One of the most challenging laundry situations is finding a safe and effective way to remove chewing gum from clothing, especially when the gum has had the opportunity to dry and harden. The ideal time to remove it is immediately after the fact, but this isn't always possible or practical. Scraping off as much gum as possible while it is still soft is always a good idea, but removing the remnants can prove difficult.
One way to remove gum from clothing is to freeze both the garment and the gum. A small item, such as a sock or t-shirt, can be placed in a plastic freezer or storage bag and stored in a freezer until the gum has become solid. Larger items can be rubbed with an ice cube or a small plastic bag filled with ice until the gum hardens. Ideally, the frozen gum should break off when scraped with a knife or fingernails. If the gum becomes warm and soft, the clothing should be placed back into the freezer or another ice cube applied.
Another recommended method to remove chewing gum is the use of warm vinegar. Using an absorbent cloth, warm white vinegar should be applied directly to the gum and surrounding area. The vinegar should penetrate the fibers of the clothing and dissolve the bond between the chewing gum and fabric. The gum should become soft enough to remove with gentle scraping. An exceptionally large patch of gum may require several applications of vinegar, and the garment should be laundered as soon as possible after the treatment.
Other chemical agents can also help to remove the gum, although the results may vary and great care must be used in order not to damage the affected fabric. The multi-purpose household lubricant and solvent known as WD-40® can be sprayed directly on the gum stain and allowed to soak for a few minutes to soften the gum. Again, removing all remnants of the gum may take several applications of solvent and diligent scraping, followed by immediate laundering.
Non-acetone nail polish remover is also believed to help get gum off of clothing. The chemicals found in nail polish remover may break down the structure of the gum, making it easier to remove with a small scrub brush or a knife.
If these methods fail to remove chewing gum from clothing, a more aggressive approach may be in order. If the garment is safe for ironing, then place the item on an ironing board and set a standard iron to a hot setting without steam. Place a section of brown paper over the gummed area and press the paper with the iron. The heat should soften the gum, and a portion of the gum will stick to the brown paper. A clean section of brown paper should be placed over the gum periodically, making sure the gummed sections do not come into contact with other areas of the garment.