just a mom figuring it out one day at a time

Vodka, Gum and Jeans in the Freezer

Less than 24 hours and a deal I had been working on since October would finally close. It marked the end of a long process, that had been unnecessarily time consuming and at times very stressful.

Pulling into our driveway, I looked up. The dingy white skies and the whistle of the wind around the car made me wish that somehow I could be transported inside to my warm home, rather than having to get out and unload small children and groceries.

As I pulled KC out of her seat, I noticed two matted greenish blobs on the seat of her car seat. Staring at them, a flash of the back of her jeans appeared before me. Just the day prior I had placed her jeans aside, unable to make sense of the odd stain on her pants. Herding the children inside, I set the groceries down and grabbed the jeans out of the laundry room. Evidence in hand, I approached KC.


“Yes Mama?”

“Can you explain what this is?”

With a shrug and quickly downcast eyes, “I dunno.”

“KC, did you have green gum in the car?”

Paradoxically sneaky and forthcoming, my four year old came clean. “Yeeessss. I took it and hid in my cup holder. So you wouldn’t see, I hid it under my legs.”

“After it was chewed?” Somehow the logic escaped me.

“Hmmm Hmmmm.”

Brilliant. I had to search the deep recesses of my brain for what exactly to do with gum on clothing. Peanut butter was for hair, or scissors depending on the severity of the mess, but what the heck do you do with ground in gum on clothing? My vague recollection was that like wax, you try and make it cold and hard. So as I casually put the groceries away, I also tossed KC’s jeans in the freezer.

Part of the way through making dinner, assisting with homework and devising peace agreements between my two munchkins, I check on the jeans. Hoping for the best, I pulled them out. Knife in hand I tested the waters, but no luck. The knife just pulled the gum but it was not distancing itself from my daughter’s jeans. Crap.

After stopping to stir my sauce on the stove, I tossed the jeans back into the freezer. The level of the issue had escalated and it called for ….. a search of that wonder source of information and misinformation… the world wide web.

Amazingly, there are many articles about how to get gum out of or off of all sorts of things: shoes, cars, clothing etc. etc. With the click of my mouse I was about to become educated. Gum apparently can be removed from clothing with gasoline. This however did not thrill me, because I could only imagine that even after washing her jeans that somehow the smell would permeate the cloth and I would be stuck with a 4 year old who smells like a mechanic. Further down, I found references to alcohol and that gin works especially well.

Not having any gin around, I went for vodka, Absolute actually. Figuring the base of her car seat might be a better place to “test” this theory, I pulled it off the structure of the seat and laid it on the counter. Opening the bottle, I put some on a paper towel and dabbed the gum. Just as I was about to begin scraping with my knife, in walks my husband.

Not wanting to upset matters he calmly walked by, looked at me with knife in hand and open vodka bottle on the counter. Then he went over to the freezer to put in the ice-cream he brought home, and out fell the jeans. This apparently was a little too much.

“Uh. This may be a strange question (about as strange as finding your wife with an open bottle of vodka and a knife in hand), but were you aware that there are jeans in the freezer?”

To this, I just started to laugh and put the knife down. I realized at that moment just how crazy I must have looked. After explaining my logic, and stirring the sauce a little more, our little experience turned into a science experiment as we tried to figure exactly why alcohol will break down the gum. We still don’t really know, but it was interesting all the same.

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