Tips for repurposing your candle jars + keeping them clean

It’s no secret that I have a slight obsession with candles. I always have one burning and love switching them up, depending on my mood.

This, of course, has turned me into a bit of a paranoiac. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night, only to get up and check that I’ve put out all the candles. But hey, better safe than sorry, right?

I love reusing my candle cars for things like storing some beauty bits, hairpins, makeup brushes, etc.

The topic of keeping those candle jars clean and soot-free has come up on my Instagram a few times,  so  I thought I’d write this quick post.



Trim your wick

If you don’t already do this, trim your wick so that it’s the length of about 1/4 inch. I trim my candle wicks before each use.  By doing this, your candle will not leave as much soot (the black residue) behind. If any of my candles do end up with any soot, I wipe it off with a paper towel (after the candle has cooled off completely, of course!). You can use small scissors for this or a candle wick trimmer. This is one of the most important things to do, if you want to keep your candles/jars clean.


This is what an evenly-burned, tunnel-free candle should look like. 

Burn evenly 

If you get your candle to burn evenly, you’ll have less trouble removing any wax left behind once your candle is completely burnt. The first time you burn your candle is the most important “burn”. You want to make sure that you burn it for at least 2 hours (this will depend on the size of the candle, of course). The reason for this, is that you want the wax to burn/melt all the way to the edges of the candle. Otherwise, the wax will start to tunnel and next time you burn your candle, it will be impossible to get an even burn.

I also usually avoid burning my candles for longer than 4 hours at a time.

Get that wax out

When you follow the above steps, cleaning out your used up candles is very easy. I usually have very little wax left behind and just scoop it out with a spoon. If there is a lot of wax left behind (like with Bath & Body Works candles, they never burn all the way), I put the jars in a freezer for a few hours- your candle has to be cooled off COMPLETELY when doing this. After a few hours, I just use a butter knife to pop the wax out, and usually keep it so that I can melt it in one of these.

Other than Diptyque, I love reusing jars from these Febreeze candles (where I keep my crystals on this photo) and Scentsational candles (I usually find those at TJMaxx).

Clean it up

Sometimes (or… most of the time) there is still some wax residue on the sides of the jar, after removing the wax and what’s left of the wick. That’s when I reach for acetone. I just take a piece of paper towel, soak it in nail polish remover, and clean the inside of the candle jar. It works like a dream in removing any excess soot and/or wax and leaves the jar squeaky clean. I then wash it with some soap and pat it dry.

Keep in mind that I only use the acetone on the INSIDE of the jar. If your candle jar has logo stickers/prints of any kind, and you use acetone on it, you’ll end up removing the logo. I actually use acetone to remove price stickers whenever I buy candles from Marshalls or TJMaxx. For some strange reason, they like to place them right on the “face” of the candle.

Now, “designer” candles aren’t the only ones I like to re-purpose, but truth be told some of my all-time favorite candles (like Black Bamboo by Village Candles) come in jars with awkward shapes, so I don’t usually end up keeping those and just recycle them.

This is pretty much all I do when repurposing candle jars. The whole process is definitely much easier, when you “look after” your candles while burning them.

  • Debbie Santiago-Keough

    My candles always tunnel. I hate that! And the wicks get swallowed up and stop lighting.

    • Have you ever tried removing some of that extra wax? If they get swallowed they’re either too long (fall over and get buried in wax, if that happens you can just trim them) or too short. This happens to me with some candles and when I notice the wick being very short and getting swallowed/buried, I pour some of the wax into a bowl of water and then just throw it away. Removing that extra wax usually works.

      • Debbie Santiago-Keough

        Thank you!

  • I love this idea. I always have loads of in-useable candle jars :)

    Rachael xx.

  • Back from good old days of uni and waiting tables, I still remember countless nights of candle holders washing that I absolutely hated the most in the world. The way we’d do it, we would just pour hot water in till wax melted… It was painful and dull, and who knows which one of the two was worse, really.

  • Elizabeth Hisle

    I just emptied a candle and was wondering how to repurpose it! It’s a bigger jar, so I’ll probably put dried beans or something boring in it, but I love that I can now reuse it because I loathe waste. Thanks!

  • I’ve never thought of reusing my old candle jars before. Usually I just recycle them when their done but I think I’ll keep some next time!

