Just Cool It: The Secret to Getting Gum Out of Fabric

Gum must have been invented by someone who didn’t have kids, someone who always remembered to check his pockets before doing laundry, or someone who’s never taken public transportation and sat in a big pile of someone else’s chewed-up minty fresh. While gum might be a convenient and easy way to freshen your breath or satisfy a sweet tooth, it can be a pain to remove from fabric. A pain, but not impossible!

A Sticky Situation

The appeal of gum is its gooey, chewy texture. Those same qualities, though, make it difficult to remove from your carpets, clothing, drapes, and furniture. Gum sticks to the surface of the fabric and adheres to the fibers. It’s easy to spread fresh gum and “grind” it deeper into the cracks and crevices of the fabric when you’re trying to pry it up. It’s not much easier when the gum has dried either: it really has a chance to bond with the fibers.

So, let’s get the gum out:

  • Ice is the secret weapon against this sticky foe. If you have gum on a garment or other small piece of fabric, carefully put it into a plastic zip bag. You may have to fold it, which is fine. Just be careful to make sure the gum is on top and that you don’t rub it in more.
  • Put the plastic bag in your freezer for several hours. Once the gum has hardened, take it out and gently pry up the gum with a butter knife or, better yet, a putty knife. Start from the outer edges and work your way in.
  • If the fabric is too large, like, say, your couch, rub an ice cube or a bag of ice over the surface until the gum hardens. Then pry it up gently with the knife. In both cases, be sure to take it slow and easy: you don’t want to rip the fabric’s fibers.
  • There is going to be some residual gum on the fabric. To remove this, use an effective stain removing cleaner that you trust. Don’t rub it into the fabric; simply spray the area liberally and let it sit for 5 minutes or so. Blot with a clean towel to remove the excess product. For areas like your sofa or the carpet, spot treatment is perfectly sufficient.

You don’t’ have to ban gum from your home. It’d probably find its way in anyway, whether in your child’s mouth or on the bottom of your shoe. It’s best to have a tray full of ice cubes ready and an effective, non-toxic cleaner on hand!