Oops, one of the kiddos fell asleep with gum in her mouth while in the car and upon awakening, failed to realize the gum was no longer in her mouth. Much to your surprise, there's a hunk of gum stuck on the car seat the following day. In some cases, it's easy to lift the gum straight off the car seat with minimal residue, but in other cases, ice is the key to minimizing the mess.
Pulling the Gum Off
For starters, put on a disposable glove and gently tug the gum off the upholstery. A good bit of the gum should come off with ease, but some of it may remain. Pick at it with the edge of a plastic spoon or knife to help pry it loose. Keep a small trash bag handy to dispose of the gathered gum, as well as the plastic spoon and the disposable glove, when you're finished.
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If it's really warm in the car, such as on a sunny summer day, proceed carefully or just use the cold method instead, as hot gum becomes extra stretchy and sticky, spreading the mess. If it's cold outside, the gum may come up in one hunk, which makes things easy.
The Ice Method
Ice cubes are one of the best ways to get gum off the upholstery and anywhere else the gum has been spread within the car. This method also works well on upholstered furniture and clothing. Some experts recommend wrapping ice cubes in a paper towel and holding the wrapped ice atop the gum until the gum hardens. Putting the ice cubes in a zippered sandwich bag works just as well and won't wet the car seat.
Once the gum hardens, lift it off by prying it up with a plastic knife or spoon. If any residue remains stuck to the seat, scrape at it with the bowl of the spoon or the edge of the knife. Vacuum the area to remove any bits of gum too small to easily pick up by hand. This also prevents them from sticking once the gum warms up again.
If it's too hot out for the ice to work well, another method is to use a can of compressed air to freeze the gum instead. Shake the can as directed on the label, then spray the gum's perimeter to make sure the edges freeze. Once the gum hardens, pick it away with the plastic cutlery. The gum may even break into small pieces if frozen this way; use the vacuum cleaner to pick up the pieces.
Removing any Remaining Gum
Any gum that's still clinging to the car seat may come up with sticky tape. Use a tape that's really sticky, such as duct tape or clear packing tape. Wrap a piece of your selected tape around your fingers, sticky-side out, press the tape down atop the gum, then quickly lift your hand. The gum should stick to the tape. Repeat as needed, and replace the tape if necessary.
If any residue remains, clean the area with the type of upholstery cleaner recommended in the car's owner's manual, as this may vary by the material. A small amount of dish soap on a damp, lint-free cloth is mild enough for most upholstery. Rub from the outside edges toward the center of the stain, then follow up with just a damp cloth, no soap. Pat dry to remove excess moisture.