How To Remove Gum From Your Hair – Easy DIY Methods

Know how to remove that messy stickiness from your hair without chopping your locks.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Shruti Chavan, MBBS
Written by Annie Jangam, MSc
Edited by Eshna Das, BA, MSc
Fact-checked by Swathi E, MA (English Literature), Certified Skin Care Coach  • 

You’ve got yourself into a situation – that sticky gum is stuck in your hair. How do you remove gum from your hair? Chop it? No! But, it gets messier the more you try to untangle your hair. You may also lose a few hair strands. Do not tug or pull to make it worse and get tiny chunks of gum all over your tresses. We have the perfect solution.

Save your hair with a few simple ingredients from your kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Read on for a list of easy and effective ways to remove gum from your hair. Ditch the scissors and scroll down for details. Swipe up!

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.

protip_icon Trivia
Singapore banned sticky chewing gum in 1992 to ensure cleanliness. It only allows prescribed therapeutic gums (since 2004) under the free-trade agreement signed with the USA.

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

Use ice to freeze the gum and remove it. Woman removed chewing gum from her hair.
Image: Shutterstock

When trying to remove gum from your hair, it’s important to use a gentle adhesive remover. Follow it up with proper hair care and grooming techniques to help maintain hygiene and protect your hair follicles. Here’s what you need to:

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

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

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 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

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

Clean up process
  • 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

Use ice to freeze the gum and remove it.
Image: Shutterstock

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

Dissolve gum with fat-soluble substances like peanut butter
Image: Shutterstock

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.

Kayla, a blogger, shared her experience trying a crazy technique to remove bubble gum from hair with peanut butter. She says “…the oil from the peanut butter allows the gum to be removed from hair easier (i)”.

protip_icon Fun Fact
Jenna Fischer, Pam from “The Office,” revealed that Steve Carell (Michael) got chewing gum on his hair in one episode and their hair stylist, Kim Ferry, used peanut butter to remove it.

(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

Remove gum from hair with lubricants like hair mousse.
Image: Shutterstock

This method is perfect if you are looking for how to remove chewing gum from hair. 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 and speed up the process of gum removal. It is more beneficial if the gum is 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

Use baking soda and vinegar to remove gum from hair.
Image: Shutterstock

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.

6. Slather With Toothpaste

  • You’ll need toothpaste (non-gel), a plastic bag, and a comb.
  • Squeeze some toothpaste onto your fingers and gently work it into the gum-covered hair patch. Make sure the gum is completely coated.
  • Allow the toothpaste to sit for about 5-10 minutes to help soften the gum.
  • Gently start tugging the gum out of the hair using a comb. Alternate between the comb and your fingers to loosen the gum. Be patient and avoid yanking to prevent hair damage.
  • Shampoo your hair after removing the gum. This helps remove any toothpaste residue.
  • Remember that while this method may take a few attempts, it would eventually free your hair from the gum and any residue.

If Nothing Works, Cut It Out

If none of these methods work and you’re still looking for ways on how to get gum out of hair, 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 your hair stuck with gum.

Infographic Excerpt: Steps To Remove Chewing Gum From Hair With Vinegar

Vinegar and other solvents help dissolve the chemical bonds of the gum and help loosen it. It is also effective for removing chewing gum from clothes and home furnishings. Check out the infographic below to know about the basic steps of using vinegar to remove gum from your hair strands.

how to remove gum for hair with vinegar (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Get the high-quality PDF version of this infographic.

Download Infographic in PDF version

Removing gum from your hair can be tough, but you don’t need to panic if it happens. Most chewing gums contain polymers that give them a sticky texture. If you have gum stuck to your hair, you first need to section off that part of your hair. Then apply a lubricant or solvent to your hair. Cover your hair so it soaks in the lubricant for about 5 minutes. Then, try to remove the gum from your tresses gently. You can also try other remedies, such as using ice cubes, baking soda, toothpaste, hair mousse, peanut butter, and conditioner. Most importantly, be patient and gentle while removing the gum!

Frequently Asked Questions

How does lemon oil remove gum from hair?

Put a few drops of lemon oil on a paper towel. Wrap the towel around the gum and let it sit for some time. The gum will begin to come off slowly.

Does acetone remove gum from hair?

Yes. Acetone may remove chewing gum stains. However, it may dry out your hair. Therefore, use it with caution.

Does dish soap get gum out of hair?

Yes, soapy solutions such as dish soap can help get gum out of your hair. It can make gum dissolve easily, thus making it easier to remove.

Can hair be damaged from removing gum?

Yes, while removing gum your hair might get damaged as it involves a lot of tugging or pulling of strands, leading to hair breakage and damage. Also, using products like alcohol, baking powder, dish soap, or vinegar can make the hair dry and brassy. It can also be abrasive and irritate the scalp.

Key Takeaways

  • Gum stuck in your hair can be a frustrating experience.
  • Carefully separating the chunk of hair that is stuck and applying some sort of a lubricant can help free your hair strands of this sticky situation.
  • Ice, peanut butter, and mayonnaise are some of the common household items that can come in handy in removing gum from your hair.

Stuck with chewing gum in your hair? Worry not! This video shows you how to remove it quickly and easily!

Personal Experience: Source

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