How to Open Plastic Packaging

Don't be thwarted by hard-to-open packaging. Follow these tips to remove it safely without damaging your product.

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Something that makes us grit our teeth? Products banded and wrapped in strong, plastic clamshell packaging. Certainly, we understand it exists to deter shoplifters and it’s cheaper for manufacturers, but consumers don't like it. Whatever practicalities exist as part of plastic packaging is lost on most of us in those moments as we rip and torque, and destroy our hands while trying to get to our special new item. Next time you face the challenge of removing frustrating packaging, take a deep breath, and embrace one of these tool tips to reduce your blood pressure. 

Cutting through plastic packages with an utility blade.

How to Remove Tough Plastic Packaging

Tips for cutting plastic packaging.

Photo by: Emily Fazio

Emily Fazio

Swift Cuts With an Utility Knife

Scissors have a way of chomping at plastic packaging that leave edges sharp and your hands vulnerable. Use a utility knife to score through the top layer of plastic around the perimeter of the package. Do this on a work surface to avoid damaging a tabletop or cutting yourself by accident.

Once you've freed the top plastic layer from the bound edge, it’s easy to get to your product.

Zip ties and thick plastic straps are also a pain. Scissors sometimes work for clipping these bands, but not into a confined space. Use a sharp utility knife instead, but be careful when using one. Don’t mishandle it, pull it towards your body or use it while you’re sitting and holding the product in your lap. To remove tough zip ties, press the blade flat against the strap (without sawing or pulling at it), and allow it to slowly cut through. Once it breaks, you can remove it with ease.

Cutting through plastic packages with an utility blade.

How to Remove Tough Plastic Packaging

Tips for cutting plastic packaging.

Photo by: Emily Fazio

Emily Fazio

Bite Down With a Can Opener

The tough plastic edges that seal clamshell-style packaging are hard to cut through with your everyday scissors, but a breeze to remove using a manual can opener. Use the tool to bite down around the outer edge of the packaging, and allow the blade to rotate and slice through the plastic layers. If you cut through three sides, you can easily pry open the package and remove your goods.

Cutting through plastic packages with can opener.

How to Remove Tough Plastic Packaging

Tips for cutting plastic packaging.

Photo by: Emily Fazio

Emily Fazio

Opt for Bigger Cutting Tools

When heavy-duty snips or a basic utility blade do the trick, it’s hard to justify buying a multitool solely for the purpose of cutting through frustrating plastic packaging. However, this baby is one of our personal favorites. Its sharp rotating blade and battery charge makes cutting through plastic packages almost effortless. It's great for breaking down thick cardboard boxes, too.

Cutting through plastic packages with an multitool.

How to Remove Tough Plastic Packaging

Tips for cutting plastic packaging.

Photo by: Emily Fazio

Emily Fazio

When you’re done unwrapping all of the plastic, don’t forget to recycle the pieces.

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