How to Clean Up a Lava Lamp Spill


Sandra asked: How do I remove lava lamp fluid from carpet? My son has knocked over his hot lava lamp. It smashed and has soaked into the carpet. It stinks, and the fumes are making me feel sick. I have used Vax AAA carpet cleaner, but it isn’t doing much good. I have all the windows open in -4° C to air it. How can I clean this up, or should I just dump the carpet?

There are a variety of lava lamps available, and all have their own clean-up methods when the contents break and spill. Here are the cleaning methods for the most common types of lava lamps.

Lava Lamp Spills

Though the official contents of lava lamps are a trade secret, they consist mainly of wax and water. Here are the steps to clean up traditional lava lamp spills.

You Will Need:

  • Rubber gloves
  • Old cloths
  • Carpet cleaner or Mild dish soap
  • Water
  • Bucket
  • Vacuum
  • Wet vac or carpet steam cleaner (optional)

Steps to Clean Up the Spill:

  1. If the lamp was in use when it broke, the contents will be very hot. Unplug the unit and allow everything to cool off before proceeding.
  2. Wear rubber gloves to protect your hands.
  3. Remove any broken glass and carefully dispose of it.
  4. Pick up as much of the waxy chunks as possible and dispose of them.
  5. Use the soft cloths to blot up as much of the remaining fluid as possible.
  6. Fill a bucket with warm water and add a small amount of carpet cleaner or carpet shampoo. If no carpet shampoo is available, a mild dish soap can be substituted.
  7. Moisten a soft cloth with the soapy water and blot it onto the spill.
  8. Blot with a clean cloth to remove. Avoid scrubbing as this can push the stain further into the carpet. If a carpet steam cleaner or wet vac is available, it will help to pull the cleaning fluid and spilled fluid out of the carpet fibers.
  9. After all of the fluid is removed, rinse with clean water.
  10. If waxy bits remain in the carpet, remove them with the methods found in How to Remove Wax from Carpet.
  11. Once the floor has been cleaned and has dried, vacuum the area to remove any remaining bits of glass and restore the carpet’s texture.

Motion Lamp or Wave Motion Machine Spills

Most motion machines are filled with water and silicon oil. The clean-up method is the same as above.

Glitter Lamp Spills

Glitter lamps are filled with different materials. It contains a chemical compound mixed with glitter flex. When exposed to air, a strong odor will be present. Though the smell may be nauseating, these chemicals are not harmful if they are handled properly. Cleaning the area immediately is the key to removing stains and the odor.

You Will Need:

  • Rubber gloves
  • Old cloths
  • Paper towels
  • Carpet cleaner
  • Vacuum
  • Fans (optional)

Steps to Clean Up the Spill:

  1. Begin by opening the windows to allow good air flow through the room. Fans will help to circulate the air and can be placed in the windows (facing outward) to draw the air and odors out of the room. If the smell is overwhelming, step outside for a breath of fresh air as necessary.
  2. Wear rubber gloves to protect your skin against irritation.
  3. Carefully pick up any broken glass pieces and dispose of them.
  4. Use paper towels or other disposable cloths to soak up the fluid in the carpet.
  5. Dispose of them immediately. Take any trash containing the fluid outdoors to help eliminate the odor.
  6. Once most of the fluid is removed from the carpet, use a cleaning product to remove the rest. The fluid is not water soluble, so simply applying water will not remove it.
  7. Apply a carpet shampoo or commercial cleaner directly to the affected areas.
  8. Blot with a clean cloth or paper towel to remove.
  9. Repeat until all of the fluid has been removed.
  10. Rinse by blotting with clean water and clean cloths.
  11. Allow the area to air dry completely.
  12. Once clean and dry, vacuum as normal to restore the carpet texture.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • Dispose of all cleaning materials properly.
  • If there are concerns about the materials used in the lava lamp, contact the manufacturer for instructions.
  • If your lava lamp is getting old or cloudy, it is time for a new lamp. Lamps cannot be refilled.
  • Be sure to allow ample time for the fluid and lamp base to cool before handling. A fully heated lamp can take 1-2 hours to cool down completely.
  • If the fluid comes in direct contact with your skin, wash the area with soap and water.
  • Wash any clothing or cloths that contain the liquid immediately after use.
  • If the lava spills on a hard floor, it will be much easier to clean up. Follow the same instructions as above, but replace the carpet cleaner with a cleaning product appropriate for the flooring.


  1. Laura says:

    Water and wax don’t create fumes bad enough to cause nausea. The liquid is a solvent, so water-based cleaners won’t touch it.

  2. Wilford says:

    Yeah, I agree with Laura. Our neighbors downstairs broke one, and our whole apartment smells like a hazardous waste dump. Why, lava lamp?

  3. Maria says:

    There are toxic compounds in the lava lamp (carbon tetrachloride), so the instructions here should really point that out.

  4. Nicole says:

    What to do if the smell won’t come out of my clothes?

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