We’ve all been there – you’re walking along without a care in the world and suddenly your shoe gets stuck to the ground. You look down in dismay to see a wad of used chewing gum gripping the bottom of your favourite pair of sneakers. What a bummer!
As unpleasant as it is to step in gum, removing it doesn’t have to be a sticky situation. With a few common household items and a little elbow grease, you can outsmart that troublesome gum and free your shoes from its gooey grasp.
In this article, I’ll share 10 clever gum removal methods I’ve learned over the years for tackling chewed gum on shoes. You probably already have the ingredients at home. From vegetable oil to WD-40 to peanut butter, who knew these simple pantry staples could be surprisingly effective at gum removal?
I’ll also provide tips to stop gum from sticking to shoes in the first place. Because honestly, prevention is the best medicine when it comes to the annoyances of discarded gum! Let’s dig into these gum fighting techniques so you can wear your footwear with confidence again.
How to Remove Chewing Gum from Shoes
This guide will walk you through 9 clever hacks for removing chewing gum from shoes, so you can restore them to their former glory.
Method #1: Freeze It Off with Ice Cubes
My first trick for removing gum from shoes is to grab some ice cubes. Simply place a few cubes in a baggy and hold it on the gum for 1-2 minutes. The cold temperature will harden the gum, allowing you to then chip or scrape it off more easily with a plastic card or dull knife. Be patient as it takes a couple minutes for the ice to fully penetrate and freeze the gum.
I like this method because ice cubes are readily available in the freezer section. It’s a inexpensive and convenient option worth trying first before breaking out anything more potent. The only catch is that ice works best on smaller pieces of fresh gum that haven’t hardened too much yet.
Method #2: Use Baking Soda to Absorb Gum
For removing stubborn, stuck-on gum that has been on your shoes for a while, baking soda is an absorptive problem solver. Simply make a paste by mixing 3 parts baking soda with 1 part water. Apply the paste to the gummed area using an old toothbrush, butter knife, or popsicle stick. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes so the baking soda can work to absorb and dry out the gum. It will begin crumbling away. Wipe off the dried gum fragments and repeat if needed for any leftover sticky spots.
I like baking soda because it’s gentle and non-abrasive. It slowly dries out the gummy mess without damaging the shoe material. Just avoid getting the paste too wet, or it will lose effectiveness. A little goes a long way with this classic pantry de-gummer!
Method #3: Vinegar to the Rescue
Vinegar is a mild acid that can help dissolve gum and loosen its grip from shoes. Dip a sponge or scrub brush in white vinegar and scrub the gummed area. You can also spot treat with vinegar by pouring some onto a cotton ball and holding it on the gum for 5-10 minutes before scrubbing. The acetic acid in vinegar breaks down the gum’s stickiness.
I’m a big fan of this method because vinegar is inexpensive, non-toxic, and found in most kitchen pantries. It works on leather, rubber, and canvas shoes. Just avoid getting the acid on shiny patent leather. And as always, test vinegar in an inconspicuous spot first to make sure it won’t damage the shoes.
Method #4: Erase Gum with a Rubber Eraser
For a super simple gum removal hack, grab a rubber eraser, the kind you probably used to erase pencil in school. Firmly rub the eraser over the gum on the shoe’s sole in a circular motion. The friction combined with the eraser’s oils helps to grind away dried gum. Make sure to brush off any eraser crumbs when you’re done.
I love this no-fuss method for small spots of gum on sturdy rubber shoe soles. Erasers are gentle enough not to damage the shoe, and you likely have one handy in your desk drawer already. Just don’t expect miracles on hardened gum wads. But for light gum deposits, it’s an easy fix!
Method #5: Peanut Butter
Here’s an out-of-the-box idea for tackling tricky gum – peanut butter! The natural oils in peanut butter can dissolve gum so it wipes away more easily. Simply apply a generous glob using an old butter knife. Let it soak for 10-15 minutes. Then wipe away the softened gum with a paper towel or rag. Follow up by washing the spot with warm soapy water to remove any oily peanut butter residue.
