Goo Gone on Gum

how to remove gum from fabric with goo gone

I have this favorite pair of jeans.  They were a little on the expensive side (even though I got them at Nordstrom Rack), and I waited and waited until I was back down to my pre-pregnancy weight after baby #4 to indulge myself and buy a pair.  I looooove them.  For whatever reason, they look great with everything: long over heels and boots, rolled up with sneakers and a sweater, at the park, at a club, on a date.  They are always super flattering and comfortable.

And then one day, after we’d been out to dinner as a family, I reached for my phone in my back pocket and found THIS:

how to remove gum on fabric

An enormous BLOB of someone’s else’s chewed up chewing gum, stuck deeply into my favorite jeans.  Not just stuck there, y’all: smooshed in, rubbed around because apparently, I had not just sat on it, I had wiggled around and made out with it.  Completely gross.  This photo was actually taken after I had discovered the tragedy and pulled off as much as I could (while stifling my sobs).

When I couldn’t get it all out (because the gum and the pants done said them some vows and got married to one another), I naturally turned to that one source for all our travails in this world: the Internets.  Don’t know how to get gum out of fabric?  The Internet Knows ™.  I dug around for a while, looking not just for suggestions, but really for reviews of suggestions.  I didn’t just want a list of ideas–you know how sometimes, you find a whole list of TEN WAYS TO DO THAT CRAZY THING YOU REALLY WANT TO DO RIGHT NOW WITHOUT DOING ANY RESEARCH OR EXPERIMENTING AT ALL and it turns out that nine of the ten ways is total garbage and doesn’t work and requires a lot more than “items you have lying around the house”?  I wasn’t in the mood for all that nonsense.  These are MY FAVORITE JEANS.  I know you’re smellin’ what I’m steppin’ in over here.

I read suggestions to use peanut butter.  I realize that works with gum in hair (totally does–I’ve tried it way more times than I would like to admit), but I was concerned it would leave a giant peanut buttery oil slick of a stain on my backside.  I read suggestions to freeze the whole pair of pants–not just the ice cube trick of freezing the gum (also mentioned in several sources), but zipping the entire pair of pants up into a bag and popping it in the freezer overnight, and then scraping the gum off with a dull knife.  I wasn’t against that idea, but we don’t have a ton of freezer space, and quite honestly, I wasn’t up for defrosting a dozen pork chops to make room for my pants.  Not even for my FAVORITE pants.  Also: impatient.  Also also: in the middle of a wardrobe panic.

use goo gone to remove gum on fabric

So then I saw a number of threads and forum posts about using Goo Gone.  Now, we have multiple bottles of this stuff floating around–I have used it to get stickers off near about everything, from my bumper to ceramics from the store to the fronts of books that we got on discount.  (Side note: twenty (ahem) years ago, when I was a college student and working in the campus bookstore, we didn’t have Goo Gone–we used lighter fluid and a palette knife to scrape price stickers off used books before putting them on the shelf for sale.  True story.)  I figured: I have this stuff in the garage, a ton of folks attest to how quick and effective it is, and the worst case scenario–that it will leave a spot on my pants–is no worse than the other options I have available.  Plus, with over a dozen different people saying they’ve done it, laundered immediately, and had no staining, I felt pretty solid.

apply goo gone with cotton balls

Naturally, I photographed the entire thing.

I started, as per the instructions on the back of the bottle, by saturating the offender: I used cotton balls to really soak into the gum.  This was just a thinnish layer by now, since I’d picked a lot of it off already.  I dabbed with a fairly sopping cotton ball until the gum was glossy and the fabric surrounding it had darkened enough that I knew it was soaking in beneath the gum as well as at the edges.

saturate a stain with goo gone to remove from fabric

See how it’s darker, and the gum is looking slick?  Bits of the gum–I think it was spearmint, but don’t quote me–had already begun to adhere to the cotton ball and sluice right off the pants.  There isn’t really a better word–it was almost as if it came off in slick layers, and it was a little bit gross.  NOT. MY. GUM.  Ew.

remove gum from fabric with goo gone

Gradually, I blotted and dabbed until I had taken what seemed like a few layers off, and the edges were beginning to peel away from the jeans.  I was feeling a little more confident, but wasn’t going to call it quits until I had mastered this evil blot on the pants of my dreams.

scrape away excess gum to remove from fabric

Multiple accounts on the web had suggested using a knife to scrape the excess gum away from the fabric, and with it all softened up and gooey again, now seemed like a good time to give that a shot.  Using just a table knife, I scraped the blade against the fabric, peeling up the gum as I did.  This took all of four strokes, because the gum was good and ready to come away and hit the road.

gum removed from fabric with goo gone

After the scraping, I was left with this.  Huzzah and jubilee!  Nearly all the gum had been chemically softened and manually scraped away, and I was breathing a little easier.  Did I mention this was all at around 10 pm on a school night?  Panic cleaning, it was.

touch up last bits of gum with a cotton swab

I grabbed a cotton swab (we buy the generic brand around here, so no Q-tips for me) and soaked it in the Goo Gone again.  I used tiny circles to brush away the icky bits of gum that were still ground into the weave of the fabric.  Oy, how yukky.  I really wanted to be sure that I had gotten as much off physically as possible before I threw these in the washer.

That was the next step: laundering.  This is also where I stopped taking photos.  (Side side note: I really should consider a water-proof camera.)  I washed and dried that night, because I didn’t want to take any chances that the Goo Gone would do something unexpected if left to sit without washing, or that the jeans would come out stained if I washed and didn’t check the spot and then dry immediately.  I am delighted to report that I am (1) wearing these pants right this very second and (2) delighted with how simple and effective this solution was.  I don’t know what’s in that Goo Gone–something citrusy, because it actually smells pretty nice–but it totally did the trick, and didn’t leave even a hint of a spot or stain or record of any kind that I ever sat in someone else’s old gum.

Whew!  Next time, I’ll pay less attention to whether the children are smearing ketchup on the table and more to where I put my behind.

*This is in no way a sponsored post.  Honest.  I just had the product on hand already, and it did the job.  Hope it works for you, too!

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  • Sharon N
    December 6, 2013 at 8:21 am

    Don’t you just hate the gum thing? Yuck! Once I had gum all over a favorite shirt. I too searched the internet for answers. I didn’t have any Goo Gone so I thought freezing would be the next best option but, like you, didn’t want to find room in the freezer and also I didn’t want to wait that long. One option I found was to use hair spray, which will harden the gum. It worked amazingly well! Spray on the spot and immediately scrape with a butter knife. Spray and scrape. Spray and scrape. Don’t wait to scrape though because the freezing affect of the hair spray only lasts for a short time. Nice thing about it is you don’t have to worry about staining. I thought it was a nifty “trick” and something that would especially come in handy on vacation when the odds of having Goo Gone are somewhere between slim and none!

  • Updating a Vintage Metal Find | Whipstitch
    February 25, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    […] Which pretty much makes me a sticker-removing expert.  I made it happen a little differently than we did back in 1992–we used lighter fluid to soak the stickers and weaken the adhesive back then, which was probably a sketchy idea, but that was how the suits wanted it done.  These days, I generally avoid techniques that might cause the fiery destruction of my home for the sake of a craft project, so I went with my old friend, Goo Gone. […]