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How to Remove Gum From Clothes With Proven Methods

Reviewed by Professional Cleaner Jennifer L. Betts
Gum sticking on jean

Finding out how to remove gum from clothes sometimes takes a little trial and error. With patience, persistence, and a few common household items, you can erase the sticky substance safely from all kinds of fabrics from denim jeans to school bags.

How to Use Your Freezer to Remove Gum From Fabrics

Placing gum stained clothing in the freezer is one of the most popular methods and is effective because you can peel the gum off in large chunks rather than picking and scraping at it bit by bit. Gum is much easier to remove from fabric when it is hard, and this method is safe for all fabrics.

  1. As soon as you realize gum has adhered to your clothing, place the article of clothing into a plastic zip top bag and seal.
  2. Make sure the gum is on the outside of the folded fabric and the gum is not sticking to the bag.
  3. Let the bagged clothing sit in the freezer for at least two hours or until the gum is hard.
  4. Remove the clothing from the freezer and bag, then set it on a hard, sturdy surface.
  5. Use your fingernail to remove the gum immediately.
  6. If you can't get it off with your fingernail, try scraping the gum off the fabric with a blunt tool like a credit card.
  7. It should peel off in one piece, then you can wash the garment as usual.

How to Use Ice Cubes to Get Gum Off Clothes

If you don't have the means to place the entire article of clothing in a freezer, ice cubes can do the same job. This method works well with smaller pieces of gum and thinner fabrics.

  1. Place the clothing on a hard surface that can get wet.
  2. Place a couple ice cubes in two zip top baggies.
  3. Place one ice cube bag on the underside of the fabric directly opposite where the gum is stuck and one ice cube bag on top of the gum.
  4. Leave the ice cubes in place until the gum is hard, which may take up to 30 minutes.
  5. Remove the ice cubes.
  6. Immediately scrape the gum off with a blunt tool like a spoon.
  7. Use a toothbrush to help remove any leftover bits.
  8. Wash the garment as usual.

How to Remove Gum From Clothing With a Hair Dryer

While it may seem counterintuitive, melting the gum can help you remove it from clothing. This method is best for sturdier fabrics and fabrics that can handle high temperature drying. If the clothing label says to dry flat, hang dry, or dry on low, you should not use this method.

  1. Lay the clothing on a hard, flat surface that can handle heat.
  2. Wear a pair of gloves to protect your hands from the heat. Put a plastic bag over the gloves to protect them from getting sticky.
  3. Aim the hair dryer directly at the gum.
  4. When the gum is very soft and almost melting, start to scrape it away from the clothing with your fingers or a blunt tool.
  5. Wash the garment as usual.

How to Use an Iron to Remove Gum From Clothes

For materials that are safe to iron, you can try using your iron and some cardboard to remove the gum. This method is best for materials that can be ironed and are small enough to put on an ironing board.

  1. Put a piece of cardboard on the ironing board.
  2. Set the iron to medium heat.
  3. Place the material, gum side down on top of the cardboard.
  4. Iron the back of the clothing where the gum is stuck.
  5. Every minute or so, check the status of the gum.
  6. Move the iron around gently over the affected area for a few minutes until the gum softens, but is not melted.
  7. Peel the garment slowly from the cardboard. The gum should stick to the cardboard.
  8. Wash the garment as usual.

How to Remove Gum From Clothing With Vinegar

One pantry item that works wonders on gum stained garments is white vinegar. This process is recommended by cleaning experts like Tide, but is only safe for colorfast materials.

  1. Test your fabric first by using a cotton swab to apply a little hot vinegar to a hidden area of the fabric.
  2. Leave the vinegar on for about 3 minutes, then blot with a paper towel. If any color is on the paper towel, it's not safe to use this method on that fabric.
  3. If your fabric is colorfast, start by heating a bowl of white vinegar in the microwave for about 1 minute.
  4. Soak the gummy area in the hot vinegar for up to three minutes.
  5. The gum should start to loosen from the fabric.
  6. Remove loose bits of gum and repeat if there is still gum stuck on the clothing.
  7. If needed, use an old toothbrush to help loosen the rest of the gum.
  8. Wash the clothing according to the instructions on the tag.

How to Use Toothpaste to Remove Gum From Clothing

Some suggest toothpaste can help break down the stickiness of gum, making it easier to remove from clothing. It's best to use an all-white basic toothpaste for this.

  1. Smear a dab of toothpaste on top of the gum wad.
  2. Flatten the gum wad using a ruler or credit card.
  3. Let the toothpaste air dry.
  4. When the toothpaste is dry, the gum should be hard enough that you can peel or scrape it off.
  5. Wash the fabric as usual.

How Hairspray Can Help Get Gum Off Clothes

Hairspray is another household item many swear by for removing gum from clothes. The hairspray can instantly harden the gum, making it easier to scrape away. Some hairsprays, especially those with oils, can stain clothing.

  1. Spray the hairspray directly onto the gum. Try not to get too much on the fabric.
  2. To protect your fabric, you can place some cling wrap on top of the fabric all around the gum.
  3. Wait for the hairspray to dry. The gum should be hard.
  4. Use a blunt tool to scrape the gum away from the fabric.

How to Use Rubbing Alcohol to Remove Gum From Fabric

Rubbing alcohol also helps harden up the gum and is safe to use on all fabrics because you're mostly putting it on the gum only.

  1. Flatten the gum gently using a credit card or other flat object.
  2. Dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol.
  3. Rub the wet cotton swab on the surface of the gum. Try to avoid getting in on the fabric too much.
  4. Let the rubbing alcohol dry completely.
  5. Cut a square of duct tape that's slightly larger than the gum wad.
  6. Place the sticky side of the tape over the gum and press down gently.
  7. The gum should peel away with the tape.
  8. Wash the clothing according to manufacturer instructions.

Scraping Tools for Removing Gum From Clothes

While many people suggest using sharp knives to scrape off wads of frozen gum from clothing, it's better to use a dull tool instead to prevent damaging your garment. Sharp knives, scissors, metal scrapers, and ice picks can accidently tear, rip, or shred your clothing as you are trying to remove gum from it. Use soft strokes of these safer tools:

  • Plastic spoon
  • Plastic ruler
  • Credit card
  • Blunt edge of a butter knife
  • Scrub brush
  • Toothbrush
  • Large pink eraser

What Not To Use When Removing Gum From Clothing

While some might swear by unique methods for removing gum, any products loaded with oils can leave grease stains on your clothing. Once the gum is removed, you'll be stuck trying to get oil stains out of the clothing. Things to avoid using when removing gum from clothing include:

  • Peanut butter
  • Mayonnaise
  • Cooking spray
  • Essential oils

Gum Be Gone

A big part of chewing gum stain removal for clothing is understanding the fabric you're working with. While you can find dozens of cleaning tips for removing gum and gum stains, not all are safe on every fabric. Read the instructions on the garment tag to see if things like heat can be used on the item and look for advice on specific fabrics from trusted experts online.

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How to Remove Gum From Clothes With Proven Methods