How to Get Gum Off Shoes with Ease at Home (8 Techniques)

You’re walking on the street, minding your own business, when you suddenly realize you’ve stepped on something sticky. Yak.. it’s a piece of gum. It’s unpleasant but fortunately getting gum off your shoes isn’t that hard. There are a lot of methods online, but only a few have been proven to work.

Before saying anything one quick tip. Using WD-40 on gum removes it faster than any other method. So those who wants faster results can go for it with your eyes closed. 

It’s hard to emphasize how important it is to use the right method. Gum is very sticky and can be hard to remove. Worse, using the wrong approach can damage your shoes like wrong waterproofing spray that doesn't work. so use only the ones below as they’re effective. We’re also going to take a close look and determine which of these methods works best.

The Freeze Method

  1. Put the shoe in a plastic bag. Make sure the plastic bag is big enough so the area where the gum is stuck gets pressed on the plastic.
  2. Press the plastic on the gum for about 20 seconds or enough for the gum to stick on the plastic.
  3. Put the plastic bag with the shoe in the freezer. If there’s food in the freezer, store the shoe completely in the plastic and seal it.
  4. Leave the shoe in the freezer for a couple of hours or more.
  5. Take the shoe from the freezer. By this time the gum would have stuck on the bag and no longer on your shoe.

You can use any kind of plastic bag, but a grocery bag or food storage bag is ideal as it is large enough to fit the entire shoe.

If the gum hasn’t stuck to the bag even after a couple of hours, leave it in the freezer overnight. This is often the best method if the gum has hardened and won’t come off using the other methods.

The Ice Technique

  1. To remove chewing gum from shoes using the ice method, put several ice cubes in a plastic bag.
  2. Put your shoe in the bag, on top of the ice cubes. Keep the ice cubes under the shoe, not inside it.
  3. Tie the plastic bag. Use your hand to press the ice cubes on the gum. Keep pressing until the gum has frozen, so this could take some time.
  4. Once the gum freezes, use a putty knife or butter knife to scrape off the gum. Be careful when scraping to avoid damaging the shoe.

There’s some debate as to whether it’s better to use a sharp knife to remove the gum residue. The argument is that a putty knife might not be able to do the job. However, it’s better to try with a putty knife first for safety reasons.

Peanut Butter Works Too

Peanut butter is delicious, but it’s also an effective way to discard stubborn gum.

  1. Apply two tablespoons of creamy peanut butter on the gum. The thicker the coating the better.
  2. Leave the peanut butter on the gum for at least 10 minutes.
  3. Use a wire brush to remove the peanut butter. This can be a little messy but the gum should come off along with peanut butter. Keep in mind that you have to scrub along the shoe’s grooves and not against it.
  4. Once the gum is removed, wash the shoe under running water. Let it dry once all residue traces are removed.

We stressed creamy peanut butter because it’s more effective. And there’s no need to be too specific about the size of the spoon or the thickness level. As long as the peanut butter has a thick consistency that should do fine.

As the step by step descriptions show, this process is not as clean cut as the others. In fact some may say the peanut butter might end up making a bigger mess. Even so, this method does work. Just make sure you wash the shoe thoroughly so no peanut butter residue is left.

Using Olive Oil

We use olive oil for cooking, but it’s also one of the most powerful techniques for getting rid of gum.

  1. Apply the olive oil on the gum. Do not let the olive oil drip on the leather part of the shoe as it could lead to stains.
  2. Leave the oil there for 60 seconds.
  3. Use a paper towel or cloth to remove the oil. The gum should come off as well.
  4. Use a sharp pointed object to remove the excess gum and olive oil. Be careful when removing so as not to damage the shoe.

We did not specify the amount of olive oil to be used because a specific amount is not important. Just apply a few drops on the paper towel, enough to cover the gum area. Usually a single application is all that’s needed, but increase this if necessary to dump the residue.

How to Use WD 40 to Get Rid of Gum

WD 40 isn’t just for hinges, as they’re also effective for gum shoe removal.

  1. If you don’t have WD 40 in your home, you can buy one in cleaning supply stores.
  2. Spray the gum and the area around it. Let it rest for a minute so WD 40 can loosen the gum’s adhesive hold on your shoe.
  3. Get a rag or paper towel and wipe the gum away. The gum should quickly come off, but if it doesn’t, spray it again.
  4. Once the gum has been removed, wipe away any residue left.

There are some who would suggest you use compressed air. Compressed air can work but WD 40 is more effective. Why this is so isn’t clear but it’s probably due to the ingredients in WD 40.

The Stick and Sand Approach

If you’re outside and stepped on a piece of gum, look for some dry sand and a wooden stick.

