It is fairly common for chewing gum to be accidentally dropped inside a car and then trodden, or squashed into the upholstery. The problem is that upholstery can easily be damaged if ingrained chewing gum is not removed correctly. There are a few ways in which chewing gum can be successfully and safely removed from a cars upholstery even if it has been there for a long period of time or become heavily ingrained. One way is to essentially freeze the gum until it becomes hard and brittle so it can then be either carefully prized off, or picked out of the upholstery.
A number of ice cubes gathered inside a plastic bag can be held against the affected area until the soft gum hardens up. Although this method is effective it may take some time for the gum to harden. To save time you can use a compressed ‘air-in-a-can’ type product that is designed for dust removal etc. Using this technique also means that you have a little more control when treating the affected area.
Once brittle, the chewing gum can be carefully prized off or picked out with a thin yet blunt implement like an ice scraper for example. If the chewing gum has been squashed or trodden into the fibres of the upholstery you may need to repeat the process and carefully pick out any smaller pieces bit by bit, ensuring that you do not pull out any fibres of the upholstery with it. Once removed you should follow up by cleaning the area with a designated upholstery cleaning product to remove any residue and help return the fabric back to its prior condition.
If you find that there is still deep ingrained chewing gum residue that cannot be picked out you can use a solvent based tar & adhesive remover product to dissolve and lift it out. Apply the product onto a micro fibre towel and work into the affected area. Be sure to test a small area first to ensure that the product does not discolour, or damage the upholstery in any way and be certain to follow up this stage with an upholstery cleaner to remove the product residue.
Another way to remove chewing gum would be to simply use a specific chewing gum remover product that helps to dissolve and lift off the gum. Depending on the extent to which the area is affected you may still need to pick parts of the gum off after using a designated removal product.
The most important things to consider when attempting to remove chewing gum from your cars upholstery is that you take your time and don’t try to pull it all off at once too harshly as this will damage the fabric underneath by pulling it up with the gum. It may take some time to safely remove if it has really been worked into the surface but if you persist, ensure all of it is removed, then follow up with a designated upholstery cleaner you should be able to restore your upholstery back to its original condition and not be able to tell where the chewing gum had been.
3 Ways to Remove Chewing Gum
There are three ways that you can get chewing gum out of fibers and hair, remove it from irregular surfaces like running shoe soles, and lift it from flat surfaces like walls and tabletops. One uses ice to freeze chewing gum, another uses oils to stop gum from sticking to surfaces, and the third uses solvents to break down the polymers that make gum so hard to remove.
When removing chewing gum, we recommend trying the ice strategy first, moving on to oils, and then using solvents as a last resort. This will help reduce the chance of a messy clean-up (oils and solvents will need to be cleaned up after) and limits the use of harsh chemicals (many solvents create harsh fumes or leave behind toxic residues). You should also test oils and solvents on hidden areas first to make sure they don’t cause staining.
- Removing Gum with Ice. Gum is much easier to remove from surfaces when frozen. Use an ice pack or a sealed bag filled with ice cubes and place it over top of the gum. Wait until the gum is frozen solid, then use a spatula, credit card, or a butter knife to gently lift the gum from the surface. Use a mix of dish soap and water to remove residues.
- Removing Gum with Oils. When ice isn’t enough to get gum out of carpeting, fabric, or hair, you can move onto oils. Oils make it harder for gum to stick to fibers and hairs, making it easier to remove gum from these types of surfaces. Use a cloth to apply olive oil, peanut butter, or cooking oil to the gum and the area around the gum, then use your spatula, credit card, or butter knife to lift the gum up from the fibers or hair. You will need to clean the surface thoroughly afterward with soapy water to get rid of the oils.
- Removing Gum with Solvents. Your local hardware store will sell solvents designed specifically to remove gum and other sticky items from surfaces. Solvents will break down the polymers in gum that make it so sticky, allowing you to more easily remove it. Never use solvents to remove gum from a person’s hair, and always read and follow all safety instructions. After using a solvent, you will need to thoroughly clean the surface using soapy water.
Looking for help with tough home cleaning challenges? Call (855) 624-3744 and connect with the team at your local Maid Right today for a free home cleaning estimate.
Freeze It Out
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If you ever got gum in your hair as a kid, you might have experienced first-hand how freezing gum makes it easier to remove. The same method works on gum on the carpet, too. Sticky, gooey gum clings to carpet fibers and stretches when you pull on it, making it nearly impossible to remove. If you harden the gum, however, it loses its grip on the carpet fibers, so you can simply peel or scrape it off your carpet.
Start by placing a single ice cube on top of the gum and leave it there for a full minute. This should be long enough to harden the gum. If it isn’t, fill a sandwich bag or other plastic bag with a few handfuls of ice. Place the ice-filled bag directly onto the gum. Leave it for around 15 minutes or until the gum turns hard.
