“Parents often think the only way to remove gum from the hair is to cut it out. Fortunately, common items from your pantry can do a great job at removing the gum — and sparing an impromptu haircut,” says board-certified dermatologist Paradi Mirmirani, MD, FAAD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the University of California, San Francisco.
To remove chewing gum without damaging the hair, Dr Mirmirani recommends you follow these steps:
- Find a jar of creamy style peanut butter or a vegetable oil, such as olive oil.
- Cover the gum completely with peanut butter or oil using your fingers or an old toothbrush. With peanut butter, the oils in the product make the chewing gum base stiffer and less sticky.
- Wait a few minutes to allow the product to work.
- Remove the gum from the hair. (Vegetable oil is especially useful when removing gum from eyebrows or eyelashes.)
- Wash your child’s hair as normal.
Oil is the cure
Other sources suggest similar oil-based materials — everything from mayonnaise to butter to mineral oil — but the net effect is the same.
UCSB ScienceLine, from the University of California Santa Barbara Materials Research Laboratory, offer a little more information about how the oil helps:
Gum is a hydrophobic material – it doesn’t want to dissolve in water. Unfortunately, gum is also very sticky. So if it gets stuck in your hair, and you can’t use water to get it out, how do you get it out? The answer would be to use another hydrophobic material! And it turns out that one class of materials that is very hydrophobic is fats and oils. And this is precisely what peanut butter is made of!
Remove gum from your hair or your child’s hair (video)
Which Method Works Best?
These are the four most effective ways to remove gum from the hair, but most moms agree that the peanut butter method works best. Most of us have peanut butter in the home, and it’s a foolproof method that almost always works.
Plus, kids think it’s funny to put peanut butter in their hair, so they may be more willing to cooperate.
If you don’t have peanut butter or your child has a peanut allergy, almond butter will also work. Vegetable oil can be just as effective, too.
All of these methods work with any type of hair at any length.
How To Remove Gum From A Dog’s Hair
Gum is not limited to accidentally getting stuck in your hair or your children’s hair. It can also get stuck to your pet’s fur. If this happens to your family dog, make sure you have the following items:
- Creamy peanut butter
- Pet hair comb
- Paper towels
- Dog shampoo
Apply the creamy peanut butter to the gum wad on your dog’s fur. Then, rub the peanut butter into the chewing gum and surrounding hair until it softens. Like the process on human hair, the oils contained in the peanut butter help to break down the stickiness and help you remove the gum without pulling out the dog’s fur.
Most dogs enjoy the taste of peanut butter. If your canine friend needs the incentive to sit still, then feel free to feed them a little peanut butter. If your dog becomes restless during the gum removal, use a soothing voice and gently pet the dog in a very relaxed and comforting manner. This interaction reassures the dog that they are safe.
Continue applying the peanut butter and let it sit on the dog for up to 5 minutes. This gives the oil time to loosen the gum’s hold in the fur. Next, use a wide-toothed comb to detangle the fur and take out the gum. Wipe any excess peanut butter off with a paper towel. Continue to extract the gum with the comb and your fingers until every bit of it is removed.
Finally, wet your dog’s fur and clean it with your favorite dog shampoo. You may need to massage the lather into the area for several minutes to guarantee all the oil from the peanut butter is gone. If there is any remaining gum or residue, repeat the process or try another method, like ice or mayonnaise. Be careful not to pull the dog’s hair when removing the gum.
How To Remove Spruce Gum From Hair
Spruce gum is a natural alternative to gum that many people make at home and enjoy chewing. Spruce gum is made of resin and considered one of the first types of chewing gum. Today, it is created from dried Spruce tree sap and often flavored with mint or cinnamon. Also, like chewing gum, you can easily remove it with some of the same techniques when spruce gum gets accidentally stuck your hair.
You will need the following items to remove spruce gum from hair:
- Hand sanitizer or nail polish remover (either one)
- Warm water
- Soft towel
- Peanut butter
- Hair dryer
First, use a cotton pad or cotton swab to apply hand sanitizer or nail polish remover to the gum-affected spot. With your fingers, gently rub the hand sanitizer or nail polish remover into the spruce gum. The gum should crumble and break up in the hair.
Next, wash your hair with liquid dishwashing soap and warm water. Use a moisturizing conditioner after cleansing because this process can dry out your hair. Finally, pat your hair dry with a soft towel. Repeat this process if any residue is left.
If spruce gum gets stuck to the root of the hair or scalp, use peanut butter to remove it. This method works best on sensitive areas. Scoop a generous amount of peanut butter and massage it into the spruce gum. Wear a shower cap or plastic bag, and heat the area with a hair dryer on low heat for a few minutes.
Then, work the peanut butter into the gum and use your fingers to slide the peanut butter away from your scalp, then rinse with warm water. You can also use a comb through your hair. Finally, shampoo and condition your hair.
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.