The easiest yet infuriating thing you can do to your carpet is to drop liquid candle wax on to it. It drives folks up the wall. Luckily, employing the best technique, it usually is fairly easy to remove.
I have been in carpet cleaning for twenty years and have been amazed at the damage people have done, trying to get wax off fibers. In many cases, people attempt to remove the wax without really knowing what to do. In many cases, this just leads to permanent damage. At best they leave some wax in (which is often unsightly when it is colored) or worse still, set fire to their carpet (yes, this HAS happened!).
In my twenty years in the carpet cleaning business, I’ve seen many ruined carpets. Does this sound familiar?
Professional carpet cleaners have developed ways of dealing with wax without damaging the carpets. The key is preparation and a “gently, gently” approach. The most important thing is to not damage the carpet. This tends to make you unpopular!
There are a couple of “insider secrets” that will help a lot. Just remember though, I’m not there to look over your shoulder, so please practice first and if in doubt leave it well alone. I cannot be with you to supervise so if you have any doubts, don’t proceed.
Carpet cleaners use various things to help remove wax from carpet fibres.
An iron with adjustable temperature control, aluminum baking foil, a roll of white paper kitchen roll, Some water, a wooden spatula (or a very blunt knife) and a drop sheet (to protect the carpet), and something heat proof (to stand the iron-on).
Here’s how you do it.
1/ If at all possible, get an off cut or similar piece of carpet to practise on.
This concept of practising on an off cut is really important as it allows you to set the iron’s temperature control to the optimum level (starting off cool, then gradually turning up the heat). You must be very careful with man made fibres such as polypropylene and nylon. These are basically, made of plastic. If you use too much heat, they will be damaged irrepairably.
2/ light the candle, then drop some wax onto the old carpet sample. Wait until this wax has gone hard. Remove as much excess wax as you can. Use a blunt wedge or spatula.
3/ Wrap a piece of aluminium foil around the bottom of your iron. This stops wax getting on to the iron, which could burn or be transferred back onto the carpet (or onto the next item of clothing to be ironed!). Here’s the main secret.
4/ Take your paper towel and fold many sheets together. You need to wet them through (this is a very important component in the process. Wrap them in another couple so the whole package is wet but not dripping. Why do we do this? Here’s why. When wet, these squares of towels conduct the heat of the iron quickly so that the iron is in contact with the carpet for far less time. The towel that is not under the towel remains damp (and much cooler) which minimises potential damage to the adjoining carpet. As the middle bit dries out it absorbs the wax. Overall, the iron is in contact with the carpet for a far shorter time. Place it on top of the wax.
5/ Again, this is important. Start with the heat switch on the iron set to it’s lowest setting. Make sure the towels are centered over the wax and then lay the iron on top of them for a maximum of eight seconds only, then lift it off.
6/ inspect the paper towels to see if the heat setting was high enough. It should be warmer and dryer in the middle.
Do steps 5 & 6 again. If you cannot see or feel the difference, increase the heat (just a little).
Go through the steps again (particularly Step 5). You should notice less wax on the carpet and more on the paper towel.
You may find that the towel gets too dry. Simply wet it and start again. Change it once it pulls out too much wax. Repeat 5/.
Do not be in a hurry to wreck the carpet! Increase the heat slightly each time. Practising on an offcut is by far the best way to go. If you mess up, who cares? You can always throw your “mistakes” away
The key is gentle repetition. Little by little, layer by layer. After a while you’ll get just the right heat levels for optimum success.
It is so easy to try and do this quickly. You must resist this. If you go too fast you are asking for trouble (with permanent damage the likely outcome).
If everything works according to plan, then you can carry out the job for real on the actual wax-affected carpet. If everything goes well you should shift all the wax without doing any damage to the precious carpet. You will feel more confident as a carpet cleaner after this.
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