Removing Stubborn Stains

I thought removing Sharpie ink from my daughter’s white sweatsuit was a pain, then I was forced to remove gum from my plush carpet, and I realized that ink stains are a piece of cake compared to gum and candle wax stains.

The type of material that suffers the stain makes a huge difference in how difficult it will be to remove. For example, if candle wax stains silk you will likely have to spend money taking it to the dry cleaner to get it removed, whereas wax stains on cotton clothing can typically be removed by allowing the wax to harden, and then carefully chipping it off. Since cotton is fairly durable you can even stick it into the freezer to get the wax to harden faster before you try removing it with your fingernail or a plastic utensil.

The freezing method also works well when you are trying to remove wax or gum from carpeting. Use ice cubes or ice packs to speed up the wax hardening process, then chip the majority of the wax off with a sharp utensil. Once you remove the majority of the gum or wax, then place a clean, white cloth over the affected area and use a warm iron to remove the rest of the stain from the carpet. If a little residue remains after this step, then use a small amount of baby shampoo to clean the affected area. The shampoo helps break down grease and allows you to wipe up the remaining residue with a clean rag dampened with a bit of water.

For really stubborn gum stains on clothing, place the offending item in the freezer for several hours or overnight. Once the gum is completely frozen you will be able to break it off the garment. If the entire wad of gum doesn’t come off after freezing, then rub a small amount of lighter fluid on the clothing item and work it in well until all remaining bits of gum are removed.

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.