How To Remove Gum From Your Hair

Medically reviewed by Dr. Shruti Chavan, MBBS Dermatologist
Written by Annie Jangam

Ever thought of chopping your hair to get rid of the gum stuck to it? You are not alone! The ordeal of removing chewing gum from the hair is messy, painful, and often unsuccessful. Tugging and pulling makes the situation worse – you end up with tiny, stubborn chunks of chewing gum all over your hair.

But do not fret! You can save your locks using simple ingredients found in your kitchen or bathroom cabinet. This article lists easy and cost-effective ways to remove gum from your hair. Keep your scissors away and scroll down for more information!

Why Does Chewing Gum Stick To Your Hair?

Chewing gum consists of gum base, sugar, corn syrup, softeners, and flavorings (1). It contains polymers, which are responsible for its elastic and highly sticky nature.

The good news is a patent for non-stick chewing gum is in progress (2). But until then, we have to learn how to deal with this “sticky” situation. While removing gum from the hair is tricky, the following steps will make the process easy.

How To Remove Gum From Your Hair

First and foremost, DO NOT PANIC. Chewing gum stretches and sticks to the hair further if you keep on tugging it. Here’s what you can do:

Step 1: Separate The Hair Section Where The Gum Is Stuck

  • Use a hair tie or a rubber band to separate the gummy hair section.
  • Secure the rest of the hair with clips or hair ties to prevent the gum from spreading and sticking.

Note: Avoid tugging at your hair. Change into a robe or protect your clothes with a towel.

Step 2: Apply Lubricants, Solvents, Or Fat-Soluble Substances

  • Use your finger, toothbrush, or a wide-toothed comb to distribute the lubricants, solvents, or fat-soluble substances (discussed in the next section) evenly throughout the hair.
  • Ensure it covers the area where the gum is stuck.
  • Do not tangle the hair or form knots.

Step 3: Cover Or Wrap The Hair

  • Cover the hair with a shower cap or wrap a towel to soak up excess liquids and make the cleaning easy.
  • Wait for 1-5 minutes for the products to work.

Step 4: Remove The Gum

  • Try to remove the gum steadily without using force.
  • Check for any leftover bits and pieces.
  • Repeat steps 2-5 if necessary.

Step 5: Clean Up

  • Use water to rinse the remnants of gum and the ingredients used.
  • Shampoo and condition the hair.
  • Do not brush or comb wet hair. Use your fingers to detangle it.

The next section explains the different ways to remove gum from your hair using ingredients available at home. Read on to know more.

Easy Ways To Remove Gum From Your Hair With Ingredients Available At Home

1. Freeze It – Reduce The Temperature By Using Ice

Studies show that temperature reduction using ice can help remove chewing gum from natural fibers, such as wool (3). Hence, this technique may also help you remove gum from your hair by reducing its stickiness. Follow these steps:

  • Apply an ice pack to the gum to help it harden and chip off.
  • Slide the gum gently along the hair.
  • Keep using ice on the gum until it is completely removed from the hair.

2. Use Fat – Dissolve Gum With Fat-soluble Substances

The synthetic gum base of chewing gums consists of polymers that are hydrophobic, i.e., insoluble in water. Hence, it is a good idea to use oil-based ingredients, such as peanut butter, olive oil, mayonnaise, and groundnut oil, that will bind to the gum and help remove it from your hair. The American Academy Of Dermatology recommends using creamy peanut butter or vegetable oil for this purpose (4).

(i) Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is particularly helpful while dealing with kids or toddlers. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Apply peanut butter with your fingertips or a toothbrush to the chewing gum.
  • After 1-3 minutes, the gum loses its grip as the chemical bonds are broken.
  • Slide the gum easily from the hair using a toothbrush.
  • Repeat this process until all remnants of the gum are removed.
  • Shampoo your hair to remove any traces of gum and peanut butter.

Note: Pick creamy peanut butter and not the crunchy variant as it has a higher fat content.

