I casually strolled into my kids’ playroom and immediately spotted — amid the Peppa Pig figurines, LEGO bricks, and 87 board books littering the floor — a big wad of gum smushed into my brand new rug. That pretty much sums up life with a toddler, right?

I tried the ice trick (you know, freeze the gum then scrape it off) and it didn’t work. The gum had been there too long. Then I remembered a friend recommending another method, and it totally worked.

So…drumroll. Here’s the one thing you need on hand to clean sticky messes in your house too: lemon essential oil.

Mamas, I put two drops of this lemon oil — two drops! — on the sticky mess entwined in the fibers of my carpet, and it practically dissolved under the rag I was using to scrub it away. Literally, within seconds it was gone. And there is no stain left behind on my rug from the oil either.

Frankly, I really think hospitals should hand bottles of lemon essential oil out to new parents when they have kids, because OMG the messes.

Related:  How to clean the 5 biggest kid messes, from Sharpie on the wall to Play-Doh in the rug

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Pure lemon oil will clean sticky messes, scratch that: it obliterates them.


Lemon oil also removes sticker residue, dried slime in hair (yep, personal experience there), gum in hair (ditto), dried syrup on your kitchen table, melty and sticky gummy bears on your hardwood floors.

Need more examples? I’ve got them: It’s also nice for cleaning and disinfecting your wooden cutting boards, and you can lighten countertop stains when you mix it into a paste of baking soda and water.

Related: The one small cleaning task that makes a BIG difference

To be clear: I am not an essential oil sales rep. This is not a scam to get you to buy oils from me or my best friend or her grandma or the dog down the street. It’s just a magic solution that I found, and I’m kind of freaking out about how much it’s saved me.

Bonus: it’s all natural, so it’s safe for kids — as long as they don’t rub it in their eyes, ouch. Here’s to kids cleaning up their own messes from now on. Yipee!

Note: You need to use pure essential oil for this to work really well, not the synthetic versions. I used doTerra’s lemon oil. It’s a little cheaper to buy it from a doTerra rep ($13) if you know one, but you may pay for shipping. 

Photo at top by Daniel Kim on Unsplash