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How to Take Gum Off Car Upholstery

hand cleaning upholstery

Accidents happen for many different reasons, and some of those instances occur in your vehicle. All accidents are a shame, but if gum happens to get stuck on a seat, it can be really ugly and nasty. But don’t worry: catch it early and act quickly and it’s an easy fix.

There are different methods you can use to remove stuck gum depending on the upholstery in your car. The safest bet is to avoid methods that use oils like peanut butter or vegetable oil, or solvents such as WD-40.

Some cleaning methods call for these products, and if you choose to use them, do so at your own risk. They can possibly do more harm than good, leaving behind stains that will be impossible to get out. With a few handy and inexpensive household products, follow these steps to avoid permanent damage.

Method 1 of 2: Get chewing gum off your vehicle’s leather interior

Gum doesn’t usually stick to leather all that well, unless it’s been warmed and pressed into the material or left to melt in a hot car. Be very careful with the cleaning method you choose since some leather can be stained very easily. Wear latex gloves to protect yourself if you don’t know where the gum came from.

Materials Needed

  • Adhesive remover
  • Cleaning cloth or towel
  • Compressed air (optional)
  • Gloves (latex)
  • Ice
  • Leather cleaner (optional)
  • Leather conditioner (optional)
  • Plastic baggie
  • Plastic scraper
  • Soapy water
  • Tape
  • Toothbrush

ice in bag on upholstery

Step 1: Apply ice to the gum. The first and safest step you can take for removing gum from your leather upholstery is by using ice.

Some other cold product that can harden it, like compressed air, works too. Take a large chunk of ice, put it in a baggie, and apply it directly to the chewing gum for a couple minutes until it is very cold and feels almost frozen.

If any water drips, be sure to dry it thoroughly with a towel to avoid stains. If you’re choosing to use compressed air, turn the can upside down for a bit, and spray the gum until it feels frozen.

  • Tip: If your car is very hot, turn on the AC for a while to cool the car down as much as you can. That way you’ll reduce the amount of time it takes to cool down the gum, and you’ll be under more comfortable working conditions. If possible, park your car in the shade.

plastic scraper used on leather plastic

Step 2: Scrape gum off. Take a small plastic scraper or a credit card and pry underneath one corner of the gum until it starts to peel off.

Keep peeling away if chunks break off, but be sure to trash any bits which come off so you don’t spread the problem. If the gum becomes pliable and soft again, reapply the ice or compressed air, and repeat scraping until the gum is completely removed.

tape used to remove gum

Step 3: Use tape to get off remaining gum. If there is still gum left behind, use tape (preferably duct tape) and stick it firmly onto the leftover gum and pull it off.

Repeat as many times as necessary until all the gum is removed.

Step 4: Use an adhesive remover. Alternatively, if the tape method is not working, use an adhesive remover (such as Goo Gone) and apply a small amount to a rag.

Wipe the spot vigorously until all the chewing gum is removed.

  • Warning: For whatever adhesive remover you use, make sure you read the label to ensure you can safely use it on leather.

Step 5: Use soap and water. If you do not have an adhesive remover handy, use soapy water and a clean rag and scrub out the remaining gum.

Use a small amount of soapy water at a time so you don’t damage the leather with too much water, which can leave a stain behind. When the gum is removed, thoroughly dry the area.

person applying leather conditioner to upholstery

Step 6: Apply leather cleaner. Use leather cleaner and leather conditioner to further clean and protect the leather material in your car and to prevent it from drying and deteriorating.

For best results, apply by following the directions on the label.

Method 2 of 2: Get chewing gum off your vehicle’s cloth or vinyl interior

Removing chewing gum from your car’s cloth or vinyl interior can be accomplished using similar techniques as removing chewing gum from leather seats. Wear latex gloves to protect yourself if you don’t know where the gum came from.

Materials Needed

  • Cleaning rag
  • Compressed air (optional)
  • Fabric cleaner, vinyl cleaner, or spot remover
  • Gloves
  • Ice
  • Plastic baggie (optional)
  • Plastic scraper
  • Sponge
  • Tape
  • White vinegar

Step 1: Apply ice. Take a large cube of ice, put in a small baggie, and place it directly on the chewing gum.

Hold the ice on the gum for a few minutes until it feels almost frozen. If you have compressed air, hold the can upside down for a bit and spray the gum until it is very cold and feels almost frozen.

  • Tip: If your car is very hot, turn on the AC for a while to cool the car down as much as you can. That way you’ll reduce the amount of time it takes to cool down the gum, and you’ll be under more comfortable working conditions. If possible, park your car in the shade.

Step 2: Scrape off as much gum as possible. Take a small plastic scraper or a credit card and pry underneath one corner of the gum until it starts to peel off.

Keep peeling away if chunks break off, but be sure to trash the chunks so you don’t spread the problem. If the gum becomes pliable and soft again, reapply the ice, or compressed air, and repeat scraping until the gum is completely removed.

Step 3: Use sponge with vinegar. If some remains, dip the end of the sponge in white vinegar and scrub vigorously until the gum is completely removed.

Step 4: Remove leftovers with tape. If there is still gum left behind, use tape (preferably duct tape) and stick it firmly onto the left over gum and pull it off.

Repeat as many times as necessary until all the gum is removed.

person spraying spot cleaner on upholstery

Step 5: Clean upholstery. Once the gum is removed, use fabric cleaner, vinyl cleaner or spot cleaner (depending on your car’s upholstery material) to neutralize the smell.

Dry up any excessive moisture with a clean towel.

  • Tip: For best results, follow the directions on the bottle of the cleaning fluid.

Gum on your upholstery can be a sticky nightmare, but if you manage to clean it up quickly, it can be an easy and straightforward fix. This will prevent permanent damage to your upholstery and help you avoid getting gum everywhere. As you are working, if you notice your seat seems unstable and have noticed it vibrating while you drive, have one of our certified professionals perform an inspection.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
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