5 Tips to Opening Plastic Packaging Quickly and Safely

Have you suffered from “wrap rage,” the term coined to describe the frustration consumers experience while trying to open the hard plastic packaging that encases so many things?

If so, we feel your pain. Fortunately, there are ways to open this kind of packaging without ending up in the emergency room. Follow these tips for getting seemingly impermeable plastic cases open without cutting hands or lopping off fingertips:

1. Avoid clamshell packaging

The easiest and safest solution to the hard plastic cases dubbed “clamshell” packaging is to avoid buying products wrapped in it whenever possible.

For instance, online retail giant Amazon offers an option it calls “Amazon Certified Frustration-Free Packaging” for certain products as part of an effort to alleviate wrap rage. This packaging is recyclable.

The next-best solution is to buy products in plastic packaging that is designed to be easier to open. Check for pull tabs or perforated lines, which can help you open the package without sharp tools.

2. Use a can opener or tin snips

If you can’t avoid hard plastic casing, prepare to do battle with it — without getting hurt. A pair of tin snips or a rotary can opener can often do the job better than a knife or scissors while also posing less risk of injury.

If you have tin snips in your toolbox, use those. They cut effortlessly through the hard plastic.

Alternatively, insert the bottom edge of the package inside a rotary can opener, as you’d normally do to open a can, and turn the can opener until you reach the other end of the package. From there, you may be able to remove the item from the package without further effort.

If not, you can repeat this can-opener process with the remaining edges of the package. Or insert a kitchen knife inside the now-open part of the clamshell — with the blade facing away from you — and run the knife along the remaining edges to free the item from the package.

You’ll have an open package in just a few minutes with the contents and any instruction print-outs intact.

3. Get a tool made for the job

If the idea of opening clamshell packaging yourself still seems daunting or risky, a few products on the market are designed to make the task easier.

For example, this package opener from Zip-it promises to slide along the edge of the packaging to open it. It looks similar to a can opener but works with the press of a button.

4. Put safety first

Whatever method you use to open hard plastic wrapping, put on a pair of protective gloves first.

If anyone is close enough to you to possibly be injured, move away from them. Also, don’t hold the item between your legs to stabilize it.

If a sharp object like a knife is your only option, remember to cut away from your body. If you use scissors, choose a pair with blunt tips.

5. Spare children from wrap rage

If you’ve ever found yourself spending Christmas morning with a crying child who just can’t wait for you to break open that clamshell packaging and untwist those 14 twist ties, consider opening the package ahead of time.

Save any packaging materials in case you have to return the toy, put the toy in a box and then wrap it. Your kid or grandkid likely won’t care that the item isn’t in its original packaging, and you will avoid potential stress or injury due to having to open that plastic casing in a hurry.

Kari Huus and Craig Donofrio contributed to this post.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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