New Year’s Eve…I took my beautiful royal purple Stella McCartney Falabella bag out for a night on the town, or at a house party. I had kept it tucked safely out of sight all evening, while glasses clinked and candles flickered. When I got up the next morning, the full light of day, there it was. What looked like a candle exploded all over one side of the bag. Dried wax shrapnel clung to its soft vegan sides, and blazed white across its faux snake or stingray skin. Those of you who’ve saved up for a bit of arm candy art will understand, there’s no feeling like seeing your hard-earned “investment Bag” ruined. I imagine it might also feel like smashing up your brand new car, breaking an heirloom dish, or otherwise ruining something you can’t (or can’t afford to) replace. I have no idea how it happened, and can only guess someone knocked over a candle and my bag caught it. And then the tipper slipped quietly away.
I called Stella’s flagship store to ask for assistance; what does one do with a vegan, very expensive bag that’s covered with wax? I was disappointed to find the store no help whatsoever in making recommendations about how the bag should be cleaned. The person on the phone couldn’t even tell me what fabric the bag is made from. (Polyurethane, I was finally able to find) They did recommend a dry cleaner in New York who told me I was welcome to ship the bag, at my cost, of course, to them for a look-see, but they could make no promises. I passed.
Then I popped in on a local dry cleaner, who looked at my bag, and pronounced he could “try” to clean it, but he may just ruin it, and that, “would be your own fault, your own liability. I would take no responsibility”. Hardly the vote of confidence.
I then made a few calls, most notably to a very kind and helpful woman at Valiant Cleaners in Calgary. LeeAnn using e a paper towel and a warm iron or a hair dryer to try heat up and blot the wax out of the fabric. She warned me to be careful of burning the fabric.
Another friend suggested a trick she uses to get candle wax out of tablecloths: freeze the cloth in the freezer, then scrape off all the excess wax. She too then uses the old paper towel and warm iron trick.
So I took the plunge; figuring it could spot test these tricks and stop at any point if it got too messy or started to wreck things.
- Freeze the fabric for several hours. Use your fingernails to scrape off the excess wax. Your bag is going to be bright scratch white where the wax was. Don’t be alarmed. If necessary, refreeze and re-scrape. It’s important to get off as much wax as you can first.
- Slide a book inside the bag to give you a firm and steady work surface for the iron to work.
- Put the iron on its lowest setting (you can always increase the heat if you need to), and apply a clean folded paper towel to the fabric over the wax remnants. Wiggle the iron over the towel until you start to see the wax wicking up through the paper towel. Increase the heat in small increments if you need to. Reposition the paper towel and get a clean spot. Continue until the wax stops seeping into the paper towel.
- Let the bag cool and sit and then give it a good look. Re-do above as needed.
This worked for me, and although in certain lights, the sheen of the fabric does show tiny hints of stain, by and large no one but me would ever know what the bag’s been through.
Got tips on how you removed wax from fabric, or how you saved a pricey bag? Share with us all in Comments, below.