Disaster has struck! Your child has accidentally stuck chewing gum onto their clothes or the carpet – or even got it tangled in their hair! But fear not, there are some ways of getting rid of the sticky stuff. Read on for vital tips on how to remove chewing gum from clothes, hair, carpet, car seats and more.
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I remember being about 9 and getting chewing gum stuck in my hair. Unfortunately my mum had no choice but to cut it off…! But the good news is you don’t need to resort to the scissors – there are ways to remove chewing gum from all sorts of sticky situations.
Why Chewing Gum Sticks So Much
Chewing and bubble gum are made from synthetic rubbers and resins. With its chewy, sticky texture, it can also be very messy if it sticks to the wrong thing. There are chemical bonds between molecules in chewing gum that make it difficult to remove, especially from hair.
Many chewing gums are hydrophobic, meaning that they don’t dissolve in water, so they more easily stick to oily surfaces than water bases.
These properties of chewing gum make it difficult to remove gum from clothes, hair, carpet and so on but with a few tricks you can get it off.
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How To Remove Chewing Gum From Clothes
There are 4 suggested methods for removing chewing gum from clothes – freezing, laundry soap, ironing and rubbing alcohol.
The Freezing Method to Remove Gum From Clothes
You will need:
- A plastic bag
- Spoon or blunt knife
- Fold your item of clothing so that the gum faces outwards and place it into a plastic bag. Make sure the gum does not stick to the bag, if this isn’t possible then just put the clothing item on top of the bag and put it into the freezer, make sure it’s not touching anything else apart from the bag it’s sitting on.
- Depending on the size of the gum and the clothing item, it should take about two or three hours to freeze.
- Take the item out and peel the gum off the clothing as quickly as possible. Use a spoon or blunt knife to scrape the gum off, don’t allow the gum to thaw out.
- Using tweezers can also help with picking off any small pieces once the gum has frozen, however, on knitted or embroidered items, be careful not to catch any of the threads as you lift the gum.
The Ironing Method to Remove Gum From Clothes
Sometimes it’s not practical to freeze your clothing item, for example, my mother-in-law recently got gum on the back of her long wool coat from the bus, so ironing can be used to remove the gum.
- An iron
- A piece of cardboard
- Place your item of clothing on top of some cardboard so that the gum is between the fabric and the cardboard.
- Iron the affected area on a medium setting. The gum takes several minutes to heat up completely so keep ironing until the gum sticks to the cardboard.
- Pull off the gum from the item of clothing along with the cardboard. If the gum does not come off, continue to iron the clothing and it should gradually come off.
The Laundry Soap Method to Remove Gum From Clothes
- Laundry soap
- A toothbrush
- A blunt knife or spoon
- Use a toothbrush to work laundry soap into the gum.
- With a spoon or blunt knife, scrape away at the gum gently.
- Repeat with more laundry soap and gentle scraping until the gum has been removed.
- Wash your item of clothing as normal.
The Rubbing Alcohol Method to Remove Gum From Clothes
- Rubbing alcohol
- Some earbuds/Qtips
- Duct tape
- Rub the gum with a cotton ear bud dipped in rubbing alcohol. Dabbing the gum starts to break down the polymers.
- Let it dry for 30 seconds.
- Then take a square of duct tape and put it over the gum and whip it off!
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How To Remove Chewing Gum from Hair
Using Peanut Butter to Remove Chewing Gum from Hair
You will need either smooth peanut butter or an oil like sunflower, coconut or olive oil. Because peanut butter and oils are also hydrophobic, it’s easier for the gum to stick to than dry hair.
- Cover the gum completely with peanut butter or oil using your fingers or an old toothbrush. Wait for a few minutes to allow the peanut butter or oil to stick to the gum.
- Remove the gum from the hair.
- Oil is especially useful when removing gum from eyebrows or eyelashes.
- Wash your child’s hair afterwards as normal (so your child does not smell like oil or peanut butter!)
Tip From A Mum – Use L’Oreal Elvive Extraordinary Oil
Mum Deirdre says “I have been through chewing gum in my daughter’s beautiful long hair a few times. But I have found something that works to take it out every time!! With no hair breakage. Put a small amount of L’Oreal Elvive Extraordinary Oil on to the chewing gum and the hair around it and the chewing gum just slides out of the hair every time.”
How To Remove Gum From Carpets
There are 3 methods recommended for removing gum from carpet – ice, WD40 or a hairdryer.
The Ice Method to Remove Gum From Carpets
You will need:
- Some ice cubes
- A ziploc bag
- A spoon or blunt knife
- Fill a small ziploc bag with some ice cubes.
- Rub the ice over the gum area on the carpet to freeze it hard.
- Use a spoon or blunt knife to scrape it away.
- Repeat until the gum is removed.
WD-40 Method to Remove Gum From Carpets
You will need:
- A fingernail brush
- Spray detergent
- Spray a generous amount of WD40 directly onto the gum stain and let it sit for a few minutes.
- Use the fingernail brush to remove the stain, scrubbing the gum stain in the same direction. Either left to right or right to left but stick with that motion.
- Keep applying WD40, followed by a vigorous scrub with the brush.
- Repeat as necessary.
- To clean the area, spray the detergent/degreaser directly onto the affected area.
- Rinse a clean sponge with warm water and apply the sponge to the carpet.
- Gently clean the area until the stain is no longer visible.
The Hairdryer Method to Remove Gum From Carpets
You will need:
- A hairdryer
- A plastic bag
- Aim your hairdryer directly onto the gum and switch it on.
- Once you see that the gum is beginning to melt, use a plastic bag to scrape up the melted gum. The gum should stick to the plastic.
- Watch the gum carefully, as you don’t want to melt the carpet fibres.
- Continue until the stain disappears.
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How To Remove Gum From Car Seats
- Ice cubes
- A ziploc plastic bag
- Soap and water (leather seats) or white vinegar (fabric seats)
- A sponge
- Duct tape
- Apply ice to the gum. Take some ice cubes, put into a ziploc plastic bag and apply it directly to the chewing gum for a few minutes until it is very cold and feels almost frozen.
- If any water drips, be sure to dry it thoroughly with a towel to avoid stains.
- If your car seats are made of leather, use soap and water and a rag to scrub the gum. If your car seats are fabric, use a sponge dipped in white vinegar and scrub vigorously.
- Use a square of duct tape to remove any remaining gum. Stick it firmly onto the gum and pull it off.
- Repeat as many times as necessary until all the gum is removed.
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Have you had a gum emergency? Did you know how to remove chewing gum from clothes and other sticky places? Leave a comment below and let us know – we’d love to hear from you!