What to do when your beeswax wraps wear out

Beeswax wraps are the thing, no question. But what happens when they wear out? Don’t let it be landfill – it’s pretty simply to bring them back to like-new.


Whether you buy beeswax food covers or make your own, the coating will wear out over time. How quickly depends on how often you use and wash them. It’s reasonable to expect them to work well for a few months. A year is a proper stretch based on my own experience. Unused in a drawer maybe.

Sometimes they crease, sometimes they crack, and sometimes the coating flakes off. This is all easy to remedy, and wear out isn’t actually a terrible thing (I’ll explain more below). First let me tell you why tossing your beeswax wraps is no bueno.

Could cotton be worse than plastic?

Yes, if it’s treated as disposable. Cotton is a chemical laden crop that has no great end of life option. it follows that it’s best to keep textiles that have useful life in them in use.

  • Cotton = water + pesticide extravaganza. Cotton may be a renewable resource – it is a plant, after all – but a thirsty and pesticide-laden crop. Calling cotton a natural fibre is like calling a potato chip a vegetable. i.e. only partly true. And natural isn’t synonymous with harmless anyway (asbestos is a natural fibre). Natural also isn’t the same thing as sustainable. Witness the Aral sea before and after decades of irrigation for cotton production, if you need further convincing.
  • Textiles are not readily recyclable. There are technologies here and there, but for the most part, textile recycling is not a thing yet. We can compost some materials, but that’s more of a mitigation strategy than a boon to the soil microbiota.

Beeswax wraps are a better solution than plastic wrap, but only when they are kept and reused over a long period of time. We’re not just trying to break even by making these sorts of switches, but improve things.

Here’s what to do when your beeswax wraps wear out

Here’s how to revitalize beeswax wraps that have seen better days:

A quick hit in the oven: The simplest trick to refresh your beeswax wraps is to pop them into the oven on a baking sheet on low heat to remelt and distribute the wax. This will deal with any creasing and cracking. I reuse the same compostable parchment sheet from making the wraps to do this. If there’s a bit of wax still left on the parchment from making them the first time, all the better.

OR

Deep clean and re-wax: If you want to clean up grubbier looking wraps, take the opportunity to do a hot soapy wash of the fabric. This may cause some of the wax to come off, which we normally try to avoid, but once in a while it’s okay. Hang the fabric in the hot sun to lift any stubborn stains, then follow either this simple wax recipe, or the more involved pine rosin formula to add a bit of wax back to the fabric.

OR

Keep using it in its half worn out state: If the fabric is in an awkward stage between waxed and worn out, it can still be used as a handy (and lightly water resistant) cloth for buying food on the go.

With the occasional refresh, your beeswax wraps will last a long time

If you’re thinking, this is too obvious to write about, I beg to differ. Especially since many people will be receiving these as gifts, and won’t have the experience of discovering just how easy they are to make or remake at home. I also see sellers promoting them as lasting ‘up to a year’, which implies an expiry on the wrap rather than just the coating. Also, a personal experience – a friend tossed hers after they wore out and only told me afterwards. The truth is that these could and should last an incredibly long time and are nearly endlessly reusable.

18 thoughts on “What to do when your beeswax wraps wear out

  1. No, this is NOT too obvious to write about. I think the same mindset that helps us manage small resources like little pieces of fabric in our homes also helps us manage bigger resources like town budgets, city transportation, and public land usage.

  2. Thank you for all the tip, been wanting to make my own for myself and as Christmas presents for my like minded friends and family.

    I bought the white beeswax as I didn’t want that yellowy colour to come through on to the fabric, but wanted to know about the resin, so I will definitely be using your recipe.

    1. I keep the same sheet of baking paper for when I refresh my wraps. That way any excess mixture still stuck to the paper gets used, and I don’t need to go through more paper than necessary.

    1. Hi Kelli, I got mine from Goldleaf, which will ship within Australia. I think they sell in 500g bags, so it’s worth getting together with friends who want to split the order, as that works out to be a fair bit of the stuff.

  3. Hi, I’ve just made a batch of them following the ironing method with beeswax jojoba and powdered resin and the resin flakes of. Was going to give them as gifts, but am hoping to fix them first. I didn’t hear anybody mentioned that they could flaw like this, I am trying to re melt them and move around the melted mixture but am noticing the resin is clumped together and just flakes off. Anyone else had this problem, it doesn’t seem to be talked about anywhere.

    1. Hi Chloe,

      I’ve not attempted this method before, but it sounds like sprinkling the ingredients on individually rather than heating and mixing them together well might be creating patches of each ingredient. I think it’s important that all the ingredients do mix together. Perhaps reheating a bit under the iron could help fix these ones?

  4. Great article! I brought Beeutiful DIY Beeswax Wraps Kit. It was super easy and had all the ingredients needed for me to freshen up my old Beeswax Wraps.

  5. Hi, is there any reason not to use recycled cotton for makin the wraps? I have some which is quite thin and soft. Thanks, Georgia

    1. Hi Georgia, there’s no reason at all not to reuse cotton if you have scraps in the size you want. Thin and soft is perfect.

  6. Idont use much cling wrap but i still wanted an alternative to it when i had to use it. I seen these on War on Waste doco and fell inlove. These are a fantastic alternative. Would it be possible to use hemp instead of cotton?

  7. Thank you so much! I definitely fall into the category of people who received a set of these as a gift and didn’t know what to do with them now that they’re no longer sticky. (Putting them in the oven at a low temperature worked the first couple of times, but all it does now is smooth out the creases.) I know that composting cotton is better than tossing out cling film, but it still seems so wasteful! And I LOVE the idea (from one of your other posts) of pouring these into moulds so I don’t have to clean wax out of the double boiler every time I need to recondition the cloths. I’m going to try to find a local source for pine rosin and jojoba oil!

  8. I loved this post and all the comments,
    I have bee hives and have been making the wax wraps to sell for a while now.
    Have to agree with Liz’s information which is accurate. If you are in Melbourne Goldleaf is in Seaford and is the most reasonable in price that I have found.
    Thanks Liz!

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