How to Remove Gum from Shoes?

Nothing like stepping on a sticky, saliva-filled bubble gum that can ruin a perfect day. The nightmare of scrubbing or scraping off someone else's spit and germs can make you gag. Luckily, this tutorial will take you through a few quick ways to remove sticky gum from your shoes using the most essential items around you.

Method 1: The Freezer Trick!

This handy knack is the most common. There are two variations of this freezer method.

Variation 1 – When You Have Time

Take a regular plastic bag and place your shoe inside so it doesn't touch anything else. Press the plastic bag as tight as possible onto the gum surface. Then keep that in the freezer for a minimum of two hours. The ice-cold temperature in the freezer will make the gum hard and solid. Pull or peel off the plastic bag. The gum should come off attached to the plastic bag when you take it out. If it doesn't, it hasn't frozen long enough.

Variation 2 – When You're in a Hurry

If you prefer to stick your dirty shoe next to the food in the freezer, you can use another similar technique.

Wrap some ice cubes in a plastic bag and press the cold plastic to the gum. Don't use ice directly on the shoe because it will make your shoe wet and soggy. Using a butter knife or flat scraper, scrape the gum off gently to prevent abrasions.

Method 2: WD-40 Cleaner

WD-40 is a versatile lubricant that works like magic. Spray some WD-40 onto the gum. Let it seep in for 2-3 minutes, then rub it off with a rag cloth. If some remains, you may need to leave the WD-40 on longer or repeat the process.

Don't spray it on the cloth or canvas parts of the shoe. Wipe your shoes again with a fresh napkin to remove any oily remains which may erode rubber or PVC plastic.

Method 3: Naphtha (Lighter Fluid) or Nail Polish Remover

This solvent is not the safest bet, but it doesn't hurt to give it a whirl if you don't have to access other things. Don't use naphtha on high-end lacquer, suede, or leather shoes, which will corrode.

Dampen a dish towel or rag with some naphtha. Rub the towel on the gum, which will get dissolved by the fluid. It also evaporates quickly, so the shoes won't get soaked. Repeatedly rubbing the area should make it spotless.

Be extra careful with naphtha, as it is highly flammable. Keep away from heat sources such as gas stoves and electrical equipment. Stay in a well-ventilated area to allow the dispersion of vapors.

A substitute for this naphtha is nail polish remover (acetone-based) or rubbing alcohol. Both dissolve gum. Use the same steps and safety guidelines as above.

Method 4: Use Heat – Hairdryers and Heat Guns

With this method, you must be cautious for your shoes' safety and yourself. Use the heating device to melt the gum and make it less gluey. Excess heat can melt or burn some materials, so modulate the settings accordingly. As the gum heats up, scrap it with a metal spoon. The residual heat will help take apart leftover fragments.

Method 5: Peanut Butter, Olive Oil, or Cooking Oil

Can you believe your favorite sandwich doubles up as a gum remover too? These three items have similar oily properties that help break down adhesion and fibers. It mixes with rubbery components in the gum, making it stiffer.

Peanut Butter

Take 2-3 tablespoons of peanut butter and spread it thickly over the gum. For 10 minutes, use a wire scrub to peel away the mixture. Steel wool scrubs are beneficial since peanut butter can be thick and cloggy. Scrub along with the sole's grooves so the material doesn't wear away.

Olive Oil or Cooking Oil

Dab some oil on the piece of gum using cotton balls or tissue paper. Let it sit for a while, allowing the oil to penetrate. Scrap it off using a flat tool such as a metal spatula. Wipe the soles with a damp cloth to remove any traces of oil that can leave stains, especially on nubuck, fabric, and leather, which are porous and absorb grease.

Method 6: Nature's Solution – Sand!

If you are out and about and can't get home before that big meeting or that party with friends, you can use the sand all around you for a quick fix.

Take off your shoe and face the surface with the gum upward. Sprinkle handfuls of sand onto the gum. The sand draws out moisture from the gum and dries it out. The mixture becomes crusty and falls apart. Scrap it out with a stick or a pencil. It should do the job until you can get home and keep your soles relatively clean until you can get home and do a more thorough job.


All the above methods work for most sneakers, flip-flops, sandals, and other everyday shoes. Avoid methods 3, 4, and 5 for leather, suede, and nubuck leather, as they are delicate fabrics that are easily spoiled. Stick to the freezer, ice cubes, and medium heat. Never use peanut butter on suede and nubuck high-quality leather, although you can use this condiment on standard leather. Use leather cleaners instead in such cases.

Wipe leather shoes with a sponge/ soft-bristled brush dipped in a saddle soap solution, followed by a leather conditioner for a protective coating. Avoid wetting suede and nubuck with ice/water and overheating as the smooth texture becomes rigid.