Whether you're trying to get a stubborn wad of gum out of your clothing or out of your child's bed linens, you'll quickly find the experience is as frustrating as it is time-consuming.
Useful how-to advice abounds on how to remove grass stains, ink stains, and blood stains, but if you're trying to extract a sticky mess of Juicyfruit from the sleeve of your blouse, you'll need an entirely different set of attack plans.
The good news is that none of the steps outlined below requires exotic tools or expensive chemical treatments. If one method doesn't work well, you can easily try one of the others (or try a couple methods in tandem).
Just remember that, as with a traditional stain, tackling the problem sooner than later will make any method you choose that much easier.
The Vinegar Method
If you're working with delicate fabrics, the vinegar method is the best of the three gum-removal approaches. Heat 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of vinegar in a microwave until the vinegar is very warm (about 10 to 20 seconds, depending on the microwave). Pour the vinegar directly on the gum and let it it sit for a minute or two, allowing the acids in the vinegar to penetrate the gum. Using a firm, bristled toothbrush, rub in a clockwise motion until the gum loosens a bit. If the gum stubbornly remains in place, you may have to rewarm and reapply another round of vinegar, followed by another clockwise brushing. Cold vinegar will not accomplish what you're setting out to do, so there are no shortcuts! After you've finally removed the gum from the fabric, wash the garment as directed to remove the vinegar smell.
The Iron Method
If you're fortunate enough to be dealing with a more durable fabric, such as denim or corduroy, the iron method is a better approach than the vinegar method. Place a piece of cardboard on the spot where the gum is located, and then lay the garment down flat on an ironing board so that the other side of the gum spot is face-up towards you. Turn the setting on your iron to medium or medium high, and run the iron back and forth over the exposed flip side of the gum spot. The heat transference from the iron should cause the gum to stop clinging to the fabric, causing it to instead begin clinging to the cardboard piece. Caution: Don’t hold the iron over the flipside of the gum spot for too long! It will only lead to an iron-shaped burn mark, not faster gum removal!
The Freezer Method
This option works with more durable fabrics. First, use your finger to remove as much of the gum from the fabric as possible. Second, place the garment or linen in a large plastic bag (plastic supermarket bags work great for this), and place the clothing on a shelf in your freezer, gum spot facing up. Keeping the fabric in a plastic bag will keep other items in your freezer from soiling or discoloring your clothing.
Leave the fabric in the freezer for two to three hours so the gum can fully freeze. Next, remove it from the the plastic bag and, very delicately, use a dull-edged butter knife to scrape off the frozen gum. Don't use sharp or serrated blade knives for this method (they'll only succeed in cutting slits and holes in your fabric). Any remaining frozen gum can be removed using the vinegar method (see the first method).
Final tip: If you're dealing with silk, you have my sympathies, because the only appropriate option is the vinegar method. If you're trying to extract gum from silk fabric, and the vinegar method proves ineffective, you may have to bite the bullet and take the item to a professional dry cleaner.
This is a guest post by L.K. from Albany, NY
Find out more about the KCL Contributor Network!