Chewing gum does wonders for your breath, but there’s nothing quite as annoying as stepping in it when you’re out and about. One minute you’re walking along, enjoying the fresh air. And the next you’re having difficulty lifting your foot off the pavement. Naturally, your first thought involves how to get gum off shoes.
Luckily, stepping on gum doesn’t automatically mean that you’ve ruined your shoes. Nevertheless, it does mean that you’ll have to take time out of your day to deal with the unpleasant predicament that you find yourself in.
Depending on the tools you’ve got on hand, getting gum off your shoe could take you anywhere between a few minutes and a couple of hours.
How to Get Gum off Shoes: The Sole Problem
Typically, when you step on gum, it sticks to the bottom (i.e., the sole) of your shoe.
If you’ve got the time, it’s best to tackle the sticky situation immediately. Otherwise, you’ll find that additional debris attaches itself to the shoe with every step that you take.
Fail to remove the gum from your footwear straight away, and you’ll have a dirty, furry blob on your hands (and foot) as soon as you get home.
Hacking away the grimy wad of gum with a sharp knife might seem tempting. Resist the urge to go down the quick, but potentially disastrous, route. The last thing you want to do is damage your shoe in the process.
Instead, give expert methods a go. The below techniques are quick and easy. Additionally, most of them make use of items that you’re likely to have on hand already.
Try this if you’re outside
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You’ve just stepped on a piece of gum. Now you have two options. You can do your best to ignore the problem and vow to deal with it later. Or you can confront the sticky situation straight away.
The latter is only possible if you’ve got some time to spare. Ideally, you’d also want to find yourself close to a park, a dirt road or at the very least a few flower pots.
Be wary that this technique only works on gum that hasn’t yet hardened.
- Locate some dry dirt or sand and a small wooden stick.
- Remove your shoe and sprinkle some dirt onto the gum.
- Using the stick, rub the dirt into the gum until it starts to peel off. You might need to coat the gum with more dirt to get rid of it completely.
What the heck are your shoes doing in the freezer?
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Yes, that’s right — the freezer. While you probably didn’t expect to have to utilize your freezer, you may be surprised to learn that freezing your shoe is one of the easiest ways to remove chewing gum.
The only downside? Good luck explaining to your partner why your shoe is nestled beside their tub of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.
Here’s what to do:
- Put your shoe inside a plastic bag, making sure to cover the gum-ridden part of the shoe.
- Press the plastic into the gum for around 20 seconds. This step is vital. If the plastic doesn’t stick to the gum, this method won’t work.
- Place the plastic bag-covered shoe inside the freezer. Keep it away from food products to avoid contamination.
- Leave the shoe inside the freezer for a couple of hours.
- Remove the shoe from the freezer and take it out of the plastic bag. The gum should now be stuck to the plastic bag, and not the shoe. If it isn’t, keep the shoe inside the freezer overnight.
Ice ice baby
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When explaining how to get gum off shoes, we mentioned sticking your footwear inside the freezer. But if you’re in a bit of a rush and don’t have several hours to spare, you can use ice instead.
- Fill a plastic bag with three or four ice cubes.
- Then, place your shoe inside the bag (making sure that the ice cubes are under the shoe and not around it or inside it).
- Firmly press the ice into the gum until the gum freezes. Then, scrape the gum off with a teaspoon, a knife, or a credit card.
Peanut butter to the rescue
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You can smear peanut butter on crackers, add it to your morning oatmeal, or even drizzle it over salads.
But as bizarre as it might sound, you can also use peanut butter to remove chewing gum off shoes. Consequently, peanut butter is another possible answer to “How to get gum off shoes?”
Unlike ice though, peanut butter softens the gum, not hardens it.
- Apply a thick coating (around two tablespoons) of creamy peanut butter onto the gum-ridden part of your shoe.
- After a minute or so, scrub away the peanut butter and the gum with a wire brush. Scrub along the shoe’s grooves and not against them to avoid ruining your shoe.
- Wash the sole under cold running water. Scrub any remaining residue with a sponge.
This product doesn’t just dissolve rust
You probably know WD-40 as the miraculous spray that performs a variety of functions. For example, WD-40 eliminates stains, removes rust, and softens materials such as leather.
But “The Can With Thousands of Uses” can also unstick gum from carpets, hair, and even shoes.
This method is somewhat faster, not to mention more convenient than holding ice cubes against your shoe for what might seem like forever or checking on your shoe in the freezer every hour or so.
- Spray WD-40 multi-purpose lubricant onto the sole of your shoe.
- The gum should come off easily after a few minutes. Just wipe it with a paper towel or a cloth.
When it comes to learning how to get gum off shoes, lighter fluid should be your last resort. Why? Because it’s highly flammable, and thus somewhat more dangerous than the methods outlined above.
Remember to only ever use lighter fluid in a well-ventilated area as far away from heat sources as possible.
- Soak a cloth or paper towel in lighter fluid.
- Rub the lighter fluid onto the gum. The gum should dissolve almost immediately.
Don’t have lighter fluid on hand? Nail polish remover is a good alternative.
What About Suede?
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Nine times out of 10, gum sticks to the sole of your footwear. But it’s not uncommon to end up with gum stuck onto another part of your shoe either.
Generally, gum that sticks to your shoe can be removed using one of the above methods. An exception to this is if you’re sporting shoes made out of delicate material, such as suede. Fabrics are much less forgiving than soles.
You can’t chuck your gum-ridden suede shoe into the freezer (water might result in stains). Rubbing peanut butter all over the delicate material won’t work either. But fear not. All is not lost. At least not yet.
You can still learn how to get gum off shoes, even if the shoes in question are made of a fragile material.
Do the opposite
How to get gum off shoes can be a tricky thing. Sometimes your best bet is to make the gum harder. But that’s not always the best course of action, especially when it comes to getting gum off suede shoes.
This method (which uses a hair dryer) works the opposite way in that it makes the gum softer.
When the hair dryer heats the grimy wad of gum, the latter becomes much more pliable, thus freeing up the polymers. So, here’s what to do:
- Prop your shoe onto a flat surface.
- Locate your hairdryer and any additional nozzles that might have come with it (handy for concentrated blasts of hot air).
- Switch your hairdryer to the highest temperature.
- Direct the heat that emanates from your hairdryer towards the gum. Distribute the hot air evenly using circular motions.
- The gum should soften in about five minutes. If it remains hard, move the hairdryer closer to it and give it another blast of hot air.
- When the gum softens, scrape it off with a credit card or a teaspoon.
- Point your hairdryer at the remaining gum residue for a few more minutes.
- Then, using a cloth, rub the residue in a circular motion until small balls begin to form. You can pluck these away with your fingers.
- Clean the area carefully with your choice of cleaner (suede, leather, or soap) to remove any oils left behind by the gum.
Rub it out
If you love your suede shoes, it’s not a bad idea to invest in a professional stain eraser. First, gently scrape away the gum with a knife or a credit card. Then, use a special suede eraser to remove any remaining stains.
Finally, Your Shoes Are as Good as New!
Stepping onto gum can seem like the end of the world, especially if you’re on your way to work or brunch and have no time to spare. Attempt to scrape off the sticky mess onto the curb, and you’re likely to make the situation even worse.
In cases like these, knowing how to get gum off shoes is invaluable. The right tools, combined with expert knowledge, can quickly turn a bad day around.
Besides easing your discomfort (is there anything more annoying than the feeling of something stuck onto the bottom of your shoe?), knowing how to get gum off shoes will save you time and money. After all, no one wants to throw away their favorite pair of kicks!
Have you ever stepped onto old gum? How did you get it off? Let us know in the comments below!