Gum is every kid’s favorite guilty pleasure. It’s what you reach for when you have bad breath, when you’re bored, or when you’re not hungry but just crave some flavor in your mouth. It can be a simple way to reduce stress or curb those persistent sugar cravings.

However, as good as gum is for your taste buds, it isn’t fantastic for your clothes. A piece of chewed gum you’ve accidentally left on your table can easily get stuck on your shirt sleeve. Likewise, that piece of gum you’ve forgotten in the pocket of your jacket can easily turn into a gooey puddle if you put it in the washer.

The resulting sticky gunk is already hard to remove. But, if you accidentally ran the clothing through the dryer, then your cleaning challenge becomes that much harder — but not impossible.

Because while dry gum is difficult to remove from clothing, there are ways to do it successfully. So, in case you’re wondering how to get gum out of clothes that went through the dryer, roll up your sleeves and get ready. We’re going to share the easiest method of removing this sticky substance so that your clothes end up looking as fresh as the day you bought them!

Gum and Clothing: A Basic Breakdown

Like pixy sticks and sour candy, chewing gum is one of those confections you expect to be entirely synthetic. However, you may be surprised to learn that this candy actually exists in nature.

Certain species of plants, such as the Sapodilla tree, produce sap that has a very sticky and chewy consistency that closely mirrors gum. During ancient times, humans would take the sap and chew it to stave off hunger, boredom, or improve their concentration. After the industrial revolution, manufacturers started adding artificial flavorings to the sap to make it more appealing.

However, after the Second World War, synthetic materials started getting more popular. Thus, it was no longer convenient to use natural ingredients to make chewing gum. Therefore, manufacturers started relying on a rubber base to which they added flavorings to create this simple candy.

The base contains three basic ingredients — resin, wax, and elastomer. Resin is the chewable portion, but since it can be very tough, producers add wax to it to soften it up. Elastomer is what gives the gum elasticity and helps it stay intact despite repeated chewing.

Other ingredients you can find in chewing gum differ from brand to brand. But, at the most basic level, they include sweeteners like sugar, dextrose, or maltose. In the case of sugar-free gums, they often feature artificial sweeteners like aspartame, as well as various trademark flavors like mint, spearmint, or fruity alternatives.

Manufacturers rely on glycerin to further soften the gum and polyol to give it that hard exterior. It’s the polyol that causes the gum to become all sticky. The substance dissolves when it comes into contact with moisture. If the liquid is warm, then this process is hastened and makes the rubbers in the base softer and more adhesive.

This is why removing gum from clothing is such an issue. Once you run it through a hot wash cycle, the base will dissolve and spread across the fabric. The air from the dryer will cause most of the moisture to evaporate. Thus, you end up with a semi-sticky goop stain that is an absolute nightmare to get rid of.

Removing Gum From Clothes That Went Through the Dryer: 7 Methods

If you’ve discovered a piece of gum stuck to some of your clothes, don’t despair. Your favorite outfit isn’t ruined. There are several methods you can use to remove that pesky piece of goop once and for all.

1. Detergent

Detergent is an excellent gum-removing solution, provided you use it correctly. Most detergents contain chemicals that help loosen the adhesives in the gum and, thus, make it easier to remove.

So, when you’re ready to start cleaning, place the garment in the sink. Then, pour liquid laundry detergent over the area where the gum is stuck. Use a toothbrush to dab the detergent into and around the gum. After you’ve let the solution rest for around 10 minutes, use a sharp blade to gently remove the gum. If there is any excess left, feel free to remove it with your nails. Afterwards, wash the garment as you normally would to clean out any leftover stains. 

2. Toothpaste

Another common household item that can help clear out gum is toothpaste. This gooey substance hardens when it’s exposed to air. Therefore, you can use it as a kind of DIY gum remover.

Simply dab a bit of the paste on the gum, taking care not to stain the clothing. Let it rest for a minute or so until it becomes semi-hard. Then, flatten it to the gum using your open palm or another flat surface.

Once the gum is fully covered, leave the toothpaste to harden completely. As soon as you notice cracks in the surface of the toothpaste, try scratching it off with a sharp blade.  

3. Vinegar

When it comes to cleaning out gum stains, nothing does the job quite like vinegar. The acidity in this substance can dissolve gum and reduce some of its adhesive properties.

So, to clean your clothing, microwave a cup of distilled white vinegar for around 30 seconds. Using a toothbrush, rub the hot vinegar into the gum. Keep gently scrubbing until the gum loosens and starts to dissolve. Fair warning, though, this method will leave a bit of a stain on your clothing. However, you can easily fix this by adding a DIY stain remover to your next load of laundry. Simply mix a bit of hydrogen peroxide with dish soap and presto! That pesky little gum stain should be gone after one wash.

4. Peanut Butter

Using peanut butter to remove gum seems completely random. How could this sticky spread possibly remove gum stuck to your clothing? The answer is amylase. This is an enzyme found in peanuts that can dissolve the gum base. Thus, it’s the perfect solution for gum stains.

Spread a smear of plain peanut butter, trying to coat as much of the gum as possible, while avoiding getting it on the fabric. Allow it to rest for between 5 to 10 minutes, so the gum can lose some of its hardness. Once the 10 minutes are up, remove the gum using a sharp blade.

5. Put the Garment in the Freezer

The reason why gum sticks to garments is because the moisture loosens the base. So, the logical solution to this problem is to remove the moisture. The easiest way to do this is to place the garment in the freezer.

First, fold your clothing item so the gum is on the outside. Then, carefully wrap the garment inside the plastic bag, making sure it doesn’t stick. Store the bag in the freezer for a minimum of two hours, letting the gum harden. The moisture in the gum will freeze, making the goop as solid as a rock. This will, in turn, allow you to scrape it off using a knife.

6. Canned Air Spray

This gum-cleaning method is a bit on the unconventional side. However, we can’t deny that it works. Canned air spray, or Gas Duster, as it’s also known, is a type of cleaning product that is most often used for cleaning equipment that can’t be treated using water.

The can contains compressed gas, which gets expelled at high velocity the moment you press the top nozzle. As a result, you get a powerful stream of air that can remove dirt from even the tightest of crevices. Conveniently, canned air spray can also help you remove any gum stuck to your clothing. Simply spray the air on the gum until it comes loose. Afterwards, scrape it off using a butter knife, or other sharp blades.

7. Duct Tape

There is a running gag that you can fix almost anything using duct tape. While this doesn’t apply to everything across the board, it certainly applies to chewing gum. Both the gum and duct tape are adhesive. Therefore if you press the tape to the gum, you can easily remove it from your clothes.

Start by cutting off a piece of duct tape that’s just big enough to cover the gum, but not big enough to stick to the fabric. Afterwards, apply pressure to the duct tape so that it sticks to the gum. You can use your fingernail to scratch at the surface, just ensure the tape and the gum bind well to each other. Using a bit of force, pull the duct tape off. Since the gum has hardened in the dryer, it should come off in one clean chunk.

But, if the duct tape fails to remove it, reapply a fresh strip and try again. If you still aren’t having any luck, consider using different types of duct tape.

As soon as the gum is off, apply stain remover as necessary to clear out any remaining spots.

Key Takeaways

Chewing gum can be a fun, tasty activity. However, the second that piece of goop sticks to your favorite T-shirt, the fun ends there. Gum stains are notoriously hard to remove, especially if you’ve already washed and dried your clothes. However, with the right tools and just a bit of patience, you too can learn how to get gum out of clothes that went through the dryer, without damaging your favorite outfit!

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