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Hair Help: How to Get the Gunk out Scissors-Free

Photo by Brian Powell / Stocksy United / 25832
Photo by Brian Powell / Stocksy United

Like flies to flypaper, at some point gunk will get stuck in your child’s hair. While the web is full of gunk-removal ideas that include products like Goo Gone®, nail polish remover, or WD-40®, there are plenty of safe, non-toxic solutions out there, too. Here are the gunk-be-gone tips you need to know about.

How to Get Gum out of Hair

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises not giving chewing gum to children until they’re able to understand they shouldn’t swallow it—typically around age five. But that doesn’t mean your kid won’t end up with somebody else’s wad of gum in their hair. Luckily, the American Academy of Dermatology has a fast, easy fix that doesn’t require an impromptu haircut:

  1. Get a jar of creamy peanut butter or vegetable oil (such as olive oil), and cover the gum completely using your fingers or an old toothbrush. The oils make the gum base stiffer and less sticky.
  2. Wait a few minutes to allow the product to work.
  3. Remove the gum and wash your child’s hair as normal.

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How to Get Play Dough out of Hair

Removing everyone’s favorite molding clay from your child’s tresses is super simple and painless. We like this variation from eHow:

  1. Comb the hair out until you get to the play dough. Pour some hot water into a bowl and add a little dish soap. Soak a washcloth in the hot, soapy water and then use it to grasp the clay.
  2. Roll the play dough with the washcloth like you’re massaging it until you see the dough beginning to dissolve. Rinse the washcloth out and repeat until you think all the dough is gone. Comb the hair to confirm it’s clear.
  3. Shampoo the soap out of the hair and follow with conditioner, as soap tends to have a drying effect.

P.S. Looking for a great homemade play dough recipe? We’ve got 3!

How to Get Silly Putty® out of Hair

This classic, stretchy, bouncy plaything is also a classic hair magnet. Crayola, who makes it, even has instructions for getting it out: Work the area with a generous amount of conditioner and then gently comb through the hair, starting from the bottom of the putty. Add more conditioner and keep combing until it’s all out. Wash hair normally.

How to Get Glue out of Hair

See above! This is the exact same process you would follow for white glue, like Elmer’s® glue.

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How to Get Sap out of Hair

Did the kids bring home some sticky, gooey sap as a memento from your hike? Solutions abound! You can use hand sanitizer or dish soap for this one (rub into the affected area and then rinse), or reach for that trusty peanut butter or vegetable oil: Rub them into the hair, use a hair dryer to heat/soften the sap, and comb it out. Mayo should also do the trick—just let it sit for a few minutes. Shampoo and rinse hair, and the kids will be set for some more tree hugging.

Photo by Dejan Ristovski / Stocksy / 2037013
Photo by Dejan Ristovski / Stocksy

How to Get Flubber out of Hair (a.k.a. Gak)

Slippery, slimy, oozy, and jiggly flubber is a ton of fun for kids (we recommend this recipe from the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry). But once it has cemented itself to hair, it’s a nightmare. Happily, all you need is cheap white vinegar. Plop your kid in the bathtub—give them a washcloth to cover their eyes if necessary—and pour vinegar over the flubber. (Note that vinegar will make cuts sting!) The flubber will start to dissolve and drip off. Rinse and repeat until clear.

BTW, white vinegar has a zillion other uses, from cleaning floors to deodorizing dish towels, and makes all these other household tasks more awesome.

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