  1. Remove your shoe with the gum and sprinkle some sand over it.
  2. Using the stick, rub the sand in the gum. You will see the gum come off in small pieces.
  3. Sprinkle some more sand on the gum and rub with the stick.
  4. Keep doing this until most if not all the gum has been removed.
  5. When you come home, wash the shoe to remove any traces left.

This method takes some time, but it’s best to do this now so the gum doesn’t stiffen and be harder to remove. Aside from sand, dirt can also be used. Both methods are best used as soon as you notice the gum on your shoe. If you leave the gum there it’s going to be a little more difficult to remove.

The Lighter Method

This is one good method also.

  1. Get some lighter fluid and soak a paper towel or cloth in it. Rub this on the gum and it should come off your shoe.
  2. Lighter fluid is flammable, so use in a well-ventilated area and far from heat sources.

Lighter fluid should only be used as a last resort because of the reasons we have already cited above. Of course if you’re in a well-ventilated area, a lighter fluid will do.

Use a Nail Polish Remover

This is also a good technique and easy to apply.

  1. Get an acetone based nail remover.
  2. Dip a clean paper towel or cloth in the nail polish.
  3. Wipe the cloth on the shoe until the gum comes off.
  4. Be careful when using nail polish because it might discolor the material. This is particularly true for suede and other materials.

You’re not going to find a lot of shoe experts who will recommend nail polish because it might be too strong. However if you follow the steps outlined here, your shoe should be fine. The important thing to remember is the nail polish doesn’t get onto the leather. As long as the nail polish is on the gum there won’t be an issue.

Which Method Should You Use When Inside and Outside?

Odds are you’re going to step on gum outside your home, but it can also happen at home. Whatever the case may be, the methods we have outlined earlier are a mixture of inside and outside.


  • If you stepped on gum while outside and there’s stick and sand nearby, the stick and sand method we showed earlier is your first option.
  • Lighter fluid and nail polish removers should be used in well ventilated places.


  • The freezing and cube methods are done inside.
  • WD 40 is often stored in homes so it’s also best used inside.
  • The peanut butter method should also be done inside the house as it can be messy.
  • Olive oil is often used inside as well.

These are general guidelines only. If you travel a lot or have WD 40, nail polish or an ice cooler with you, you can use those too. What’s important is that you follow the directions given for each method to achieve results.

Which Method is Cheapest?

The freeze and ice methods are the cheapest as you already have them. But there’s also a good chance you’ve got peanut butter in the kitchen as well as WD 40 in the garage. Sticks and sand are easy to come by too, so they’re all inexpensive.

All the methods we have listed here were chosen specifically because they’re cheap and easy to do. Almost everyone has the items we have discussed above so in most cases you don’t have to buy one.

Which Method is the Easiest and Fastest?

Now that you know removing gum from leather shoes, the question is, which method is the most practical?

Usually using WD 40 method is the easiest and fastest method, as a spray or two allows you to remove the gum easily. If you don’t have WD 40 at home, the freezer method is the next best option.

It depends on how much gum has been stuck on your shoe. If only a little bit of gum got stuck on your shoe, it will only take a few seconds before it’s removed. But if there’s a lot of gum it could take a while even with WD 40. The longer the gum is left on your shoe, the more difficult it could be to remove regardless of the method.

Comparison Between Methods

For a clearer comparison, let’s line the methods up:

  • Freezing Gum: It’s easy and works very well even for lots of gum. However, not everyone likes the idea of putting a shoe in the freezer, even if it’s a plastic bag. It also takes hours for the gum to freeze.
  • Ice Cubes: This is also easy as you can get ice in your fridge, and you don’t have to put the shoe in the freezer. But waiting for the gum to freeze takes time, and so does scraping it off.
  • WD 40: As we said, this is probably the quickest method and it is proven effective. But if you don’t have one at home, you’ll need to buy one.
  • Peanut Butter: Creamy peanut butter can remove gum, but it could take a lot of work.
  • Sand and stick: This is probably the method you’ll use in a pinch, and while it can be slow, does get rid of gum.
  • Olive oil: Olive oil is obviously not one of the cheapest methods, but if the others don’t work, this is worth trying out.
  • Lighter fluid and nail polish remover: Both of these methods are fast, but you have to be careful with their use.

As we have shown here there are a lot of factors that come into play, but it’s good to know there are many options.


As this guide has demonstrated, there are many ways to remove gum. By knowing how to remove gum from shoe you can take the right approach and avoid damage. Sure there may be specialty products for gum removal online, but these techniques are just as effective and your shoes will be gum free and clean again.