How to Remove Gum from Fabrics

If you've discovered sticky gum on your couch or favorite sweater, you may feel as though you'll never get it off. Fortunately, you can remove gum from clothing, fabric (like blankets, sheets, or fabric covers), and leather using just a few items. Try freezing and picking the gum off of fabrics before trying home remedies. You may be able to remove gum using lemon juice, hair spray or oil. Always check the fabric's care label to determine what treatments are safe to use.

Method One of Three:
Freezing the Gum on Cloth Fabrics

  1. 1
    Place clothing in the freezer. If you've gotten gum on your favorite blouse or sweater, carefully fold the clothing so the gum is facing the outside. Clear a space in your freezer so you can set the folded clothing in it. Leave the clothing in the freezer until the gum hardens. Depending on how thick the gum is, you may need to freeze the clothing for an hour or two.[1]
    • Avoid covering the clothing with something that the gum may stick to. You can simply put it on a shelf of the freezer.
  2. 2
    Freeze the gum with ice cubes. If you can't fit the fabric in the freezer or can't get it wet, place an ice cub directly on the gum. If you shouldn't get the material wet, place an ice pack or bag filled with ice over the gum. Leave the gum on the ice for 10 to 15 minutes or until the gum becomes firm.
  3. 3
    Pick off the hardened gum. Once the gum has hardened from the freezer or ice cubes, use your fingers to pick away as much of the gum as you can. Then you can take a butter knife or spatula to scrape away the little bits of gum that might still be on the clothing.[2]
    • Avoid scraping the fabric with anything that might damage the fibers.
  4. 4
    Remove residue with dry-cleaning solvent or mineral spirits. Squirt a dry-cleaning solvent onto a sponge and blot the area of fabric where the gum was. Keep blotting with the sponge until the area isn't sticky anymore. If you don't have dry-cleaning solvent, you can use a sponge dipped in mineral spirits.[3]
  5. 5
    Clean the fabric according to the care instructions. Read the care label inside the clothing or fabric so you know how to clean it correctly. You can usually spot clean the area if there's residue or a stain left from the gum. Blot the stain with a clean cloth and rub a little soapy water into it with a sponge. Use another wet sponge to wipe the soap out of the stain. Wash the fabric as usual, but check it before you dry it. If there's still a stain, treat the stain again.[4]
    • If you dry the fabric while there's still a stain, you may set the stain. This will make it harder to remove.

Method Two of Three:
Trying Other Home Remedies on Cloth Fabrics

  1. 1
    Soak the gum in lemon juice or hot vinegar. Heat a bowl of vinegar until it's hot or fill the bowl with fresh lemon juice. Place the part of the fabric with the gum in the hot vinegar or lemon juice. Leave the gum to soak. Depending on how hard the gum is, you'll need to soak it for a few hours or up to overnight. You should be able to easily scrape or brush the gum off. Wash the fabric as soon as you've removed the gum.[5]
    • Always test a small area of fabric before you soak the gum. This will let you know if the fabric will be damaged by the hot vinegar or lemon juice.
  2. 2
    Harden the gum with hairspray. If you can't freeze the gum off with a freezer or ice cube, spray it with hair spray. This should harden the gum so you can simply pop it off. You can also take a blunt tool and gently pry off the gum.[6]
    • Ensure that the hairspray won't damage the fabric by testing a small area of the fabric before you begin.
  3. 3
    Use oil to soften the gum. Consider spreading a cooking oil or mayonnaise over the gum. You'll need to massage the oil or mayo into the gum a little. This will make it easier to scrape off. Immediately wash the fabric to prevent the oil from staining the cloth.[7]
    • Keep in mind that you may have trouble removing oil stains from delicate fabrics. Only use oil if you know you can wash it out of the fabric.

