How to Clean Up Spilled Lamp Oil and Candle Oil

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 the spilled lamp oil? All is not lost – you can remove lamp and candle oil from hard surfaces, carpet or fabric by following these simple steps. Learn how to clean spilled oil from many types of flooring below.


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 oil 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 spilled lamp oil 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!


  1. Andy on January 2, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    My roommate put lampoil in with a load of laundry .
    What the best way to get the oil out of my washer?

    • Phil on January 2, 2013 at 2:45 pm

      Hi Andy,

      Dryer cleaning is quite different then the washer. My first suggestion remove and clean the filter then use a cleaner such as Simple Green spraying the interior and letting it soak for a minute. Then wipe the interior down until the surface material is remove. Most dryers have a cool setting. Using a cool setting toss in a couple of cotton towels and run the dryer for 30 minutes.

      Then wipe down the interior with a clean damp cloth.

      I would then dry your first load with your room mates CLEAN clothes. After drying check for any residue inside the dryer and wipe down any such residue with a clean damp cloth.

      If your room mates clothes are OK you may return the dryer to service.

      If not you will have to go thru the cleaning process again.

      If the towels are not heavily soiled try washing them with a detergent on a long cool wash.

      Let everyone know how it works out.


  2. Firefly on January 2, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    Hi Andy,

    You’re in luck. All you need to do is run an empty load using laundry detergent. That should take care of the problem. Run it through twice if you are still concerned.

    Curious, why did your roommate put lamp oil in with the laundry?

    Best of luck.

    • Andy on January 2, 2013 at 1:49 pm

      Not really sure. He really has no common sense. He said he did it to get the grease out of his work pants.
      He even dried his clothes in dryer. Any advice on cleaning dryer?

  3. Bruce Amor on March 30, 2013 at 10:57 pm

    After filling my oil candles and a few drops spilled on table. I wiped it off and it seemed to act as a polish plus cleaner.
    Do you think it can harm finish eventually?

    • Firefly on March 31, 2013 at 7:46 am

      Hi Bruce,

      All tiki torch, paraffin and Safe & Green fuels will damage wooden-furniture finishes just like water. Even a few drops must be promptly removed to prevent damage to the finish. Just as you would use a coaster for glasses, you should use the same level of protection for these fuels.

  4. Melissa on January 17, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    Oil spilled on the blanket I had covering the table. It attached the blanket to the table when removing the blanket or left hardened oil and Blanket reminisce on the desk. How do I get it off?

  5. Shana on September 17, 2015 at 12:43 pm

    I had a defected liquid vent air freshener in my my car that dripped on my dash board,it stain I called the corporation of the freshener and they would not help me. I tried to clean it up but nothing works. What can I do?

  6. Annette Valliere Diaz on November 11, 2015 at 10:02 pm

    I have an old oil lamp that I can’t get the smell of kerosene out of the glass. I have tried scrubbing it with dish detergent, and also vinegar. Any other suggestions?

    • Susan Tyson on November 14, 2015 at 4:50 pm

      The only thing I could recommend trying is to use our fuel and replace the wick. Over time the smell will probably go away.

      • Annette Valliere Diaz on November 14, 2015 at 8:07 pm

        Thanks Susan I will give it a try