Who knows why people chew it? It looks kind of weird, you can’t swallow it, and it provides no kind of nutrition. But chew it they do. And unfortunately, when they’re finished with it they tend to spit it out. Anywhere. On the street, on the bus, on trains, on park benches, even on the carpet of cinema floors.

So, it’s no wonder that other, generally non-gum-chewing, people sometimes find themselves with a rather sticky problem – how to get that thoughtlessly disposed of gunk out of clothes, carpet or hair.


The principle for removing chewing gum from fabric is quite simple – harden the gum until it is brittle enough to release its hold.

For robust fabrics:

Apply an ice cube directly to the gum. If you wish to avoid dampening the fabric you can wrap the ice in Glad Wrap or a freezer bag first.

Leave the ice in place until the chewing gum has gone stiff and is no longer sticky.

Then, either pick the gum away with your fingers or use a blunt knife to scrape it away (a butter knife works well). If the gum is stubborn or there is a large amount of it, you may need to repeat the freezing process several times to prevent it thawing.

Once you have scraped away as much as you can, brush the affected area with a toothbrush to remove any last traces.

For delicate fabrics:

For delicate fabrics the process is essentially the same, only instead of freezing the gum with an ice cube, the garment should be put into a freezer bag and then left in the freezer for half an hour.

The gum can then be picked away by hand.

After Removal

After the gum has been removed you may find that it has left an oil-like stain on the fabric. To remove this, rub the area with a mixture of equal parts dishwashing liquid and white vinegar.

Rinse the area and wash the garment as usual.

For delicate fabrics, use caution with the soap/vinegar mixture – try a spot test first. If in doubt at this stage, take the garment to a dry cleaner.


Chewing gum on carpet can be removed in the same manner as that for robust fabrics. A stiff brush may be useful after freezing and scraping has been completed.


You can try the freezing method here too, but there is an alternative which avoids the possibly painful picking-out stage.

Being careful to protect the face, spray the offending gum with WD-40. The penetrating properties of this oil destroy the gum’s bonding ability. You should then be able to remove it quite easily with your fingers. Wash hair immediately afterwards.

Another method to treat chewing gum in hair, crazy as it sounds, is to rub it with peanut butter. Like WD-40 it dissolves the gum. Smooth peanut butter, rather than crunchy, is recommended.

A Simple Remedy

Although stopping people spitting gum in places other than New Zealand’s plentiful public rubbish bins seems a vain hope, you can remedy the effects of their behaviour by following the steps outlined above – freeze, scrape, brush and wash.

How to Get Chewing Gum Out, 3.5 out of 5 based on 2 ratings

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