How to Get Gum Out of Clothes Upholstery and Carpet

remove gum stains
Thanasis Zovoilis/Getty Images

Why is it that chewing gum never stays in someone's mouth? It lands on the carpet or stuck onto pillowcases and chair cushions. Learn how to remove chewing gum or any sticky and waxy stains from clothes, upholstery fabric and carpet.

How to Get Gum Out of Washable Clothes

The first step to get gum out of any washable fabric is to harden the gum by placing an ice cube on the gum or put the garment in a plastic bag in the freezer for several hours.

The freezer method is easier if the gum has melted in the dryer or gotten smeared over a large area of the fabric. After several hours, take the garment out of the freezer and while the gum is hard, carefully scrape it off with a dull kitchen knife or straight edge of a credit card. If all of the gum doesn't come off, refreeze and try again.

When all of the excess gum has been removed, treat the remaining spot with an equal mixture of liquid dishwashing soap and white distilled vinegar. Rub in gently from the front and allow the mixture to sit on the fabric for at least fifteen minutes and then wash the garment as usual. Check the stain before drying, if it remains, treat again with the soap and vinegar mixture and rewash.

If the gum is old and dry, use some petroleum jelly to loosen the gum. Use just a dab on your finger or cotton swab and work it in well to the fabric at the base of the gum wad.

Before washing, you must treat the fabric to remove the grease with a bit of heavy duty laundry detergent like Tide or Persil or a stain remover like Resolve or Shout to remove the greasy stain. These products contain enough enzymes to break down the oily residue into small molecules that can be flushed away.

Simply apply a bit of the stain remover and work it in with your fingers or a soft-bristled brush. Allow it to work for about fifteen minutes before washing the stained garment as usual.

How to Get Gum Out of Dry Clean Only Clothes

If the garment is dry clean only, use the freezing technique to remove the gum then point out and identify the stain to your professional cleaner. If you are using a home dry cleaning kit, be sure to treat the stain with the provided stain remover before putting the garment in the dryer bag.

How to Get Gum Out of Upholstery

Since most upholstered pieces won't fit in the freezer (pillows, maybe), use the ice cube technique to harden the gum. Place the ice cubes in a sealable plastic bag so that the cold temperature reaches the gum, not the water which could leave a mark on the fabric.

Let the ice bag remain until the gum is hard and then use a dull kitchen knife or hard plastic to scrape away the residue from the fabric. If the gum has gotten pushed down into the fibers, use a dry cleaning solvent to spot treat the stain. Be sure to test the solvent on a hidden area of the fabric (under a cushion or on the underside of the upholstery skirt) to make sure it doesn't remove any color from the fabric.

If the upholstery is silk or very expensive, call a professional.

How to Get Gum Out of Carpet

Use the ice bag trick to harden the gum. This will freeze the gum without over-wetting the carpet. Scrape the hardened gum with a dull edge. If any residue remains, spot clean with a solution of equal parts dish washing liquid and white distilled vinegar. Use a soft bristled brush to work a very small amount of the solution into the stain. Let sit for ten to fifteen minutes and then blot away with a clean white cloth dipped in plain water. Keep blotting with a clean area of the cloth until no more solution or residue is transferred to the cloth. Allow to air dry and then vacuum to fluff the fibers.

For more stain removal tips: Stain Removal A to Z