The Issue: Gum in Carpet
You arrive at your customer’s home as she guides you from room to room during your pre-inspection. Among other issues, she points out gum stuck in the carpet in the kid’s room and several spots downstairs in the playroom. This is her biggest concern as she has guests coming this weekend and is embarrassed by the ugly black globs of gum.
Tell your customer not to worry that you will get her carpet looking new again and make it look like the gum was never there. Modern chewing gum is composed of gum base, sweeteners, softeners/ plasticizers, flavors and colors. There are many methods that can be taken as a means to remove chewing gum from carpet.
Solution 1: Get Cold
A common way to remove gum from carpet is by freezing it. Like most things that are frozen, gum gets very hard and becomes brittle. Once frozen, the gum will break apart into pieces with a gum scraper tool, plastic putty knife, or other safe scraping tool. After removing and vacuuming the gum, you may have to spot clean the area to remove any remaining residue or staining with an oil/grease/tar type solvent.
Solution 2: Heat It Up
Another method to remove gum from carpet involves using a hair dryer. Apply heat from the hair dryer to soften the gum. The softened gum should stick to a cleaning rag or plastic bag and release from the carpet fibers as you lift it away from the floor. Proceed slowly to avoid harming the carpet fibers and be prepared to repeat this process until the gum is removed.
If the carpet is wool or a synthetic material, heat that is too high can melt the fibers. Watch and smell for any melting while using the hair dryer. If in doubt, test in an inconspicuous area.
Solution 3: Chemistry
The preferred choice for gum removal, especially if the spot is older, is with a gel-based solvent, such as an oil, grease, adhesive and tar remover.
Apply the gel directly to the gum, spot or stained area. After 5 minutes, use a gum scraper tool, plastic putty knife, or other safe scraping tool to work the gel into the gum to remove it from the carpet fibers. Never use a metal putty knife or other sharp tool to remove gum as the sharp edge can damage the carpet fibers.
Solution 4: Old School
Unless you are allergic, you probably have a jar of peanut butter in the pantry. The natural oils in peanut butter work to dissolve chewing gum on fabric and carpet.
If possible, remove as much gum as you can with a gum scraper tool or plastic putty knife. Apply a liberal amount (about the size of the gum) of peanut butter to the chewing gum. Work the peanut butter into the gum with your fingers. Use the gum scraper tool or plastic putty knife to scrape the gum from the carpet fibers. Use a carpet spot cleaner to remove any peanut butter or gum residue.
Solution 5: Equipment
If you have gum in several places a hot water carpet steam extractor may help. A professional hot water carpet extractor will heat the water in excess of 200 degrees. The steam that is produced will help to dissolve the gum. The detergent added to the tank will help to remove any residue and you will clean the carpet at the same time. A reputable carpet cleaning company should offer this service and you can rent heated steam extraction equipment at a reputable supply company.
Following any of the above cleaning methods, be sure to rinse out any remaining solvents with a carpet rinse agent. This will ensure that the carpet fiber is free of any residue which can lead to re-soiling. It should also be noted that many carpets are delicate and may not withstand solvents, heat or aggressive scrubbing. If there is any reason for concern over any procedure, contact a reputable supply company like Action Unlimited Resources.