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DIY: How to Unstick a Stuck Nail Polish Lid

We’ve all been there. You find a polish you haven’t worn in a while and decide it’s time to wear it again only to find out the lid is basically glued on and no amount of super human arm strength is going to get it unstuck. I had this experience just the other day with OPI Lunch at the Delhi. Seemed like the perfect opportunity to do this kind of post!

There is one thing you can try before doing the full on process below the jump if the issue is simply that the cap is too slick. Try wrapping a rubber band around the lip to create some traction. Often times this will work.

If the rubber band trick doesn’t work, the method below the jump should ๐Ÿ™‚

What you need:

  1. A cup or glass (I find wine glasses like these work really well…)
  2. The bottle of nail polish that is stuck (obviously)
  3. Hot water

Fill the glass with HOT water. As hot as your tap will allow! Put the nail polish bottle in the glass upside down. The water level should only be high enough to cover the lid.

Wait 2 minutes, dry off the polish bottle, and see if it will open. Usually this method works for me the first time, but if the bottle is still stuck, repeat the process.

Once you do get the lid off make sure to clean the top of the polish bottle with nail polish remover. That way hopefully it won’t get suck again!

Here are a few things you SHOULD NOT do:

  • Hit the nail polish lid against the counter (or any hard surface for that matter). While this may help loosen the lid, you could end up breaking the bottle. And no one wants that.
  • Force the bottle open, whether it be with your hand or a wrench orย pliers. This could end up breaking the bottle or it could end up causing the lid toย separateย from the brush (like I did here!).

Hopefully some of you found this post to be helpful. If you have any tips for unsticking nail polish lids leave them in a comment!

79 thoughts on “DIY: How to Unstick a Stuck Nail Polish Lid

  1. Maddy June 27, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    Thank youuu! I bought a bottle of China Glaze ( Fifth Avenue) months ago & neither myself or my hubby could get the damn thing open!!! This worked! Yay!!! Can’t wait to try out the polish now! Thanks!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Alli June 27, 2012 at 10:05 pm

      Oh good! I’m so glad it worked for you ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Nicole June 27, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    You can also prevent it from sticking again by ottomg the tiniest amount of Vaseline around the neck before putting the lid back on. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Alli June 27, 2012 at 10:06 pm

      That’s a brilliant idea! Thank you so much for sharing.

      • Nicole June 28, 2012 at 6:28 pm

        No problemo. I HATE stuck lids! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Marika June 28, 2012 at 12:19 am

    Great tips!! Much appreciated. When that happens to me I usually soak a cotton ball in nail polish remover and rub it all around the base of the lid until it un-sticks. Sometimes I hold the bottle upside down so the remover can run into the lid a little. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Alli June 29, 2012 at 1:17 pm

      Nail polish remover is a good idea, too! I wonder if nail polish thinner would also work?

  4. Amanda June 28, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    Thanks for this tip! I’m sure it’ll come in handy someday ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Alli June 29, 2012 at 1:17 pm

      You are welcome!

  5. lilbrigs June 29, 2012 at 2:09 am

    the mustache makes this all worthwhile

    • Alli June 29, 2012 at 1:18 pm

      I’m glad I wasn’t the only one amused! As I was editing the pictures I seriously thought to myself “you know what this nail polish needs? It needs a mustache!”

  6. hannah August 23, 2012 at 1:15 am

    Oh god, I really hope this works with my Seche Vite base polish, because I had to go out and buy a cheaper base just because of it!

    • Alli August 23, 2012 at 11:37 am

      I hope it works! To date I’ve never had a failure so hopefully you’ll have similar results ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Anonymous October 15, 2013 at 7:12 am

      Interesting … I just now searched ‘how to open a stuck bottle of nail polish’ — the one that won’t open is Seche Vite base polish. I, too, bought a cheaper Sally Hansen base for when I don’t have an hour to work on opening the Seche Vite. The method that usually works for me is the hot water.

  7. Patty August 28, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    Good post! Mine always get stuck. I hope you don’t mind if I send readers of my blog to this post.

