Instructables

How to make Evil Childproof caps easy to open

Picture of How to make Evil Childproof caps easy to open
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New and improved to include those line-the-arrows-up caps! A contribution from ryzellon.

This is obviously not for homes where there are young kids or any place where kids visit often.

I hate childproof caps! I've tried prying apart the Push Down and Turn type caps. It is very difficult and if you are using something sharp to try to cut them apart - dangerous.

I'm an adult. I do not have any children and small kids don't visit my home. Childproof caps in my house are just an irritation. I don't want to live in a Childproof world. So I figured out really simple ways to make most of them easy to open.

Folks with arthritis, or other problems that make gripping difficult or painful, can have a very hard time with Childproof caps. Maybe this can help them.

Supplies:

I'm going to cover three types of locks (and now, a fourth)

Push Down and Turn type cap:
There are 2 Techniques for this type.
Best for Dry contents:
One thumbtack
Spoon (optional)
Total cost: Less than 1 cent
Total time: around 15 seconds
Best for Liquids:
A toothpick
Something with a point to separate the two edges. It doesn't need to be sharp, just strong. I used one of those little picks that come with nutcrackers.
Total cost: How much does a toothpick cost? Free if you just pick one up in a restaurant.
Total time: around a minute

Squeeze the Sides and Turn type cap:
Fingernail clippers
Total cost: Nothing (assuming you already have fingernail clippers)
Total time: around 10 seconds

Push Down Tab and Turn type Prescription bottle:
I'll just call your attention to something that you might not have noticed.
Total cost: Nothing
Total time: None

Line the Arrows Up and Pop the Top type cap:
Hobby knife
Total cost: Nothing (assuming you have a hobby knife)
Total time: around 1-2 minutes (you can go faster, but then you might need to add a band-aid to your total cost.)
Actually, you might be able to do this with sand paper or a riffler file, but I haven't tested this. Most things simply don't work well with a concave curve.


I know it isn't high tech, or particularly creative. We don't get to use cool tools, or LED's (unless you want to - it could help you find the Viagra in the middle of the night) but it might help some people.

The Thumbtack method is very quick and easy. I use it for bottles with dry ingredients (pills, capsules,...). Because the tip of the thumbtack sometimes sticks through, into the bottle. I've got the second Toothpick method. I'd use it for liquids or if you are concerned about the tip of the tack reacting with the contents.

NoahW
Made a video to go with the Instructable.


Once again: don't do this if you do have kids around.
 
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Step 1: Push Down and Turn type caps

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Often these caps are just two plastic caps. The outside one spins freely. To open them you have to push down on, or sometimes squeeze, the outer cap to engage the inner one.

There are two ways to fix these. The first and easiest is the Thumbtack method. I use that whenever possible. Sometimes the tip of the thumbtack pierces the cap. So for liquids or anything you think might react with this tiny bit of metal, you can use the second "Toothpick" method. It will also work on caps with a metal inner cap. The items with metal inner caps are often caustic, so I don't usually mess with them.

You could cut, or pry, the outer cap off of the inner cap, but it's sometimes really difficult. If you have to cut it off, it's pretty easy to injure yourself.

Thumbtack Technique:

A cap with both plastic inner and outer caps is really simple to fix.

Just push a flat head thumbtack into the cap. I guess a push pin will work also. I use the flat heads. They are easy, cheap and they don't stick up off the cap surface.

Step 2: Push Down and Turn - 2

Don't put the thumbtack in the center. Put it close to the edge, but not right on the edge. If it's right on the edge, and slips between the caps, it sometimes won't catch the inner cap.

If the outer cap is really hard plastic it can sometimes be difficult to get the thumbtack through. You could just tap it in with a hammer or some other hard object, like that can of lima beans from 1978. On the hard ones, I've found just twisting the thumbtack a little, while putting pressure on it, will get it through pretty easily.

You could just put the thumbtack on the table with the point up. Turn the bottle over and push it straight down onto the tack. If the pressure isn't even, it's easy to bend the thumbtack. To keep the pressure even, just use three thumbtacks. Space them evenly around the edge and push the bottle down on them. Even if only one goes in, that's enough to lock the caps.

The only expense is a thumbtack, and what are those worth? Less than a penny? And it takes all of 15 seconds.

Step 3: Push Down and Turn - 3

If you are concerned about the point that sticks out on the inside there are a couple of things you can do:

DON'T STICK YOUR FINGER IN THERE - well that one's obvious.

Use the next technique the "Toothpick" technique.

On my sample the tip didn't come through very far. On other bottles there has been a longer point. I don't worry about it myself, but I tried using a spoon to bend the tip over, and it worked fine.

