Many of us have been victims to sticky surprises when least expected. Spilled ice cream, melted gummies, smudged caramel… and stuck-on gum. The chewy snack has a sneaky knack for getting into unexpected places, like under a seat or desk – and on our clothes.
(And then it picks up dirt, which just makes things worse.)
It’s a common dilemma: how to get gum out of clothes? There are several tricks you can use, depending on what you have on hand. Remove a gum wad from clothes using:
- Ice cubes
- Rubbing alcohol
- Adhesive remover
- A hairdryer
So whether someone was a little rascal or you sat somewhere unfortunate, don’t panic. Remove chewing gum from clothes with these handy hacks – and next time, check the seat first!
Before Removing Gum from Clothes
Before you start, do not throw the clothing into the washing machine or dryer. Chewing gum is hydrophobic, which means water won’t dissolve it. Moreover, the heat from hot water or the drying cycle will either cause the gum to set, or it’ll melt the gum and spread it to other surfaces.
Check the garment’s care label first to see if there are specific products you should avoid. You’re already in a pickle with the gum – don’t ruin your clothes too!
And lastly, be ready to repeat these tricks for removing gum as many times as necessary. It’s not easy to remove gum stuck on fabric, so don’t fret if your attempt doesn’t get all the gum out the first time. Just keep at it and you’ll get yourself out of this sticky situation.
How to Get Gum Out of Clothes
There are several strategies for removing chewing gum. They all start the same way: picking off as much gum as you can. If you can remove the gum wad right away, all the better. Then you can deal with the remaining gum residue.
1. Freeze gum with ice cubes
There are two ways to go about the freezing method for removing gum. If the affected area is small, simply toss an ice cube or three in a freezer bag. Lay the fabric on a flat surface and set the bag atop the gum. Once the gum hardens, gently scrape the sticky substance off with a butter knife or paint scraper.
If you’ve got a larger area to work with, then put the garment gum-side up in the freezer. Then scrape off the hardened gum after a few hours.
2. Unstick gum with vinegar
Distilled white vinegar is a miracle cleaner. Simply heat some vinegar in a microwave, making sure it doesn’t boil over. Then dip an old toothbrush in the warmed liquid and apply it to the gum.
Carefully work the vinegar into the gum so that it loosens. Then you can gently peel the gum off the fabric.
3. Remove chewing gum with rubbing alcohol
Dip a cotton swab into rubbing alcohol and use it to saturate the affected area. Don’t forget the area where the gum meets fabric! Once you’ve let the alcohol soak through and dry, take a strip of duct tape and use it to peel off the gum.
4. Use adhesive remover for gum
Start by picking off any loose gum from the clothing. Then apply an adhesive or sticker remover onto the sticky residue. You can use a dull knife or butter knife to get the gum off.
5. Remove gum with a hairdryer
Set your hairdryer on medium heat and aim it carefully at the sticky mess. Let the hot air carefully soften the gum (but make sure not to melt it). Once you’ve loosened the substance, cover your hand with a plastic bag and pick the gum off.
6. Remove stuck-on gum with dish soap
Dish soap or detergent can break down the gum’s fibres. Pour a few drops onto a toothbrush and gently scrub the gum to loosen it. The bristles will gather the sticky substance until all the gum is gone.
How to Remove Dried-Up Gum from Clothes
If you’ve got old, dry gum or black gum stuck to your clothes, things will be a little more difficult. You’ll need to rehydrate the gum to loosen it up. Dab some petroleum jelly onto the dried gum or moisten it with warm vinegar.
Work your chosen substance into the base of the gum wad until it loosens. Then you can pick the gum off before treating the grease and gum stains. This is pretty straightforward, though – just use a stain remover!
How to Get Rid of a Gum Stain
Even after you’ve completely removed gum from clothing, it may leave a stain. To treat this, mix 1 part vinegar and 1 part detergent in a bowl. Use an old toothbrush to work small amounts of the cleaning solution into the gum stain. Let it sit for 10–15 minutes.
Blot the stain remover and excess moisture with a paper towel or clean rag.
Another method is to mix 1 part mineral oil with 8 parts dry-cleaning solvent. Dip a sponge in the mixture and dab it onto the affected area until the stain has lifted. Use a sponge soaked in clean water to rinse the area before letting it air dry.
Maintain Clothing and Laundry
Try your best to remove gum from clothes ASAP. The longer it remains stuck on fabric, the harder it’ll be to get off.
Check your garments before tossing them into the washer! Gum can spread to other clothes in your washer load, or clog the drain. That’ll make it harder for you or your house cleaner to clean your washing machine later on.
Toothpaste is a common recommendation for how to get gum out of clothes, but use it with caution! It could bleach or discolour the fabric, causing more damage instead.
And of course, don’t forget to wash the garment after you’ve gotten the gum out!