So, your cat, dog, child or significant other has knocked over an oil lamp (of course it wasn’t you), and you’re scrambling to clean up? All is not lost – you can remove lamp and candle oil from hard surfaces, carpet or fabric by following these simple steps.
The first, and most important step, is to absorb as much of the oil as possible. Kitty litter works great – that’s what it’s designed to do. If your home is kitty-free, baking soda or sawdust will do the trick. Just spread a layer over the spill, covering it completely, but don’t grind it into carpet or fabric. Give it about 30 minutes to soak up the oil. Scoop up as much of the kitty litter, sawdust, etc. as you can, then vacuum up what’s left. If you don’t have any of these absorbent products on hand, just use paper towel to blot as much of the spill as possible.
Next, you’ll need something to break up the remaining oil. There are a lot of water-based cleaners that won’t touch this kind of spill (remember, oil and water don’t mix, and you’ll just end up with a bigger mess). Use a cleaner designed to cut grease, like dishwashing detergent. Mix the dish detergent sparingly with warm water (1/4 tsp. detergent to 1 cup water). If you’re working on a hard surface, like concrete, tile or wood flooring, use just enough to break up the oily surface, then wipe it up with a damp rag. If you’ve spilled on carpet or upholstery, only soak the fibers that have absorbed lamp oil with the detergent solution (e.g., if only the carpet is wet, there’s no need to soak the carpet pad as well). Use a rag to blot the oil/detergent mixture.
If possible, open a window to speed the drying process, or use a fan. If your spill is of major proportions, be sure to dispose of any oil-soaked rags or paper towels properly. If you’re not sure how to do that, just ask your county’s waste management department.
The best way to prevent future spills is to move your lamp to a low-traffic area (if a cat is your problem here, good luck). If you need your lamp in an easily accessible – and spillable – place, try using some museum wax to affix it to the surface (it won’t save you from a direct hit, but it helps).
There are a lot of products that can help remove your oil spill, and we’re always looking for new cleaning tips. Let us know which one worked best for you!
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