10 Ways To Get Gum Off Shoes Without Causing Damage

7 min read

Make the gum less sticky with ice, compressed air, or other household items. Scrape the gum away with a cloth, brush or hard edge.

For suede, scrape gum away with a plastic card. Then let it dry. Remove the remaining dry gum using rubber and ice. 

Hi! My name’s George and I’m a shoe expert.

For this article, we stuck gum to one of our favorite shoes. 

To show you how to get gum off shoes safely, we’ll remove it using 10 different methods. We’ll go step-by-step, with photos, so you don’t miss anything. 

Let’s get started!

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Table of Contents

1

Compressed Air or Aerosol Cans

Chewing gum is stickiest when it’s warm. The polymers and sugars are easier to get off leather and other surfaces when they’re cold.

This is where compressed air comes in. It’s kept under high pressure, which makes it cold. Applying a little to the affected area will make the gum easier to remove.

Compressed air and freeze spray are both good. Some other aerosol sprays, like air freshener ones, can work too.

Make sure not to use this method on suede. Liquids will leave stains you don’t want on the material.

2

Freeze the Shoe

If you don’t have compressed air, you can just stick the shoe in a freezer.

I suggest putting the shoe in a clear plastic bag first. Once it’s in the bag, press the plastic to the gum. If you don’t have a bag, take a piece of paper and press that to the gum.

After a few hours, the gum will be frozen. Pull the paper or plastic away, and the gum will come off with it.

If the gum is on the shoe upper, I recommend freezing your shoe overnight. This will make sure the whole piece of gum hardens.

3

Use Ice

This is another way to remove gum by freezing it. Take some ice and rub it against the affected area.

Once the gum is frozen, peel it off carefully. If necessary, repeat. You may not be able to freeze the whole piece of gum to begin with.

If you’re working with suede, put the ice in a bag first. For more information on getting gum off suede, go to Point 8.

4

Lighter Fluid, Rubbing Alcohol & Nail Polish Remover

You can break down the polymers that make gum sticky. When you do, the gum will be easy to pull off the shoe upper.

To do this, take some lighter fluid, rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover. Apply for 15-30 seconds. Afterwards, wipe the gum away.

This method is sometimes, but not always, safe for suede. To make sure, apply a bit of your cleaning solution to a hidden area first.

If that doesn’t stain or burn the suede, clean away. If there’s any gum residue left, remove it by rubbing a suede brush with the grain.

If you need help restoring the nap afterwards, check out our how to clean suede shoes guide.

5

WD-40

Apply some WD-40 to the shoe upper. The WD-40 will “melt” the rubber off, at which point you can remove it safely.

Unlike the chemicals in point 4, you should never use WD-40 on suede. Natural and faux leather and smooth synthetics are safe. So are some types of mesh.

Suede, though, will stain from WD-40. Some types of nubuck and faux suede are fine, but only if the manufacturer explicitly says so.

6

Using Olive Oil or Peanut Butter

This method is quick and easy, but I only recommend it for shoe soles. It can make a mess of your shoe upper.

Take olive oil or peanut butter and rub it all around the gum. Let it sit for a minute. Make sure the oil doesn’t run off the sole and stain the shoe fabric!

After a minute goes by, swipe the gum away. Most of it will come off easily.

If there’s any gum residue left, get it with a butter knife, plastic knife or spoon, etc. Any point object that isn’t sharp will work.

Note: I recommend smooth, creamy peanut butter. The chunky stuff can be hard to apply evenly.

7

Using sand or salt

Take some sand, salt or similar powder. I don’t like fine powders like baking soda because they can get messy, but you can use that too.

Now take your chewing gum and dip it in powder. Remove using a pointy object that isn’t too sharp. A plastic knife, butter knife, etc all work.

Keep repeating the process until all the gum is gone.

8

Using vinegar

White vinegar is one more way to make gum less sticky. Take 1 part vinegar and mix it with 1 part water. Use a microwave or pan to heat the solution up until it starts steaming a little.

Now take a cotton or microfibre cloth. Dab it in the solution and start rubbing the gum stain away. If necessary, reapply the solution and keep going.

This method is safe on some suede uppers. To make sure, apply to a discrete area of shoe fabric first.

9

Saddle Soap

Start by scraping any large bits of gum off with a credit card, butter knife, etc.

Now apply saddle soap to a brush or cloth until you see some lather. Rub around and into the gum remnants. The gum will start coming off, slowly but surely.

This is best used for durable leather boots and shoes. Soft leather, suede and exotic leather can not handle saddle soap.

10

How to Get Gum off Suede Shoes

If there’s a large, wet piece of gum on the suede, try to scrape some away immediately. You can use a credit card, putty knife or similar object.

If there’s just a little gum or you’ve scraped some away, wait for it to dry. Next, do one or both of the following.

  1. Take a suede rubber and work the affected area until the gum comes off. If you don’t have one, use a completely clean pencil eraser instead.
  2. Take some ice cubes. Put them in a plastic bag. Rub the ice on the gum through the bag until the gum hardens. Scrape off using a suede brush.

Scraping, rubbing and freezing should be enough for gum removal on suede.

FAQ

How to get gum off shoes if it already hardens?

Put an ice cube in a plastic bag and rub it over the rubber. This should make the gum more pliable while weakening its bond to the shoe.

How do you remove gum from your shoe if it has ridges?

Put your shoe in a plastic bag and press the bag to the gum. Now put the shoe in the freezer. After a few hours, pull the bag away and the gum will come off with it.

If that doesn’t help, you can try acetone or lighter fluid. Just make sure they won’t ruin the shoe upper or sole.

How do you get rid of chewing gum inside your shoes?

Apply acetone, nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol to the gum stain. Then rub it away using your fingernail or a small coin.

How do you remove chewing gum from rubber soles?

First, weaken the bond between the gum and the sole using ice, WD-40 or acetone. Then scrape the gum off with a paper knife. Repeat until there’s no gum left.

In Conclusion

Now let’s wrap up. Start by weakening the bond between shoe and rubber with ice, olive oil, WD-40 or something else. Rub or scrape the gum away.

Afterwards, use vinegar, rubbing alcohol, or more ice to on the gum remnants. Wipe or scrub away those too.

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Writer:

George P.H.

Last Updated:

January 19, 2022

George P.H.

George is the founder of Shoethority. He started testing and studying shoes after a series of sports injuries. He now shares his knowledge with Shoethority readers as a writer, tester and editor.