How to Get Gum Out of Clothes [10 Proven Methods]

Gum makes for something tasty to chew on and can even improve your breath in a pinch when needed. But from time to time, it can become a nuisance. Like when you think you have discarded it only for it to get stuck to your clothes.

But the good news is that you can get gum out of your clothing with a little work. Even better news, there are a ton of different methods that can be used to get gum out. Liquid laundry detergent, heat, freezing, alcohol, and even peanut butter have all been proven to remove chewing gum from clothing.

Removing Gum from Clothing

It is a major bummer to find a wad of gum mashed into your favorite shirt, splatted across the seat of your best pants, or even stuffed deep into a pocket. After you are done wondering how the gum got there in the first place, you are then tasked with getting it unstuck.

Even if you can’t figure out quite how the gum got there, you can get it out in one of many ways. It all comes down to the material you use, but there are as many as 10 different ways (some not listed here) that can be implemented to get gum out of clothing.

girl blowing a bubble with gum
(Quinten de Graaf, Unsplash)

Method 1: Heat

If you don’t want to use soap, alcohol, or peanut butter to get the gum out, then heat is your friend. When at home, you can use either a heat gun (at a safe distance) or an iron to get chewing gum out of your clothes.

Just grab a piece of cardboard as well and start by putting the item on top of the cardboard. You want the gum between the fabric and the cardboard. With the iron on medium, gently iron over the area where the gum is stuck.

The heat from the iron should transfer the gum to the cardboard. Just move the cloth to a clean part of the cardboard, repeating the process until most of the gum has transferred over. When there is a small amount of gum left, put the garment in the washing machine. Before moving to the dryer, ensure that the gum was totally removed during washing.

Method 2: Alcohol

Should you be dealing with a fabric that is more delicate, rubbing alcohol may be the most effective method for removing gum. Alcohol will not fade the colors and it won’t leave a stain on the material of the clothing.

Besides, rubbing alcohol is usually a main ingredient for a lot of spot cleaners. Just dab a small amount onto a clean rag or sponge, dabbing at the spot gently. Let the alcohol stand for a few minutes and then grab a dull edge that can be used to scrape the gum. Gently work the gum away from the material, soaking the garment when you are finished. Verify that the gum is totally gone and then air dry for best results.

Rubbing alcohol should be in your home just because of how versatile it is. In addition to getting gum out of your clothing, it can be used to clean just about any surface in your home as well.

Method 3: Liquid Laundry Detergent

Another quite versatile household cleaner, liquid laundry detergent has proven to be effective against stuck-on gum. Just grab the detergent and an old toothbrush to get started. Cover the area using your liquid laundry detergent, making sure that the entirety of the gum has been saturated.

girl in front of a gum wall blowing a bubble
(Charles Wright, Unsplash)

Using an old toothbrush, work the detergent into the gum. After you have thoroughly rubbed the detergent in, use a blunt knife to scrape the gum away. The detergent should loosen and separate the gum from the material, allowing you to scrape away what is left.

When you are finished getting the vast majority of the gum out, you can run it through a wash cycle. Before throwing it into the dryer, ensure that all the gum has been removed. Repeat the steps if necessary.

Method 4: A Homemade Concoction

Should you feel like avoiding any commercially made detergents or don’t want to use heat, there is a homemade concoction that will work. Start by adding 1/4 cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide together with 1/4 cup vegetable glycerin, 1/4 cup water, a 1/4 cup Castile soap, and 5 drops of lemon essential oil.

Shake to ensure that your creation is properly mixed and then spray onto the gum. Give it five minutes to work and break down the gum. Scrub the area using a brush, getting as much of the gum up as possible. When the majority has been removed, toss it into the wash and then verify that the gum is gone before transferring to the dryer.

As is the case with any of these methods, make sure that the gum is 100% gone before transferring to the dryer. It may take more than a single application to get all of the gum out; continue until it has all been removed.

Method 5: Peanut Butter

Believe it or not, peanut butter can do wonders in a pinch. You might notice there are more than a few household items that can do more than their stated purpose. Peanut butter may be the most surprising among them.

Just keep in mind that the peanut butter could stain the fabric. There are oils within the peanut butter and leaving it applied too long could leave a stain. A liquid stain remover should work to get those stains out, but that is another step in the process and best avoided if possible.

Grab the peanut butter and spread it out evenly over the gum. Make sure that you cover as much of it as you can. Let the peanut butter sit for a few minutes, letting the oil naturally separate the gum from the fabric, softening the gum as well.

Finally, use a blunt knife to gently scrape away the gum. This is probably the least ideal method because of the mess and the potential for stains. While stain remover should take out peanut butter oil stains, it is just another step in the process that may have been potentially avoided.

Method 6: Boiling Water

Heat is a great way to remove stuck-on peanut butter. But if you don’t have an iron, heat gun, or any other reliable source of heat, you can do things in another way. Boiling a garment can help to get rid of stuck-on gum as well.

Fill up a large pot, bringing the water to a boil. As soon as the water starts to bubble, submerge only the affected area into the water. There is no need to soak the entirety of the garment in the boiling water and may actually damage it.

With the clothing submerged in the water, carefully work to scrape away the gum. On the same hand, you can also use a tea kettle. When the tea kettle is boiling, place the affected area over the steam put off by the kettle. Scrape the gum away carefully and make sure that you avoid the steam yourself.

Method 7: Vinegar

Another household item that is of tremendous use, vinegar can also be used to help get gum out. You should definitely have white vinegar in your home for cleaning purposes if you do not already. The vinegar is naturally acidic, which helps to break down the adhesive properties of the gum.

Just dip an old toothbrush in some vinegar and rub over the gum. Vinegar for this purpose is best when it is hot, so act fast. Keep rubbing until the gum I completely removed. You can then wash the clothing as normal to get rid of that pungent vinegar smell.

Mixing laundry detergent and white vinegar can make for a truly potent stain cleaner, too. Between the two of those things, there are few things in the home that you can’t get clean.

Method 8: Ice

So, we have seen by now that heat can be quite effective at getting gum out. But cold can do just as well. Using ice cubes has continually been another highly effective way to get gum out of clothing.

When held on the gum for long enough, it should start to freeze the gum over. When the gum hardens, it becomes easier to scrape away. Remember that you want to use a dull edge, something like a butter knife, credit card, or paint scraper to avoid scratching or damaging the clothing material.

Method 9: Freezer

If you want to go a little more hands-off, then the freezer will also work just fine. Fold the piece of clothing so that the area with the gum is facing out. Put the clothing in a plastic bag, ensuring that the gum doesn’t stick to the bag. Seal the bag and put it into the freezer, gum side up.

Leave it in the freezer for a minimum of two hours so that the gum with freeze. Take the bag out and scrape away the hardened gum. This takes a little more patience but a lot less work than some of the others on the list. Most importantly, the gum will come out all the same.

Method 10: Commercial Gum Remover

gum removed from clothing (before and after)
Before & after: Removing gum from pants using 3M Gum Remover [Amazon / Customer Photo]

If you have stubborn stuck-on gum and home remedies don’t seem to be working, don’t fret, there are professional products out there that can help. Our favorite is 3M’s Gum Remover. This particular product is mainly used for carpets but can also work on clothes.

To use, wet the entire affected surface with the gum remover liquid and let stand for at least one minute to allow for the remover to soften the gum. Using a dull spatula or butter knife, gently scrape gum towards the center to make it easier to remove. A second application may be needed for extra stubborn gum.