Gum is notoriously tricky to remove from clothing and even more so if that gum-smeared item of clothing has inadvertently been put through the washer and dryer. This can easily happen if you fail to notice stuck-on gum or if you accidentally washed clothes with gum in the pocket. The resulting sticky mess is challenging to remove, as is the stain likely left behind by the gum, but it's not impossible. With a two-step approach – first scraping off the gum and then tackling the stain – you should be able to get the clothing back in presentable shape.
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Get the Gum Off
Gum that is stuck on clothing that has already been put through the washer and dryer usually hardens and loses much of its elasticity while clinging firmly to the fabric. Start by trying to scrape the gum off the clothing with a fingernail, spoon or butter knife. If you can't do so without damaging the fabric, put the item of clothing inside the freezer for at least a few hours. Scrape the gum again when it's frozen, and you should be able to remove more if not all of it.
An alternative method heats the gum to make it easier to remove from clothing. Place a piece of cardboard or several layers of brown paper on an ironing board and then place down the item of clothing flat so that the gum side is touching the cardboard or paper. Press the fabric on the back of the gum spot with a hot iron for a few seconds and then lift the item off the ironing board. Some or all of the gum should stick to the cardboard or paper and come off the clothing.
Apply an Adhesive Remover
If any gum remains stuck to the fabric after freezing and scraping or ironing, turn to a fabric-safe adhesive remover such as Goo Gone or WD-40. Saturate the gum-stuck area of fabric with the product and let it soak in for approximately 10 to 15 minutes. The remnants of gum should soften enough that you can wipe them away with a cloth. You can also use dry-cleaning solvent in a similar way following the manufacturer's instructions.
Treat Remaining Stains
If the gum was any color other than white, there's a good chance that it will leave a stain on the clothing even after it has been removed. If you can still see a stain on the clothing where the gum was stuck, treat the stain with your choice of stain remover. This could be a prewash stain-remover spray or gel or a DIY alternative such as liquid dish soap, white vinegar or rubbing alcohol.
Apply a generous amount of your choice of stain remover to the stain and let it soak until you're ready to wash a load of laundry. Launder the clothing as usual and repeat the process if any stains remain.
If you're unable to get gum and its leftover stains off an item of clothing, consult the professionals at a local dry-cleaning business.