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How To Clean Wax from Painted Surfaces

A candle that has been knocked over or other household accident can result in unwanted wax drips on the painted walls and other painted surfaces of your home. The goal is to remove the wax while avoiding alteration of the painted surface. The following approaches are useful, and will help to make removal as complete and easy as possible. Paint finishes and base materials can vary, so remember to test techniques and cleaning solutions in an inconspicuous spot before using on a wider area.

Heat, while an appropriate method for some types of wax removal, may not be the best choice for painted surfaces. Direct application of heat that's sufficient enough to soften the wax can also soften, discolor or otherwise damage the paint. Instead, use cold. Place one or two ice cubes in a plastic bag. Apply the plastic covered ice directly to a small area of wax at a time - up to the area of a US quarter. Applying ice directly to the wax will help it harden and become brittle, making it easier to chip away. Using a plastic bag helps prevent unnecessary mess  and moisture. Depending on what type of wax it is, icing it for 30 seconds to 1 minute should produce adequate results. Once the wax has been iced, use your fingernail or a blunt-edged tool such as a butter knife or putty knife to slide under an exposed edge of the stain. Use a rotating motion to lever the wax away from the painted surface and crack as large an area of the wax away as possible. Remove and discard loosened wax residue. Repeat the technique as needed to remove all of the wax. It may be tempting to use an ice pack to cool larger areas of wax at once, but it is unnecessary as these areas are likely to return to room temperature before the wax can be pried off. Working methodically on one small section at a time is the most effective approach.

For remaining residue or stubborn wax deposits, try the following solution. Make sure the wall is brushed free of loose wax and other debris. Apply a non-abrasive waterless hand cleaner in small dabs to wax deposits. Work gently with a clean soft rag to dislodge the wax. Select a light or colorless hand cleaner to help avoid inadvertently staining the painted surface. Remove as much of the wax and non-abrasive waterless hand cleaner as possible. Finish with a light overall cleansing to remove any oily residue the hand cleaner may have left behind: use a clean sponge to apply a lightly sudsy solution of mild pH neutral dish liquid diluted with water to the affected area. Sponge with clean water, avoiding over wetting. Allow to dry.  If a large area was affected, you may wish to use fans to help facilitate drying and prevent lingering moisture that could  encourage mildew growth.

For glossy and other patterned finishes where the texture has been affected by the wax spill or removal, you can consider using a clear gloss applied to mimic the finish of the wider area and camouflage the affected area. Apply according to the manufacturer's instructions to a clean, dry surface in a texture that mimics the existing finish of areas in good condition. For other more intensive approaches such as completely stripping and repainting, refer to articles in the home improvement section.

Caution: Never mix cleaning agents or chemicals, the result can be dangerous or deadly. Before cleaning, always test the agent on an inconspicuous location to determine its suitability and to make certain it does not damage the material. Wear appropriate clothing such as gloves and protective eyewear, and work in a well-ventilated area. Accidental inhalation or ingestion of cleaning agents can be hazardous and even fatal, particularly to pets and children.

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