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Nail Tip – Loosening Stuck-on Bottle Caps

By on December 29, 2009
in Tips and Tricks

jar-opener Has opening a bottle of nail polish ever made you feel like the weakest person on the planet?  Have you struggled with a stuck-on cap that’s even more air-tight than a jar of pickles?  I know I have!  This morning in fact.  It’s like they’re sealed by body builders or something.

While OPI seems to be the worst in terms of new bottles, I want to kick myself when a bottle cap is stuck due to my own laziness.  I don’t always take the time to clean excess polish from the rim of my bottles and when that stuff dries, it’s like glue!

Sure you can get all muscleman on the bottle but if you’re too rough, it can break.  I don’t know what’s worse, staring at the lacquer you can’t apply in a stuck bottle or a broken mess of spilled polish on the floor.  So what’s the trick?

1. If it’s simply that the bottle cap is too slippery for you to grip, try wrapping a rubber band around the neck or using a rubberized jar opener (pictured above) but don’t force it.

2. Dip the bottle in hot water for a couple minutes. The heat from the water will liquefy the dried polish so you can easily unscrew the cap.  Just don’t submerge the bottle.  Extreme heat can ruin the formula plus you can lose the label if that gets wet.  Oh and don’t forget to clean up the excess polish from the rim.
How To - Unstick Stuck Nail Polish Caps

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There Are 73 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Lisa says:

    How does hot water melt nail polish? My hands are in hot water pretty regularly, and I don’t see my nails melting.

    • All Lacquered Up says:

      I don’t have a scientific explanation for you Lisa. I’m just sharing what works for me and others I know.

      • judy says:

        It works! I heated up a cup of water in the microwave 1.30 and put the cap in the water…wa la! it only took about 1 minute and it opened!Thanks for the HOW TO!

    • Katy says:

      its because of the glass bottle.

      • Sammy says:

        Sometimes these tricks work.If it doesn’t then take a Q-tip put it in nail polish remover and wipe all around the neck of the bottle.It sometimes works

  2. Valerie says:

    The rubber material on the bottom of mouse pads (you know, for your computer) acts just like those rubber jar openers, if you can’t find one. :)

  3. Lizzi says:

    I once had to use pliers on a L’oreal Bijou bottle! It worked but left huge dents in the metal cap.

  4. Jennifer says:

    I’ve heard about and used the hot water trick. It really works! I think the hot water expands the plastic of the cap but not the glass. So you essentially pop it open by pulling the plastic away from the glass. That’s my understanding.

    Thanks for the tips! I love this site…you inspired me to make my own “franken” the other day and it turned out great.

    • All Lacquered Up says:

      Thanks Jennifer! I assumed that since the polish was always liquid again after I loosened the cap with hot water, that it was liquefying the polish. Like I said above, I’m not a scientist so that was just my theory. Yours makes more sense

  5. Antonea says:

    Wow, awesome tips! I love the hot water trick. I’ve done it for glosses that seem empty but really have tons left.
    I’ve never broken a bottle but i can imagine the tragedy…

  6. Andrea says:

    I know! OPI bottles can be so hard to open. Would it kill them to put a little bit of grip on them or something ;) It can be very frustrating. I absolutely love your tip of using an elastic band. Next time I’m stuck in a bind I’m going to try this. Thanks!
    Speaking of extreme temperatures and nail polish, I live in Manitoba, Canada, where in the winter it’s -30 degrees Celcius (-22 degrees Fahrenheit) regularly, and, unfortunately, I have a PO Box so when I order n/p online, it usually sits in the PO Box for hours before I get to it so it freezes. But the strange thing is that it doesn’t freeze! Nor does it ruin the consistency! There must be some alcohol in n/p that seems to stop it from freezing, which makes me very happy :) Just thought I’d share this interesting fact.

  7. Andi says:

    I think what the hot water really does is expand the base of the cap so that it’s larger than the bottle, making it come right off. After that you could clean up the dried leftovers.

  8. Kim C says:

    I used to be a nail tech and one trick to try is to turn the bottle upside down and with a q-tip dipped in remover or thinner, try to get the remover or thinner down between the neck of the bottle and the inside of the top. Basically, you are trying to disolve the polish that has glued the top and neck of the bottle together. Also I have ended up separating the outer top of the bottle and the inner top of the bottle – the part attached to the brush. They are glued together but polish is often stronger than the glue they use to put the top together.

  9. Kim C says:

    A trick to getting more grip on polish tops is to use a thing called flexi wrap. Its the tape that nail techs wrap around their fingers to keep them from getting abraided by filing. I used to wrap it around the tops of bottles that we used all the time and therefore were exposed to air and would gunk up more often.

  10. Gladys says:

    I wish this was posted sooner! The other day I took out an old OPI polish and had so much trouble unscrewing it. Eventually I used a rubber top to get it off but I put so much strain on my hands -_- Thanks for sharing!

