If there’s anything more frustrating than splashing wine on your new sofa, it’s dropping something sticky on it, like chewing gum.
Gum can cling to the fibres of your upholstery and set hard, making it difficult to pry off. Dust, dirt and hair can also then stick to the spot, which isn’t something you want guests to see.
Especially if you have velvet effect or deep-plush upholstery, it can feel like you’ll never get all the gum removed. However, there are a few time-tested tricks which can help both with getting all the sticky gunk out of the fabric in the first place, and with stain removal if the gum leaves any residue.
Read our blog about removing gum from a carpet.
Method 1 - Duct Tape
Battle stickiness with more stickiness! For this method, all you need is a piece of duct tape. It works best for situations where there is still some solid or hardened gum stuck to the upholstery.
Tear off a piece just a little bigger than the area affected by the chewing gum. Then, put the duct tape over it, sticky side down, and press it onto the gum. Pull the tape away sharply and, hopefully, the majority of the gum will come off with it.
You can repeat this method multiple times to get all the gum off. However, take care to avoid sticking the tape to the surrounding upholstery fabric as much as possible, as this can damage it.
Method 2 - Ice
Perhaps the most popular cleaning solution is freezing the gum.
If your chair or sofa has a removable cover, you could take this off and put the whole thing in the freezer.
If this isn’t an option, you can use an ice pack, ice cubes in a plastic bag, frozen peas, or anything similar. Press your chosen cold implement against the gum for up to 15 minutes, until it's hard and brittle.
Although it’s less common to have around the house, you can also spray compressed air directly at the gum to freeze it even more quickly.
Once it’s frozen through one of the above methods, you can chip away at the gum with a butter knife or metal spoon. It should be easier to scrape off now the chewing gum has hardened. However, if the gum starts regaining its stickiness, you can re-freeze it as many times as necessary.
Method 3 – Heat
Another possible method is using heat. This can weaken the sticky bond in the gum, making it easier to scrape off. However, heat can also make the gum more liquid and can be messy, so make sure you have plenty of paper towels on hand.
Put a couple of sheets of baking paper on top of the sticky spot to protect the fabric from direct heat. Press an iron down over that on medium heat until the gum has melted (make sure to check frequently to avoid burning your upholstery). Do not move the iron back and forth, as this might spread the stain further. Scrape the gum off with a blunt knife or paint scraper while it’s still molten.
However, before trying this, you should check how your upholstery fabric may respond. Some fabrics containing plastic may melt or singe if they come into contact with an iron.
If you have a newer chair or sofa, there might be a label with information about the fabric type and its care instructions. If your upholstery doesn’t have one, you could try applying gentle heat to a small, out of sight section of the fabric first to test the reaction. Stop immediately if you notice any melting, scorching, or fumes.
Dealing with Chewing Gum Stains on Upholstery
Even when you’ve removed as much gum as you can, you might find that it leaves a stain behind. Shop-bought stain removers will often be effective for removing this residue. However, you can also use home remedies for getting rid of the remaining gum.
Oil based products such as oil soap, smooth peanut butter, or even a small amount of WD40 can work well to lift the stain. Apply it directly on top of the gum stain, and work it in with your fingers or a soft toothbrush. Then, use a clean cloth to dab away the treatment.
To completely clean the area, blot it with warm soapy water, then clear warm water, before allowing it to dry.
Method 4 - Acid
You can also try to dissolve the chewing gum using an acid product. You can buy professional treatments created specifically to do this, but white vinegar is also a popular option.
For the white vinegar method, heat the vinegar in a small bowl for 30 seconds in the microwave. Then, apply it to the gum area until it’s completely saturated and leave for 5-10 minutes.
Scrub the affected area in circular motions with a soft toothbrush and try not to spread the vinegar to the rest of the fabric. Then, blot it with kitchen towel and patch clean with soapy water to remove the vinegar.
Method 5 - Call in the experts
If the above methods aren’t working, or if upholstery cleaning yourself feels too intimidating, don’t hesitate to call in professional upholstery cleaners.
ACS has a deep knowledge of how to clean upholstery, carpets, curtains, and more. We also bring our own non-toxic, environmentally friendly products to get the job done quickly and professionally.