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Does Ice Get Gum Out of Clothing? Plus Other Gum-Removal Hacks

A shoe sticking in gum on gray paving stones
Africa Studio/Shutterstock.com

No matter how hard you try to avoid it, you’ll probably have to get gum out of your personal belongings at some point. With the right tips and tricks, these sticky situations can get cleared up in a snap.

Gum tends to adhere in long, sticky strands when it gets stuck to something, making it a challenge to remove. Fortunately, you don’t need harsh chemicals or a ton of cleaning expertise to restore everything to a gum-free state. Let’s take a closer look at a few of the most popular methods for getting gum out of, well, pretty much everything.

Does Ice Get Gum Out of Clothing?

A hand pulling white gum stuck to blue jeans
Fecundap stock/Shutterstock.com

One of the most popular hacks for removing sticky stuff like gum from clothes (and other fabric items) is to use ice on it. There’s a good reason for it: this method is a simple yet reliable way to help get rid of gum without damaging the underlying item.

The idea behind using ice to remove gum is simple. The cold from the ice turns the sticky mess into more of a solid, which in turn makes it easier to scrape, slice, or lift away. The stickiness is what makes gum so hard to remove, so anything that reduces that sticky bond with the fabric fibers will be a big help.

To try this method, just follow these easy steps:

  1. Freeze a freezer pack, or put a few ice cubes into a small plastic baggie.
  2. Set the ice on top of the gum, and let sit for 15-20 minutes, until the gum feels solid.
  3. Remove the ice.
  4. Depending on how the gum feels when you touch it, you can try “popping” or peeling it off the fabric, or you can use a credit card or scraper tool to gently lift it off the fabric.
  5. If any residue remains in the fibers, drip a little bit of white vinegar on it and gently scrub using an old toothbrush.

An alternate version of this hack is even simpler. Just put the actual item of clothing in the freezer (gum side up) for an hour, then pull it out and peel or scrape the hardened gum off.

Healthy Packers Ice Packs

If you don't have ice cubes, an ice pack works just as well to freeze stubborn gum for removal.

Lucy's Family Owned Natural Distilled White Vinegar

The pantry staple can help remove stubborn gum residue.

Does Peanut Butter Get Gum Out of Hair?

A man with gum stuck in his hair
BlueSkyImage/Shutterstock.com

We’ve all heard the old trick: if gum gets in your hair, rub it with peanut butter. So, does this trick actually work, or is it an outdated myth?

Using peanut butter on your hair to remove gum does work, but it’s going to be messy. Peanut butter is oily and, most importantly, hydrophobic like gum is. This means that gum and peanut butter are inclined to adhere to each other instead of surrounding surfaces—like hair.

Follow these steps to make the most of this classic gum-removal method:

  1. Take a scoop of creamy peanut butter and cover the area of hair that has the gum stuck to it.
  2. Using your fingers, gently work the peanut butter through the hair and over the gum.
  3. The gum should begin to feel stiffer and less sticky.
  4. Gently peel the gum out of hair.
  5. Wash hair thoroughly to remove all peanut butter and gum residue.

SKIPPY Creamy Peanut Butter

It's true: the old-fashioned hack really does work.

What Gets Gum Out of Carpet?

A hand pulling gum out of white carpet
Parilov/Shutterstock.com

Gum falling on carpet can be a sticky mess. It’s all too easy for the gum to get stuck in those carpet fibers, and some attempts to remove it can only make the mess worse.

There are a few different methods you can use to remove gum from carpet. One option is to follow the same exact steps listed above for removing gum from clothes using ice or an ice pack. Since the main concern with carpets, like fabrics, is getting the sticky gum to detach from the fibers, the same technique should work.

Alternately, you can use a handy household solution like WD-40 to dissolve and remove the gum. Try these easy steps:

  1. Spray WD-40 on the gum, aiming particularly at the underside where the gum is connected to the carpet fibers.
  2. Let sit for 10 minutes.
  3. Take a clean rag and gently begin wiping at the gum, only moving in one direction to avoid tangling the carpet fibers further.
  4. Repeat as needed until the gum comes off.

WD40 Multi-Use Lubricant

A little product goes a long way to lift gum off carpet.

What Gets Gum Off of Hard Surfaces?

A hand using a scraper tool on wood
YUUMEA

Gum that gets stuck to hard surfaces can be an easier task than when it gets tangled in hairs or soft fibers, but it still has to be handled with care.

The ice cube method, as described above, should work well on hard surfaces like tables and floors. When dealing with wood surfaces, just be careful when using a scraper tool to lift the gum away—you don’t want to permanently scratch the surface.

Another option for removing gum from hard, smooth surfaces involves vegetable oil. Try following these steps:

  1. Dip a clean rag in vegetable oil.
  2. Gently rub the oil on the gum and around the edges, allowing the oil to touch the surrounding surface as well.
  3. Peel the gum off the surface. You can use your fingers, or a scraper tool if necessary.
  4. Repeat as needed until all the gum is removed.
  5. If any oil remains on the surface, dip a fresh cloth into a solution of equal parts warm water and white vinegar, and use it to wipe away the residue.
  6. Dry with another clean cloth.

Happy Belly Vegetable Oil, 48 Fl. Oz.

Helps loosen and dissolve gum without damaging the surface beneath.

YUUMEA Razor Blade Scraper, Two Pack

Lift away stubborn gum with these simple scraper blades.


Just like tackling stubborn stains, when it comes to getting gum off of any surface, patience and simplicity are key. With these easy tricks in mind, you can salvage your belongings and get rid of sticky residue without the worry.

Amanda Prahl Amanda Prahl
Amanda Prahl is a freelance contributor to LifeSavvy. She has an MFA in dramatic writing, a BA in literature, and is a former faculty associate focusing on writing craft and history. Her articles have appeared on HowlRound, Slate, Bustle, BroadwayWorld, and ThoughtCo, among others. Read Full Bio »
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