Don't use grandma's good silver. Find a sturdy spoon that you wouldn't mind scratching a bit. Heck, you could just tap it with a hammer also. I'm sure a few of you have hammers, right?

You could carefully pull out the liner first. Put in the tack. Bend the point, and put the liner back.

If you really want to use this technique on a container that holds a liquid, removing and replacing the liner is probably a good idea. If you are careful and don't damage the liner, it should still keep it from leaking and it could possibly prevent the metal from reacting with liquid.

I don't have an easy way to remove the liner. I've used a safety pin to lift the edge and it has worked well.

I don't worry about the small point.

But if you do, try the Toothpick technique next.

Step 4: Push Down and turn - Finished

Picture of Push Down and turn - Finished
That's it. It should open easily now.

Total investment: Less than 1 cent.
Total time: around 15 seconds.

(I also thought about just punching a staple through the top with a staple gun but I haven't tried it)

Step 5: Toothpick technique for Push Down and Turn - suitable for liquids

Picture of Toothpick technique for Push Down and Turn - suitable for liquids
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This is another way to lock the inner and outer caps together without compromising the inner cap at all. There is no tack sticking out and the cap isn't pierced.

To do this you need something sturdy with a small front edge. I used one of those picks that come with a nutcracker. You could use a small screwdriver, a fondue fork, olive fork, maybe even a tine from a regular fork. I avoided recommending a knife, I don't want anyone to get cut. It just needs to be sturdy and semi pointed. I guess I should have tried a bamboo skewer. It might be tough enough to just force in without the help of a prying device. Well, you can experiment with it. You can see it doesn't take much to lock them together.

Some caps have a large lip on the white cap that extends over the edge of the inner cap. It might be hard to get under that. If the space is too small, try to make sure the caps are lined up in their regular locked position. The inner cap shifts slightly closer to the outer cap and the gap will be bigger.

So the first step is to make a space between the caps by pushing your tool in between the caps. Then insert a toothpick as far as it will go. Remove the tool, then snap the toothpick off close to the edge.

That should be plenty to make them lock together. If it doesn't. Try putting in another toothpick section at a different place. That should be plenty.

Step 6: Squeeze Cap and Turn type

This is for the caps with the little tabs on the side. You have to squeeze the cap to get the tabs past the raised locking nubs on the bottle.

I've seen people just leave these caps partially open, but that can expose the contents to air, and the liquid will leak if the bottle falls over.

The solution to this problem is usually right there in the medicine chest with the bottle.

Step 8: Push Down Tab and Turn type prescription bottles

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Occasionally, things like this, just slip under our radar and we don't realize we can do this.

This type of cap is designed to work either with or without the lock. Just flip it over. The top of the cap screws into the inside of the bottle. That's it, no lock.

They also have the advantage of being re-lockable. If you do have some kiddo's coming for a visit. Just remember to flip them back over. You could even pull the thumbtacks out of the other bottles. There isn't any way to restore the clipped tabs. Just be sure to lock up the mouthwash, or you could find yourself dealing with a drunk, minty fresh toddler.

Total cost: Nothing
Total time: None

If it wasn't designed to flip over, you could clip the locking tab off with fingernail clippers. I just tried it and it was simple and quick. I haven't seen a bottle that doesn't have a flip cap in a long time.

I usually only have to do this stuff on over the counter purchases. I've asked my Pharmacy to mark my file - No Childproof caps. Sometimes they forget, but usually they will put on a cap that doesn't have any locking mechanisms, or they will use this type of bottle.

Once you've modified a cap, if it is still clean and in good condition, when you get a new bottle of the same stuff. Just throw out the new cap and keep your modified one.

Well that's it. I know it's not high tech, or using any fun tools, but it might help out some folks.

Step 9: Line the Arrows Up and Pop the Top

This may be the most obnoxious of the common childproof caps, mainly because it is the hardest to open in the dark. This de-childproofing method will allow you to remove the cap without lining up the arrows, but you still need the arrow on the cap for leverage.

Line up the arrows one last time and get the cap off. Find the little tab that's on the inside lip of the lid, opposite the arrow. (In the second photo of the lid, I've marked the tab in blue--you may also wish to mark the tab for visual aid.)

Grip the cap at the other side, preferably using two fingers (reference the photo). The instinct is to grip the lid along the edges, but this will make you more liable to injury.

Shave the tab off using a hobby knife. Cut away from yourself, and go slowly. You may wish to brace your arms against a table for stability.
(As an alternative, you can try sandpaper or a riffler file, but I haven't verified their workability. I did test with normal files, nail clippers, and wire cutters, but they didn't work with the inside curve of the cap.)

When you think you've got the entire tab off (you're probably wrong), put the cap on and see if it comes off with the arrows misaligned. If it does, yay: you're done. If not, go back and continue shaving the tab down.

