I have to admit that I’m an ice chewer. I especially love some good pellet ice. While I rarely chew gum I have had the surprising experience of both chewing gum and ice at the same time. It’s a strange experience. What happened was that the gum essentially changed from a sticky cohesive material into small flaky bits in my mouth. It was almost as if the gum suddenly turned into confetti. It was unpleasant but after waiting a moment the gum warmed back up and worked its way back to a few solid gooey masses.
Gum today is more of a plastic than a natural tree gum. The main ingredient in gum is gum base. Gum base is made up of polymers, plasticizers, and resins which are all synthetic. When gum gets cold it is converted to a more hard-like plastic state.
When gum gets stuck to your car seats or carpet it can turn into a nightmare of a mess, especially when it has sat in the hot sun and gotten smeared around. The simple trick to getting gum off car seats or carpet is to freeze it. The most common method for doing this is to place a plastic bag of ice on top of the gum. Once the gum has hardened up you can scrape it off with a plastic tool or card. Something hard enough to pull the gum away but not too hard like metal that it might damage the material of your upholstery, leather, or carpet.
With some luck this will be all that is required to get the gum out of your car or truck. Unfortunately this more often than not will only get you 90% of the way to a completely clean surface. Continue ready to learn all of the tips, tricks, and techniques to get your upholstered or leather seat, carpet, or other interior surfaces completely clean of bits of gooey gum.
Steps for how to get gum out of a car seat or carpet
- If it’s hot out try parking in a shady spot and turning on your air conditioning to cool the interior and make it easier to freeze the gum.
- Apply a Ziploc bag of ice on top of the gum and allow to sit for 20 minutes or so or until the gum is quite hard.
- You want to try to avoid having water sit on your upholstery or leather as it can discolor or stain the area. This is why a Ziploc brand bag is a good idea. You want to use a high quality resealable bag that is made of a thick plastic that will not puncture easily from sharp edges of ice. If you do accidentally find that water has leaked onto your seat and left a stain be sure and check out our article about how to remove water stains from car seats.
- Pry up or scrape away the gum from the surface of the seat or carpet.
- A plastic razor blade is a very good tool for this job. Plastic razor blades are great to have on hand for all sorts of jobs and can be extremely useful.
- Another tool that would work well is a vinyl applicator squeegee. While not as versatile of a tool as a plastic razor blade, these are handy to have around as well, especially if you think you’ll be working with vinyl car wraps or paint protection film.
- Repeat the previous 3 steps until you’re satisfied that these steps won’t produce better results.
- At this point, you will likely be left with some small bits of gum that are more difficult to remove. Duct tape can be applied and quickly removed to help pull away these remaining bits.
- If duct tape doesn’t completely resolve the problem you may need to resort to a solvent such as Goo Gone or Citrol 266 and a cloth rag.
- I’m not a fan of these for use on leather or upholstery but generally, they don’t cause staining. I recommend testing on a less than obvious spot to ensure your particular surface won’t react poorly to these chemicals. Read the instructions for the solvent you intend to use and follow all directions.
- The final step is to thoroughly clean the area where the gum was adhered to.
- For leather, use a good leather cleaner and a proper leather cleaning brush. Follow up with a good leather conditioner.
- For upholstery or carpet use a good quality car fabric/carpet cleaner.
- For vinyl, I suggest you use a quality all-purpose interior cleaner and follow up with Aerospace 303 Protectant.
Tip - Canned Compressed Air
While a bag of ice can do a good job of cooling the gum down it may not be able to adequately cool gum that is a little deeper in carpet or a crevice between leather panels. Surprisingly, a can of compressed air is a much better option. A can of compressed air isn’t actually “air” but compressed fluorocarbon gas.
When turned upside down and sprayed, some of the fluorocarbons that have liquified are sprayed out and will do an amazing job of freezing whatever it is sprayed onto. Using canned air (aka gas duster) is nearly instantaneous at freezing gum compared with the 20 minutes or so that ice takes. Also, canned air can do a better job of getting into crevices or deeper in the upholstery or carpet pile.
The caveat to using canned air is that you should test it on a spot of leather, fabric, or carpet that is difficult to see so that you can ensure that it won’t stain or damage the material you’re going to be using it on. I should also point out that this is not the intended purpose of canned air so understand you use it for this purpose at your own risk but be sure to follow all instructions on the packaging. I personally haven’t found a gas duster to cause any damage to fabric surfaces I’ve sprayed it on. I’m more cautious with leather but fortunately, the gum is easier to remove from leather.
I’ve found canned air to be the most effective and convenient solution for getting gum out of car seats and carpet. It can make a difficult gum removal job a short inconvenience.
Solutions others recommend
Other people online will suggest things such as peanut butter, vegetable oil, or WD-40. While they may work they’ll leave you with a different problem to resolve and may prove more difficult to fix than the original problem. I don’t recommend any other method than what’s outlined above.
If you don’t have the products necessary to resolve the problem properly cover the gum with a clean rag or towel you don’t mind ruining and wait until you have what you need to do the job properly.
Covering the gum will prevent it from sticking to you and your clothing in the interim and hopefully help prevent it from getting embedded any further into your seat or carpet.
Freezing gum with canned compressed air is the easiest method for how to get gum out of a car seat or carpet. Using ice in a plastic resealable bag also works well but will require a little more patience.
Freezing the gum should allow you to quite easily remove the gum without much difficulty in many cases. If you find that freezing doesn’t get the job completely done you’ll need to step up to a solvent such as Goo Gone or Citrol 266.
When you’re done you’ll want to clean the area with a proper cleaner and protectant. Check out our “Recommended” page for the best products regarding cleaning and protection.