Introduction: Ink Tag Removal

Picture of Ink Tag Removal

how to remove the anti-theft ink system attached to clothes that contain the glass vials of black and brightly-colored permanent inks (without breaking them) if your cashier failed to do it for you. sorry i didn't take pictures until after i was done. next time i'll do it right.

DO NOT STEAL CLOTHING. I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR ACTIONS OR WHAT YOU DO WITH THESE INSTRUCTIONS. this is only a guide for what to do if you can't drive back to the store from which you bought the clothes and get them to remove it for you.

this is my first instructable, so any pointers would be great. (next time i'll photo document during the process, not after.)

Step 1: Turn on Your Stove to the Highest Setting.

Picture of Turn on Your Stove to the Highest Setting.

this works best with the old-school stoves with the metal rings (not the new flat surfaces).

Step 2: Get a Knife and Heat It

Picture of Get a Knife and Heat It

grab an old butter knife that you won't mind messing up. hold it to the burner for between 30 seconds and a minute (be careful not to get burned).

Step 3: Use the Knife to Cut the End Off

Picture of Use the Knife to Cut the End Off

being careful not to touch the clothing, slowly cut the end off of the piece of plastic that houses the glass vials containing the ink.

Step 4: Slide the Ink Vials Out

Picture of Slide the Ink Vials Out

now that you have the enf off, it should be easy to slide the glass ink vials out the end.

if the melted plastic gets in the way, you can re-heat the knife and melt it away from the opening.

Step 5: Start Bending!

Picture of Start Bending!

now that you have the ink vials out, you can be as forceful as you wish to break the metal pin holding the two plastic pieces together. i found that just bending it back and forth for a bit will cause it to weaken and snap in two.

Step 6: You're Done!

now you can wear the clothes without the ink tag.


Maxzf (author)2016-12-19

Do any of this double as security tags? That is to say is there any reason I should ever had to take the time to remove and store ?

WilliamM5 (author)2014-10-11

We live 50 miles from the store where we purchased a pair of shoes. When we got home we saw that the shoes had the security tag still attached. The clerk was more interested in pushing a new credit card then checking the box and removing the tag. Used my Dremel tool with a cutting disk to remove the end of the tag and gently removed the ink capsules. Once they were gone the rest was easy. Thanks for the clear pictures and directions...saved us time and money.

WOOFDOG1 (author)2012-10-06

Neighbor came to me today with a dress she had bought at Sears in Massena New York this summer. The clerk had forgotten to remove the ink anti-theft device. She went to a Sears Canada store in the Montreal area with the store receipt. Sears Canada was unable to remove the device. So I went to the internet for advice and found this great article. With shaking hands on the Dremel tool, I was able to cut away the end of the device to reveal those two glass vials of ink. Cut a bit more plastic away with side cutters. Then was able to carefully remove the ink vials with long nose pliers. Centre pin was now exposed and easy to cut with the side cutters. Thanks to this great article, this birthday gift is now on the way to Sri Lanka.

Bron98 (author)2012-03-02

Hey thanks a bunch ordered sum shoes from sears and when i pulled them out of the box 1 of them still had a ink tag on it i have a hot knife for my woodburner so i just used that it worked great!

acidHRK (author)2012-02-03

Loop a rubber band around the metal pin that holds it to the clothes, and if you pull it the right way it will do the same thing as the actual device that is used to remove those inventory control devices.

biofueljunke (author)2010-07-04

man is that like garvey ink cuz you can buy that by the bottle

acidbass (author)2010-03-22

 this is cool i want to try it

BERTBOY13 (author)2009-04-12

does anyone know anywhere were I could get some of these without stealing from a shop or hoping the stupid people don't take it off? thanks

Notbob (author)BERTBOY132010-03-14

2 options:

1) online warehouse (you may have to buy in bulk though)

2) find out if the store throws out the old ones (chances are they will reuse them), then look through the dumpsters out back.

jegal (author)2010-01-09

This is the best set of instructions for removing an ink tag - we opted to use a wire cutters to cut the plastic off of the end instead of cutting/melting it with a knife. It took some work to get the ink out because there were small plastice tabs inside, but we eventually got it.

osopo (author)2009-11-03

 I cut a slit into 2 waxed (good quality) playing cards and slid them on shaft, one from each side and just cut nail with side or line cutters. I've also wrapped tag very good with saran wrap and then cut tag with cutters. I'm going to try the freezing idea, that sounds like it will work great with the side cutters. 

