How to Remove Gum from Almost Anything

Updated: Mar. 15, 2024

It's difficult to remove sticky chewing gum—but not impossible! Here's how to get gum out of clothes, carpet and hair with the least amount of headache.

Discovering stuck-on chewing gum on clothes or furniture is distressing. And although we’ll never claim that it’s going to be a breeze to remove, with the right cleaning methods, fixing that sticky mess might be easier than you think (just like cleaning common food stains). Here’s how to get gum out of clothes, carpet, shoes and even hair.

How to Get Gum Out of Clothes

Remove Gum with Ice

Remove as much gum as you can with your fingers, then place a few ice cubes in a freezer bag and place the bag on top of the remaining gum. Leave the ice on the gum for 15 to 20 minutes to allow the gum to fully harden. Gently scrape the gum off with a spoon or butter knife. Treat any remaining residue with a stain remover, then wash with hot water.

Remove Gum with Vinegar

Thanks to its acidity, cleaning vinegar breaks down sticky chewing gum and makes it easier to remove. Heat up a small bowl of white vinegar in the microwave. Apply hot vinegar to the chewing gum and let it sit for two to three minutes. Use your finger to gently remove the gum. Then wash the garment in a regular laundry cycle using hot water.

Remove Gum with an Iron

Gently heating the gum with an iron will soften it and make it easier to remove. Here’s how to do it: Place a piece of clean cardboard on a flat surface or ironing board. Place the garment gum-side down on top of the cardboard. Set the iron to medium (too hot will melt the gum too much and spread it further) and iron the back of the garment, moving in circles over the gum. Once the gum is soft, it should stick to the cardboard, safely releasing from the garment.

Remove Gum with Alcohol

Like vinegar, rubbing alcohol can help break down the sticky properties of gum. Apply a small amount of 70% isopropyl alcohol to the gum and let it sit for about a minute. Gently remove the gum with a plastic spoon or butter knife. If the gum is still resistant, apply more alcohol and try again. Once the gum is removed, spray any remaining stain with your favorite pretreat stain remover (I like Shout Advanced), then wash with hot water.

How to Get Gum Out of Carpet

Remove Gum with Goo Gone

One of the best products for removing sticky messes like gum is Goo Gone—look for a set that comes with a scraper tool and is formulated to be safe on carpets. Apply Goo Gone to a clean towel or rag, then dab the gum and surrounding carpet. Allow it to sit for three to five minutes. Peel the gum away with your fingers or scrape off with the scraper tool. Then use a clean towel to wipe the area with hot, soapy water.

Remove Gum with Hair Dryer

Point the hair dryer directly on the gum, using medium heat. Take special care when doing this so as not to damage the carpet fibers with excessive heat. When the gum softens, press a plastic bag on the gum. The soft gum should adhere to the plastic bag, allowing you to safely peel it away from the carpet.

How to Get Gum Off Shoes

Remove Gum with WD-40

If you get home and discover you’ve picked up a chewy hitchhiker on the bottom of your shoe, spray it with WD-40. After one minute, the spray will dissolve the gum, making it easy to wipe away with a rag or paper towel.

Remove Gum with a Butter Knife

If you have some time (and extra shoes) to spare, leave the gummed-up shoe alone for a few days. The gum will harden on its own, and you can remove it with your fingers or a butter knife.

How to Get Gum Out of Hair

Remove Gum with Peanut Butter

Put down the scissors! Get gum out of hair with a tried-and-true standby: peanut butter. Cover the gum with creamy peanut butter using your fingers or an old toothbrush, and then wait a few minutes. The fats and oils will stiffen the gum and make it less sticky, so it’ll be easier to gently work out of hair. Use a towel to wipe up every last bit of peanut butter, and then wash your hair.

Remove Gum with Vaseline

Vaseline will lubricate the hair, helping the gum slide away. Apply Vaseline to the glob of gum and gently work it in with your fingers, taking care not to squeeze too much. A wide-tooth comb should help the gum come right out. As with peanut butter, it’s not a bad idea to wash your hair once the gum’s gone (then finish with an avocado mask for fun).

Rory Cooper, Taste of Home freelancer, contributed to this article.