Stepping in a sticky, dirty piece of chewing gum is no fun. Thankfully, it’s pretty easy to figure out how how to get gum off shoes in most cases.
What’s more, it only requires some common household items or things you can buy almost anywhere. And it won’t take long before your shoes are gum-free again.
So, if you’ve been freaking out about how to get gum off shoes, you’ve come to the right place. Don’t worry. It’ll be gone soon.
How to Get Gum off Shoes
There are many takes on how to get gum off shoes, but they’re not all interchangeable. Some are universal, but others only work for certain types of shoes or certain parts of the shoe.
If you get gum on a pair of trusty tennis shoes, almost anything will work. But if you’re wearing finer shoes when you step in the sticky mess, it can be a trickier situation.
Materials like suede and nubuck are famously sensitive, so you may need to stick to using a specialized cleaner. Saddle soap is also ideal for leather and similar materials, which may need a touch-up after the gum removal. You’ll also need a good brush, and those are helpful for all types of shoes.
Now, that’s not the only solution. Let’s begin with something simple and universal that should work for virtually all shoes.
Stick It in the Freezer
Like most other things, gum hardens if it gets cold. Therefore, using a freezer is a simple solution to how to get gum off shoes.
First, you should stick the shoe in a plastic bag. Surely, you don’t want to get dirt from your shoes in your freezer. Also, this method is far more effective if the gum has something to stick to.
So, use a plastic bag, and make sure to press it against the gum until it sticks. Now it’s ready for the freezer.
After an hour or two, it should be sufficiently frozen. Now, the only thing left to do is to take it out and pull the gum off the shoe.
If it didn’t work, you probably took it out too soon. Putting it back in and waiting longer should do the trick. You can also try scraping off the frozen gum with a butter knife or a similar tool.
Another Job for WD-40
- Drives out moisture and quickly dries out electrical systems to eliminate moisture-induced short circuits
- Acts as a corrosion inhibitor to shield against moisture and other corrosive elements to prevent rust
- Frees sticky mechanisms, loosens rust-to-metal bonds and helps release stuck, frozen or rusted metal parts
If you know some mechanics or people who are really into cars and machinery, you’ve probably seen or heard about the power of WD-40. It’s a mix of lubricants and solvents with countless uses all revolving in getting stuck things to move.
Gum's no exception to this effect. If you spray some WD-40 onto the gum and around it and then leave it for a couple of minutes, it should come right off.
To remove the gum, you’ll want to use a rag or paper towel. If there’s still some gum residue on the shoe, a second spray should take care of that.
Regarding how to get gum off shoes, few solutions are this simple and effective. However, it’s not suitable for suede and other porous, absorbent materials. The oil will stain fabrics, so be careful.
Also, make sure to rinse and wipe off your shoes after removing gum with WD-40. The active ingredients may react with rubber and plastic materials if left on.
Solving the Problem with Solvents
WD-40 is only one example of common products that can dissolve the gum. If you don’t have it, you may have other household products that can do the job.
Please note the importance of carefully choosing a solvent for the job. Impurities can stain or damage your shoes. Also, you need to make sure that the product won’t dissolve the shoe materials.
Acetone is the active ingredient in most nail polish removers, and it also has many other common uses. Having some comes in handy when figuring out how to remove gum from shoes.
If you moisten a rag or paper towel with the liquid, you have a great gum remover. Simply rubbing it against the gum repeatedly should do the trick.
However, acetone is highly flammable and produces harmful vapors. So, you should do this outside or in a well-ventilated spot away from electronics and heat sources.
Also, acetone may dissolve the finish on suede and patent shoes. It’s fine for the soles on most shoes, and it’s fine to use on cheaper or sturdier materials as long as there’s no soluble finish.
Naphtha or lighter fluid
Naphta is a petroleum-based solvent that works really well for removing paint and lacquer. It’s also very flammable, so it’s a popular lighter fluid. More importantly, it can dissolve chewing gum.
