There’s nothing worse than that moment when you realize you’ve stepped in a sticky piece of gum, right?
We’ve all been there, sometimes we’re even unfortunate enough to have it stuck to the material of our shoe too, which is much harder to deal with.
Fortunately, there are ways to remove stubborn gum from our beloved boots, sandals and sneakers. Read on to find the best methods of gum removal without damaging your shoes.
Table of Contents
1. Freeze it
Step 1: Place the shoe into a plastic bag and press the plastic bag onto the piece of gum firmly for a few seconds so that the gum fully sticks to the plastic bag.
Step 2: Then, place the shoe, still in the bag, into the freezer. If the shoe does not fully fit into the bag, try to make a clear space for the shoe, so you don’t contaminate any food in there and to avoid spoiling the shoe.
Step 3: Leave the shoe in the freezer for at least one hour, if not longer, so that the gum freezes onto the plastic bag.
Step 4: Once your shoe is removed from the freezer, pull the bag off bit by bit to encourage the gum to stay attached to the bag rather than your shoe. And voila!
2. Dissolve it
The two best-known products to use for this are nail polish remover and lighter fluid.
Here’s how to do it:
Simply soak a cloth in nail polish remover or lighter fluid and rub it all over the gum-affected area until the gum dissolves and wipes away.
This may take a few tries depending on how stubborn the gum is. Make sure you take care when using this method as both nail polish remover and lighter fluid are highly flammable and can irritate your skin.
Once all the gum is gone, it’s a good idea to wash the area again with clean warm water to remove any harsh chemicals left behind, not to mention the strong smell of either products is not something you want to take around with you.
3. Scrape it (using olive oil)
Step 1: before you attempt to scrape away the gum, rub olive oil all over the affected area
Step 2: leave the oil to sit for about five minutes, so it can soak into the gum
Step 3: rub the oil away with a rag and most of the gum should come away with it
Step 4: use some tweezers or other pointy object to scrape away the remaining gum
4. Ice cubes
Similar to the freezer method, if you don’t want to put your shoe in the freezer, you can use ice cubes to freeze the gum making it easier to remove.
Here’s what you need to do:
Step 1: fill a plastic bag with ice and put the shoe gum-side down onto the ice
Step 2: push the ice down on the gum firmly until it starts to freeze. Keep going until you think the gum is completely frozen
Step 3: use a flat, blunt instrument such as a butter knife to scrape up the frozen piece of gum
This may sound like a strange method, but WD-40 is perfect for removing gum because it is able to loosen its adhesive bond.
Here’s what you need to do:
Step 1: spray WD-40 all over the gum so it is fully soaked and leave it to sit for at least 1 minute
Step 2: simply wipe away the gum with a paper towel or dry cloth. Depending on how stubborn the gum is, this should work after only one try but if the gum won’t come away from the shoe, repeat step 1 again and then try to wipe it away
Step 3: use a clean cloth or paper towel to wipe away any residue from the gum and the WD-40, and you’re good to go!
6. Peanut butter (just hear us out)
No, that isn’t a typo, peanut butter is not only delicious, it’s also good at successfully removing gum from shoes!
How it works:
Step 1: simply take some smooth (obviously) peanut butter and place a generous amount on top of the gum and spread it around. Leave it to works its magic for about 15 minutes
Step 2: use a rough sponge or wire scrub to brush away the peanut buttered-gum. You might need to scrub it pretty hard for a minute or two to get it all up
Step 3: unless you particularly love the smell of peanut butter, you should probably give your shoe a good clean to wash away any peanut butter residue. Simple pour some clean warm water over the area, just be careful you don’t wet any other part of the shoe as this may run the fabric or cause the color to run
What if you don’t have access to the above methods?
We don’t always notice we’ve stepped on gum when we get home, sometimes we notice 10 minutes into meeting up with friends. So, what can you do if you need to remove gum from your shoe while you’re out and about?
The best thing to do is leave it and wait until you get home to deal with it properly using one of the above methods.
If the gum is particularly noticeable, and you desperately want to remove it, try scraping the area against a rough surface like concrete to try and remove it. If the gum is still fresh, it might just come off by sticking to the surface of something else.
Avoid touching the gum with your hands because it’ll probably end up on your clothes or in your hair too.
These methods are tried and tested by all the disappointed shoe owners before you. Some of them may seem strange, but trust us, they work.
Give each of them a try to see which works best for you. Hopefully, you won’t have to use them too often!
If gum isn’t the issue you face, see our guide on how to remove tar from your shoes.