If you just googled, “How to get gum out of hair”…here is a hug from me.  You are not alone! I had really never thought about how to get gum out of hair until the day that I needed the gum removal from hair information ASAP.  I can count on my kids to teach me something new every day and removing gum from hair was what I learned that day!

How to get gum out of kids hair - little girl with strawberry blond hair with a large wad of pink bubble gum in her long hair
When you need the information about how to removed gum from hair…you kinda need it NOW!

5 Easy Ways to Get Gum Out of Hair Without Cutting Hair

My first tip would simply be…don’t let your preschooler have gum. I actually believed in this rule before this incident in my house because isn’t prevention the best? However, preschoolers are well known to have a knack for finding things they shouldn’t, especially when those things belong to their older brother.

And now I am sitting here beating myself up (and you) for even getting into this gum-in-hair situation and that is NOT helpful!  Let’s get this gum OUT of the hair.

#1 – How to Get Gum Out of Hair if It’s Small

Take your time and slowly try to remove the hairs from the gum. This is actually do-able if your child only got a small piece of gum stuck in there like a Chiclet. But it takes patience to work a piece of gum out of the hair for both mom and child. If your child has a sensitive scalp and won’t be able to tolerate the hair tugging, move on to the next idea…

#2 – How to Remove Gum from Hair with Oils

Cover the area with something oily. Some people have had success with peanut butter, cooking oil, olive oil, butter or even WD-40! Here are the gum removal steps:

  1. Cover the gum with the oily substance of your choice (whatever you have at home!)
  2. Let the area rest a few minutes…try to distract yourself and the kid!
  3. Lightly massage the messy area trying to mix the oily substance as close to the individual hair pieces as possible because eventually the hair will be too slick for the gum to remain stuck, and it can just be combed right out of there.
  4. At this point you may want to wash the hair so it doesn’t smell like whatever substance you used!

#3 – How to Get Gum Out of Your Hair with Baking Soda

This one is as effective as the oil based substance one above, but ends up smelling a lot better in the end!  Here are the easy steps to use baking soda to get gum out of hair:

  1. Start with a 1/3rd cup of baking soda in a bowl or on a plate.
  2. Use a spoon to drop a few water drops on top mixing until you have a stiff paste substance.
  3. Work the baking soda paste into the hair around and over the gum.
  4. Wait a few minutes for the chemical reaction to occur.
  5. Work the much less sticky gum out of the hair thanks go the baking soda magic!
Gum in Hair Problem - girl blowing bubbles with gum colored orange purple green and red - Kids Activities Blog
An ounce of prevention…isn’t always possible when it comes to gum in hair!

#4 – Toothpaste Can Get Rid of Gum in Hair

It seems really weird that toothpaste would work, but it is kinda a combination of the baking soda and oil substance trick.  Use a small amount of toothpaste and rub it on the hair around the gum. It will help the hair slide away from the gum similarly to the methods described above.

#5 – Freeze Gum Out of Hair

If a small amount of gum is in hair, using an ice cube to “freeze” it can be effective.  You can simply rub the ice cube over all areas of the gummed hair or make an ice pack that you allow to sit on the gum area for a few minutes.  Once the gum hardens, you can break it up into smaller pieces and pull it more easily from its hair hold.

How Do You Get Gum Out of Hair Bonus – If All Other Methods Fail

how to get gum out of hair - our gum removal story ended with scissors
Unfortunately, sometimes the only way to get a large wad of gum out of hair is with scissors {cringe}!

And finally, if all else fails, pull out the trusty scissors and let your child try a new hairstyle for a while. I know I said we were doing this without scissors, but desperate times calls for desperate measures!

Don’t worry. It will grow back!

And it might be time for a new hairstyle…we have some ideas that will soften the blow.

New Hairstyle Ideas for Kids After Gum Removal

  • Super easy and fun hairstyles for girls that are doable…even after a gum incident!
  • Super cute and fun (and easy) little girl hairstyles.
  • Cute boy hairstyles for preschool, Kindergarten, grade school and beyond (although I hope the gum in hair problem ends as early as possible).
  • If you still have some long hair areas, maybe covering the shorter areas with a braid would help?  Check out these braids for girls ideas.
  • Please tell me your child didn’t get gum in the hair the day before picture day, but just in case we have some picture day hairstyles you might want to browse.

What is the easiest way to remove gum?

My favorite gum removal solution (is it scary that I have a favorite?) is to use peanut butter and follow the steps in #2 by covering the gum wad completely with peanut butter, letting it rest a few minutes, massaging it into the area trying to work the oily peanut butter substance as close to the individual hair pieces as possible and pulling or combing out the gum pieces and then washing the hair to remove residue and peanut butter smell!

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How do you get gum residue out of hair?

Once you have removed the bulk of the gum from your child’s hair, follow up with a gentle shampoo to remove the residue of both the remaining gum particles and whatever oily substance helped remove the gum! Some of our favorite gentle kids shampoos:

  1. The Honest Company Purely Simple Fragrance Free Shampoo
  2. Johnson’s Ultra-Hydrating Tear Free Kids Shampoo with Pro-Vitamins & Proteins
  3. Fresh Monster 2-in-1 Kids Shampoo & Conditioner for Kids

Our Gum in Hair Removal Story

My daughter and I were running errands one day and I soon realized that she had gotten quiet in the back seat. I didn’t think much of it, and just enjoyed the silence for a moment until…

“Mommy, I put my gum in my hair!  Wanna see?!”

Umm, did my daughter really just say that she intentionally put gum in her hair, and she is so proud of it that she wants me to see it?

Yes. Yes, she did.

I quickly pulled over because I wanted to address the problem before more hair got mushed into the gum.

Yep, there was a big chunk of purple gum well matted into her hair. I spent about 20 minutes there slowly picking the hairs out of the gum, while my little girl squirmed and cried about how I was pulling her hair.  

Ahem, whose idea was this again???

I got lots of gum out, but sadly I ended up having to just cut several chunks of hair.


What other suggestions do you have for how to get gum out of hair?

Let us know in the comments, we’d love to hear!

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  1. I don’t know how I ended up on this post, but I just wanted to say that my Mom always removed gum from my hair with peanut butter. It works amazingly well and you can get the gum to soften up and slip off of the hair without too much damage. Apparently its the oils in the peanut butter so maybe it can be done with other oils as well. I hope this helps the next time some rascal gets gum in their hair!

  2. This is my personal favorite go to place for kids activities! Whether it be for Kindergarten or Grandchildren, I have enjoyed using many of your ideas! Thanks so much!