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How to Get Gum Out of Hair | It’s Much Easier Than You Think

Put the scissors down! Just because you have gum in your hair doesn’t mean you have to take drastic measures to get it out. Instead, we’ll show you how to get gum out of hair in five easy steps, no blades required.

How to Get Gum Out of Hair in 5 Steps

Getting gum stuck in your hair happens more often than you might think. Whether you were blowing a bubble that didn’t pop like you expected it to, laid your head onto a freshly chewed piece of gum that someone ejected out of their mouth (seriously, who ARE the people who leave gum stuck to everything), or your toddler got ornery and decided you needed a little goo in your ‘do, getting gum stuck in your hair probably isn’t as unexpected as you might’ve thought.

Nope, it wasn’t on your bingo card for the day, but now you’re here. What should you do? First of all, don’t panic. It’s not as difficult as you might think to get gum out of your hair, as long as you choose the best method and follow the steps correctly. 

Your mind might immediately drift to the scissors lying close by, but that’s not your only option. In fact, we’ve covered just about every method and step to take when removing gum from your hair except for cutting. 

Maybe you heard about using peanut butter to remove gum from hair but don’t know what that entails. Leave the guesswork to someone else. We’ve covered step-by-step how to remove gum from your hair with various products to choose from below.  

Step 1: Assess the Area

Man with a bunch of chewing gum in his hair pulls it from his head and winces


Where is the gum stuck? Is it tangled at the end of your locks, or is it cemented against your roots? Knowing exactly where the gum is stuck helps you choose the best course of action in removing it.

For example, if someone stuck gum to the top of your head as a cruel joke, you might not want to use a liquid, like vinegar, to dislodge it. If you do, you might end up drenched in the sour substance. Instead, for sticky situations like this example, you might find keeping an ice pack pressed to the spot can do the trick. 

Similarly, if you only have a bit of gum stuck at the very end of your hair, who’s to say cutting it wouldn’t be the best option? Just because scissors aren’t the only option doesn’t mean it’s not the best one for you, especially if you were planning to get a haircut anyway.  

Step 2: Choose Your Product

Various types of vegetable and cooking oils to use as a remedy to get gum out of hair

Alexander Prokopenko/Shutterstock

There are plenty of methods to experiment with if you get gum in your hair more than once (why do you keep making this a habit?). For example, you can try the peanut butter method, ice cubes, vinegar, or cooking oil. 

For the most part, these gum removal methods follow roughly the same removal steps. Although peanut butter is messy and ice is cold, they both work by loosening the hold gum has on your hair, the first by “freezing” the gum and the latter by eliminating its stickiness. Even though both ways work, you might be more likely to tear out your hair in the process.

Cooking oil, however, lets the gum slide out, damage-free. Using a cooking oil rids gum of its stickiness and lubricates the area for a swift removal, making it a more straightforward gum removal method than the others. 

Since various cooking oils can remove gum from your hair, you’ll need to choose which one you prefer. Honestly, it doesn’t matter too much which oil you pick.

However, you’re more likely to find coconut oil and olive oil the better options since beauty brands frequently incorporate the ingredients into shampoos and conditioners. That said, if you don’t have either on hand but do have canola oil at the ready, this oil might be the most convenient one. And it’ll work just fine.

Step 3: Test for Reactions

Woman with a rash having an allergic reaction to coconut oil in an orange shirt for a piece on testing for reactions when learning how to get gum out of hair

New Africa/Shutterstock

One of the most important things to consider before you apply any substance to your head is to make sure you don’t have a bad reaction. So, before grabbing the coconut oil and lathering up, conduct a spot test on your forearm to see how your skin will react.

If nothing happens, go ahead and get to work on that gum. However, if you notice itching, burning, or other signs of discomfort, wash the substance off and try a different one. This might go without saying, but if you’re allergic to peanuts, don’t use peanut butter in your hair to get rid of the gum. 

Step 4: Apply the Product to the Gum 

Gal putting coconut oil in her hair to get rid of gum while standing in a mirror


If you’ve chosen either peanut butter, vinegar, or cooking oil, you’ll want to get some into your hands and massage it in the area where the gum is stuck. Rub the substance in and around the gum enough to saturate the area thoroughly

This process should only take a minute or two and is crucial to the removal process. If you don’t rub enough product into the gum, the chemical reaction between the two ingredients won’t occur. This means that the gum won’t lose its stickiness, and you might pull out your hair and cause unnecessary discomfort. 

If you plan to use an ice cube to get the job done, you should keep it held to the spot for anywhere between five and 15 minutes, or however long it takes to freeze the gum. 

Step 5: Comb Through Your Hair

Woman combing her hair for a step in the process of how to get rid of gum out of hair

Zyn Chakrapong/Shutterstock

With either your fingers or with a comb that you don’t mind getting roughed up a bit, you’ll now brush through the area in your hair where the gum’s lodged. Don’t comb too aggressively. Instead, take your time and stroke measuredly, or else you risk tangling up your hair even more. 

If you’ve massaged the area with oil, the gum should slide right out of place. However, if you used vinegar, peanut butter, or an ice cube, you might need to work on the situation a little longer to eradicate the gum.

Once removed, you can throw the gum out and rinse the product from your hair. Or, if you used oil, you can leave it in and saturate your whole head for deep conditioning if you’d like. If you plan on doing so, don’t use canola oil. 

Things to Consider

Before taking any steps toward removing the gum in your hair, you might want to consider the following to ensure you remove the gum safely and correctly:

  • DO NOT use peanut butter if you have a nut allergy.
  • DO NOT apply any heat to the afflicted area. Heat will only worsen your situation and cause more damage to your hair.
  • DO NOT apply harsh chemicals to the area. If you think a powerful stain remover will work the same as it does on clothes on your hair, you’re probably wrong. Please stick to the products we’ve mentioned. 
  • DO NOT try to remove the gum without the assistance of another product. Trying to comb through your hair with the gum will cause more hair to get tangled in it and might spread the gum to new areas. 

So, How Do You Get Gum Out of Hair?

Man with a bunch of gum in his hair winces as he pulls a piece out while standing in a red room


Don’t panic. Getting gum out of your hair doesn’t have to ruin those locks you’ve worked so hard to maintain. Well, it doesn’t if you remember to follow our steps: 

  1. Assess the area
  2. Choose your product
  3. Test for reactions
  4. Saturate the area
  5. Comb through

When choosing a product to get the gum out, you might want to gravitate toward cooking oils. They make for a stress-free, damage-free gum removal and the American Academy of Dermatology Association recommends them for that reason exactly.