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Chewing Gum Removal

Gum removal is the bane of many carpet owners. A common removal method requires simply freezing the gum with an ice cube, then cracking off the residue with the back of a spoon. This works when the gum is only on the surface of the carpet. This method can also damage the carpet, when the gum has been worked into the pile, by breaking off fibers during gum removal. There are increasingly fewer solvents available to consumers, and professional methods often require strong solvents. The Association of Specialists in Cleaning and Restoration laboratory has documented a new, simple gum removal method for consumer and professional use. This method is most useful in situations where there is an occasional need to remove chewed gum.

Equipment Required: 
Hand-held electric hair dryer 
6 to 12 squares (3"x3") of polyethylene film [e.g. cut from Zip-Loc® bags] 
Extra Strength Deep-heating Rub containing 30% methyl salicylate (e.g., Extra Strength Ben Gay® or equivalent) 
Clear or white mild dishwashing detergent (e.g., Ivory clear or equivalent) mixed one teaspoon in one cup of warm water
White toweling and a sponge

Have squares of polyethylene film nearby. Heat the gum residue with a hand-held hair dryer set on high for 30 to 90 seconds. Do not bring the hair dryer too close to the carpet because it is possible to melt some carpet fibers with high temperatures. Use the polyethylene squares to remove as much of the warm softened gum as possible. The gum can be largely "picked off" the surface of the carpet. You will need to reheat the gum with the hair dryer, then pick and wipe it with a fresh square of film several times. This removes approximately 80% of the gum residue.

Rub one gram (1/2 teaspoon) of the extra strength deep heating rub evenly into the remaining gum residue. Heat the residue and deep-heating rub 30 to 90 seconds with the hair dryer. Wipe and pick the area repeatedly with fresh polyethylene squares. This is useful to remove the remaining bits of gum from between the carpet pile yarns. Work the area in one direction, then in the opposite direction. Repeat if necessary.

Soak a sponge in a mild detergent solution and partially wring it out. Blot the area containing gum residue with this solution to remove the deep heating rub, then blot the area with clean, dry, white, toweling to remove the excess solution. Blot the area with plain water to remove the detergent, finally blot with dry toweling. Allow the carpet to dry in daylight if possible. The daylight helps to gently bleach any residual color, especially from green-colored gum.

In some cases, there may be a slight stickiness remaining from the gum residue after the carpet has dried. Carefully reheat the area again with a hair dryer and remove the last traces of gum with polyethylene film using the picking and wiping motion described previously. This method works very well on synthetic carpets.

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