How to Remove Gum From the Dryer and Clothes

Chewing Gum in the Dryer

Check out my video below.

The Bubble Gum Story

Sometime I think we glide through life barely noticing the flowers let alone the bees. And because of this someone above thump you on the head like Little Rabbit Foo Foo, and tells you to wake up. In my case, it was the bubble gum in First Son’s pocket that imploded in the dryer.

My Poor Dryer Didn’t Know What Hit it.

When I say imploded I mean it. Pink bubble gum all over the dryer caked on like a bad paint job. A mother’s worse nightmare. Wait a second. No a second worse nightmare. Two months ago, it was ball point pen all over the dryer.

Yes. The Almighty is testing me or either that, someone thinks they are pretty funny up there.

Personally, I feel sorry for this dryer. We abuse the heck out of it with everything little thing that is in my kids’ pockets. Now, some of you are thinking, Anna, don’t you check the pockets?

Yes, when I am focusing which most of the time I am just gliding through the day hoping to take a shower. Why? Because there are blog posts to write, gardening to tend to, dishes, laundry, battles to end so my kids don’t either smack the heck out of the drywall or each others’ teeth, and then there is the poor hubby.

(Trust me. Just because boys get older does not mean they get less physical. That punch just hurts more.)

So, back to the poor abused dryer. Gum. Yep. I just stood there trying to hold back the tears. How was I going to get all of that gum out of the dryer? (Take a look) Oh, and did I mention how each piece of clothing sung a bubble gum tune?

Bad. Real bad.

What was First Born Son’s response?

“You should have checked my pockets when you took the clothes off the floor….” For some strange, illogical reason, he was right but still pissed me off.

How about don’t put the gum in your pocket to begin with?

Oh, by the way, Beth of My Plastic Free Life (you know the one who eschews plastic) tell me that gum is plastic.  Really.  Read here her article about what gum is really all about. Maybe if you tell them they are chewing Mr Duckie they will stop chewing gum?

Beside Crying, What did I do about the Gum?

I had to time myself out because I felt like a tizzy was coming on.  Hurricane Anna with gale winds that were imaginable.

What is the best way from freaking out.  Walk away. (As the officer says, “step away from the car, ma’am”)  The next morning I did what any gum anquisher would do.  (No, I did not call in the gum whisperer.) I sought out my BFF, Sir Google.  He gets me.

And he said, go to Thrifty Fun since they always have do-it-yourself tips. See here for some tips on removing gum from clothes.  Suggestions I tried:

  • Peanut Butter–did not want to deal with the fat stain
  • Rubbing Alcohol–did not work
  • Windex–don’t have. Only use vinegar and water for the windows.
  • WD-40. Not doing.
  • Ironing the gum onto cardboard. You would think that would work but it didn’t for me.
  • Throwing the garment in the freezer. I had too many clothes plus the dryer would not fit in the freezer… Plus, the gum was like a stain not something I could peel off.
  • Boiling water.  Didn’t work for me.
  • Gasoline. Don’t go there with me.

Downy Dryer Sheets to Remove Gum in Dryer

Last but not least.   The suggestion that worked…Use Dryer sheets. Generally, I don’t use in the laundry sheets because of how toxic they are.  Plus, the sheets makes my kids’ eczema worse.  However, it was worth a try to remove the gum.

See my bubble gum removal video below of my results.

I ended up using Downy dryer sheets.  Boy, did they smell.  Once you go toxic free, everything smells. But, I was desperate.  Forgive me, all of you greenies for being so wasteful and using those darn sheets.  You know how I feel about toxic products but I was at my wits end. (I also heard that you can use Downy straight from the bottle.)

According to the comments on Thrifty Fun, you are supposed to put the wet sheets over the gum and then turn on the dryer.  Well, I did that twice.  The gum was loosen by the dryer sheets but you still have to put in some muscle to get off the gum.

As I mentioned before I think I will use Downy straight from the bottle next time.  It seemed like it was the Downy that did the trick.

And the Clothes?

The only thing that worked was warm vinegar.  I heated up the vinegar and then dipped a used toothbrush in the warm mixture and scrubbed the gum off. Sometimes, the gum would just come off and other times, I would scrub and scrub.