(ii) Mayonnaise

It is rich in fats (egg yolks and oil) and can be used to remove chewing gum from the hair. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Apply mayonnaise on the gum evenly.
  • Wait for 3-5 minutes to loosen the gum from the hair.
  • Work slowly in small strokes and slide the gum from the hair gently.

Note: Avoid low-fat mayonnaise as it will not be effective in dissolving the gum.

(iii) Cooking/Vegetable Oils

Oils, such as olive, groundnut, canola, or coconut oils, help in lubrication and easy gum removal. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Apply oil to the part of the hair where the gum is stuck.
  • Check periodically when the gum loosens.
  • Add more oil along the hair length.
  • Slide off the gum smoothly.

Note: You can also use this technique to remove gum from the eyebrows or eyelashes.

3. Grease It – Reduce Friction With Lubricants

Hair mousse, lotions, cold creams, conditioners, and petroleum jelly can lubricate the hair and remove gum stuck in it. These lubricants help detangle your hair, which speeds up the process of gum removal. This method is beneficial if the gum stuck to the hair close to the scalp.

  • Apply the lubricant of your choice on the gum and around the hair.
  • Use a wide-toothed comb or your fingers to slide the gum along your hair.

Note: Do not use these products excessively, as they might make your scalp and hair greasy.

5. Melt It – Break Chemical Bonds Using Solvents

The gum base of chewing gum is made with different polymers (1). Solvents like rubbing alcohol, vinegar, lemon juice, and baking soda in water breakdown these polymers in the chewing gum and aid its removal.

  • Vinegar: The low-strength acetic acid in the vinegar helps disintegrate the chewing gum’s chemical bonds and makes it easy to remove it from the hair.
  • Rubbing Alcohol: Xylitol, a sweetener commonly used in chewing gums, dissolves partially in solvents, such as alcohol (5). Thus, it can help in removing the gum from the hair.
  • Lighter Fluid: It contains butane, a solvent that may dissolve the gum. However, it is a highly inflammable substance. Hence, be careful when you spray it on the hair to loosen the gum.
  • Baking Soda: It is commonly used in cleaning as it neutralizes bonds and removes sticky residues from any surface. Mix baking soda with water to form a thick paste. Apply this mixture to the chewing gum to loosen it from your hair.

Note: Avoid solvents coming in contact with your eyes.

If Nothing Works, Cut It Out

If none of these methods work, cut your hair to get rid of the chewing gum. Make sure you don’t do it on your own – visit a professional hairstylist to cut only the part of hair stuck with gum.

Closing Thoughts

If you have gum stuck to your hair, don’t panic or reach for the scissors right away. Simple household items, such as ice cubes, peanut butter, baking soda, hair mousse, conditioners, and even toothpaste can help remove gum from your hair. Make sure you are gentle and patient and follow our step by step guide to get it done quickly!

Sources

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Edible polymers: challenges and opportunities
    https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jpol/2014/427259/
  2. Polymeric materials having reduced tack, methods of making the materials and chewing gum compositions containing such materials
    https://patents.google.com/patent/US8211980B2/en
  3. Removing Modern Accretions: Hot-Melt Adhesive, Chewing Gum, and Pressure Sensitive Tape.
    http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.739.2473&rep=rep1&type=pdf
  4. Tips for Removing Gum without Cutting Hair.
    https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/hair-scalp-care/hair/removing-gum
  5. Toward Green Production of Chewing Gum and Diet: Complete Hydrogenation of Xylose to Xylitol over Ruthenium Composite Catalysts under Mild Conditions.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6944490/
Was this article helpful?
The following two tabs change content below.
Annie Jangam is a Molecular Biologist with 7 years of research experience in Rice Functional Genomics and Nutrient Signalling with International Publications in Abiotic stress, Nitrogen, and G-protein signaling. She specializes in writing on Health and Wellness. She has been an avid reader since childhood and is passionate about stories that help decipher life and its meaning. She believes in Human Rights for all and that one should "love others like we love ourselves."