I’ve spent an inordinate amount of my life cleaning up candle wax. I’m not a glutton for punishment, it’s just that I can’t stand the thought of entertaining without candlelight. (If you saw this week’s house party story, you already know I have a thing for candles.) My home decor style has been lightly referred to as “seance-like.” All that said, I’ve learned some cool tricks over the years for cleaning up wax and trust me when I say that this one is a game-changer for brass and pewter candlesticks. Read on to discover my tips for making cleaning up your candlesticks a total breeze:

featured photo by alice mahran for the lane

story photographed by jennifer rose smith

Before we get into the clean up method, I’m going to preach to you a little bit about prevention. If you take the time to do two simple things before lighting your taper candles, the amount of wax you’ll have to clean up will be drastically minimized.

The first thing is this — trim your wicks. This is important to do each time you light the candle, not just the first time. Invest in a classic pair of wick trimmers (I got mine for about $5 on Amazon.) Trimming the wick prevents the top of the candle from overheating and melting too fast.

The second step is making sure that your taper candle is perfectly upright. Take a lighter or match and heat the bottom of the taper for a few seconds before pressing it gently into the candlestick holder, making sure it isn’t leaning. This will ensure that the wax either burns off or gathers mostly at the base of the candle.

That said, you’ll still have wax on your candlesticks from time to time, and here’s my method for easy cleanup:


1. Allow the wax to dry fully, overnight if possible.

2. Gently press the wax with your fingernail and remove all parts of the wax that chip off easily.

3. Cover the drain in your sink with a thick washcloth.

4. Turn on the faucet and let the water get hot.

5. Place the candlestick underneath the stream of hot water. Stay right next to the candle – DO NOT WALK AWAY!

6. Once the wax gets hot, it will quickly slide off the candlestick and into the sink. You’ll want to make sure that it doesn’t go down your drain, so have a paper towel handy for quick clean up.

7. Use a paper towel to wipe off any last stubborn pieces of wax, and then thoroughly dry your candlestick.

8. Please note that this method works well for brass and pewter candlesticks. It’s not recommended for silver or silver plate. All of my candlesticks have a rustic, antique patina so this technique works well for me.

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Comments (6)
  1. 1
    R Mimi Iijima March 4, 2018 at 7:57 pm

    I put candle holders in the freezer. Once frozen, the wax lifts off more easily and cleanly with less residue.

  2. 2
    Ciara March 6, 2018 at 5:13 pm

    What if they are wooden candlesticks?

  3. 3
    CJD.Sign March 6, 2018 at 7:37 pm

    I wish I had your whole post last month when I spilled my “way over filled” wax pot and was trying to pour off the wax in the sink. I had a paper towel, but boy did I make a mess!! I’m linking this to my post of what not to do and yours of what to do. I thank you for this post!! Hugs, CJD.Sign

  4. 4
    Sanneke March 14, 2018 at 6:38 am

    I put mine a few minutes in the oven. You can remove all the wax easily (but it took me years to discover this solution. Many thanks to the tips I found on the internet 🙂

    • Fred Loosemore February 14, 2022 at 12:35 pm

      Please do not put wax in a hot over, especially if it is on. If the wax vaporizes the red hot element may ignite the fumes. You’ll need a new stove … and maybe a new house.