Wax stains on maple might come out with a little rubbing alcohol, or might require sanding. (Reader photo)

Q: Candle wax dripped on my maple counter. How can I remove the stain without marring the wood?

Stockton Springs, Maine

A: If there is a finish on the wood, the real issue is cleaning away the stain in a way that doesn’t affect the finish. So test any product by first rubbing a bit in an inconspicuous area, such as the inside of a door if you have cabinets that match. If the surface sheen and color don’t change, it’s safe to proceed on the stained area. (If the wood has no finish, just skip the test.)

To remove the stain, first try rubbing alcohol. Dab it onto the stained area with a cotton ball or a cotton cloth. If it picks up some of the color, repeat until you have removed all of the color.

If that doesn’t work, try a product such as Goof Off Heavy-Duty Spot Remover and Degreaser.

As a last resort, you can sand the counter. Apply a fresh coat of finish, if that’s what you have now.

I have an area rug on top of carpeting. The rug keeps getting a ripple, and I can’t get rid of it. I have rotated the rug, tried steaming and using heat, put heavy books on it, and it still pops up. I asked a rug dealer and he said I needed padding that goes on top of carpet, which I bought. It hasn’t helped. Can you find a solution?


If the ripple appears in the same place in the rug even when you rotate it, having it laundered will relax the fibers and should take out the crease.

However, if the ripple appears in the same place relative to the room even when you rotate the rug, there is no solution short of moving it to a room where there is no carpet. And that might be what you need to do for a permanent fix, anyway, even if there is a crease that laundering takes out.

The truth is that any area rug on carpet is prone to rippling simply because there is too much cushioning, says Scott McCollum at Ayoub Carpet Service in Chantilly (703-255-6000; www.rugcare.com). “The problem with the rug is that it is sitting on top of a pad that is on top of carpet that is on top of more pad.” So when you pin down part of the rug by setting furniture on it and then walk on another area, it’s bound to bunch up.

Have a problem in your home? Send questions to localliving@washpost.com. Put “How To” in the subject line, tell us where you live and try to include a photo.

The Checklist Read Jeanne Huber’s roundup of home-improvement tasks you should tackle in March, such as cleaning out the freezer, at washingtonpost.com/home.