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!

The 20 Best States for Singles

monkeybusinessimages, iStock via Getty Images
monkeybusinessimages, iStock via Getty Images

Being single on Valentine's Day means you don't have to worry about cards, gifts, or date ideas. But if you'd like to do something romantic on February 14, your chances of snagging a date in time may depend on where you live. WalletHub crunched the numbers to create a definitive list of the best states to be single and looking for love in America.

To come up with its rankings, the personal finance site analyzed numerous data points for each state, including the proportion of single adults, nightlife and entertainment opportunities, and economic factors like cost of living. Combined, these qualities paint of picture of where you're most likely to find, afford, and enjoy a date.

Florida secured the number one position with a total score of 69.21 out of 100. Though it comes in 33rd out of the 50 states for economics, it places third for dating opportunities and fourth for romance and fun, earning it the top slot. It's followed by California with a score of 67.41 and Texas with 66.77. You can check out the top 20 states below, and see how all 50 states ranked at WalletHub.

  1. Florida // 69.21
  1. California // 67.41
  1. Texas // 66.77
  1. New York // 65.29
  1. Pennsylvania // 64.61
  1. Ohio // 63.10
  1. Illinois // 62.61
  1. Wisconsin // 61.13
  1. Massachusetts // 59.11
  1. Michigan // 58.56
  1. Arizona // 57.22
  1. New Jersey // 56.71
  1. Georgia // 56.11
  1. Colorado // 56.01
  1. North Carolina // 55.58
  1. Minnesota // 55.42
  1. Virginia // 54.98
  1. Washington // 54.76
  1. Missouri // 54.29
  1. Nevada // 53.64

The world uses Valentine's Day to celebrate romance, but you can take it as an opportunity to embrace singledom in 2020. If that's your plan, here are some vintage tips for living alone to keep in mind.

Keep Your Food and Wine Fresh for Longer With These Vacuum Lids

Equilibric
Equilibric

Despite how carefully you try to store your leftovers, most plastic containers aren't airtight, and oxygen is often the culprit behind why food and wine lose their flavor or spoil so quickly. But Equilibric is looking to solve this issue with their Freshly! vacuum lids, which they say can keep food fresh for five times longer than standard plastic containers.

The company just launched a Kickstarter campaign for the Freshly!, which you can back starting at $69. With this pledge, you'll receive three lids of different sizes, a wine seal, and the handheld vacuum used to give your food a proper seal.

The product is easy to use: Simply put the lid on whichever container you wish to seal, attach the vacuum to the air valve, press the button on the vacuum, and your food is ready to store in a matter of seconds. When you’re ready to eat, open the air valve, remove the lid, and enjoy.

When air comes into contact with your food, it can promote the growth of both mold and bacteria. Similarly, when air comes into contact with your open bottle of wine, it can kick off a process called oxidation, which is why your vino can taste flat after it's been opened. But when you use a Freshly! lid, you’re storing your food or drink in "an oxygen-less environment."

The dishwasher-safe lids are universal, so they don’t need to perfectly match the dimensions of the container you are trying to seal. The largest size measures 10 inches in diameter and it's recommended for large salad bowls, pans, and skillets; the medium lid is 7.9 inches in diameter and is best for standard-sized bowls and lunchboxes; and the smallest lid is 5.7 inches in diameter and is recommended for cups.

Vacuum-seal lids for food
Equilibric

According to the campaign, Freshly! lids can keep dishes like cooked chicken fresh for up to 10 days, whereas it only keeps up to five days in regular plastic containers. On average, about 30 to 40 percent of food is thrown out in America, according to the USDA. So, not only will you keep leftovers longer, but the lids can help reduce your annual food waste.

This isn’t Equilibric’s first time making equipment that helps make life in the kitchen easier. They launched a Kickstarter campaign back in March 2019 for the balanced bowl-colander hybrid that helps cooks save time and water.

The campaign has already made more than $70,000, surpassing its original $7000 goal, but you can still help bring this project to life until February 23 by heading here.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

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