How to Get Rid of Gross Stuff on Jeans

You Won't Believe How Easy These Tricks Are

woman blowing a big bubble of gum in jean shirt
Don't let a popped bubble ruin your favorite denim clothing. Mieke Dalle/Getty Images

You shopped until you nearly dropped to find the perfect pair of jeans... so how annoying is it when you accidentally end up with gross, unwanted stains and gunk on your denim? We've done the research on just about every such misfortune you could experience in a pair of jeans, to come up with this handy guide on how to deal with such setbacks. To keep your jeans looking newer for longer, here are our best tricks for removing gross stuff from your jeans, whether you just sat in chewing gum, smeared lipstick on your favorite pair of jeans, or got your period unexpectedly when wearing denim.

Tip: Before trying any of the specialty methods listed below, do double-check the laundry care label of your jeans, to rule out what not to do. (If jeans aren't machine washable, for instance, ignore any solution that involves putting them through the washer.)

Denim Disaster: You Sat in Chewing Gum

Sitting in someone else's chewed gum when you're wearing jeans is unpleasant. But don't worry -- it doesn't have to mean the end of your jeans. We've got an awesome, go-to trick to share with you for how to remove chewing gum from denim. Now somebody else's bad manners don't have to mean the end of your favorite jeans.

What You'll Need:

  • Ice cube
  • Resealable plastic baggie
  • Dinner knife or other sharp-edged tool
  • Nail brush

How to Get Jeans Clean:

Step One: Place an ice cube in a sealable plastic bag. Rub this over the gum-covered denim until the gum is frozen. For stubborn gum, you may want to leave the baggie-covered-ice sitting on top of the gummed-up area of your jeans for up to 30 minutes.

Step Two: Use a sharp-edged object -- a dinner knife works perfectly for this, or you can use a metal trowel if you've got a stocked toolbox handy -- to scrape off as much excess gum as you can from the jeans. The gum will likely crumble off in pieces, rather than come off in one perfect piece. Scrape with the grain of your jeans, being careful not to abrade or stretch the fabric (unless you want to take the opportunity to add some trendy distressed details -- find out how to do that purposefully here).

Step Three: Use a nail brush with stiff bristles to brush the leftover bits of gum off the fabric.

Denim Disaster: You Got Your Period in Jeans

You can be a champion at tracking your monthly flow and still end up in this situation. Whether you got your period unexpectedly, or found yourself the victim of leakage when exercising (or even just sitting at your desk at work), most women have experienced blood stains on their jeans at one time or another. When this happens, you may feel icky as all get-out, but at least there's still hope for your jeans, if you can act quickly.

What You'll Need:

  • Clean, dark washcloth (use one you wouldn't hate to toss, in case it stains)
  • Paper towels
  • White vinegar
  • Sponge
  • Ammonia (in some cases)

How to Get Jeans Clean:

Step One: The moment you notice blood stains on your jeans, get them off and turn them inside-out. If the blood hasn't dried yet, you might be able to remove it with cold water alone. Get your washcloth soaking wet and wipe at the stain repeatedly, to see if you can get the blood out. When you think you've been successful, press the area with dry paper towels to remove any traces of blood still lurking in the fabric. Repeat until paper towels come away clean.

A note about water temperature -- it's really important not to treat blood stains on denim with hot water. Though you may have heard otherwise, hot water can do the opposite of what you're intending and make blood stains set in.

Step Two: If the water-only method doesn't work, it's time to try vinegar. Apply plain, white vinegar (the same kind you can use for cooking and cleaning) directly to the stained area of jeans and leave to penetrate fabric for at least 10 minutes. Blot the area with paper towels, repeating until they come away clean.

Step Three: Having no luck with the above options? Move onto this method, which can also be used right away if blood stains have dried on denim. Mix a little cold water with some mild, liquid laundry detergent in a small container. Use a clean sponge to apply the solution to the stains and blot them to lift the blood.

Repeat, rinsing the sponge as needed while you work.

Step Four: If bloodstains are persistent and set-in, you can dilute some ammonia with a little cold water and use the sponge method described above to apply it to the same. Just a warning - never, ever mix ammonia with other detergents or bleach, as this can release invisible, potentially harmful fumes into the air.

Denim Disaster: You Got Lipstick On Your Jeans

Whether you left a lipstick in your pocket and the cap came off in the laundry hamper, or you somehow managed to smear lip color straight onto your jeans, don't despair until you try this amazing, proven trick for getting lipstick off jeans. As a bonus, this solution is cheap and safe to use on denim fabric.

What You'll Need:

  • Butter knife
  • Dawn Dishwashing Liquid
  • Sponge

How to Get Jeans Clean:

Step One: Use a dull knife, such as a butter knife, to scrape off as much lipstick as possible. Be careful to use a very light hand -- the last thing you want to do is press the pigment further into the denim material.

Step Two: Apply the Dawn Dishwashing Liquid directly to the area of jeans with the lipstick mark. Dawn Dishwashing Liquid is a perfect secret weapon for removing lipstick from clothing, because it's formulated to bust through grease. (A little science: Most lipsticks are comprised of oil, wax and color pigment. Since the oil encapsulates the other ingredients, when you break down the oil, the other ingredients can be washed away easily.)

Step Three: Use the sponge to gently press and scrub the dishwashing liquid into the lipstick stain, then leave to penetrate for about 10 minutes.

Step Four: Rinse the area with lukewarm water. Repeat the above steps as needed until the stain is gone. Once you've gotten the lipstick out, you can also toss your jeans into the wash and launder as usual if you like, to give them an overall clean.