    • I recycle most of mine too, but that’s because I use so many of them haha. I’d be impossible for me to reuse every single one. x

  • What an amazing idea! Literally can’t wait to try this. They look so good!

    Beckie xo // The Pale Tails

  • kate_winford

    This is so helpful!!! I had no idea about trimming the wick. The Diptyque candle that I am currently burning (an was planning on repurposing) has so much soot on it – I about cried haha!

    Kate |

  • love this post! I never trim the wick, I didn’t even realise you were meant too. Really like how you’ve re used the glass jars too xx

  • This is really helpful!!!

  • Ok, this is actually really helpful! Now I need to find pretty candle jars first.

  • I’ve only kept one candle holder – a large one from The White Company, which I keep my makeup brushes in. I haven’t kept any others even though there have been some really pretty ones! xx

    Beautylymin| LuxuryFragranceGiveaway

  • This was so useful! Thank you, I have a couple of candle jars I’ve kept but not been sure how to properly clean

    – Natalie

  • I´ve never trimmed the wick of my candles, I´ll try doing that next time.
    Great post, you photography is amazing!

    Vanessa x |

  • Biana Perez

    I’m so bad about keeping the candles after I’ve burned through them, but I remembered with a few that are almost done now and I plan on doing this!

  • So gorgeous! I looove storing things in candle jars, so dreamy-looking :)


  • beautifulbeakers

    I just finished my first Diptyque candle and was wondering how to clean it out for repurposing, so this post came at the perfect time!

  • Nail polish remover?! It’s been in my cabinet the whole time and I never though to use it to get the wax out! THANN YOU! That’s my main issue when I try to clean out my candle jars is having that waxy residue. I will give this a try!

    Katie |

  • Roxanne

    Really cool post! I just finished two candles so this is definitely helpful ;)

  • I hate candle tunneling! Any tips to avoid it? Loved the post :)

    • Yes love, I wrote it in the the post! You can also see the first comment below. First time you burn your candle is the most important to avoid tunneling. You have to burn in for at least 4 hours (depending on the size) so that the wax melts in an even layer. Wax has “memory” so if you don’t burn your candle evenly the first time, next time you burn it it will tunnel and won’t burn all the way down to the edges. See my comment all the way at the bottom, I also use a foil trick for big candles that form stubborn tunnels. x

  • Marcia Lane

    This post was very helpful! Thank you for sharing all your tips. I never thought to use Acetone to get rid of the wax residue. I will definitely be doing that from now on!

  • Sophie Sierra

    I love the idea of repurposing candle jars and so many fabulous tips and tricks on keeping them clean Paula! Am utterly in love with the pineapple H&M candle in ceramic holder, it’s all the gorgeous :) As always stunningly beautiful photography my love! <3

    Sophie | soinspo xo

    • Thank you so much Soph! H&M is really stepping up their game with their home department, that’s for sure! :)

  • I totally have the same issue with Bath and Body Works candles so I got a wax warmer to use up the wax so I can use the jars if I want! This was so helpful, I need to start using acetone to clean them because I always had such a hard time getting them clean!

  • I use my old candles for makeup brushes mostly. Such a decorative way to reuse them!

  • missgetaway

    I do love me some old candle glasses. Such an easy and fancy way of upcycling used goods. I use them for makeup and spare coins!

    Love, kerstin

  • I love repurposing candle jars – they’re so handy! The BBW candles do have so much left behind.

    Ashlynn |

  • Viola

    Thanks for the tips!

  • Very good tips! Love the photos!

  • Lovely tips and great ideas I have a lot of candles that are close to running out!

    Lauren x Huggled

  • Great post :) I have a question about Bloglovin’, though. I opened the link to this post from my daily Bloglovin’ update email, but rather than opening up in the Bloglovin’ frame it went directly to your site. I’d love to know how you manage that, if possible.

  • Bernadette

    I don’t buy any candles but I love purchasing candle jars and candle holders to store my makeup brushes you can find quite some pretty ones. Lovely post.

  • Instead of a wick trimmer, a nail clipper works amazingly well!

  • Katie Applegate

    Awesome tips!! Thank you!

  • What a great idea! I am totally doing this! <3