How to Remove Sticky Chewing Gum and Gum Stains from Clothes

How to Remove Sticky Chewing Gum and Gum Stains from Clothes

Is there anything more nostalgic than unwrapping a cube of juicy Bubbalicious or – if we’re going way back – a hard piece of Dubble Bubble – and blowing an enormous pink bubble? You know, the type that bursts across your nose and face, resulting in your pals erupting into laughter.

The qualities that make gum so fun – sticky, stretchy and brightly coloured – are the same reasons gum is such a headache when it ends up in the wrong place: tangled in hair (your own, your kids’ or your pet’s), squashed on the bottom of a shoe or stuck to your favourite wool sweater.

Worry not, here’s how to get gum out of your favourite clothes and then treat the stain it left behind.

What makes gum so sticky and stain-prone, anyway?

Chewing gum is made of a gum base, sweetening agents, flavouring, colouring and plasticizers, which soften and increase flexibility. Within the base are resins and polymers; the latter is responsible for gum’s sticky, stretchy qualities.

What you’ll need to remove chewing gum from fabrics:

Treating gum stains on clothing happens in two parts:

  1. Removing the gum from the fabric
  2. If needed, treating any traces of pigment or dye. (We’re looking at you bubble gum and other whacky-coloured novelty confections!)

How to easily remove chewing gum from clothes in five easy steps

Important note: The following stain guide applies only to machine washable garments. Always inspect the fabric care label. For dry clean-only items, proceed with step one and then bring to a professional.

Step one: Remove excess gum from the fabric

Remove excess gum and whatever debris it may have attracted to gently using a blunt object like a butter knife or credit card. Be careful not to scrape the gum deeper into the fibres. If soft gum has been pressed into the fabric, removing it will be much easier when hardened. If you have the time and the ability, toss the item in the freezer for a few hours and pry the gum off once it has hardened.

Optional: Some resources recommend saturating any lingering bits of gum with rubbing alcohol to help loosen them from the fibres. Be sure to perform a test for colourfastness before dabbing the site with an alcohol-wetted paper towel. Allow it to sit for 15 minutes before rinsing.

Tip: If you’ve only noticed very old chewing gum lodged on your clothing once it has hardened, try using a dab of petroleum jelly to loosen it from the fabric.

(Optional) Step two: Pre-treat the stain

If the gum has left a coloured stain behind, pre-treat your item with a high-performance stain remover.

How to create a concentrated stain remover using Tru Earth laundry detergent eco-strips:

First, tear a strip into small pieces and place in a shallow bowl. Add one tablespoon (15ml) of tap-hot water to begin dissolving it. Stir with a spoon to form a paste, adding small volumes of water as needed. Smear the concentrate atop the stain, gently pressing the mixture into it to allow the surfactant to get to work, releasing the residues from the fabric.

Allow the concentrate to sit for 15-20 minutes, then rinse.

Step three: Wash the item

Wash the item on the garment’s typical wash setting, using a Tru Earth laundry detergent eco-strip.

Step four: Hang dry

Do not tumble in the dryer until you are absolutely finished stain treating. Applying heat will only serve to “set” the stain permanently.

Step five: Inspect the stain

Determine if further treatment is needed. If so, return to step two and complete an additional wash cycle. If the stain stubbornly persists and the item is sentimental, consider bringing it to a dry cleaner.

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