Effective gum removal 101

Here are some effective ways I have found to remove gum from various surfaces and clothing items.

It doesn’t happen too often, but when it does there may be a moment of panic, anger, or shock. You open the dryer to find gum stuck to everything. It is coated across the front of a favorite shirt, it has speckled your leggings, or worse it is on a work uniform that you have to wear shortly. The more you look, the more you see it on almost everything in that load in the dryer. And what about the dryer itself? That can be a chore in itself to clean.

The task at trying to remedy the situation seems daunting and impossible. I am not going to lie, it is quite the chore and will take a bit of time to accomplish. I will break down how to methodically go about tackling this in an effective manner. Here are some things you will need to get started.

Things you will need:

  • butter knife or other dull scraper
  • bowl of ice cubes
  • lighter fluid or other petroleum based solvent (WD-40)
  • baking soda or baby powder
  • cotton towel or rag
  • patience and perseverance

If there are larger clumps of gum, you will want to apply the ice cube until the affected area is very hard, then using a dull utensil or scraper try to remove as much gum as possible. It will come off in chunks so be patient. You may have to apply the ice a few times to get it to harden enough again to effectively scrape more residue off. For smaller areas of gum and for after the ice cube/scrape has taken place you may still have a fine layer of gum remaining.

This is where the lighter fluid or other petroleum based solvent comes into play. Lay the affected item in a single layer over a piece of cardboard to keep the other side of the material from becoming in contact with the spotting process. Laying the cardboard in between the layers will work as well. Slowly drizzle the lighter fluid over the area, being careful not to use too much or go outside the area you are trying to treat. Let it to sit on the surface for a few minutes to allow the breakdown to occur.

The petroleum will slowly dissolve the gum and allow you to scrape the rest off pretty effortlessly. You may have to apply lighter fluid more than once to get it all off. Use a cotton rag to remove any remnants of gum and soak up the remaining chemical. Be careful not to rub or agitate the fabric too much, because you could damage to color of the garment by too much rubbing or scraping.

The final step is to apply either some baking soda or baby powder onto the effected areas where the lighter fluid was used. The absorbing properties of these two products will draw out the oily residue left behind. Let stand for 10 minutes or so. If you have some, blue dawn dish soap will accomplish this as well. I would then allow the area to air dry to see if the stain is completely gone before laundering again.

If the residue stain remains after air drying, simply attempt the process again of applying the dish soap to the area with a little water for about 10 minutes. Use an old toothbrush if necessary to gently tap at the stain to pull out the residue.

Wash and dry as normal.

This process may be frustrating and time consuming, but it will work on most washable garments.

If the gum is on a non washable surface like a carpet, simply apply the ice until the area is hard and scrape gum with a dull knife or scraper until it is gone. You may have to use a little lighter fluid on a rag to remove any lingering pieces. You can apply baking soda to the area if desired to absorb any left over residue.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

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