  11. loungie says:

    if that happens to me I turn the bottle upside down and put a few drops of acetone or polish remover into the cap. then I wait for about 1 minute. this always works for me!

  12. Asami says:

    I just use pliers. It leaves tiny dents in the cap, but I don’t really care. :)

  13. AnnaPhylactyc says:

    What a weird coincidence! This weekend I uncovered a barely-used bottle of OPI’s A Man in Every Port-ugal (I don’t even KNOW how long ago that was released!) whose cap is STUCK TIGHT… even my super-strong bf couldn’t crack it, much to his chagrin. I’m going to try the hot water trick immediately- this is so great, I figured I’d just have to trash it!

    • aicirt says:

      I have had 2 bottles of opi break off at the neck
      sending glass and polish into my hand and all over my room and clothes and even some on my face. this has only happened with opi. I say they have a problem that needs to be addressed.

  14. amy says:

    I have used pliers and it also leaves dents in the cap but it doesn’t matter to me as well. I learned the hot water trick from a nail technician but I would run it over running hot water instead for about a minute or two. Then when I twist the cap it would loosen up.

  15. tonia says:

    the hot water would be expanding the plastic lid/top of the bottle so therefore making it a slightly less tight fit….I doubt is melts the polish…I know hot water does not remove excess polish from my fingers……something rubbery to grip is the best solution as well as prevention by cleaning those drips.

  16. Echo7 says:

    Thanks! I just bought a bottle of OPI Dear Santa and couldn’t open the thing for days. The rubber bands did the trick!

  17. Jin says:

    Thank you for the great tip! My husband is my bottle opener. hahaha He seems to be able to open them with no problems! I’ll have to use your method when he’s not at home.

    • All Lacquered Up says:

      I’ve called on the BF before too but I always worry that he’ll try too hard and bust the bottle.

  18. Meika says:

    I have a bottle of OPI that always gets stuck. ALWAYS! and the rubber band trick works. I put one on the top and on the bottom and it usually pops right open.

  19. Andrea says:

    I always run my bpttle s under the hot tap and it works a treat (and 9 times out of 10 it is an OPI!)

  20. Solveig says:

    Thanks for the great tips! I broke the neck of my Nail Envy bottle right off because it had fused to the cap. :P

    And I always forget to check if the cap can be unscrewed before i put my base coat on, and thus I have to battle with the bottle and end up denting my BC. :P

  21. L says:

    Another tip is before you close your bottle is to put some vaseline in the rim. I’ve done that to all of my bottles especially the OPI ones.

  22. ophelia says:

    I usually use pliers too, haha.

    I was wondering if you (or anyone) would be able to tell what colour polish this is? Someone posted it on their tumblr without a caption and I love the colour!

    It’s some kind of creme dark pink/coral OPI

    • All Lacquered Up says:

      Hmm, that’s a pretty color but I’m stumped. I wonder if it’s from the Spain or South Beach collections

    • All Lacquered Up says:

      That’s their exclusive line? I’ve seen Mattese polishes at outlet mall perfume stores before.

  23. Arrianne says:

    I’ve left plenty of dent marks in my polish from trying to open them with my teeth. Thanks for the info, I’ll remember next time I need it.

  24. TLM says:

    I am another pliers-user for opening stuck bottles. Never, EVER, use your teeth to try to pry anything open or open a jar. You’ll weaken them and could wind up chipping or breaking them, which isn’t worth it no matter how much your nail polish cost.

    Of one thing I’m certain – hot water doesn’t thin polish. Only nail polish thinner will, and I’m not sure it can do it once a solid ring of polish has hardened. The most it can do is allow it to slide off the glass. I read one reply above stating that they use remover to get under the lid. Do not do this!!! If you’re wedded to this method, only use THINNER, NOT nail polish REMOVER. Nail polish thinner adds back the chemical that evaporated out of your polish, while remover is a solvent that breaks the polish down. Unless you want your polish to separate, thicken in the bottle and become trash, only use thinner for this purpose or to thin out polish that has thickened in the bottle.

    I would not want the polish stuck at the top to partially dissolve anyway — I prefer it to stay solid in one piece that I can carefully pick off and throw away. I don’t want little hard pieces of dried polish falling back into the bottle.

  25. Catherine says:

    I’ve used my teeth before too (I’ve also been known to use the ol’ chompers to open stuck bottles of vanilla extract in my baking exploits). Thanks for the tips! I won’t be ruining my teeth anymore. (:

  26. Lucy says:

    There is a great invention by a woman that is sold on OverallBeauty. It’s specifically made to open polish bottles. It just came out last year. I won a contest and was sent this device. I can’t remember the name of it but it does work well.

  27. styleezta says:

    thanks for the tips!

  28. Katy says:

    I have two old Hard Candy bottles that are glued shut. Not even pliers help. They just scraped the paint of the brush-handles off. I’m on the verge of smashing the bottles open.

