How To Clean Outdoor Candles: A Detailed Guide


Let’s face it — everyone loves the stellar ambiance that outdoor candles provide. In fact, candles are scientifically proven to have positive effects on our moods. The mesmerizing quality of flickering light provides a gentle and soothing environment. Additionally, many candles bless us with amazing scents. Since smell is so closely tied to memory, they even help us craft moments we’ll remember forever. But candles, although awesome, still manage to get pretty dirty. If this has happened to yours, and you want to remedy this situation, I’ve provided step-by-step information how below. Here’s Captain Patio’s guide on how to clean outdoor candles.

Gather your materials

My granddad always said that if something was worth doing, it was worth doing right. For this reason, we’ll want to gather all the materials that we’ll need for candle cleaning beforehand. Here are some of the key items required:

  • A razor blade
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Dish soap
  • A feature duster (disposable will also work)
  • Cotton balls
  • A sink

I’ll note that although I listed isopropyl alcohol above, most types can be used. You can even use vodka! After gathering all the above essentials, you can roll up your sleeves and start cleaning your outdoor candles (if you need to buy outdoor candles first, we have you covered too) (if you need to buy outdoor candles first, we have you covered too).

Clean the holders

If your candles are inside of detachable holders, this is the next step for you. Start by removing the candles, then use a razor blade to remove any drippings of candle wax. Simply cut them out if the wax is attached to the holder itself.

Many candles are made from different materials and some will stick a little harder than others. If the wax is hard, you’ll have to put it in a sink or basin with hot water. Simply leave it to soak before thoroughly washing it with soup. The wax will easily come out, leaving your holder a good as new.

Clean the candles

Now that the holder is clean, it’s time to move on to the candles. You should start by using the feather duster (or a disposable will work) to wipe off any loose dirt at the top. If you’ve regularly brought your candles back inside after use, this may be all you need. Since you’re researching how to clean a candle, I’m going to assume that this isn’t all you need! In that case, let’s go on to the next step.

Rub the candles with alcohol

Dip one of your cotton balls in alcohol and use it to rub around the candles. Please note that it is advisable to clean your outdoor candles starting at the top, working your way down. Be extra gentle around the wick and ensure you don’t miss any spots. Often, the wicks will become brittle when they’re burnt. They will easily break off if not handled properly.

Keep rubbing

If you’re wondering how you’ll know when your outdoor candle is clean, the answer is quite simple. Stop cleaning when the color of the candle wax appears on your cotton ball. It will be a sign that the dirt has completely been removed. Nonetheless, your cleaning results will depend on one major factor; the quality of your candle. Normally, removing dirt on cheap candles has worse results than removing them on inexpensive brands.

Return the candle to the holder

Once you’ve performed the above steps, your candles should be clean as new. You can go ahead and return them to their holders. Additionally, you should consider what you’ll choose as their new location. Instead of moving back to the same spot where they got dirty, you could choose a new spot on your patio more shielded from the wind / dust. Additionally, switching things up a bit may spice up your outdoor area!

You’re done!

If you’ve followed the above steps for how to clean your outdoor candles, the wax should look as good as new. While they’re sure to get dirty again at some point, you can rest easy for a few months knowing that your candles are clean.

Does the kind of candle wax matter?

There are 5 main types of wax that your candles may be crafted from:

  • Paraffin wax
  • Soy wax
  • Palm wax
  • Granulated wax
  • Gel candle wax

Your candles will be most likely crafted from paraffin wax and soy wax. Both of these types can be cleaned the same way (the method we just illustrated). If your outdoor candles are constructed from granulated wax or gel candle wax, you’ll have to adjust your approach a bit.

Granulated wax

Granulated wax is easy to clean until you actually light the wick. You can simply immerse the granules in cool water and rinse them multiple times. After you light the candle, it becomes a bit trickier and you’ll have to follow the standard guide I laid out at the top.

Gel candle wax

Gel candle wax isn’t actually wax at all. Typically made from mineral oil / polymer resin. These can be great novelties, but they attract dirt like crazy and are very difficult to clean. I’ve never been able to successfully clean the dirt and wick ash completely out, so I honestly have no advice to give here. If you have any suggestions, feel free to add them in the comments below.

Prevent Candles From Getting Dirty

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In fact, the best way to clean your outdoor candles is to simply prevent them from getting dirty in the first place. But how can you prevent your candles from getting dirty? Instead of your standard candle holder, consider putting them in a container that will block the wind (and subsequently, the dust and debris carried by the wind). I’ve found that mason jars are perfect for this purpose, as they come in many sizes and offer a great aesthetic.

Additionally, you can simply take the candles indoors when not in use. However, this requires diligence. And you probably still have dust indoors!

Captain

I'm Chuck (the Captain). I'm passionate about my outdoor space and love sharing my experiences with the world at large. I want Captain Patio to become the best place on the internet to find, share, and learn about all things patio-related. When I'm not keeping up my content schedule, I'm spending time with my wife and two kids (usually on my patio!).

2 thoughts on “How To Clean Outdoor Candles: A Detailed Guide

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