I am able to open the cap one-handed, with my thumb popping the cap, but if you're arthritic (or afflicted by similar troubles), you might need to use both hands. In any case the cap will come off far more easily than before.

Save This Cap - Don't do it twice. Use this cap again when you get a new bottle.

Watch the video for a demo, but first a few notes:
- The song is Jack Hinks played by Great Big Sea.
- The tab is marked in blue, watch to see that I remove all of the blue.
- I test the cap, and it does come off with the arrows misaligned, but I go back and bring the tab down a little more for even easier removal.



This step was written by Ryzellon, therefore any questions specific to this step/type of cap should be directed there.

Step 10: How to overcome one piece squeeze and turn caps

These were much more challenging, but I have an easy way. It isn't pretty but it works.

I basically just chewed the locks off with pliers. You can do the cap locks or the bottle locks. I think it's a little cleaner (though not perfect) to do the cap locks.
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willsonxx4 months ago

Push-down and twist caps will open without push down when using channel lock pliers. (everyone should have channel lock pliers) Just squeeze tighter until it opens. Works with most other styles of lids as well.

clgraz1 year ago
This was the best instructable yet. How many of us experience frustration over this modern convenience!
pookie491 year ago
Thank you very much for your post on how to defeat the "Evil Childproof caps"! There are no children in the house here, and to me, there's nothing more horrible than waking up with a migraine, not wanting to turn lights on to line up the darned little arrows on the cap and bottle because my head hurts really bad already, but having no choice because of having to line up those darned little arrows! Your instructions on getting rid of that darned little tab on the inside were great! Thank you very much for that! I did want to let you know though, that after I had the one scraped completely off, I still had problems. I took a good look at the inside of the cap and found that there were actually 2 more little tabs on the inside, almost across from the arrow. I scraped those darned things off and VOILA!!!! No more problems with the cap! Thank you again. Your instructions are greatly appreciated.
Spokehedz6 years ago
Also, for the push-down-and-turn caps, it is actually two caps in one. The outer 'white' cap and an 'inner' cap that is usually translucent. Simply pry/cut the white cap off of the inner cap, and you have your easy-open cap that is still water-tight--which is useful for liquids in bottles. Some pills are really sensitive to moisture as well--they usually have anti-moisture things inside the cap (Tums, or Pepto-Bismol have these) and puncturing them with a thumbtack would not be a good idea. This is where my method shines.
cutting open isnt always easy. What I just did was a simple thing. Hammer the edge of the outer cap...!! Bingo..it just breaks apart leaving the soft inner cap intact!
Caution: I did it after opening the bottle - had the cap out of the bottle. Generally I find it easy to open the first time but gets harder later.
May be it will be alright to do it with cap on the plastic bottle (not glass) bottle itsef. But, u got to be very careful.
Derin Spokehedz5 years ago
My bottle of Augmentin had a small desiccant capsule along with the pills.
SFHandyman (author)  Spokehedz6 years ago
Thanks Spokehedz. I've cut outer caps off before and I think it might be too difficult for people with problems using their hands. I added a technique that is pretty simpler but not as easy as the tack. I just forced a bit of toothpick between the caps and they were suitably locked. It might be difficult for people with arthritis or other hand problems. Maybe they can get a friend to do it for them.
SFHandyman (author)  Spokehedz6 years ago
Since you leave the tack in place, there isn't actually an open hole for moisture to get in. If you remove the liner and put the tack in, then bend the tip over with a spoon and put the liner back. then there is still a good seal and the tiny bit of metal isn't exposed inside (I'm sure the liner isn't designed to be a barrier to the metal and it might still eventually corrode or rust under the liner if you use the lid over and over - might want to watch that.) If you are careful, you could just push the tack in far enough to grab the inner lid without piercing all the way through. Just push it in a few millimeters, see if it catches and keep pushing a little further until it fully catches but don't go all the way through. Another way is to go ahead and tack it close to the edge to try to catch the edge of the inner cap but not go through the surface. If you miss, you could just try again a little closer to the center. The side walls of the inner cap are wide enough that you should be able to get the tack to enter the side without actually piercing it and coming out inside. It's more complicated though. This was the quick and dirty technique. It's a good idea to leave those silica packs inside to keep the moisture down. Moisture could eventually rust the tiny tip of the tack and I wouldn't want it to contaminate the medicine. That's why I didn't recommend it for liquids.
newb3 years ago
Whoever put childproof lids on arthritis pills has a sick sick mind....so much help dude :D
cbailey73 years ago
Thankyou so much. I had some brand new vitamins which i could not for the life of me open, I think the saftey cap may have been broken. Your thumb tack tip worked a treat.
JoFrogger3 years ago
Thanks! I saw the wallet card about this at Maker Faire and picked up enough cards for my whole Parkinson's Disease support group. It's especially helpful because so many insurance companies now insist that you order drugs by mail, online -- no more asking your friendly neighborhood pharmacist to give you non-patient-proof caps in the first place.