    • Alli September 9, 2012 at 11:44 am

      Thank you! And of course not ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Ana at SimpleNailArtTips.com October 30, 2012 at 11:52 am

    And then, once you get it unstuck, put a little vaseline around the jar lip to keep it from sticking again! ๐Ÿ˜€

  9. Le Guide de la Femme Parfaite January 6, 2013 at 10:14 am

    What do you think of putting vaseline on the rim to keep it lubricated? (once it’s open of course)

    • Alli January 6, 2013 at 11:58 am

      I’ve heard people do that but I’ve never tried it myself. I worry that the Vaseline would somehow mess up the nail polish! But those fears are probably unwarranted.

  10. lifewithdemetra February 22, 2013 at 11:44 am

    I literally just got open my seche vite base coat. I tried everything you listed above but it didn’t work. I even threw it against the wall. I put on a rubber glove and it opened like magic.

  11. Tiffany April 5, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    Thanks for the tip! i found OPI DS Desire and Passion hiding in a display case at a nail salon yesterday. I was worried when I couldn’t open them at home. The hot water trick worked perfectly.

    • Alli April 5, 2013 at 2:45 pm

      Yay! I’m so glad it worked for you!

  12. Jackie April 14, 2013 at 5:26 am

    The rubber glove worked perfectly!!!

  13. carmen May 6, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    Thank you, it worked great!

  14. Natalie May 31, 2013 at 5:43 am

    OMG I have literally been doing my nails for over 15 years religiously and have NEVER been able to open stuck bottles (just an excuse to buy new ones lol) and this TOTALLY works!! Best advice! Thank you so much!! X

    • Alli May 31, 2013 at 11:25 am

      I’m so glad it worked for you!!

  15. Mira Born June 19, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    Thanks for a great tip, I will continue to use and pay it forward! Worked wonders for me on the Seche Clear base coat. Appears there is a tendency for that brand to stick perhaps.

    • Alli June 19, 2013 at 3:30 pm

      So glad it helped!

  16. Sami August 19, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    Thank you! The hot water method worked like a charm.

  17. Emma September 12, 2013 at 8:23 am

    You are just freakin amazing!! Saved the day!! Interestingly my stuck polish has done this before and it too is from the opi Indian collection… Shonky batch perhaps?? Anyway ‘yoga to get this blue’ is finally open!
    Thank you thank you thank you!

    • Alli September 12, 2013 at 5:41 pm

      So glad it worked for you!!

  18. julies September 27, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    Awesome advice worked like a charm! Thanks love=)

  19. fyresilk November 17, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    I’m glad to see this tip. I have a bottle of OPI DS Shimmer that I didn’t want to try pliers on, but I was desperate! Thank you!

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  21. mimivesper November 29, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    OMG you just saved my life!!!! It works!!!

    • Katie November 30, 2013 at 2:12 pm


  22. Anna December 1, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    Thanks this really helped me. Even pouring my nail polish remover didn’t work quite as well (and it was a bit of a waste :/)

  23. Anonymous December 22, 2013 at 3:27 am

    Omfg!! it really did work!!! I try the hot water trick and taadaa it worked I’m so happy!

    • Alli December 22, 2013 at 11:54 am

      I’m so glad it worked for you!

  24. Sharon January 12, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    This is so great! Tried the rubber bands and rubber opener but nothing would budge. The hot water did the trick. Thanks for sharing it for us the desperate.

    • Katie January 29, 2014 at 11:21 pm


  25. Anita January 27, 2014 at 10:17 pm

    Shut the front door!!!! This worked like a charm!! I tried for a few hours to get my bottle of OPI Chapel of Love open! I soaked it in hot water in the sink before but nothing so I was skeptical.. But guess it needed to be upside down in a glass!!!! Thank you for sharing!!

  26. Katie January 29, 2014 at 11:22 pm

    Wonderful! My OPIs are forever getting stuck. Glad you got yours open!

  27. Katie February 2, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    Weird!!! I just Google’d how to open a stuck nail polish and the polish I’m trying to open is OPI Lunch at the Delhi!!!

    • Alli February 2, 2014 at 6:31 pm

      haha, no way! Too funny!

