How to Get Gum Out of Clothing

While chewing gum is a delightful treat, it can easily become a sticky situation. It is notoriously difficult to get gum out of clothing. It isn't necessarily the process that is difficult, it is simply that the process often takes a large amount of time. When considering how to do this, remember that the simplest methods usually work the best and cause the least amount of damage to the fabric.

Get Gum out of Clothing

The majority of commercial chewing gums have a polymer base which makes them hydrophobic, or non-soluble in water. This results in their sticky nature. The ingredients in the gum make them repel water and attract grease and oils. Understanding the basic nature of gum allows you to choose the proper removal methods. 

For example, the polymer-basis of gum allows it to melt and soften in high heat, while it solidifies and hardens in cold temperatures. This is the basis for the first step in all gum removal techniques. Start by removing all excess gum from the fabric by placing the garment in the freezer for 15 minutes. This allows the gum to harden and easily chip off of the fabric. The ease of removal depends on how imbedded the gum is in the fibers of the fabric. You may need to use a blunt knife to carefully chip the gum away. Remove as much gum as possible. You can then begin the steps required to thoroughly remove the gum. 

Removing Gum from Clothing using WD-40

WD-40 is an aerosol lubricant containing solvents for dissolving rust on metal parts. These solvents will also dissolve waxes and polymers, such as those found in chewing gum. WD-40 can be purchased at hardware stores and in the hardware section of department stores. Once the excess gum has been removed from the clothing by freezing, you can use WD-40 to remove the remaining gum.

What You Will Need Before You Start:

  • Paper towels
  • WD-40
  • Mild dishwashing liquid
  • Heavy-duty laundry detergent
  1. Fold several white paper towels together to form a thick padding. The paper towels will help absorb any excess lubricant and protect the work surface while you get the gum out of the clothing. 
  2. Place the fabric, gum side up, on the paper towels.
  3. Spray the gum with WD-40 to saturate it. Spray carefully to avoid spraying the lubricant on non-stained areas.
  4. Allow to rest for five minutes.
  5. Turn the fabric over and replace on the paper towels. You are now looking at the backside of the gum.
  6. Spray the back of the stained area with WD-40 to saturate it. 
  7. Allow to rest for five minutes.
  8. Turn the fabric over so the gum is right-side up. 
  9. Gently work the gum from the surface of the fabric. You may need to use your fingernails to help lift the gum up. Avoid working the gum further into the fibers. 

Continue to reapply the WD-40 and work the gum out of the fabric. Once the gum is removed, apply a thick layer of undiluted mild dishwashing liquid to the stained area. Gently work into the fabric to break down the WD-40 and remove any remaining pieces of gum. Place in washer and wash using a heavy-duty laundry detergent and the hottest water safe for the fabric.

Removing Gum from Clothing using a Stain Remover

Many spray-type commercial stain treatments contain petroleum solvents which break down grease, wax and oil. They are often used successfully for removing gum from clothing. The solvents help to break down the polymers holding the gum to the fabric. Brand names include Shout and Spray-n-Wash. They can easily be found at most grocery stores.

What You Will Need Before You Start:

  • Paper towels
  • Solvent-based stain remover

If gum remains in the fabric after freezing and chipping away, you may sponge it with a solvent-based stain remover to completely remove it. If working on color fabric, start by checking for color fastness by applying a small amount of the remover in the inside of a hem. If the color is unaffected after five minutes, the stain remover is safe for the fabric.

  1. Fold several paper towels together to create a thick pad.
  2. Place the stained garment gum-side-down over the paper towels. 
  3. Pour a small amount of the stain remover over the gum stain. The goal is to concentrate the remover just to the gum.
  4. Allow to rest for five minutes.
  5. Turn the fabric over and repeat steps 3 and 4. 
  6. Use a dry paper towel to gently lift the gum from the fabric. Work carefully to avoid pushing the gum further into the fabric.
  7. Re-apply the stain remover and blot until the gum is completely removed.

Once the gum is removed, you should allow the garment to dry. Then wash using the hottest water safe for the clothing. 

The successful removal of gum from clothing often requires removing small pieces of gum at a time. The amount of time required and the ease of removal depends on many factors, including how deeply the gum worked into the fabric, the type of fabric and the type of chewing gum. In most cases, continuing to work the gum out of the fabric eventually results in gum-free clothing.