How to Get Gum and Candy Out of Carpet

I’m getting pretty excited for Halloween night, clean geeks! Almost as excited as my kids have been. Natalie will be dressing as Amelia Earhart, aviator hat and all. Olivia is working on something top-secret (but between you and me, I’m pretty sure it’s a jellyfish!). And Steve and I have been helping Garrett build a robot costume out of boxes and dryer vent hoses.

I love trick-or-treat night, but I also know that Halloween’s big candy haul is often followed by a big candy cleanup. I hate to admit it, but I’ve had to deal with the occasional glob of gooey gum or sticky candy on the living room rug. It’s not fun to deal with — but it’s certainly not impossible, either. I’ve got three ways you can take on this problem like an expert.

Freeze It
Freezing is your best plan of attack with gum that hasn’t been stuck long. If you can get to it before it gets too far down into your carpet fibers, this should be pretty easy.

  1. Put several ice cubes in a sealable sandwich bag and lay it on top of the gum. (Or, if you have a can of compressed air, like the kind you use to clean a keyboard, that will freeze the gum just as well.)
  2. Once the gum is frozen solid, use a butter knife, spatula or spoon to scrape it up. Scrape in one direction to avoid damaging the carpet fibers. It will likely crack and break as you go, but if you have trouble, rub the stuck pieces with ice and try again.
  3. Once you get all the pieces out, gently scrub with a solution of soapy water and a little bit of that miracle cleaner, white vinegar.

Dissolve It
When you apply a solvent to gum, you’ll break down the polymers, which will make it less sticky and far easier to remove.

  1. Choose a solvent like a citrus degreaser or mineral spirits — you can even use muscle rub products that contain methyl salicylate. It’s a good idea to test a small amount in a more hidden area first, just to make sure you won’t stain your carpet. Once you’ve done that test, spray the gum or candy, or use a cloth to apply it.
  2. Wait 5 or 10 minutes for the solvent to work its magic, then gently scrape with a butter knife, spatula or spoon.
  3. Just as with the freeze method, you can finish up by scrubbing with soapy water and a little white vinegar.

Oil It
As with solvents, oils will reduce the stickiness. You can try eucalyptus oil, olive oil or even peanut butter. Just be sure to thoroughly clean up these oils once the gum or candy is gone.

  1. After testing a more hidden area of your carpet to make sure the oil won’t discolor the fibers, apply it directly to the gum or candy. You’ll want to saturate the candy, but don’t just pour the oil on the spot — it’s much easier to control the oil when you apply it with a clean cloth.
  2. As with the other methods, next comes gentle scraping with a butter knife or other metal utensil. Be sure to wipe the gum off of your utensil after each pass to avoid getting it re-stuck.
  3. And you’ve guessed it — now it’s time to scrub with soapy water and a bit of white vinegar, making sure to remove all of the residual oils.

Regardless of which method you try, you may see a little candy color left behind from lollipops or other hard candies. If so, try scrubbing with some more white vinegar, or apply a stain remover. Then, blot the area with water to rinse the carpet fibers, and let it dry.

Now that you’re armed with this candy mess-fighting knowledge, are you ready to trick-or-treat?