How to remove gum from your car's interior

Tom Moor, ANGIE'S LIST Posted: Sunday, December 20, 2015, 1:08 AM

If you've ever had gum stuck to your car's flooring or seats, you know it can lead to a sticky situation.

Eliminating gum from the interior of your car can be extremely difficult. Although a quick search online reveals dozens of ways to remove gum from car seats and carpets, there doesn't appear to be a universally accepted solution.

It's a job not even veteran detailer James Carter has totally conquered.

"I still haven't mastered getting gum out," said Carter, owner of Paradise Mobile Detail in Las Vegas. "I've tried different solutions but haven't found anything magical."

Fortunately, there are plenty of methods that have proven worthy of eliminating all or most of the sticky mess gum can create.

Two of the more popular ways to remove gum are through either cold or heat.

A common cold method is placing a bag of ice on top of the gum for about 20 minutes to harden it. Once the gum hardens, experts recommend picking away at it and removing as much of the gum as possible.

"You can pull it off by hand, and it will crumble," said Melvin McKay, owner of Quick N Brite Mobile Detail in Charlotte, N.C. "Using [rubbing] alcohol also works."

After removing as much of the gum as possible, detailers recommend applying a detergent to the area and scrubbing the rest of the gum away.

Another way to remove gum is by doing the opposite and heating it with a hair dryer. This causes the gum to soften and rise, which can make it easier to remove with a rag.

When using heat, it's important not to heat the seat material or carpet fibers too much or it could lead to additional damage.

Some detailers, though, avoid heat and cold altogether and stick with more conventional methods such as using a solvent or adhesive remover. There are also products available online or in stores that are specific to removing chewing gum.

"We use a professional-grade adhesive remover, a damp towel, and a soft bristle brush," said Sylvester Chisom, owner of Showroom Shine Detailing in St. Louis. "It takes some time, but eventually the gum breaks down and, in most cases, can be removed from carpet or seat fabrics."

Chisom added he typically can remove at least 75 percent, if not all, of the gum - depending on how much there is and the type of surface.

"Carpets and fabric seats require more time typically in comparison to leather," Chisom said. "However, you have to be careful with chemicals and hard brushes on leather."

Carter, meanwhile, said he removes as much of the gum as possible with a scraper and then uses a standard car interior cleaner. He's also had success using steam cleaners.

Steam cleaners "are quick and easy and can completely remove gum without leaving any residue," he said.

Carter has also removed gum with a scraper and car interior cleaner.

Chisom said he usually charges about $35 to $70 to remove gum, with the cost fluctuating based on how much gum there is and the time it takes to remove it. Some professionals may include the service as part of a full detailing, which can range from $100 to $200.