Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Gum is the Worst


If there's one stain I hate cleaning, it's something sticky. And stubborn.

Ok, that's not fair. I generally don't like cleaning any stains. But lately I've been cleaning a lot of sticky ones, and it stinks. Stickers and tattoos that I missed and somehow ended up getting washed and dried on shirts and sheets and blankets.

And gum.

Gum is the worst. The worst. 

Reagan doesn't chew gum. She's not really interested, and we've never really messed with that. But Madison was offered a piece of gum by a friend one day when she was about five, and she's been hooked ever since. As long as she follows our gum rules, I know that I'll just be encouraging the "forbidden fruit" if I don't allow it. She's gotten a ban once and finally earned the right back about six months ago.

The rules are simple.

1. Once it goes in, gum stays in your mouth until you are ready to throw it away.
2. Gum gets wrapped up and thrown away in trash cans only.

Easy, right?

Well, a few weeks ago, she had one of those dark side of homeschooling mornings. The kind where, because she's home, and I'm home, she has to run a long, boring, not kid friendly errand with me. It's a trade off. We sat at the AT&T store for over an hour, trying to fix, and then basically rebuild, my dead phone. Then she did workbook pages while I pretty much ignored her while I tried to get my phone back to the way I like it. Then we had to go pick up a prescription, and we had to wait at the pharmacy, and she was starting to lose it.

So, like the fantastic mom I am, I offered her a bribe. Chose any bag of candy from the store's 99 cent selection. All the vintage treats were there - gumdrops and store brand swedish fish and smarties and .... bubblegum. Individually wrapped, pink square bubblegum. She chose that.

We went over the gum rules again, and I let her get it. She happily popped a piece in her mouth, we finished our errands, picked up Reagan, and continued on with our day. Adam was out of town, so after dance class I offered to take the girls out to dinner (honestly a bigger win for me than for them). Madison was warm from her class, and it was a mild evening, so I didn't think anything of the fact that she carried, rather than wore, her team jacket. She tossed it onto the car seat with her dance bag.

By the time we reached the restaurant, it was chilly, but she suddenly refused to put the jacket on.

And then I saw why.

Before dance, she'd apparently spit out her gum, but realized that she threw away the wrapper. Rather than ask me what to do, or carry it into the building to the trash can, she just put it on her seat to deal with later. And when she tossed her jacket on the same seat after dance, she put that jacket right onto the forgotten gum, then weighed it down with her bag. When she picked it up later...that gum was firmly squished into her expensive, personalized, only available through special order, mandatory teamwear, jacket. Oh, and onto the car seat too.

Two totally non disposable, hard to clean spots.

So I became a gum cleaning expert.

My new favorite sticky stain remover? Hot vinegar. I'm a pretty big "vinegar is a magical cleaner" person anyway, but I never thought that it would have a different impact under a different temperature. Hot vinegar literally lifted the wad of gum off both the jacket and the seat. I wish I'd had someone videoing it as it happened (I was actually tempted to put gum on something old so I could do this, but making an intentional mess seems wrong).

One the bulk was lifted off by the hot vinegar, both spots were left with residue the texture of a sticker back. Here's where the cleaning differs. I cover the car seat in the link above, so I'll talk about the jacket here. I saturated the stain in Goo Gone and washed it with my load already in the washer. This made no difference to the stickiness and I was about to get upset, before I looked at my research more carefully. It's suggested to saturate in Goo Gone, let it sit for a long time, then wash alone with double detergent. This seemed like a wasted wash to me, but then I realized that not being able to salvage the jacket was a worse choice, so I tried it.


I pulled the jacket out from it's solo journey in the washing machine with TWO Tide Pods...and it was perfect. PERFECT. No residue, no "oil mark" from the Goo Gone. It looked brand new.

So gum might be the worst, but discovering a new way to tackle it without stress is the best!
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