So, how to get gum off shoes with it? Well, you’ll want to drip some onto a rag or paper towel and then rub the gum until it’s gone. Piece of cake!
However, it has most of the same downsides as acetone. It may dissolve more than you wished for, so you shouldn’t use it on lacquered shoes. As the name implies, it’s also very flammable, so be careful.
Certain other lighter fluids may also do the trick. However, they turn into gas very quickly. This makes them both inefficient and hazardous.
Freezing and dissolving the gum are the best approaches to how to get gum off shoes. But what if you don’t have a suitable freezer and your shoe can’t handle solvents?
If you can get your hands on some ice, it’ll make a fine substitute for a freezer.
First, you’ll want to put the ice in a plastic bag to keep your shoe dry. Then, your shoe with the gummed side up and set the ice bag on top of the gum. Next, seal the shoe and ice bag inside another plastic bag to keep the cold inside.
Now, you’ll have to press the ice down for a while. You must freeze the gum solid before it’ll come off, so give it several minutes.
Next, you can scrape it off. It’s best to use something that’s thin enough to get under the gum but dull enough not to harm your shoe. For example, a butter knife is perfect.
Try Melting It
If you can harden something with cold, you can dissolve it with heat. So, let’s reverse our thoughts on how to get gum off shoes and melt it.
No, we’re not suggesting that you roast your shoes in the oven. What we do suggest is that you use a hairdryer. A heat gun can be more effective, but you must also be careful not to melt or scorch the shoe.
Grab a spoon or butter knife, then start heating the gum. Check the gum’s consistency frequently with the tool, and start scraping it off when it’s soft and less sticky. You can finish it off with a paper towel to get any residue.
The Peanut Butter Trick
What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when someone gets gum in their hair? Peanut butter, right?
Well, its helpful properties also apply to how to get gum off shoes. You see, the oil in peanut butter can dissolve the sticky compounds. Also, the little particles have an abrasive effect that helps you break the rubbery bonds and scrub everything off.
It’s best to use creamy peanut butter because it’s more effective. You’ll want to apply a thick layer of the buttery goodness on and around the gum for the best effect. Around two tablespoons should be enough.
Now, you need to give it at least 10 minutes to work its magic. Then, you can scrub it off. A hard-bristle brush or some steel wool is ideal. Also, you should scrub with the grooves rather than against them. This reduces the risk of damaging your shoe.
Please note that peanut butter will stain suede, nubuck, and fabrics. So, it’s only suitable for non-absorbent surfaces.
Time to Oil Up?
What do peanut butter and WD-40 have in common? The answer is oil. How does this relate to how to remove gum from shoes?
Well, chewing gum gets its chewiness from rubbery or plastic compounds, which consist of oils. Therefore, many oils can mix with these compounds and ruin the stickiness.
So, regular cooking oil can help you with how to get gum off shoes. You can rub it onto the gum with a cotton ball or rag, and then leave it for a few minutes. Then, you can simply scrub it off.
Again, the oil will stain suede, fabrics, and leather. So, don’t use it on shoes made with those materials. It’s fine if you only use it on the sole, but you must be careful not to let it spill onto the sensitive materials.
Outside? Try Sand
If you stepped on a pretty fresh piece of gum and noticed it right away, it’s best to deal with it as soon as possible. Thankfully, you can use dry sand and dust from the ground to remove the gum.
First, take off your shoe and set it with the gum facing up. Then, sprinkle some sand onto the gum. Next, grab a stick or other object you can use to scrape it off.
Keep scraping and pouring sand and mixing it into the gum. This will both dry it out and help you scrape it off.
You may not always be able to get everything off with this method. However, it’ll make things much easier when you get home and can use other methods.
Good as New!
Wasn’t that easy? With your new arsenal of ways how to get gum off shoes, you’ll always be able to enjoy gum-free shoes.
Featured image by pixabay