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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Wax Stains

By Dr. Laundry January 6, 2009

Q. We have a red tablecloth with a wax stain. We think it is cotton. How can we remove the stain?

A. These removal tips are a little tricky and do not always completely remove the problem.

  • Remove as much of the hardened wax as possible by scraping with dull knife or peeling from the surface.
  • Lay 2–3 white paper towels on the surface. Place the wax stain face DOWN on the towels, then place another paper towel on the backside.
  • Press a WARM iron (no steam) onto the back side to start the “melting” process. As the wax transfers to the towels, keep changing them to a “clean” portion to prevent re-depositing the wax back onto the tablecloth. Keep doing this until no more wax is transferred.
  • Now the choices are: pretreat with a dry cleaner solvent or take it to a dry cleaner for treatment. If you pretreat, dab the warmed spots until all the remaining wax is transferred to the cloth (keep rotating to clean parts of the cloth like the original warm iron approach).
  • Next, pretreat the spot with a good liquid laundry or dishwasher detergent and wash in the warmest water recommended on the care label. To remove any residual color, add (along with your ordinary detergent) 3/4 cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach1, if white, or the recommended amount of Clorox 2® Stain Remover & Color Booster if colored.
  • AIR dry the tablecloth. Putting it in the dryer could re-warm any residual wax and drive it into the fibers making subsequent removal difficult/impossible.
  • Repeat the procedure if any stain remains.