After having cleaned 50 glass votives used at a wedding, we finally found a method that actually worked. Once we removed the votive candles, we were left with bits of wax and grit on every glass. Heating the glass did help a little, but there was still a waxy film residue and gritty bits of wax inside the glass.
Nothing seemed to help significantly remove the wax film. Boiling the votives didn’t work. Scrubbing with dish detergent was laborious.
Paint thinner was the only thing that restored the glass votives to like-new condition.
Paint Thinner Precautions
There are 3 things to consider when using paint thinner to remove wax film from glass:
- Work in a well ventilated area.
- Protect your skin by wearing gloves (do as I say not as I do).
- Protect your work surface from paint thinner.
Both step-by-step instructions as well as a photo tutorial are provided below.
Instructions for removing wax residue from glass:
- Place glass on a paper-lined tray and place into a low-temp (175 degree) oven until most of the wax has melted off the glass.
- Remove from oven, and once the glass has cooled, soak it in container filled with paint thinner.
- Let the glass soak for 15-60 minutes. Test along the way to determine when the wax can be easily wiped off.
- Drain the glass and wipe it clean using a napkin or paper towel.
- Wash the glass in warm, soapy water to remove residual paint thinner.
Here are some of the votives after being in a heated oven for about 30 minutes. Most of the larger wax buildup has melted off, but glasses still have little gritty pieces of wax and waxy film.
We poured paint thinner into a glass container and soaked the glasses for about 30 minutes.
After pulling the glasses out of the paint thinner, they were already looking so much better.
There was still some grit and wax film, but both came off easily after wiping the glasses with paper towels.
All the waxy film and grit is now gone. We are, however, left with an oily paint thinner film.
Removing the paint thinner film was simple. We washed the glasses in a very soapy, warm water bath. The glasses came out sparkling.