Help me get gum off of pants
January 25, 2010 7:25 AM   Subscribe

How best to remove gum from pants

So, my fabulous SO and I were out for a pint recently and the bench she sat on had a fresh deposit of used chewing gum (thanks asshole!) which we didn't notice. Her nearly new dark blue jeans need to be salvaged.

I've tried putting the pants in the freezer for a day and then scraping with a butter knife but no joy on that. I've googled and searched mefi and the prevailing theories are:
1) Wet the area, freeze and then scrape
2) Rub peanut butter in, its oil loosens the gum, scrape then wash
3) Warm vinegar and a toothbrush
4) (I am not making this up) - carb cleaner!

Any anecdotes or data about which will both work and not lighten the area where the gum is so as to aesthetically ruin the pants?
posted by BrooksCooper to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This happened to me more than I care to remember in high school. The answer is lighter fluid.
posted by ferociouskitty at 7:26 AM on January 25, 2010

Another option is hairspray. Spray it on the gum, then scrape it off with a *blunt* knife. You probably would want to have some icecubes too.
posted by majikstreet at 7:36 AM on January 25, 2010

posted by InsanePenguin at 7:39 AM on January 25, 2010

I've used an iron for to remove gum from clothing. While the iron is heating, place the jeans with the gum facing downwards on a piece of cardboard. Iron the jeans until the gum is transferred onto the cardboard.
posted by runningwithscissors at 7:46 AM on January 25, 2010 [2 favorites]

I have used peanut butter more than once (thanks rotten nephew) with great succes.
posted by meeshell at 8:01 AM on January 25, 2010

Put them in the freezer - then peel off.
posted by honey-barbara at 8:07 AM on January 25, 2010

Lighter fluid works. Freezing works. Boiling water poured from a kettle also works.
posted by rokusan at 8:18 AM on January 25, 2010

Seconding the iron idea. Put rags on both front and back of the gum spots and press it with a not-too-hot iron. You might need to swap out the rags a couple of times, but it should transfer the gum onto the rags without damaging the jeans.
posted by Dojie at 9:20 AM on January 25, 2010

Forget all that stuff mentioned above. Go buy a bottle of Goo Gone. Live a happier life.
posted by fontophilic at 9:22 AM on January 25, 2010

Duct tape works. The sticky side will lift out (warm) gum, you sort of press it on and peel off of the gummy spot repeatedly.
posted by philscience at 9:34 AM on January 25, 2010

Goo Gone. do spot check first, like maybe inside, on the inside zipper placket. otherwise you'll be at Hobby Lobby next, looking for cool iron-on patches to cover up the discolored spot on the butt.
posted by toodleydoodley at 9:37 AM on January 25, 2010

Chewing gum is a sort of synthetic rubber, a mostly non-polar organic plastic. It is thus soluble in mostly non-polar solvents.

Best: Goo-gone (alkanes with a bit of detergent)

Also ok: WD-40 (alkanes with stronger detergents), Mineral or white spirits (straight cut petroleum distillates),

Will sort-of work: Vegetable oils (Fatty acids and triglycerides), including things like peanut butter.

Will not work: Water (with or without soap), alcohols, nail polish remover, vinegar.

OK solvents, but too dangerous to use: turpentine, gasoline, white gas/naptha (too much carcinogenic aromatic content, and fire risks).
posted by bonehead at 10:38 AM on January 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Put the garment in a plastic bag in the freezer; scrape off gum; remove any remainder by soaking in white vinegar or rubbing with egg white before laundering.

Un-Du works wonders -- for me much better than Goo-Gone, without the awful smell.
posted by KRS at 1:02 PM on January 25, 2010

If you have access to dry ice, that works very well. The freezer trick only works if you can get the gum REALLY hard. Wear thick gloves and hold a chunk of dry ice to the gum until it is rock hard, then peel it off and scrape any little bits.
Freezers are usually not cold enough to make this happen without leaving it in for a few days.
posted by nprigoda at 1:10 PM on January 25, 2010

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