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To remove crayon marks without damaging any finish, wipe over with a cloth dampened with paint thinner, turpentine or naphtha.

Want to be a hero with friends and relatives? Here are two tricks that are surprisingly little known but are worth a lot to your reputation: how to remove crayon and candle wax.

Crayons are made of wax, of course, and wax dissolves in turpentine, mineral spirits (paint thinner) and naphtha. None of these solvents damages any finish (except, of course, a wax finish) when used in moderation. So to remove crayon marks, simply wipe over the surface with a cloth dampened with one of these solvents.

Be aware that some manufacturers include acetone in their “paint thinners” to comply with local VOC laws; always read the listed ingredients.

As I’ve mentioned before, though, you need to be careful if you live in an area with strict VOC laws such as California. Turpentine and petroleum distillates are regulated, so some manufacturers have replaced them with the one fairly inexpensive solvent that isn’t: acetone! Then at least one company has labeled the product “paint thinner.”

Acetone will damage most finishes, so read the ingredients to be sure there’s no acetone included.

To speed the removal of clumps of dripped candle wax, freeze it with an ice cube to break its bond to the finish.

You can use turpentine, mineral spirits or naphtha to remove candle wax also, but it will take a long time. It’s much faster to apply an ice cube to the dripped wax to freeze it and cause it to break its bond to the finish. Then simply pop it off with your fingernail.

Finally, if there’s a little residue wax remaining, remove it with turpentine, mineral spirits or naphtha.

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