Method Three of Three:
Removing Gum from Leather Fabrics

  1. 1
    Pull off the bulk of the gum. As soon as you notice the gum on the leather, use your fingers to gently pull as much of the gum off as you can. Ensure that you don't spread the gum over the leather as you're pulling.[8]
  2. 2
    Use tape to lift off the gum. Take a piece of clear tape and lay it over the gum. Press on the gum so it sticks to the tape. Pull the tape off and some of the gum should come off with it. Keep laying fresh pieces of tape and lifting the gum until all of the gum is removed.[9]
    • You may go through a whole roll of tape depending on how strong the tape is.
  3. 3
    Wash the area with a cleaning product or soapy water. The leather might be dirty once you've removed the gum. To clean the leather, you can use a commercial leather cleaning product or use a mild dish soap and warm water. Just wet a sponge in soapy water and gently rub it over the leather. Avoid pulling or scrubbing on the leather.[10]
    • You may be able to wash away any tiny bits of gum that are still stuck to the leather.
  4. 4
    Remove sticky residue with mineral spirits. Dip a clean cloth into a little dish of mineral spirits. Slowly wipe the cloth over the sticky area on the leather. Once you've removed the sticky residue, use a clean, dry cloth to wipe over the area. This should thoroughly clean the leather and remove the last of the gum.[11]
    • Mineral spirits are also called white spirit and mineral turpentine. Use the mineral spirits in a well ventilated area and avoid touching the soaked cloth with your bare hands since mineral spirits can irritate your skin.
    • Don't throw away the cloth that you dipped in mineral spirits. Instead, place it in a container with water and take it to a local hazardous waste facility.
  5. 5
    Condition the leather. Use the manufacturer's instructions for protecting the leather or use a commercial leather conditioner. This will moisturize the leather since you've probably stripped away some of the protective oils in the fabric.[12]

Community Q&A

Add New Question
  • How do I get gum off a mattress?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Generally, it should come off pretty easily once it dries. If not, try place an ice cube over the gum to harden it. The gum should pop off once it's firm.
    Thanks! 10 3
  • How do I remove gum when it has spread like butter onto vinyl?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Apply an ice cube so the gum becomes more solid, then gently pry it away from the vinyl.
    Thanks! 4 3
  • How can I remove ironed in gum from a shirt pocket?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Fold and place the whole shirt in the freezer for a few hours. This should harden the gum so you can scrape it off.
    Thanks! 1 2
  • I got it on a pillow. Will these methods help?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • It depends on the material of your pillow. I recommend rubbing alcohol, as that worked for me, but if that doesn't do it, try one of the other methods.
    Thanks! 0 0
  • How do I get gum off a blanket?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • The suggestions above are all worth trying. Start with the freezing or hairspray method.
    Thanks! 0 0
  • Will this work on shoe fabric?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • It should work, depending on the material of the shoe.
    Thanks! 0 1
  • What should I do if my sheets are white?
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Quick Summary

To remove gum from fabrics, fold the fabric so the gum is on the outside and place the fabric in your freezer for 1-2 hours until the gum hardens. If you can't fit the fabric in the freezer, put an ice cube or ice pack directly on the gum for 10-15 minutes. Next, use your fingers to pick off as much hardened gum as you can, then use a butter knife or spatula to scrape away the remaining bits. Remove any residue with mineral spirits before cleaning the fabric according to the normal care instructions!


  • Avoid heating the gum using a hair dryer. This will work the gum into the fibers of the fabric which will actually make it harder to remove.
    0 Helpful?  0
  • Avoid using peanut butter on leather because it can leave oily residue that damages the fabric. If you want to use peanut butter on fabrics, check the fabric for stains after you've removed the gum.
    0 Helpful?  0

Things You'll NeedEdit

  • Dry-cleaning solvent
  • Sponge
  • Freezer
  • Butter knife or spatula
  • Clear tape
  • Clean cloths
  • Small dish
  • Mineral spirits
  • Leather conditioner
  • Mild dish soap

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About This Article

3 votes - 67%
Co-authors: 31
Views: 329,456

Reader Success Stories

  • A


    Jun 17, 2017

    "I didn't try the other methods, as step 1 did the trick, but I appreciate all the options offered to your readers!"
  • SJ

    Sheila Jones

    May 8, 2017

    "I put the ice cub on the fabric and it took the gum out of the fabric! Thanks!"
  • A


    Feb 4, 2017

    "Using ice worked the best. Thanks!"
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