So you’re out and about, take a misstep and BOOM – you’ve got gum on the bottom of your tennis shoe. While that stinks, it brought you here and now we can be friends right?
We’ve tested each of the following methods for removing chewing gum from your shoes and have ranked them from easiest to hardest. Keeping in mind how long it takes and if it can be performed with common household items were the main criteria we used.
So without further ado, let’s get that gum off your tennis shoes!
1. Get Gum Off Shoes by Freezing
By far the best way to remove gum from a tennis shoe or sneaker is to place it in the freezer before you try and remove it.
When chewing gum is frozen, it loses a lot of its sticking properties. All you need to do is throw your tennis shoe in a plastic bag (to keep it away from the veggies) and put it somewhere to freeze for about an hour.
After the timer goes off, take it out of the freezer and plastic bag, then gently pull from around the gum with your fingernail or butter knife. Without much effort at all the bottom of your shoe should be gum-free in no time.
Ice Cubes vs Freezing
Don’t have enough space in the freezer or it just grosses you out? Some swear by the ice cube method for gum on tennis shoes, but it didn’t work that great in our test. Perhaps you’ll have better luck than us.
Take an ice cube, wrap it in a paper towel or rag, then let it rest on the gum for a few minutes. Proceed to gently move the ice around the gum. Once the piece of gum is cold to the touch, gently pry at it with a butter knife or fingernail. If you have ice cubes handy, it’s not a bad method to try.
2. Get Gum Off Shoes with Peanut Butter
Hungry yet? Creamy peanut butter is an old trick that helps remove sticky residue left behind from stickers and can also help remove gum from tennis shoes.
The fat content within the peanut butter can stain certain fabrics, so please skip this method if you have suede shoes or any other type of sensitive fabric on your tennis shoes.
Grab an open jar of peanut butter and place some on a butter knife. For the best chance to get the gum off, surround and saturate the gum completely. Let it sit for about an hour.
Rip off a paper towel or cloth and using the butter knife, start scraping the peanut butter off the shoe. Once the peanut butter has all been removed, gently scrape around its edges to remove the gum.
It should be noticeably less sticky now than it was before. To help clean the tennis shoe, you can use a mild soap to help get rid of any peanut butter residue.
Don’t Be Tempted To Use Oil
Straight oil can stain your fabric. If the gum is stuck on the soles of your shoe it doesn’t matter much. For materials like suede or leather though, if you must use oil, it would be best to use a rag or small brush to stick the oil directly on the gum.
3. Get Gum Off Shoes with WD-40
Another trick for removing gum from a shoe that makes use of household items is WD-40 or a similar solution. While it may seem strange to use something commonly thought of to stop a creaking door hinge, it does a great job at gum removal.
Similar to the ice trick, the WD-40 actually hardens to help remove gum . Depending on where the gum is and the type of fabric used on the tennis shoe, you can mask off the rest of the shoe using a plastic bag.
Cut out a small hole, just large enough to surround the gum, and tape it off. Give the gum a good spray and it should now be easier to remove now that it’s hardened.
If the piece of gum leaves a bit behind, throwing an ice cube onto it may help finish the rest off.
Methods that Get Gum Off Shoes We Don’t Recommend
From the methods to get gum off shoes that we’ve listed above, we’re fairly confident you’ll be crossing the gum-free finish line.
There were however a number of tricks that we tried that didn’t work well.
Gum removing tricks for a tennis shoe that didn’t work are listed below, with a few comments sprinkled in.
1. Get Gum Off Shoes with Nail Polish Remover
Nail polish remover or acetone is recommended on occasion but we have to caution against this method. It’s very easy to stain fabrics, especially suede shoes and can be harsh if inhaled.
2. Get Gum Off Shoes with Sand
OK, maybe if you were stranded on a beach and you had nothing else for removing gum from your tennis shoes we could recommend trying this.
The idea behind this method is to use sand to make the gum less sticky, rub and massage the sand into it, ultimately making the gum easier to remove.
The method did not work well at all and made a mess in the process.
Last Thoughts on Tricks That Remove Gum
After chewing a lot of gum and going through WD-40, paper towels, lots of ice and oil, we found what worked and what did not.
Suede and unprotected leather shoes can be a bit more difficult if the gum lands on any part of the shoe other than the sole because it’s so prone to discoloring.
To be safe, for most any shoe fabric, we recommend starting with the freezing or ice method. Only if the ice or freezer method fails, do we recommend proceeding with WD-40 and oil.
Simply put, to remove gum from your tennis shoes as pain-free as possible, go slow and take your time with preparation and cleanup.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Wd-40 Seems Like It Will Make a Mess, Any Tips to Keep Things Clean & Tidy?
Absolutely, just keep things simple. Definitely use a plastic bag to mask off the rest of the shoe.
Take your time being sure to only spray the gum and have a paper towel or rag nearby to clean as you go.
WD-40, rubbing alcohol and similar solutions are great ways to harden the gum and stop it from being sticky so you can easily scrape it away.
Q: I Have Gum Stuck onto The Sole of The Shoe; Can I Just Rub It Off?
Normally if you rub the gum on the bottom of the shoe, this alone will get the bulk of the gum to come off. However, it can leave a sticky residue behind.
To remove the final residue on a sole, grab some oil and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Then you can scrub, rub or press a bit and it should pull right off.