  29. dancing kitchen says:

    Thank you…the hot water worked like a charm!

  30. Island gal says:

    OMG, thank you so much, the hot water worked!

  31. Rebecca says:

    THANKS! OPI is the worst and now I dont have to throw them out!! YEAH!

  32. Brenda says:

    when i’m about to loose my temper and crash the bottle i give it to my boyfriend, so he opens it… :D but i’ll try the hot water tip from now on!

  33. Ollie says:

    And that’s why I always have a couple of rubber bands inside my manicure bag. Wrapping a rubber band on OPI tops to open work every time.

  34. Luvmynails says:

    Check out Orly polishes. I have several with rubberized tops. They open like a charm!

  35. Deena says:

    you guys all talk about how hard it is to open an OPI nail polish bottle. Well i had a friend of mine just gently twist one to open and it just broke in half. Not the cap but the glass part by the neck just broke in half! She ended up going to the hospital and getting 20 stitches. It cut her so deep that the bone was sticking out! can you believe it? i even have pictures so show it!

    • Sandi says:

      The hot water doesn’t melt the polish but it does render it temporarily pliable and it obviously loosens it’s bond to whatever it’s stuck to (in this case the cap and glass). If it didn’t hot water and doing dishes and such wouldn’t make our polish lift and chip so badly would it?

  36. Janlee445 says:

    Thank you so much for this tip! My favorite color is OPI “London Bridge is Falling Brown” from autumn 2004 or 2005. I wear it only in the fall and the time is coming for me to wear it again. The lid was stuck and I had tried everything to get it open. The hot water trick worked after only a few seconds. Thanks again.

  37. bambam says:

    My hubby and I struggled to open my nail polish bottle for 30 min and couldnt figure it out. I listened to the advice on gripping it with your mouse pad and it worked in less than 15 sec. Thanx for the tip:)

  38. Hafsa says:

    Isnt there an easier way??? :(

  39. loua says:

    hot water worked amazing on my opi bottle!

  40. Oh my sweet Jesus! It has been years since I got to use my favorite shade that I refused to throw away. Thank you so much for this obvious (duh) but elusive tip. Thankfully the polish is still good. Now my Essie Mucho Dinero and I have been reunited. So happy!

  41. Hannah says:

    another way you can do it is take a extra strong band aid and wrap it arownd the lid and it acts as a grip and you don’t have to take it of. funny story of how i got that, i was painting my nails and i could not open my nail polish my feet where geting hot so i took of my slipers and i brout my hand up to paint agen and there was bloud on my hand so i whent to get a band aid for my foot grabing the “extra strenth” i tryed to locate the cut but then relized it was on my hand (i was not thinking) so got a smaller band aid but allredy opend the other one so stuck it on the bottle just because when i came back i tryed to open the bottle and voila it opened now befor saying good bye i would like to say you just wasted 5 minits on my story that had no meaning
    so bye

  42. anita says:

    thank you me and my sis think as simple but yet genius idea worked

  43. Natalie says:

    Check out They sell a jar opener that will open anything. I use it for nail polish and it works fine. You can see reviews on Amazon. Just search for jar opener, it’s the EzOff one.

  44. Rhenicia says:

    this method really helped me out! thanks for this great tip!

    going to share this post with my viewers!


  45. margie says:

    I use a good old style nut cracker. It works everytime.

  46. Mia says:

    thanks you are a lifesaver because when i put me nail polish in hot water and when i went back to where i was doing my nails i turned the cap and it came off

  47. Daniela says:

    Totally works !!! glad I found this tip will come in handy in the future

  48. Jessica says:

    This hot water trick. Really helped me, just in time too. I was supposed to go out to dinner with my boyfriend and it was a half hour before i had to go. I tried going to my dad and my brother for help on opening my nail poilsh (that was going to be my last resort) but then I went online and found this cool trick. It seems the hot water takes off all the oil from your hands you put on the cap and makes the top less slippery. Amazing! :)

    • Milly says:

      It’s actually because the heat expands the cap very slightly, but the bottle stays the same size.

  49. Hannah F. says:

    I couldn’t open a bottle (of ulta3, a cheapie), my husband couldn’t get it, so I took it to the building manager. He put it in the door frame and let the door (our doors are heavy) close on it, and twisted it from there.

  50. alyssa says:

    wow thanks a ton for this! even worked on a brand new bottle i fought with for 20 minutes lol thank you :)

  51. Sarah Ann says:

    Ok. You saved my life (or my hands and nail polish remover anyway) I was soaking it in nail polish remover and it wasn’t working. Thank you so much!

  52. Alex says:

    Incredible this just worked for me!! Thank you

  53. Natacha says:

    I can’t tell u how awesome it was I came across this blog! I had this one bottle of OPI that I had been holding onto for (no lie) 5 years and could not for the life of me get open. I read this post and literally less than 5 min later I had the bottle open. Your trick really worked – Thx sooo much!