Note that there's now another form of reversible/self-modifying cap: looks like the double lid type you disable with a thumbtack, but in this case you push down on the center of the top lid and it collapses onto the inner one. If you'd like an example for the next revision of this Instructable please let me know.
Screamo3 years ago
I found out how to open child proof bottles when i was 5.... //.O X(♫ S⊂R∃AM◯♫ )X
gerry_493 years ago
FANTASTIC! Thank you
shann.rox3 years ago
OMG THANK YOU SO MUCH! I just wasted an hour and messed my hands trying to open this stupid bloody nail polish remover but your thumb tack trick was awesome! I even managed to rip the first lid off the bottle only to find that there was a seccond :( Thanks again!
Zion_Sphere3 years ago
I'm gonna try this! I am so fed up of fighting with pill and lemonade bottles....yes I am weak. You could just move into my kitchen and live in my cupboard lol!
I tried this one, but i kept knocking the bottle over and spilt the contents-your help in this matter is really appreciated-I have arthritis and I struggle with med caps
SFHandyman (author)  porcupinemamma4 years ago
Take the lid off of the bottle and place it on a firm surface.

To keep it from sliding on a hard surface you can put down a damp wash rag (or a dry one but a damp one sticks better) and put the cap on that. Hammer the tack in with the cap by itself on the washcloth.

Keep that cap and use it again when you buy new medications.
Derin5 years ago
now how to plug something in an childproof outlet,IT'S IMPOSSIBLE,FOR GOD'S SAKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!or it may be that im a child,but i can outsmart electricians
Derin Derin4 years ago
I've finally figured out how to and applied it on my extension cord.
Plasmana Derin5 years ago
Outsmart electricians????
Derin Plasmana5 years ago
yes because they make mistakes like wiring neutral to hot supply,using wrong colors and not using the correct breaker,my electrical work is more delicate and safer.
mg0930mg Derin5 years ago
Somwtimes wrong colors cannot be helped. My dad is an electrician, and colorblind.
Derin mg0930mg4 years ago
I'll let it pass for colorblind people.
Plasmana Derin5 years ago
Oh, yeah, I know about the wire color codes and of that sort of stuff, AND the safety of high voltage.
Derin Plasmana5 years ago
the safety only comes with the proper precautions,if no precautions=<Homer voice>Ooooooowwwwwww!</homer voice>
Plasmana Derin5 years ago
Lol!
Derin Plasmana5 years ago
i admit it was funny
Plasmana Derin5 years ago
:D
Derin Plasmana5 years ago
:D
HTML-esque tabs for homer voice. Nice.
Derin what can u expect from Electricians in turkey. The stupid guy replaced our cables with a higher gauge wire! and guess what the system shorted out
or screw the pills cap upside down , instead regular way, flipped, you will be able to open as pop and kid will look at it as IS EVIL!!!! is upside down, uuuu!!!!
specialed6 years ago
This is fine if you can get the cap off in the first place. However with caps like those on toilet bowl cleaners it doesn't quite work. I took a pair of small wire cutters and clipped off the tabs.
SFHandyman (author)  specialed5 years ago
Wire cutters are great also. I wanted to show a tool that almost everyone has available.
I have osteo -arthritis, opening lids can be painful. thanks for sharing your idea.
SFHandyman (author)  porcupinemamma5 years ago
You are very welcome.
SFHandyman (author) 6 years ago
Newer caps are one piece and I haven't figured out an easy way to do them. I'd just use needle nose and bend them outwards. Being flexible is what it's about.
Hi SFHandyman. Do you give handyman lessons to husbands? Pleeeeeeeeeeease ?? ;0)
SFHandyman (author)  porcupinemamma5 years ago
No sorry, I'll keep trying to be inspirational on Instructables.
SFHandyman (author)  SFHandyman6 years ago
Actually just added a link on how to chew off the lock of the one piece caps. You still have to get it off the first time. If you live close to the store, maybe you can get them to open it for you and double bag it in plastic, then try to carefully bring it home. It might work to put a couple of layers of plastic bag between the cap and the bottle and screw the cap mostly back on. Often there is a double seal you need to puncture after you get the cap off before you can use the product. If there is one of those, loosening it might not be a problem. You may need to ask a friend or neighbor when you get home. Wish I could take them all off for you. Wire clippers was a great idea! I tried to stick with things in the medicine chest but couldn't always.
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