Ask Me Anything: Candle Wax Removal, Laundry Sanitizer, Heavy-Duty Window Cleaner

By Mary Hunt

June 25, 2018 5 min read

Perhaps it's happened to you: A many-candled birthday cake or lovely candle centerpiece goes awry, leaving you with a mess of melted candle wax now hardened and hopelessly stuck to your beautiful wood table.

Can this table be saved?

Dear Mary: I was given a beautiful wood pub table. It has candle wax stuck to it from, I am assuming, someone blowing out candles. How do I fix this without scraping it with a knife? — Kathy

Dear Kathy: Soften the dried wax with a hair dryer set to medium heat, pointing the dryer at the wax while holding it 3 to 4 inches away from the table. Once softened, blot the wax with a soft white cloth. Keep working at it by softening and then blotting until you have removed all of the wax. Next, mix 1/2 cup white vinegar with 1 cup water. Dip the cloth into the vinegar mix, and wipe away any wax that may remains. Lastly, clean your table with furniture polish to restore the shine. That should do it!

Dear Mary: Thank you for all you do to help us save time, money and our planet. I have been following your advice for years, and I eagerly pass on what I find helpful and the products that have become second nature in our home.

My husband is a plumber, and to say that his work clothes get nasty is an understatement. We recently bought a new product, Lysol Laundry Sanitizer — two large bottles for $16. I make our laundry detergent, use white vinegar for the rinse and have two sets of wool dryer balls. Was I already sanitizing his clothes with the vinegar? — Nancy

Dear Nancy: Lysol Laundry Sanitizer has been around for years. If you check the ingredients, you'll see that it contains small amounts of ethanol and alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chlorides (basically alcohol and "saIt"). I'm not saying those two things together don't kill some bacteria, but why pay $8 a bottle to do what you can and are already doing yourself?

Detergent and hot water kill most bacteria. Acetic acid (white vinegar from the grocery story is 5 percent acetic acid) is a great disinfectant. According to the David Suzuki Foundation: "It also acts as a deodorizer and cuts grease.

"You can tackle salmonella, E. coli and other 'gram-negative' bacteria with vinegar. Gram-negative bacteria can cause pneumonia, meningitis and bloodstream, wound or surgical site infections."

My advice is that buying a pricey product like Lysol Laundry Sanitizer is a waste of money because cheap white vinegar, when added to the rinse cycle, is very effective for sanitizing your laundry.

I would encourage you to launder your husband's work duds in hot water, not boiling hot but the temperature your washer produces on the hot setting, which is likely 165 degrees F. That's not really burning hot, but it will boost all of the products you are using and make them work better.

Dear Mary: Some time ago, you published a recipe for a glass and mirror cleaner. I used it all the time and loved it, but I seem to have misplaced the recipe. I know it included blue Dawn. Could you possibly repeat it? — Marilyn

Dear Marilyn: I did a quick search at my site,, using the keywords "Dawn + window" and up popped this recipe, which I believe may be the one you are referring to:


1/2 cup household ammonia

2 cups rubbing alcohol

1 teaspoon blue Dawn liquid dishwashing detergent


Mix ammonia, alcohol and detergent in gallon jug. Fill to the top with water. Shake before each use. This solution is great for cleaning really dirty windows.

Mary invites questions, comments and tips at [email protected], or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of, a personal finance member website and the author of "Debt-Proof Living," released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at

Photo credit: at Pixabay

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