Once the gum has hardened, as long as it isn’t ground into the carpet, you might be able to simply peel it off by hand. Cover your hand with a plastic bag if you don’t have any rubber gloves. For more stubborn gum, use a scraping tool such as a windshield ice scraper, plastic spoon or old credit card. Avoid using a knife to remove the gum because you could cut the carpet fibers, leaving permanent visible damage.
If the gum has left a stain or other discoloration on the carpet, spray the area with a household cleaner that’s safe for carpets. Apply a white cleaning cloth to the area and press. Continue to dab the area until the stain is removed. Use only a white cloth because the cleaner could cause the dye in a colored cloth to bleed and further stain your carpet.
Melt It Out
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If freezing the stuck-on gum doesn’t give you any results, taking the opposite approach just might. By melting the gum, you’ll reduce its stickiness and make it soft enough to clean up.
Before you start, have a hair dryer and a plastic bag or disposable cleaning cloth ready. To melt the gum, turn your hair dryer on low heat and aim it directly at the gum. Avoid using high heat and pay close attention because it shouldn’t take more than a minute or two to soften up the gum and too much heat can damage both natural and synthetic carpet fibers.
Once the gum starts to melt, remove the heat and use the plastic bag to pull the gum off the carpet. The melted gum should stick to the plastic better than it does to the carpet. You might need to scrape gently to get all the gum off. If the gum starts to harden again, reapply heat.
Use a sponge and plain water to remove any gum you couldn’t remove with the plastic bag. If any staining is left, follow the stain removal method outlined in the previous section.
Apply a Solvent
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Freezing and melting tend to work best on freshly dropped gum that hasn’t been stepped on repeatedly and mashed into the carpet fibers. Older gum is more difficult to remove and often requires a solvent, such as a carpet cleaner.
Because gum doesn’t dissolve in water, you’ll need an oil-based product to break down the gum enough that it can be removed from the carpet.
If you aren’t able to find carpet cleaner, you can use another solvent or degreaser such as oil soap for wood, WD-40 or dry-clean stain remover.
Muscle pain reliever creams and peanut butter are other alternatives. It might sound strange, but the oils in these products attract the natural gum base in the chewing gum, breaking it down so it can be pulled it away from the carpet fibers.
Be aware, though, that some solvents not designed for use on carpets can damage carpet fibers or bleach the color out. Even peanut butter can leave a stain on some carpets. Before you try this method, spot test all cleaners and other substances you plan to use on an inconspicuous part of the carpet, such as inside a closet.
Start by liberally applying your chosen solvent to the gum. Let the solvent soak in for 15 minutes. Using a fingernail brush, scrub the gum in one direction only, either away from you or toward you, but not both. Apply more solvent as necessary.
This method will leave some gum in the carpet fibers, but you can remove this by applying more solvent or detergent to the area, and wiping it away with a damp sponge.
Once you’ve got all the gum out, apply a solution of baking soda and white vinegar to the area you’ve just cleaned. This neutralizes any leftover acids from the cleaning products that could cause damage if left too long. It also helps remove the chemical smell of the cleaner.
Gum stuck to your carpet is an unsightly nuisance, but in most cases it’s relatively easy to get rid of. Freezing the gum is the simplest method, but this works best on fresh gum. For gum that’s been ground in or stuck for a long period, applying a solvent is usually a more effective approach to cleaning.
If gentle cleaning methods don’t get the gum out, consult a carpet cleaning professional before you move on to more aggressive methods.
Tackling Gum on Carpet with the Right Janitorial Supplies
Here’s the big secret folks: you need to freeze the gum to make it remove easily. But before you head to your freezer to grab a bucket of ice, I’ve got a simpler solution. Just follow these 3 easy steps or watch it happen live in my handy video:
- Grab a tin of ProLink Gum Remover.
- Simply spray the gum using the aerosol snorkel tube. The chemical instantly freezes the gum making it hard and brittle.
- Break the pieces of now frozen gum right off the carpet. I like to use the back end of a carpet brush to scrape to away, but if you don’t have one of those use the end of a soup spoon. It’s rounded edge is strong enough to break the gum free, but smooth enough not to damage the carpet fibres. Make sure that you do not use a putty knife or any other knife as you will damage the carpet fibres.
And voila! Your carpet will be chewing gum free in minutes and ready for traffic immediately. This gum remover does not leave a residual on the carpet so you don’t have to rinse or extract the gum spot after. Try doing that with peanut butter!
Are you looking for more tips and advice to help keep your facility or building squeaky clean? You can follow me on Twitter and Facebook. For all other enquiries, reach out the great team at Glen Martin Limited, a proud distributor of janitorial supplies in Barrie and surrounding areas.
For a video tutorial, check out my 1 minute how-to video below. ‘Til next time, keep it clean!