How to Get Gum Out of Clothes

No stress, these simple tricks will remove even dried gum from your belongings.

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 20 minutes
  • Skill Level: Beginner

Chewing gum is all all fun and games, until it ends up in places it shouldn't. Whether it's stuck to a shoe, melted in a pocket, or smeared on a pillowcase, removing gum can be tricky because it can easily become embedded in fibers. Removal is usually a two-step process—hardening the gum so it will release more easily and, then, removing the sticky stain it leaves behind. Luckily, with a bit of patience and the right cleaning supplies, you'll be able to get gum out of clothes—even if it's old and dried.

The below instructions work well for washable clothes, but if the garment is labeled as dry-clean-only, don't make matters worse by handling the fabric incorrectly. Simply harden the gum and gently scrape off as much as you can. Then, as soon as possible, head to your favorite dry cleaner and point out and identify the stain. The dry cleaner will know what type of stain remover is safe to use on the fabric.


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What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

Fresh Gum

  • Large or small plastic bag, depending on the stain
  • Freezer
  • Dull-edged knife or old credit card

Dried Gum

  • Cotton swab
  • Dull-edged knife or old credit card
  • Soft-bristled nylon brush


Fresh Gum

  • Ice (optional, depending on the stain)
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Distilled white vinegar

Dried Gum

  • Petroleum jelly
  • Heavy-duty laundry detergent or stain remover


How to Get Fresh Gum Out of Clothes

  1. Avoid rubbing.

    If the gum is still soft and fresh, resist the urge to rub it with a sponge or cloth in an attempt to remove it. Rubbing only pushes the gum deeper into the fabric fibers.

  2. Freeze gum.

    Hard, frozen gum is much easier to remove from fabric than soft, gooey pieces. If the gum has spread over several spots on the clothes, put the garment in a plastic bag and place it in the freezer for several hours. If the gum is contained to a single spot, place a couple of ice cubes in a small plastic bag and put the bag over the gum until it hardens.

  3. Scrape away hardened gum.

    Once the gum has hardened, use a dull-edged kitchen knife or the edge of an old credit card to gently scrape away the gum from the fabric surface. If the blob is big and thaws before you get all of it removed, refreeze the fabric and try to scrape it once it's hardened again.

  4. Pretreat stained area.

    Once the solid gum is gone, treat the stained area with a mixture of one teaspoon of dishwashing liquid and one teaspoon of distilled white vinegar. Gently rub the solution into the fabric with your fingers or a soft cloth and allow the mixture to sit for at least 15 minutes.

  5. Wash as usual.

    Wash the garment following the directions on the care tag.

  6. Assess the stained area.

    Inspect the stained area carefully before putting the garment in the dryer. If any of the stain remains, treat it again with the dishwashing liquid and vinegar mixture and wash again. Do not dry in the dryer on high heat until the stain is completely gone.

How to Get Dried Gum Stains Out of Clothes

  1. Make the gum slippery.

    Use your finger or a cotton swab to place a dab of petroleum jelly at the base of the gum wad on the fabric. Rub gently.

  2. Remove the gum.

    Once the gum has loosened from the fabric, gently scrape the gum with a dull-edged knife or an old credit card.

  3. Treat the grease stain.

    The petroleum jelly is going to leave a grease stain on the fabric. Remove it by pretreating the stain with a dab of heavy-duty laundry detergent or a laundry stain remover. Work the detergent into the stain with a soft-bristled nylon brush (an old toothbrush works great) and let it sit for 10-15 minutes.

  4. Launder as usual.

    Wash the garment following the instructions on the care tag.

  5. Check the stain.

    Before you toss the garment in the dryer, check to make sure the gum and grease stains are completely gone. Repeat the steps above if needed.

More Tips for Getting Gum Out of Clothes

  • If gum is stuck to the fabric of a shoe, freeze the shoe in a plastic bag, scrape it off, and use the same dishwashing liquid and vinegar solution to remove the stains. Wipe the shoe with a damp cloth to remove the soapy solution and blot dry.
  • If gum is stuck to the sole of a shoe, remove it with petroleum jelly, WD-40, or even peanut butter and a paper towel.
  • If gum has melted in a pants pocket, pull the pocket inside out for easier cleaning. Then, follow the steps listed above for removing gum from clothes.
  • If you find gum stuck inside the dryer drum, put some ice cubes in a plastic bag over the gum to harden it and use a plastic spatula or credit card to scrape it off the drum.
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