  28. Vivian February 20, 2014 at 10:51 pm

    I finally opened a nail polish bottle and i never seen whats inside it, i tried the rubber bands, soaking it twice, and i used the rubber bands again, and since 2009 i the bottle has been stuck and i opened it

  29. Kim May 3, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    You rock! Worked like a charm. Thanks!!!!

  30. Anonymous May 18, 2014 at 1:42 am

    Finally it’s open. Thanks for the tip … Works great !!!

  31. Julia May 31, 2014 at 5:23 pm

    Lol the picture of the OPI Nail Lacquer is the exact nail polish I need to open and I thought that was such a coincidence, it’s also the same color

    • Alli June 2, 2014 at 11:54 am

      Too funny!

      It’s a lovely color ๐Ÿ™‚

  32. Cindy June 22, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    Hey girls I found a super cute little gripper! It fits every single bottle I have large and small. It makes it SOOOOO much easier to open bottles, OMG! It was only a few bucks too! I love it!

    • Anonymous April 14, 2015 at 11:42 am

      What is your gripper like, please?

  33. Annie July 2, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    Thank you so much! Sometimes this happens with OPI bottles I have that are clean around the opening too! Just tried this after getting indian burns on my hand from trying to open a stubborn bottle ๐Ÿ™ Worked like a charm. Now I will save my hands from the irritation in the future.

    • Katie July 2, 2014 at 8:55 pm

      I have a small basket for my polishes with stuck lids… all OPI.

      Glad it worked for you ๐Ÿ™‚

  34. Erica July 14, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    I’ve totally used pliers to get a bottle of polish open before. There are crimp marks on it and everything. = )

    • Katie July 14, 2014 at 10:22 pm

      I’ve used my teeth… terrible!

  35. Anonymous August 19, 2014 at 8:15 am

    How to fix the brush seperated from the lid. I forced open the lid and this happen. Hate it ๐Ÿ™ I cant fix the brush back to the lid, keep dropping off. Help !

    • Alli August 19, 2014 at 10:54 am

      If you add a little super glue that should fix the problem!

  36. Melanie January 13, 2015 at 9:28 pm

    Thank you thank you thank you! I just bought two bottles of polish and for the life of me couldn’t get either of them open! This totally worked, you’re a genius! ๐Ÿ™‚

  37. Anonymous January 24, 2015 at 8:33 pm

    This is kinda helpful

  38. Nautica March 20, 2015 at 11:45 am

    This worked so well! Nothing else I have ever tried work!! My dad (who was in the army) could not even open the bottle! Thank you!!

  39. Cindy T. March 23, 2015 at 2:50 am



  40. Anonymous April 14, 2015 at 11:46 am

    Heat makes many things expand and cold makes them contract. Think about water, for instance. If you put it into the freezer, you get a solid small ice cube but if you put it over a flame, you get a mist which spreads all over as steam.

    You can use this info to separate a plate that got stuck in a frying pan in the sink, too!

  41. Anonymous April 14, 2015 at 11:47 am

    That’s interesting! I never saw it before. TX much.

  42. Janet D'Aprile April 28, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    Thanks, one thing I do after cleaning lid, rub a small amount of petroleum jelly on threads of bottle, so next time it won’t stick. ( I do the same thing for light bulbs)

  43. Anonymous April 29, 2015 at 8:56 pm

    It worked! I tried rubber band and submerge completely in hot water and polish remover with a q-tip. twice. But this actually worked, the first time!

  44. stephers85 May 22, 2015 at 6:51 pm

    Great tip! I’ve been struggling with my bottle of Glimmer More (which is one of my favorite glitters of all time) for weeks, so glad I can finally use it again.

  45. erica July 26, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    It worked! yay!

  46. Pippa August 27, 2015 at 6:53 pm

    The rubber band one worked for me

  47. Jaelen November 19, 2015 at 8:43 pm

    I’m afraid that it might not work
    I will trt

  48. Anonymous November 25, 2015 at 10:28 pm

    Omg omg Omg it work

    • Alli November 26, 2015 at 12:45 pm

      Yay! I’m so glad!

  49. Anonymous March 24, 2016 at 1:01 pm

    Thank you soooooo much!!!! A bottle of OPI has been stuck for months.

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