The trick is to keep the vinegar hot.  I used the microwave to heat up the vinegar.  After a few minutes, I had to run back to the microwave since once it cooled, it no longer worked.

Word of advice, you can only heat the vinegar a few seconds; otherwise, it heat up and goes all over the microwave. Perhaps a small pot would have been better.

In the end, I cleaned the dryer and 90 percent came out of the clothes.

Readers, how do you remove gum from your clothes or dryers?  There has to be a better non-toxic way.

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  1. 3


    and How about removing Pen ink from washers and dryers myine are full o the stuff! cant be looking for pens in my wash, so I tryed using a wash with clorox green works and its the only soap that did it. It is the only sent I like besides method which i have not tried (because of the cost and Im not sure how much to use.)
    Evan Testa´s last blog post ..Noel Drake

    • 4

      Anna@Green Talk says

      Evan, that is good to know about the pens. I used rubbing alcohol to get the pen marks out. I could not get the pen out of the clothes because the dryer “baked” it into the clothes. Did Clorox green work for the clothes too? Anna

    • 7

      Anna@Green Talk says

      Beth, Crunchy Chicken gave a great description of your website. I figured I would follow her lead. Wow, I can’t wait to read how you took apart your washing machine. That’s guts. Anna

    • 10

      Anna@Green Talk says

      Lori, actually money in the laundry caused my washing machine to have a problem. Now, I always check their pockets for money. I guess I missed the gum pocket…Anna

    • 11

      Wen says

      Ha! Piazza?? Too funny! My weekly find is fishing lures! If I don’t find at least one plastic worm or beetle spin bug every week, then I haven’t done laundry. I, too, am battling bubble gum. Grrrrrr…… Thanks for the help!

  2. 12


    So I don’t have any fancy pictures to share because I was just focused on getting my dryer clean from gum (last week). I should have taken some though! This group would have loved them.

    My whole dryer was covered! I just used Solumel, a product I’ve been using for over two years from Melaleuca (company out of Idaho, been around for 25 years, probably familiar with them). It has tea tree oil in it. It is non-toxic. And I use it for most issues around my house, like the foam sticker on my daughters dresser, cleaning up after my dog (in the house – deodorizer), cleaning our kids bikes and my husbands guitar.

    Anyway, it did take about 10 -1 5 minutes, but it worked, without toxic chemicals. This is one of my favorite products…it’s a great substitute for peanut butter.

    • 13

      Anna@Green Talk says

      Alexandra, thanks for posting this information. How much did the product cost? How did you find it? Anna

      • 14

        jb says

        that particular product comes in an 8 oz bottle & costs about $10 to regular/preferred customers. it’s super concentrated (you mix 3 small capfulls into a spray bottle filled with water) & lasts forever. if you would like to know more about Melaleuca, i’d be glad to set up a presentation for you. as far as i can tell, all of the products are non-toxic and use the best of nature & science. preferred customers who shop every month receive a special discount rate on all 340 household products that we all buy every month anyway.

  3. 15


    My daughters cheerleading uniform has gum on it.It isn’t chewed up gum,however its melted onto the skirt and i have tried Ice and a shout wipe and nothing seems to bring it off. Can you suggest anything?
    Thanks for cool video and Good information.

    • 16

      Anna@Green Talk says

      Funny, did you try the product listed in the comments? Also, I used warm vinegar but it too alot of time. Anna

  4. 17

    Tom says

    I used Goo Gone, a citrus based cleaner, to get gum out of my dryer. It has petroleum distillates in it, so it may not be for most reading this, but I am sure there is a citrus cleaner out there that would work for you. Alexandra mentioned Solumel, which should work in a similar fashion. I got lucky with the clothes, since very few articles had gum on them, and of those that did, it was minimal. The warm vinegar trick is the only thing I found that worked well.

  5. 19

    Julie says

    I found a load of black clothes in my dryer full of lots of little white gum specks. There are black spots all over the dryer. I will be trying the dryer sheets and hot vinegar. Vinegar seems to work for so many things. Love it. I think my oldest son had some gum that came out of his dress pants pocket that he wore to Homecoming last weekend.. Hope it comes out of his black dress pants and dress shirt as well as the rest of the load. I think he will be helping me scrub.
    Thanks for the cleaning tips. CAN’T WAIT TO TRY IT!