I like this method for tennis shoes and canvas sneakers. The peanut oil is able to penetrate the gum well. Just be cautious using peanut butter on suede or nubuck leather, as it may leave an oil stain. But on most materials, it’s worth a shot when dealing with a stubborn wad of chewing gum.
Method #6: Remove Gum with WD-40
WD-40 is beloved for its ability to loosen stuck parts and tools. Well, it also works great at freeing shoes from sticky gum! Spray it directly onto the gum and let it soak for 2-3 minutes. The light oil will seep into the gum and separate it from the shoe. Wipe away the softened gum with a dry cloth. Follow up by cleaning the area to remove any oily residue.
I’m a big fan of WD-40 for quickly penetrating and dissolving large globs of aged gum on shoe soles. It may lighten leather though, so I’d test it first in an inconspicuous spot. Avoid using it at all on patent leather. But for rubber and most other materials, it’s a handy gum removal spray to keep on hand.
Method #7: Use Dental Floss to Cut Away Gum
Here’s an easy technique using a common bathroom essential – dental floss. Simply slide sturdy floss under the gum wad and saw back and forth. This abrasive friction will cut through the gum, allowing you to then pick off the sliced pieces. You can also wrap the floss around your fingers and use it like a mini saw blade against the surface of the gum.
I like this method because almost everyone has floss on hand. It takes a little patience and elbow grease, but cutting off chunks makes removing the rest much easier. Be careful not to run the floss across the shoe’s surface, which could scratch or damage the material. But it works great to slice off clumps of built-up gum from deep shoe treads.
Method #8: Attack Gum with Rubbing Alcohol
Next time you have a gum emergency, head to the medicine cabinet for some rubbing alcohol. Soak a cotton ball and hold it on the gum for 1-2 minutes. Rubbing alcohol is highly effective at dissolving gum’s sticky grip. Wipe away the loosened gum with a dry cloth. You may need to reapply a few times for thick buildup.
I’m a fan of this method because most households have rubbing alcohol on hand to disinfect cuts and scrapes. It quickly breaks down gum bonds, making it easier to remove. Just avoid using it on leather, which it could dry out. And be sure to spot test first, as rubbing alcohol can strip some shoe dyes or coatings. But it’s powerful stuff when you’re dealing with a gum fiasco.
Method #9: Lift Gum with Goo Gone
When you need heavy duty help, look no further than Goo Gone. This mild adhesive remover is specially designed to dissolve gum, stickers, and other sticky messes. Apply Goo Gone directly to the gum with a sponge or scrub brush. Let it soak in for 5 minutes. The citrus-scented liquid will seep in and separate the gum from the shoe. Wipe it away with a dry cloth, then wash the area with warm water and soap.
I like keeping a bottle of Goo Gone handy for shoe gum emergencies because it’s fast and effective. It works well on rubber, canvas, metal, and most other materials. Just avoid using it on leather or patent leather, where it could cause damage. It’s strong stuff, so ventilation is recommended. But it’s a gum-removing powerhouse!
Method #10: The Magic Eraser Method
Mr. Clean Magic Erasers seem to be able to clean just about anything, and gum on shoes is no exception! Here is how to put the cleaning power of Magic Erasers to work on your gummed-up kicks:
Start by getting the surface of the shoe wet. Dampen the gummed area using warm water mixed with a small amount of dish soap. Then, take a Magic Eraser and begin gently scrubbing at the gum. Apply light pressure, moving the eraser in circles.
The mighty melamine foam will help lift and absorb the sticky gum residue. Keep scrubbing until the area is completely clean. You may need to rinse and wring out the Magic Eraser periodically if it gets too saturated with gum.
Magic Erasers are safe for use on most shoe materials. But as always, test first on a small, inconspicuous area to ensure it doesn’t damage the finish. Let shoes dry fully after cleaning.
