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How To Clean Gum from Granite, Marble & Stone

Unfortunately, chewing gum can get tracked into your home and leave not only a sticky mess, but an oily residue mark - particularly on a natural stone surface. Luckily, there are techniques for attacking the gummy mess that should leave your natural stone surfaces unharmed. As with most other stains, stray chewing gum should be addressed as soon as possible to help save you extra effort later on and sidestep permanent damage. The materials in natural stone may vary - marble and granite are common choices for the home. This means that the surfaces vary both in their reaction to stains and to methods for stain removal. The solutions here are designed to be as universal as possible, but may contain pointers for different compositions and colors of stone.

A tile floor or other natural stone surface is ideally smooth and well-sealed. A temperature and chemical resistant, non-porous surface works to the cleaning advantage,  making it more difficult for stains to adhere. Natural stone countertops are best cared for with mild pH neutral products, and may periodically benefit from being re-sealed so that they can continue to resist stains and other substances that may corrode the counter's surface.

To help remove the gum, place an ice cube in a plastic bag or wrap it in plastic wrap, and rub directly onto the gum stain until the gum hardens. The plastic acts as a moisture barrier, to help prevent over-wetting the surface. Once the gum has hardened, remove the gum by hand or with the aid of a relatively soft, blunt edged tool like a popsicle stick or wooden toothpick.

On a natural stone surface where the sealant is intact, if you find the gum sticking to your fingers or the tool apply a little bit of vegetable oil before you continue removing the frozen gum. This extra technique is not recommended for surfaces where the sealant has worn away or is otherwise absent, as the oil can itself leave a mark.

Once the bulk of the gum has been remained, it can initially be disappointing to find that there are trace amounts of gum left. Difficult to remove gum residue, particularly from natural stone surfaces where the sealant is worn away or intentionally absent, may require additional steps. Allow the gum to warm up to room temperature. Take a kneadable art eraser, widely available at art supply and stationery stores, and knead well until pliable and warm.  Make sure that the gum residue is dry and absent of excess oil. Press the eraser on the gum residue and lift away using a wicking motion so that the gum sticks to the eraser and is removed from the natural stone surface. Avoid using a rubbing motion as the erasers are composed of rubber and may cause scuffing particularly on glossy surfaces.

Particularly if the gum stain is old, there may be an oily blot remaining on the natural stone surface. If this is the case, refer to the article on removing oily greasy stains from natural stone surfaces for precise directions on how to apply a cornstarch poultice to draw the oily stain out.

You may wish to follow the gum removal with a light overall cleaning. Certainly, if you have used oil it is important to remove oily residue from the natural stone surface. Use a clean soft sponge, wet with water, to apply a nominal amount of pH neutral soap like Dove to the affected area. Once the entire area has been cleaned, remove the soap residue with a clean soft sponge, free of soap, wet with water.  Use a squeegee to wick away extra moisture and avoid over-wetting and pooling that may damage your countertop and encourage build-up. If you are concerned about hard water marks on marble, try substituting distilled water for your tap water.

Caution: Never mix cleaning agents or chemicals, the result can be dangerous or deadly. Before cleaning, always test the agent on an inconspicuous location to determine its suitability and to make certain it does not damage the material. Wear appropriate clothing such as gloves and protective eyewear, and work in a well-ventilated area. Accidental inhalation or ingestion of cleaning agents can be hazardous and even fatal, particularly to pets and children.

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