What are wax carpet stains?
Wax or paraffin spills are one of the common stains that can appear on carpets. They are particularly prominent around the major holidays of the year. These include St. Valentine's Day, Halloween, Christmas and Hanukkah, when lighting candles is part of the festivities. Before we know how to remove the stains, we need to learn the basics of wax itself:
What is the difference between wax and paraffin? The widely known wax is made by various animals and plants around the world. The most common type of animal wax is beeswax, and for plant wax it's carnauba, a Brazilian palm. There are other types as well, made by chemically altering natural wax.
Paraffin is a synthetic, petroleum based wax substance. It was invented by Carl Reichenbach in 1830 as an alternative to tallow wax. Paraffin candles burn brighter and are cheaper to produce compared to natural wax ones. Other types of synthetic wax are montan (coal based) and polyethylene.
How do these stains actually occur on your carpet fibres? Simply put, someone made a mistake when lighting a wax or paraffin candle. Either the tray holding the candle was too small, or the candle was tilted, or put in front of a fan. This caused the wax to leak while the wick (the string in a candle) was burning.
When a candle's tray is not wide enough, the risk of wax or paraffin stains is increased. If you tilt the candle, the wick will burn unevenly and leak on the floor. And if you place it in front of a fan, the flame will be pushed in the direction of the wind. This will also cause uneven burning, especially if the fan rotates.
It's worth noting that wax removal is harder on certain types of carpet fibres. If your carpets are synthetic, they can withstand heat and moisture better. However, if you have silk or viscose carpets or rugs, be very careful. It might be more reasonable to call professional carpet cleaners instead of risk ruining the fibres.
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How to remove wax from carpets?
There are four primary methods of removing wax from your carpet fibres. Results may vary depending on when the wax was spilled and your type of carpet. Before we get into it however, here is what you should not do in all cases:
1. Use a knife to scrape the wax off
All around the Internet, people advise using a butter knife to scrape wax off your carpet fibres. We suggest doing the complete opposite, and not using dull or sharp blades on your carpet. If you try to scrape or break down the wax, you are highly likely to damage the carpet.
2. When using heat, a plastic bag is fine
The astute reader knows that one of the ways to treat wax on carpet is with an iron. While we are about to discuss that, here is a significant nota bene. Do not under any circumstances use a plastic bag when ironing the wax. Plastic breaks down when heated, and the result can be disastrous.
Now that you know how not to remove wax from carpets, let's find out how to remove it instead:
- with a kettle of boiling water
- with a pack of ice
- with an iron
- with rubbing alcohol
How to remove carpet wax stains with a kettle of water?
The trick to removing candle wax is that it melts easily. The average temperature of melting for wax is between 46 and 68 °C. This means that boiling water will make short work of any wax stains.
Everyone has a kettle lying around in the UK, that much is a scientific fact. Today, you will learn another application of boiling water, aside from tea. Once the kettle has heated the water, pour it slowly over the wax and wait a bit.
Water boils at a temperature of 100 °C, letting it swiftly turn wax into mush. After it has melted the wax, blot it out with a cotton cloth. Take care not to apply even a small amount of rubbing, as you may push it deeper. For people with low heat resistance, protective gloves are advisory.
Can ironing remove wax carpet stains?
If you believe steam is a suitable approach to wax on carpet, you're not wrong at all. An iron works wonders if you don't have a steam mop or other carpet cleaning machine. However, you should carefully iron, as some types of carpets do not handle heat well.
The secret to using an iron as a wax stain remover is not ironing the fibres directly. Dampen a white cotton cloth, then fold it in half and place it on the stain. Lightly press on the cloth with the iron, keeping it in the same spot between 10 and 30 seconds. This will melt the wax and make it stick to the cotton, letting you remove it.
The cloth will do a great job absorbing the wax like a sponge. Remember to flip it to a clean side, in order to catch all remaining wax. After you're done ironing the carpet, leave the room to air dry and switch a fan on.
Will ice remove wax stains from carpets?
For homeowners with woollen or other natural carpet fibres, we advise avoiding steam or hot water. The reason is that under high water temperature, the fibres may shrink. However, there is another low heat way to combat wax carpet stains.
Wax and paraffin materials are very malleable by the elements. An ice pack placed over the wax stain is the third trick to remove it. Don't place cubes individually, as this may cause excess moisture when they melt. Simply put the whole pack on top of the stain and wait for a while.
The ice will slowly freeze the wax into a solid state after a few minutes pass. Afterwards, all you need to do is lift the ice pack and apply pressure onto the wax. This will make it shatter into chunks you can easily hoover out of the carpet. Just make sure you have a wet hoover, so as to avoid electric hazards.
The bag of ice method achieves fantastic results in as little as 15 minutes. You can make it go even faster by using dry ice instead of normal ice. However, dry ice is very cold at -78 °C, so do not touch it barehanded. Fabric winter gloves are not enough, you will need leather gloves instead.
Can rubbing alcohol remove carpet wax stains?
Rubbing alcohol is found in every store at a low price. It is primarily used for disinfection and treating insect bites. However, it also has an application in carpet wax stain removal.
As wax is oil-based, rubbing alcohol can dissolve it, letting you get rid of it quickly. The safest suggestion is to apply a small amount of rubbing alcohol with a cotton swab. It will work its magic on the wax, and you can sponge or hoover it out after.
Is there another way to remove wax from carpets?
You can use a rental steam cleaner to clean your carpet at home from wax. These machines function sort of like an iron and kettle at the same time. They heat the water to a chosen temperature, and spray it inside the fibres.
Steam cleaners also have different attachments, or nozzles as they're known. The rule of thumb is that the small ones have higher pressure and suction power. You need the smallest one, known as the hand tool among professional cleaners.
As the machine can heat the water to over 100 degrees, the wax will rapidly melt. With the hand tool equipped, simply go over the wax a couple of times to melt it. If the machine can extract it, this will save you time on blotting it out.
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How do professionals remove wax from your carpets?
Professional carpet cleaning companies have dealt with wax stains on carpets for decades. The cleaners know how to remove them from synthetic and natural carpets. The best way to remove wax and paraffin stains is deep steam cleaning.
The other name of the method is hot water extraction, and it involves a commercial carpet cleaning machine. Much like a small portable one, it heats the water itself to a chosen temperature. However, the difference in water pressure is very large.
When you book a professional carpet cleaning service, the experts offer two options. One of the options is spot treatment, which means cleaning just the stains. The other and better choice is to steam clean the whole carpet in the room. This way, professionals will also remove other stains affecting your carpet fibres.
Extra tip - how to remove red wine from carpets?
Red wine is an alcoholic drink popular around the Western world. It is also the source of some of the worst stains on carpets and upholstery. Simply put, red wine easily discolours almost anything it was spilled on.
The important thing is to remain calm if a red wine stain happens. Use a colour fast cloth or paper towel to blot out as much as you can. Then, sprinkle baking soda to absorb the rest, and let it sit for 30 minutes. Afterwards, hoover it out of your carpet and repeat if needed.
Never use hot water when treating a red wine stain. Red wine and blood are very similar in that they harden when heated. If the stain hardens, removing it will be almost impossible. If you're not sure how to remove red wine stains, call a professional cleaning company.