Preventing Gum from Sticking to Shoes
As the saying goes “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Let’s look at some tips to stop gum from affixing itself to shoes in the first place:
- Watch your step and avoid stepping directly on gum when possible
- Apply a protectant spray that repels gum, like Scotchgard or a silicone spray
- Clean shoe soles regularly to remove dirt and oil that attracts gum
- Consider gum-sole shoes that allow gum to be peeled off more easily
- Be extra vigilant in gum-prone areas like schools, sidewalks, parks etc.
What Can Dissolve Chewing Gum?
As you can see, there are a variety of common household ingredients that can tackle stuck-on chewing gum:
- Oils like peanut butter, WD-40 or Goo Gone help penetrate and separate gum
- Solvents like rubbing alcohol, vinegar or citrus oils dissolve and break down gum
- Ice freezes and hardens gum so it chips off easier
- Abrasives like baking soda, erasers, or floss scrub away and slice gum
The key is finding the method that works best and is safest for your particular shoe type and material. With some experimenting, you’re sure to uncover the right gum-fighting solution. Don’t be afraid to unleash your inner chemist!
Stepping in chewing gum can really stick you in a frustrating situation. But armed with these 10 clever gum removal methods, you can now free your favorite shoes from the sticky trap.
Whether you use ice cubes, baking soda, vinegar, peanut butter or alcohol, the key is finding what works best for both the type of shoe and how long the gum has been stuck on. Attacking it from multiple angles by freezing, dissolving or absorbing the gum will give you the upper hand. I hope these tips spare you from ever having to cut gum out of shoe treads again.
So next time you find yourself yelling “yuck!” after stepping in discarded gum, you’ll know just what to reach for in your pantry or closet to fight back. Now your shoes can live to tread another day gum-free!
FAQs About Removing Gum from Shoes
What is the quickest way to get gum off shoes?
For fast gum removal, rubbing alcohol, WD-40, or Goo Gone work quickly to dissolve gum so it can be wiped away. Ice can also harden gum rapidly so it chips off easily.
What household item removes gum from shoes?
Many common household products can remove gum from shoes – baking soda, vinegar, peanut butter, olive oil, WD-40, rubbing alcohol, lemon juice, ice, and coffee grounds all have gum-fighting abilities.
What is the best thing to use to get gum off shoes?
For most shoe materials, Goo Gone is specially designed to dissolve gum and works better than homemade options. For leather shoes, olive or peanut oil tend to be gentler and safer options.
What dissolves gum in shoes?
Substances that can dissolve gum include oils like WD-40, peanut oil or Goo Gone. Acidic products like vinegar, lemon juice, or rubbing alcohol also work to break down gum’s stickiness.
How do you get old gum off shoes?
For hardened gum that’s been stuck to shoes awhile, try soaking it in WD-40, Goo Gone or rubbing alcohol to penetrate the gum. You can also use baking soda or ice cubes on aged gum to loosen it up before scraping it away.
Does Coke really get gum out of hair/shoes?
While it’s a widespread myth, Coke doesn’t actually dissolve gum well compared to other methods. The carbonation may help lift some gum, but it’s not very effective at removing gum from shoes. Opt for more powerful solvents like oil or alcohol instead.
Does freezing remove gum from shoes?
Yes, freezing gum with ice cubes can effectively harden and crystallize gum, allowing you to then scrape or chip it off the shoe more easily. Just be patient allowing the ice to penetrate and fully freeze the gum first.
Does peanut butter get gum out of shoes?
Yes, applying peanut butter to gum on shoes can help dissolve and lift it away after letting it soak for 10-15 minutes. The natural oils penetrate the gum. Just avoid using it on suede or nubuck leather where it may stain.
Blessing Bunmi is the founder and CEO of Blowra, the leading style guide providing insider fashion and shopping tips. With over 4 years of retail experience, She created Blowra to empower readers to confidently express their personal style.