Few things are more annoying than stepping in gum. You stick to everything as you walk or pick up other things as debris sticks to the gum! You may also be worried about the gum damaging your shoe.
The good news is that getting gum off any type of shoe is not difficult if you know the tips and tricks. Whether you’re away from home or have managed to get back home to clean up, there’s a safe, effective way to do it.
In this article, we’ll share some of the best methods to get gum off shoes, explain why they work, and make sure you know which type of shoes you should take extra care with.
Can Gum Damage Shoes?
In most cases, gum will get stuck on the bottom of your shoe, which won’t damage the shoe. But it can get transferred from your outsole to the carpets in your home or to your clothes, where it could damage the fabric.
On rare occasions, gum can get stuck to the upper of the shoe. This could cause damage if your shoes are made from delicate materials, like:
- Suede or nubuck
The good news is that if you remove the gum as soon as possible and very carefully, you can still leave the shoe undamaged. Keep reading to find out how to remove gum from these types of shoes specifically.
How to Get Gum Off of Shoes
Fortunately, there are several methods to easily remove gum from your shoes. However, it’s always easier to remove gum from your shoe’s bottom than the upper.
You’ll need to be careful with your chosen method, especially regarding shoes with delicate uppers. Some of the methods use liquids that may contain substances that could damage certain types of material, such as leather, suede, or satin.
Here are some easy ways to get gum off your shoes and a guideline for which shoes you should avoid using each method.
Freeze the Gum
Place your shoe in a plastic bag and press the bag against the gum until it sticks to it. Then put the shoe into your freezer for about an hour. This will cause the gum to harden against the bag, making it easy to remove.
In most cases, when you remove the bag, you’ll find that the gum has stuck to the plastic bag and comes out quite easily.
If you’re in a bit of a rush or can’t leave the shoe in the freezer, place some ice cubes in a Ziploc bag and press the ice cubes against the gum. It will take about 10 to 15 minutes for the gum to harden. You can then scrape the gum off the shoe with a butter knife.
Heat the Gum
Using heat can also be an effective way to remove gum from the bottom of your shoe. You’ll need a hairdryer, a butter knife, and either wax paper or a paper towel.
It’s best to use the hair dryer on a medium or high heat setting to soften the gum. Fortunately, the gum won’t become too sticky, and you should be able to remove it easily with the butter knife.
If there’s any gum left behind, continue to heat it with the hairdryer and then wipe the shoe clean with either wax paper or a paper towel.
Dissolve the Gum
For stubborn gum that won’t come off, you can try dissolving it using a solvent like acetone. Acetone can be found in most households, as it’s an active ingredient in nail polish remover, varnish, and paint removers.
That said, nail polish remover is the best option to use when removing gum from your shoe. Make sure that when you use any liquid containing acetone, you do so outside or in a well-ventilated area.
Dip a clean cloth or paper towel into the acetone and start rubbing it against the gum. As you rub, you’ll notice that the gum begins to dissolve.
If you don’t have nail polish remover, then you could use lighter fluid.
Note: Don’t use this method for shoes that are made from leather, suede, nubuck, or other shoes that have a finish on them, as it may damage them.
Use Olive Oil
Another common household product that you can use is olive oil. Dip a clean cloth or paper towel into the oil, then rub the oil on the gum. Leave the oil to sit for 1 to 2 minutes, then rub the gum with a clean piece of paper towel.
If any gum remains on the shoe, then dip the tip of a butter knife into the olive oil and use it to scrape any excess gum off. Once all the gum has been removed, wipe the excess oil off the bottom of the shoe with a paper towel.
You can use any other kind of cooking oil if you don’t have olive oil.
Note: Avoid getting oil on fabrics, leather, nubuck, suede, or satin uppers, as it can permanently stain the shoe.
Use Peanut Butter
If you’re worried that you may get oil onto the upper of your shoe, then use peanut butter to soften the gum.
Depending on how much gum is on your shoe, you may want to use one to two tablespoons of peanut butter. Make sure the gum is completely covered in peanut butter, then let it sit for 10 to 20 minutes.
You can either use a butter knife or a spoon to scrape the gum away. However, if you have a textured sole—like Converse, with crevices in the tread—you’ll need to scrub them with a sponge to remove any peanut butter residue without damaging your shoe.
Note: Make sure you don’t get peanut butter on the upper with delicate materials, as the oil in peanut butter can leave a stain.
WD-40 is a versatile product that can be found in most supermarkets. Aside from lubricating squeaky hinges and removing sticky adhesive residue, it can remove gum from your shoe.
Spray the WD-40 on and around the gum and leave your shoe for 2 to 5 minutes. Then wipe the gum with a paper towel or cloth to easily remove it. If it doesn’t come away easily, spray the gum again and leave for another minute.
Once you’ve been able to remove the gum, wipe your shoe with a clean paper towel or cloth to remove any WD-40 residue.
Note: WD-40 is a petroleum-based lubricant that can leave stains on materials like suede, satin, and other delicate fabrics.
Removing Gum from Satin and Silk Shoes
Fortunately, if you happen to transfer gum to the upper of your satin or silk shoes, you can still remove it without damaging the fabric.
Use the first method, where you either place your shoe in the freezer or use an ice cube in a ziploc bag to harden the gum. Then gently remove it from the shoe.
To remove any stains that may be left behind, mix a mild detergent with some water. Then using a soft-bristled brush—like a toothbrush—dab it into the mixture and gently brush the stain.
You may have to wash the spot several times to properly remove the stain from your shoes.
Removing Gum from Suede and Nubuck Shoes
If you happen to get gum on the upper of your suede or nubuck shoe, don’t use cold or heat methods as they can damage the materials.
Instead, try removing as much gum as possible using a butter knife or credit card without touching the suede.
Then, use a suede and nubuck rubber—like you find in the Sof Sole Suede and Nubuck Cleaning Brush Kit—to remove any remaining gum residue.
Not only will this help remove the gum, but it will prevent damage to delicate material.
Emergency Gum Removal
What if you’re out and need to remove the gum from your shoe as soon as possible? If you can find some sand or dirt and a stick or object to scrape the gum with, you should be able to get it off quickly and easily.
- Dirt or dry sand can help remove the gum.
- Do your best to coat the gum in the earthy material.
- Grab a stick or another object that you can use to scrape the gum off your shoe.
- You may have to do this a few times until the dirt dries the gum out and the mixture lifts off completely.