How to Remove Chewing Gum from Carpet
Follow these gum removal tips if you get stuck in a sticky situation like this one. (Photo by Eldon Lindsay)
Gum is difficult enough to get off of a concrete surface or the bottom of a shoe, but removing gum from a fine woolen rug or carpet fibers can be much more daunting. While it may be tempting to pull up the offending gum immediately, this can easily damage delicate carpet fibers.
Apply heat with hair dryer
A simple method to remove gum from carpet involves using a hair dryer. The softened gum should stick to a cleaning rag or plastic bag and release the carpet fibers as you lift it away from the floor. Proceed slowly to avoid harming the carpet fibers and be prepared to repeat the blotting and lifting process until the gum is removed.
Reapply heat as the gum starts to harden. The hot method of gum removal should be used with caution. If the carpet is wool or a synthetic material, heat that is too high can melt the fibers. Watch for any melting while using the hair dryer. If in doubt, test on a small section of carpet in a hidden area.
Remove gum with ice
Another gum removal method involves applying ice to the spot. Applying the ice will not remove the gum, but it will harden the gum in about 20 minutes, which will make it easier to lift off of the carpet. After the ice has hardened the gum, gently pick at the edges. Go slowly to avoid pulling up carpet fibers along with the gum.
It should be possible to remove most of the gum from the carpet, but there may be small traces left behind. This residue can be removed by lightly scrubbing the carpet with detergent, spray degreaser or a muscle rub that features methyl salicylate as the active ingredient. Test these on an inconspicuous area of the carpet, as they may leave stains of their own. Vacuum up any balls of gum residue leftover from scrubbing.
Use a solution or solvent for gum removal
If the gum spot is older, it may be necessary to apply a dry or gel based solvent, such as a paint, oil and grease remover. As the solvent is working on the gum, scrape gently with a plastic spoon or spatula. Never use a knife to try to lift a gum stain because the sharpened edge can damage the carpet pile.
Following any of the above cleaning methods, be sure to rinse out any remaining solvents or chemical scrubs with a solution of baking soda dissolved in water. This will ensure that all acidic products will be neutralized, and it will remove any colors and smells left by the scrubs. Blot with a clean cloth to dry, then apply a thick, folded cloth weighed down by a stone or heavy item to wick up the last of the water.
Many carpets are very delicate and may not stand up to the solvents and scrubbing used in the methods described. If there is any reason to hesitate over any procedure, contact a professional carpet cleaner. Professional carpet cleaners have the tools and equipment needed to safely and easily remove chewing gum stains.
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Editor's note: This is an updated version of an article originally posted on Jan. 13, 2012.