heat setting.  You should see dark brown splotches appear on the bag as the wax is absorbed.

4.  Reposition a fresh part of the bag over the wax spot (and replace brown paper inserted into the pocket with fresh paper) and gently press again with the iron.  Repeat until no more wax absorbs onto the bag.

5.  Pretreat any remaining stain (this is likely since the balm also contains natural oils) by applying Clorox2® Stain Remover and Color Booster directly to the stain.  Wait 3-5 minutes, then wash in the hottest water recommended on the care label with detergent + Clorox2®.  Air dry and check for success—repeat if necessary.

Brown paper bags are nice to work with to capture wax because it is very easy to see the wax absorb onto the bag. If the fabric is synthetic, it’s also important to work with the iron on its lowest heat setting so you don’t melt the fabric. Iron temperatures vary, so you may be able to slightly raise the heat setting if necessary to melt the wax—just do this carefully so as not to damage/melt the clothing. It’s always good to avoid trading one problem for another.