  6. 20

    Julie says

    I was folding laundry and found that my 8 year old son had sat in gum or taffy… about the hot vinegar….knowing how bad vinegar smells when you heat it, I tried hot water from the tea kettle and rubbed it off with the dishrag also dipped in the hot water (be careful!) came off in just a few rubs! wouldn’t try it on dark jeans as the boiling water took off some of the dye, but worked fine on medium to light colored jeans :)

  7. 22

    Jim Spartan says

    Chewing gum baked all over the dryer and on several items of clothes. Googled and found this site. Went to tell my wife about the dryer sheets and Downey methods. She already had the dryer cleaned in the 15 mins I was gone. Her method was magic sponge. The metal was easy the plastic fins(?) that help tumble the clothes took more effort.

    Tried the hot vinegar and old toothbrush for the clothes. Helped some but most of the clothes are now second string or re-purposed for rags.

    No idea if magic sponge is green or not but did the trick in our case. We have now implemented the policy that no one can put their clothes in the laundry basket until all pockets are emptied. Also whoever is on laundry duty that day double checks everyone’s pockets.

    Bookmarked your nice site and emailing my wife the link.



    • 23


      Jim, I am glad it worked for you. No, the sponge isn’t very green but nor is getting rid of your dryer. :) The downy sheets weren’t either but I was desperate. I really had to work the clothes with the hot vinegar. It took alot of time.

      Thanks for sharing what worked for you! Anna

  8. 24

    Amber says

    Gum is basically polyvinylacetate, and some of the good solvents are acetone (in nail polish remover) and ethanol (in booze). Just some more household items that might work to clean your dryer.

  9. 26

    Logan says

    I wish i could find imploding bubble gum! If that were the case then I wouldn’t have gum all over my clothes and dryer since imploding is collapsing within itself. I’ll have to look into it.

  10. 27

    CJC says

    A few weeks ago I was trying to get sticky price tag labels off my acrylic glasses. Found a suggestion on the internet to use Olive Oil — worked like a charm! Now I have a huge green chunk of gum in my dryer and on my clothes. I went with the olive oil for kicks and it took all the gum out of the dryer. I used a paper tower and then just used a sponge to wipe down the dryer from the olive oil. My clothes, I haven’t tried yet :0(

    • 28


      CJC, I didn’t try that one. I will have to see if that works for me. Did you smear it on with a cloth? I think I tried peanut butter and that didn’t work. Anna

      PS Did it work on your clothes?

  11. 29


    Thanks for good tips; the dryer sheets worked quite well to clean the gum residue out of the dryer. As for the vinegar: My clothes situation was the opposite of yours: instead of pink bubble gum in a load of whites, I washed and dried an entire pack of white spearmint chewing gum in a load of darks, including an almost-new, favorite black shirtdress of mine! The thought of taking a toothbrush and vinegar to everything just about put me over the edge, so I tried a different method and added a cup of vinegar to the washer and washed the damaged clothes on hot. Voila…all the tiny, sticky, white residue was GONE!! I air-dried the clothes just in case my eyesight was playing tricks, but every piece of clothing is gum-free.
    So thanks for steering me in the hot vinegar direction, and please pass along this success story to others!

  12. 31

    Tess says

    I ran across this today after a Google search because, guess what? I left a stick of Orbit gum in my uniform vest pocket. 😛 Luckily, the smudges wiped off my clothes with a wet washcloth, but the dryer drum was a disaster. After trying some decidedly ungreen solvents like WD-40 and Un-Du on a rag, and then rubbing alcohol on a rag, I discovered what did the trick: rubbing alcohol on a dry Magic Eraser.

    Rubbing alcohol + dry Magic Eraser pad was the formula that literally zipped that stuff right off with no damage to the dryer drum! I got the whole thing cleaned up in less than five minutes then.

    Of course, leave your dryer open for several hours afterwards, to make *certain* that all the flammable fumes have dissipated. Please note too, that I use an electric dryer. I’m not sure how safe this method might be for those who have a gas dryer, what with the pilot light and all.


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