How To Remove Gum From Your Car’s Exterior

Gum On The Car. Photo: @Turn_The_Paige Via Instagram.
Gum on the car. Photo: @turn_the_paige via Instagram.

What is that gunk on my car?

Although it doesn’t happen all too often, there may come a time when you find a gummy surprise on your car’s exterior. Maybe a snotty teen wanting to cause havoc has plopped down a piece they were chewing as they passed by or you just happened to park on a used piece of gum on a hot summer day making your tires spew out a stringy gunky mess all over your car exterior when you drove off. Either way there are a few things you can try to clean up this mess as painlessly as possible.

Related: How To Remove Stickers And Decals From Your Car

Prep The Area

First you will want to try to remove any big chunks or pieces of gum without scrubbing or scraping. To help with this you may want to use an ice cube or ice water to harden the gum first. When you cool down gum it hardens and becomes brittle. This will help prevent further spreading the sticky mess as you pull pieces off.

If ice is not available, get a can of compressed air and use that to cool down and remove any gum chunks. The compressed air may help take off any smaller gum pieces as it’s easier to direct it and work in sections peeling any thin or long pieces as you would a sticker. If you’re very lucky or the gum was in one big chunk, you may be able to take off the majority of it this way.

Next you will want to clean the area to remove any dirt, the same as the first step in removing a sticker. This will help prevent any debris from scratching your paint finish while you are working on removing the gum. You can use your preferred car cleaner or just a few drops of dish soap in some water and a sponge. Use a gentle touch and warm water. You should start to be able to remove any thinly spread gum that may have not come off previously.

Related: The Nasty Task of Cleaning Puke Out of Your Car: Here’s How to Do It

Getting More Aggressive

If you weren’t able to get all the gum off, it’s time to start looking at chemicals that can help loosen its grasp. There are plenty of commercially available adhesive removers available on the market, but you may also want to look into products targeted at removing bugs and tar from your car exterior as well as auto body solvents. Auto body solvents are used between paint coats to remove impurities so the paint lays down smoothly.

If the gum is on a plastic fender or exterior piece, an oil based product will produce a better result. Some solvents will damage the plastic and leave it looking gray or ashy after they have dried. You can use products with lubricant properties like WD-40 to bind up the stickiness of the gum before wiping it off.

You can even try using household items like peanut butter or body oils with the same effect. Spread the peanut butter on the gum and leave sitting for a few minutes before wiping off for the best results. Just like when we use coconut oil to take that stubborn waterproof mascara off.

Related: Spring Cleaning: There’s Sanity in a Clean Car

Patch Test

Be sure to test any product on an inconspicuous area of your car exterior before attempting to clean a large visible area to see if this product will affect the finish. This can be your door jamb, behind your bumper, or some place underneath your car. Even products that are marketed for car exteriors can lead to unwanted issues with the paint or finish. It may go without saying, but carefully read all product instructions twice before starting. This will help you gather any additional materials you may need in order for the cleaning process to go smoothly.

Wash Your Car To Get Rid Of Any Last Remnants Of Gum And The Stuff You Used To Remove It. Photo: Ragingwaterscarwash Via Instagram

Wash your car to get rid of any last remnants of gum and the stuff you used to remove it. Photo: ragingwaterscarwash via Instagram

Clean Up

Once you have removed all traces of gum, give the area another good wash with your favorite car wash product or warm water and dish soap to remove any residual oils or products that have lingered. Rinsing thoroughly will help you see if there are any areas you may have missed. If you notice more sticky gum patches, go back and clean them off before doing a final wash and clean.

You may want to wax the area as additional protection for your paint and finish, especially if you used any of the more industrial chemicals to get that sticky mess off. These chemicals may have taken any wax finish you had off while you were cleaning as they are specifically designed to remove oil and wax based substances.

But That’s Not All!

You can also use the same tips to clean off tree sap and other sticky debris that may find themselves on your lovely exterior. As for finding gum in the interior of your car, the same wisdom can be applied here too. Although you may want to research products specifically formulated for whatever surface you’re cleaning be it leather, upholstery, or carpet. Happy de-gumming!

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