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 🙂

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 or pliers. This could end up breaking the bottle or it could end up causing the lid to separate 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!


  1. 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!!! 🙂

  2. You can also prevent it from sticking again by ottomg the tiniest amount of Vaseline around the neck before putting the lid back on. 🙂

  3. 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. 🙂

    1. 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!”

  4. 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!

    1. 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.

    1. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

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  11. 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 :/)

  12. 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.

  13. 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!!

  14. 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!!!

  15. 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

  16. 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

  17. 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!

  18. 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 🙁 Worked like a charm. Now I will save my hands from the irritation in the future.

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

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

  21. 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! 🙂

  22. 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!!

  23. 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!

  24. 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)

  25. 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!

  26. 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.

  27. I read on pinterest that after using your nail polish you should clean off the bottle with nail polish remover then apply a little cooking oil. that way it doesn’t stick.

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