How To Remove Chewing Gum
Manual gum removal methods
These are simple solutions for gum removal using basic low cost tools and some chemical solutions. If you have a few pieces of gum to remove, these two solutions may work:
1. Freezing agent + scraper
Gum is normally soft and sticky making it difficult to remove – it moves around on the surface rather than breaking off.
When you freeze gum it becomes hard and brittle, allowing you to scrape and break it off easily in chunks.
To freeze gum you can use ice in a plastic bag or an aerosolised gum removal freezing agent (available from some distributors). Apply the ice or freezing agent to the surface for 3-4 minutes and the gum should be brittle enough to break off with a scraper.
- No extraction required on carpet
- Low cost
- Slow – 3-5 minute dwell time per piece
- Ineffective for large volume gum removal
- May leave an oily residue
2. Solvent + scraper
Using a solvent based gum remover with a scraper is more effective than a freezing agent, but you do need to rinse off the solvent to make sure no residue remains.
*Always pretest in an inconspicuous area before applying any solvent solution.
The best gum removal solvents are a thickened gel that will dwell on the gum rather than run into the carpet backing, making sure the solvent works on the gum for the full dwell time. You'll need to wait between five and 15 minutes, after which the gum should scrape off easily.
Pro Tip: A gum getter is a tool specially designed to scrape off gum. If you don’t have one, a standard table knife will do.
To rinse off carpet, use a white terry towel, or similar white cloth (avoid using coloured cloths in case of colour transfer) to blot out the solvent residue. Moisten the cloth and blot the stain well to make sure all the residue is removed. Blot dry.
After scraping off the gum, mop away any remaining residue on indoor hard floors, or hose it off in an outdoor environment.
- Low cost
- Most effective manual solution
- Slow: 5-15 minutes of dwell time
- Requires rinsing to remove residue
- Ineffective for large volume gum removal
If you have a serious gum problem, these manual methods just won't cut it. You need a better and faster solution!
Mechanical gum removal methods
1. Hot water pressure cleaning
For very high volume gum removal on concrete, pavers, bricks and other hard washable surfaces – where you're dealing with 1000’s of gum pieces – a hot water pressure cleaner is the most effective and popular option.
Most hot water pressure cleaners will have a diesel fuelled burner with a petrol/diesel engine or an electrically powered pump. There are a range of sizes and specifications available.
The power of the hot water pressure cleaner comes from the combination of heat and high pressure water. The heat softens the gum making it easier for the pressure of the water to cut through and remove it. But there are some significant downsides to pressure cleaning.
- Highly effective on concrete and pavers
- Fastest overall method for very high volume (1000’s of pieces) gum removal
- Large bulky units, hard to move around
- Large area required for storage
- Uses large volumes of water - environmental and drainage issue
- Gum is 'blown away' by the pressure cleaner and lands in another place – a large amount of this gum may be collected by a sweeping or vacuum process, but there will be a portion missed that will stick to another surface
- Not suitable for use on carpet and matting
- Often leaves an oily stain on the paving after the gum is removed as there is no solvent to break the residue down
- Noisy and obtrusive, area needs to be shut down while cleaning occurs
Can you use a cold water pressure cleaner to remove gum?
Not really. Cold water hardens gum, reducing the effectiveness of the water pressure in cutting through and removing it from the surface.
2. Hot water extraction cleaning
Hot water carpet extraction equipment combined with a solvent based gum remover (like the one used in the manual gum removal method above) is traditionally the most common way of removing gum from carpet – the solvent is applied to the gum, given 5-15 minutes of dwell time and then removed with the hot water extraction machine.
Depending on the thickness of the gum it may require some manual agitation and scraping to remove the excess gum. The extraction method then rinses and removes the last gum residues.
On durable commercial carpets, higher water pressures of 500+ psi may sometimes be used to provide better agitation. This helps cut through and remove the gum.
- Superior results to manual spotting
- Better rinsing - less chance of solvent residue causing re-staining
- Still requires manual intervention to scrape off excess gum
- Time consuming to setup and pack up
- Many units are large, bulky, and difficult to move around
- Ineffective on corrugated matting
- Cannot be used on hard surfaces such as concrete
- Noisy and obtrusive, area may need to be shut down while cleaning occurs
So is there a gum removal machine effective on both hard and soft surfaces?
3. The i-gum
The i-gum is a new technology that is probably the best overall way to remove gum from carpets, entrance matting, concrete, and pavers – any surface really! It solves the challenges of the more traditional approaches to chewing gum removal.
The i-gum is a compact battery-powered machine that combines super-heated steam with a specialised eco-solvent solution to remove gum in as little as six seconds.
The eco-solvent is designed to break down and neutralise gum and its residue. This also helps remove the oily staining that can be left behind after pressure cleaning.
The i-gum has the option of a non-scratch nylon bristled agitation head for carpet and polished floors, or a durable steel bristled agitation head for use on concrete and pavers.
It's also highly effective on matting. Typically, removing gum from entrance matting is particularly problematic. Carpet extraction machines don't reach into the deeper sections of the mat to remove the gum, and the corrugated surface of the mat makes it almost impossible to agitate. The steam + eco solvent combination of the i-gum is highly effective on mats.
What are the limitations? The i-gum will not be quite as fast as a large hot water pressure cleaner if faced with 1000+ pieces of gum at once.
Overall for a safe, fast, and versatile indoor/outdoor solution that is unobtrusive to the surrounding public and allows gum removal to be dealt with effectively as part of a normal cleaning routine, the i-gum is the bomb.
- Very Fast – as little as six seconds to remove one piece of gum
- Leaves no residue, no rinsing required
- Effective on indoor and outdoor surfaces
- Safe – no running water around the place, no high pressure water
- Quiet operation
- Very low water usage – 99% less than pressure cleaning
- Highly portable, backpack or trolley – basically no setup or pack-up required
- Compact – about the size of a small suitcase
- Allows gum removal to become part of routine cleaning operations
- Brushes will require periodical replacement
- Not as fast as pressure cleaning for the highest volume applications