6 Easy Ways to Remove Gum from Your Clothes and Hair

iStock
iStock

You already know that water is useless when it comes to the torture of finding a wad of gum stuck to your hair or clothes. But why? Gum is a hydrophobic material, meaning it doesn't mix with or dissolve in water (for the same reason, your saliva won't break down gum when you chew it). Of course, this means that to remove it from your pants, your shoes, your couch, or your hair, you'll have to find a substance that it will respond to—specifically, other hydrophobic materials. Read on for six items to reach for when disaster strikes.

1. VINEGAR

Bottle of apple cider vinegar.
iStock

Apple cider vinegar is a popular all-purpose, inexpensive, antimicrobial house cleaner—and its miracle-working skills include gum removal. To save jeans, T-shirts, other items of clothing, or even carpets and upholstery, heat a quarter-cup of ACV in the microwave. Dip the section of clothing in the warm vinegar, or dab a bit onto the carpet or upholstery, and then, depending on the amount of gum that needs to be removed, pick your tools. For larger gobs, start by scraping with a small, blunt tool, like a butter knife or a cuticle spoon. Then grab an old toothbrush and start brushing. In less than a minute, the remainder of the gum will be off your fabrics and balled up in the bristles. (Note: This will ruin a toothbrush, so keep some spare used ones in the cleaning closet just in case.) Once the gum is gone and the brush is destroyed, send it off to be recycled.

2. PEANUT BUTTER

Close-up of peanut butter.
iStock

The idea of having peanut butter in your hair is only barely more appealing than gum, but the fats and oils in the spread are exactly what make it good for this task. Rub a couple of tablespoons of creamy (not crunchy!) peanut butter around the affected clumps of hair, and wait for eight to 10 minutes. On a molecular level, peanut butter is made up of mostly carbon and hydrogen, which makes it hydrophobic. Since gum is also hydrophobic, they basically cancel each other out (there's a saying in chemistry that "like dissolves like"). As they interact, you'll be able to slowly remove the wad from your hair, sans scissors. Once all of the gum has been pulled out, wash your hair as usual.

3. OLIVE OIL

Olive oil in a glass bowl.
iStock

For anyone with a nut allergy who would sooner chop off inches than smear peanut butter into their hair or skin, olive oil has the same solvent properties as PB, without all the goopiness. Olive oil (or canola or vegetable oil as well) is especially helpful for removing gum from eyebrows or eyelashes.

4. OIL-BASED CLEANSERS

Bottle of oil cleanser.
iStock

Oil-based cleansers, intended to remove certain types of makeup or lotions, work on gum the same way peanut butter does. Many moisturizers, creams, and ointments are made with liquid paraffin, a highly refined mineral oil made of saturated hydrocarbons. Using an oil-based facial cleanser works well on these oily products because they're both non-polar solvents—if you apply a heavy nighttime moisturizer, it's most effective to use a cleansing oil to wipe it off in the morning. So, if you're already a cleansing oil devotee, removing gum (also a non-polar solvent) from hair or skin with it might not seem too bad. Dermalogica even advertises their PreCleanse oil as being an effective chewing gum remover, and had a beauty blogger test out their claims (spoiler: it totally worked!).

5. PETROLEUM JELLY

Jar of Vaseline petroleum jelly.
iStock

A more common medicine cabinet find that also works is petroleum jelly (like Vaseline), which is a safe, non-abrasive lubricant that is also often recommended for removing much harsher substances than gum—like tar. It's a cheap, gentle solution to use, especially if a large bubble pops all over your face, or you wake up from a nap with an accidental web of stringy gum stuck to your hair, face, or arms.

6. RUBBING ALCOHOL

Bottle of rubbing alcohol with cotton ball.
iStock

For gum stuck to more delicate fabrics, try dabbing some rubbing alcohol on the area with a cotton ball, sponge, or Q-Tip. Rubbing alcohol is an isopropyl alcohol, which is commonly used to dissolve non-polar compounds and oils (which is why it's great as an antiseptic and disinfectant), and it works by breaking down the polymers in the gum. It also won't damage or stain more sensitive materials, which is why it's good to use on satin pillowcases, silk or polyester shirts, or anything that needs dry cleaning. Let the alcohol dry, and then gently scrape the gum off with a butter knife or cuticle tool. Then wash or send off to the cleaners as usual!

Celebrate the Holidays With the 2020 Harry Potter Funko Pop Advent Calendar

Funko
Funko

Though the main book series and movie franchise are long over, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter remains in the spotlight as one of the most popular properties in pop-culture. The folks at Funko definitely know this, and every year the company releases a new Advent calendar based on the popular series so fans can count down to the holidays with their favorite characters.

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Right now, you can pre-order the 2020 edition of Funko's popular Harry Potter Advent calendar, and if you do it through Amazon, you'll even get it on sale for 33 percent off, bringing the price down from $60 to just $40.

Funko Pop!/Amazon

Over the course of the holiday season, the Advent calendar allows you to count down the days until Christmas, starting on December 1, by opening one of the tiny, numbered doors on the appropriate day. Each door is filled with a surprise Pocket Pop! figurine—but outside of the trio of Harry, Hermione, and Ron, the company isn't revealing who you'll be getting just yet.

Calendars will start shipping on October 15, but if you want a head start, go to Amazon to pre-order yours at a discount.

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What Movie Do You Want to Watch? This Website Analyzes Film Critic Reviews to Help You Choose

She's smiling because it only took her two minutes to choose a movie.
She's smiling because it only took her two minutes to choose a movie.
Rowan Jordan/iStock via Getty Images

Much like sommeliers can detect subtle notes of who-knows-what in a sip of wine, film critics are fantastic at identifying influences and drawing parallels between movies. Cinetrii is a handy website that crowdsources all that movie knowledge to help you find your next favorite film.

Basically, you enter the name of a movie you enjoyed in the search bar, and the site will show you a node graph with film recommendations splintering off the search query. Click on one, and you’ll see a quote from a critic (or critics) who referenced the films together. This way, you get a list of recommendations based on different aspects of the movie, and you get to decide for yourself what you’d like to see more of.

If, for example, you were blown away by the special effects in Christopher Nolan’s Inception, you might like Doctor Strange; according to Variety, it boasts “a staggering visual effects innovation, in which the building-bending seen in Christopher Nolan’s Inception is taken to an extreme that would blow even M.C. Escher’s mind.” If what the Chicago Tribune calls an “elegant brain-bender” quality appealed to you more, The Matrix might be a perfect fit.

Films above your search query were released before the movie you typed in, while films below came out after it. The shorter the line, the more closely the films are related, as calculated by the website’s algorithm. And, as Lifehacker points out, that algorithm doesn’t give any special treatment to massive Hollywood blockbusters, so Cinetrii is an especially great way to find hidden gems. Because it shows you the critics' actual quotes, you’re not left to wonder why a certain film landed on the recommendations list—which can’t always be said for “Watch next” lists on streaming services.

You can explore Cinetrii here.

[h/t Lifehacker]