Gum is great for fending off cravings, popping ears on a plane or freshening your breath, but carpet and chewed gum don't mix. Sticky gum makes your carpet fibers clump together and attracts dirt. Before you reach for the scissors to cut out the gum, try items you may have around the house, whether you're removing chewing gum from car mats or house carpets.
Ice Freezing Method
It's always best to start with methods that are least likely to cause damage or leave stains. When it comes to gum, ice is a good choice. With any luck, you can freeze the gum to harden it and remove the hardened chunks much easier than pulling out soft, chewed gum.
Put the ice cubes in a plastic zip-top bag and place it directly over the gum for several minutes until it hardens. Pull away the chunks of hardened gum carefully to avoid damaging the carpet fibers, making sure they don't fall back onto the rug. You can also use a scraping tool, spatula or butter knife to help you remove the gum if you're careful not to damage the fibers. If the gum starts to soften again, reapply the ice and continue working on the mess until you remove it all.
Heating Up the Gum
You can go the opposite route by heating the gum using a hair dryer until it starts to melt. Pull at the melted gum using a plastic bag or similar material that won't tear. Continue heating the gum and scraping it off until you get rid of all residue. With this method, you want to make sure the heat from the hair dryer doesn't melt or damage the carpet fibers.
Best Solvent for Removing Gum
If cold or heat doesn't do the trick, you may need to step up your approach with a solvent. The best solvent for removing gum is one that doesn't damage your carpet. One option is WD-40, the versatile product that works as everything from a lubricant to a solvent.
Direct the WD-40 toward the gum itself and give it a few minutes to soak in and loosen the gum. You can use a fingernail brush to help scrape the loosened gum from the carpet. Just be careful not to spread the gum to surrounding carpet. You may need to apply more WD-40 to the carpet to get all of the gum out of it.
You'll also need to clean the carpet afterward. Use detergent to clean out the area. Use a clean, wet sponge to get the detergent out of the carpet. You may need to repeat the cleaning process to make sure there are no remnants left behind.
Other Household Items
You may have some other items in your home that can work for removing the gum. Pouring vinegar on the gum and letting it soak in can help loosen it. Look in your medicine cabinet for products such as muscle pain rubs that contain methyl salicylate to help remove the last remnants of the gum. Even hairspray can help by hardening the gum and making it easier to chip away.
Any time you use a product on your carpet, either in your house or in your car, it's a good idea to test it on an inconspicuous spot to make sure it doesn't stain or cause damage. Clean the carpet after using any products to remove the gum. Carpet cleaner or mild detergent works well. Sponge the carpet with plain water after cleaning to remove any residue.
Cutting Out the Gum
As a last resort, you can cut out the gum on some carpet. Since it may leave a noticeably shorter patch, it's best to remove as much gum as you can with other methods before grabbing the scissors. Avoid cutting gum out of carpet that will show the missing section, such as Berber and loop-pile carpet. Cutting out a section of those carpets damages them and makes a noticeable patch in the carpet.
Shelley Frost combines her love of DIY and writing in her freelance career. She has first-hand experience with tiling, painting, refinishing hardwood floors, installing lighting, roofing and many other home improvement projects. She keeps her DIY skills fresh with regular projects around the house and extensive writing work on the topic.