Known as the calling card of bratty teens and ex-smokers, bubble gum is beloved by many people worldwide. Personally, as I was both of those (a certain Mark Twain quote comes to mind regarding smoking), I sure do love gum. The only occasion on which I hate it is when I see I’ve managed to somehow get a piece stuck on my carpet fibres. But that’s fine, let me hold your hand through the guide on how to deal with it!
How do I get gum out of my carpet?
Alright, so you find yourself in a sticky situation, and now you’re reading my article, which is already making a bad pun about carpet gum stains – isn’t life a wonderful adventure? Anyway, there’s a funny side about gum on your carpet, too, since it’s almost the same as dropping wax on your carpet. If you have read that one, you already know what to do, but if you’ve just stumbled onto this blog, keep reading!
The important thing about carpet gum stains, as is with any other type of stain, is to approach them with lightning speed. That’s right, the faster you deal with it, the less likely you’re going to have to “deal with it” being on your carpet fibres forever. However, before you go ahead and do something hasty, stop and think. Our avid readers know: now comes the part where I explain what you should NOT do with your carpet gum stains…
The first and most important thing to avoid when faced with a carpet gum stain is the urge to yank the gum. Believe me, I’ve been there, and the results are not what you want them to be. The very best case scenario is you rip out only a few of the fibres with a chunk of gum. The worst case scenario is that you tear a hole in the fibres, exposing the underlay (the material holding the carpet on your floor). Please do not attempt to pull the gum, as all you’ll achieve is to rip and tear your fibres.
The second thing to avoid is to use any kind of knife (even dull kitchen knives) to try and scrape off the gum. I’m sorry to say that this advice is rather popular, and not only for gum stains, but most types of sticky spillages as well. It is unreasonable to use anything edged on your carpet, as the fibres can be damaged by this, and causing small tears in them speeds up the rate at which they wear out. You certainly don’t want to replace your carpets in this economy, do you?
And the third thing to not do is to use a hair dryer on gum stains. While heat can certainly help with removing gum (you’ll understand a bit later), directly heating the fibres like that can have adverse effects on their integrity. And while I’m at it, some corners of the internet suggest using a plastic bag to pick up the gum while heating it with the hair dryer. I’m only going to say that plastic’s melting point is also not that high, so please use caution, or better yet, use a cloth.
Okay, now that you’re aware what to avoid, let’s see how you can actually solve your sticky problem.
Read also: Dry Carpet Cleaning vs Hot Water
How to get dried chewing gum off a carpet?
There are a few ways to approach gum on carpet, and all of them do a great job at dealing with it. We’ll go over each technique in no particular order:
Right, so what you do here is pretty simple, and you don’t need all that much to deal with carpet gum using this method. Make sure you have a zip lock plastic bag (also known as re-sealable bag) available, and put a bunch of ice cubes inside. It may not make sense to you now, but the goal is to freeze the gum without spilling cold water (melted ice) all over the carpet, and potentially soaking it. The ice will melt either way, but the bag will keep the cold water inside and let it harden the gum.
Once it’s hard, you can apply pressure with your fingers, or simply smack it with a spoon and it’ll break – then just hoover it out of the fibres.
Now, before you set your clothes iron to 200° C and start blasting away at the gum – please stop. You need to know that doing that will only end up burning your carpet just as bad as dropping the iron on it would. Of course, you need heat to melt the gum, but protection is also required, so it’s time to throw in the towel, literally.
Dampen a towel with water, then press the iron on top of it, the desired effect is to melt the gum without melting the carpet fibres. The best part is, when you pick it up, the gum will have stuck to it and be easily removed. Now, if you don’t want to risk, a different way to melt the gum with heat + towel is to use a heated kettle – you were making tea anyway, so just put the heat to good use!
Who knew door hinge grease can be used to remove gum from carpet? The internet knew, I knew too, and now, so do you. Before you come to the office and bludgeon me with your shoe for that rhyme, note that you’ll need a fingernail brush for this gum removal method. Also, make sure you have a sponge handy, together with a bowl of warm water and another with cold water.
As always, do a patch test in a small area of the fibres which is out of sight. Apply a bit of the product, wait a few minutes, and blot with a colour fast white cloth. If you notice any colour bleeding, stop and try a different method, otherwise, proceed further.
Grab the WD-40 and spray liberally over the gum, then pick one direction to use the brush in, only sticking to that direction. After that, start a rhythm of spray, scrub, repeat, keeping to the same direction as you go. Dip the sponge in the bowl of warm water and blot until the gum is off, then rinse with cold water and let the carpet dry.
Have you noticed we’re not asking you to use water to remove the gum? That’s because gum is one of those non-soluble by water issues, making it very annoying to deal with compared to most stains. In most cases, if you react fast enough, almost any stain can be removed via blotting and rinsing with just water – which is never the case with chewing gum, believe it or not.
Oddly enough, the solution here is to use another compound that doesn’t dissolve in water, so fight fire with fire, if you will. If you didn’t sleep through chemistry class (I personally brought a pillow to it), you’d know that gum has polymers, a big part of why it’s sticking to everything. However, all of the following oils and fluids break down polymers and make the gum come off:
- Olive oil
- Eucalyptus oil
- Peanut butter
If these seem weird, remember that you’re using baking soda to clean carpet all the time, so don’t overthink it too much. Still, caution is advised, as most of these can easily form a sizable stain if you just pour them directly on top. To avoid dealing with two issues instead of one, be smart about it and moisten a cloth with your product of choice. Apply it via dabbing the gum several times, and use a scrub brush just like I advised to do when using WD-40.
After you’ve dabbed and scrubbed a few times, it’s time to rinse the carpet clean of your product of choice, together with what’s left of the gum. The best way to do it is to mix 2 pints of water with a teaspoon of fairy liquid (or your choice of mild dish soap). Apply via dampened cloth, and after you’re done rinsing, blot the carpet dry with a different clean cloth and let it air dry completely.
If the idea of using expensive oils or your favourite sandwich icing to clean carpet sounded like a bad joke, I’ve got a better punchline – one that will punch the gum right off the fibres. Solvent-based products are also not water-based, and that’s why they’re really good at dealing with sticky stuff, like paint on carpet.
Anyway, here’s what solvents you can readily find online or in a shop:
- Dry-cleaning solvents
- Citrus degreaser
- Mineral spirit (also known as white spirit)
- Methyl Salicylate (mouthful, isn’t it?)
These are all used in the same way, so pick one, buy one, and hold on while I tell you. Grab a clean cloth, dampen it with one of these, apply it and give it anywhere between 5 and 10 minutes. Note that the dry cleaning products should always have an instruction label on the bottle, so follow what it says to avoid side effects for your carpets.
Once the time has passed, grab the brush and start scrubbing in much the same way as described above. If you skipped in disgust, I said that you need to pick one direction and move only in that direction when scrubbing, so as to avoid rubbing anything deeper into the fibres. Once you’ve done all that, mix 2 pints of water with a teaspoon of dish soap and rinse the carpet clean of solvents. Don’t forget to blot the carpeted area and air out the room so it can dry afterwards.
When you’re stuck in a sticky situation and the gum on your carpet sticks out like a sore thumb, this guide will definitely help you stick it to the gum stain. For more tips on removing annoying stains that are stuck on your mind, keep following our blog!
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