How Do I Get Gum Out Of Carpet?

gumThe usual advice from professionals is to freeze the gum, whack it with the back of a spoon, and remove the shattered remains. Unfortunately, the method available to most consumers to freeze the gum is an ice cube, and I haven’t seen ice work all that well in my lifetime – but then again I haven’t gone completely gray.

Much also depends upon the disposition of the gum. Here is our advice:

1. If the gum is sitting on the surface of the carpet. Stalk up to it, grab it with your bare hands, and yank. It just might come loose, if you’ve led a charmed and virtuous life. If not, the freeze-and-whack technique is next on the agenda. The idea is to chill the gum to the point that it becomes brittle. Many of the mishaps involved with an ice cube probably stem from not taking the time to lower the temperature enough so the gum gets brittle in its full thickness. If your fingers turn blue, use ice tongs to hold the cube. Note: A commercial aerosol freezing agent will increase your chances of success immeasurably. It’s available at janitorial supply stores and some carpet stores.

You’re not quite ready to whack yet. When you bring down the spoon, it may shatter the glob into little bits of gum that scatter everywhere. Position a piece of paper or cardboard over the gum with a hole cut out of the middle or have a vacuum cleaner standing by with the crevice attachment to nab little bits before they warm up and reattach themselves wherever they fall.

Once the gum is thoroughly brittle, you can do the traditional whack with the back of a big spoon or you can try to gingerly pry off the gum with a spatula. In either case traces of gum will probably hold on for dear life, so finish up with a swipe or two using a cloth dipped in a solvent, lighter fluid, or lacquer thinner. (Pretest, pretest, pretest.) Then feel the area with your hand. If it feels sticky in the slightest way (no cheating!), you’re not finished. Resume swiping. When it’s finally clean to the touch, give the area a final spray with Red Juice, and blot dry. A nice finishing touch is to reset the nap of the carpet by brushing lightly with the toothbrush.

If freeze-and-whack didn’t work, cut under the gum with a pair of scissors to remove it.

2. If the gum is smooshed into the body of the carpet. Cut out part of it if you can do so without shortening the carpet fibers so much that it will be noticeable afterward. Use a solvent to dissolve the gum and a cleaning cloth to blot it up. Keep working toward the middle of the gum so you don’t spread it even further. A spatula will usually help your efforts along.

And we hope the person who did the chewing in the first place will have the pleasure of trying to remove the gum – or at least of watching you so he or she can remove the wad the next time!

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