For the person that said to use bleach on whites, I've tried it on a jacket and the bleach does not remove that ink.

Garasvaldi (author)2009-07-02

you can keep the ink packs for pranks and the such, penetrating inks are really fun

bkthang (author)2009-06-22

OMG this is a neat method. It worked. I just had a trouble breaking the nail afterward since hitting it with a hammer can cause clothing some damaged, which it did. :( Either way....those ampules end up being in a glass containers. I was surprised since i thought that those ink containers were not as fragile. Maybe I would have had a better luck with a bolt cutters of some sort to cut the actual nail. It would probably same more time doing this entire burning process. Thank you!

Holden_vy_s (author)2009-03-14

Those vials of ink would be awesome to throw at enemy's cars and the like...

Throw at the persons car who forgot to take the tag off.

NiceButNaughty (author)2009-03-08

Wait till you get home to try to get the ink tag off! Take a couple items in the fitting room along with the desired item you wish to keep and take off all tags accept for the inktag. put the pants, or shirt on underneath of what you're wearing. When you get it home just grind the backing of the ink tag where the tab is off with a dremel or anything that can grind or sand it down, until you see sparks then the backing falls right off. The method shown here looks a little too risky.

NeoCon13 (author)2009-02-14

Ya know...there's an easier way for some items. For clothes, all you gotta do is put the item with the tag in the freezer. This freezes the ink inside the vials. Then all you gotta do is pull or cut and you dont gotta about spilling the ink out.

rvouma (author)2008-11-21

Thank You! I bought a skirt from jcpenneys tonight only to find not only was the ink security tag left on,but also my receipt obviously fell out of my bag while doing other shopping. Followed your instructions and it worked perfectly to remove the darn thing!!!

the_mad_man (author)2008-11-20

hmmmmmmmm... just get a white shirt, break them open and then bleach it. but that wouldn't be phun.

watermelon (author)2008-01-31

I've never seen these.. If it is there fault for not taking them off after you buy the clothing and it ruins the clothing on later when you try to get them off don't they have to replace the clothing?

BurningApple (author)watermelon2008-10-28

Seriously? They do take them off when you buy them.

goobyalus (author)2008-06-10

What about a butane powered one :P A cold heat probably wouldn't work so great.

xacked (author)goobyalus2008-06-11

Apparently ColdHeat (the one I have) requires a metal to complete the circuit and heat the tip. Dunno if it would work here

X_D_3_M_1 (author)2007-10-24

Whoah man i want that ink! will the store people lemme keep the tags? ill use em for a home made calligraphy pen!

goobyalus (author)X_D_3_M_12008-06-10

Probably not because they use them repeatedly, but maybe; it can't hut to try. You could also just buy ink, like maybe a fountain pen cartridge.

jsejcksn (author)X_D_3_M_12007-10-24

i used the ink for a motion "painting" (abstract art) and it worked nicely, because the glass vial breakage added a lot of effect, but i don't know how successful you'd be at extracting the ink in any kind of controlled manner.

glitcher (author)2008-05-15

couldn't you use the hot knife to cut it off, or use the knife to partly melt it then break it off

easyrider1 (author)2007-12-25

i bought a camo hunting outfit a few years ago and when i got home (over 90mi.)i found the ink tags. i then took out my trusty dremel and likity split"done deal". sorry,no pics. probly before instructables was even born sonny.

Sassymiss (author)2007-09-08

THANK YOU!!! I got home from Sears with a new skirt and 20 minutes to be at my husband's highschool reunion. I remembered seeing this, and did as you instructed. YOU SAVED ME!! Thank you a thousand times!!!

Sunbanks (author)2007-08-11

My brother once got a shirt as a gift and the people forgot to take the thing off. Too bad we didn't know about this...

Murdok (author)2007-08-02

This is much easier if you just get a powerful magnet and swipe it across the back. It moves the magnet and allows the pin to move so you can remove the tag.

ELF (author)2007-07-28

I thought these things broke open if you tried to take them out of the store. Like those alarms, but with an extra touch... But all it does is sit there to look ugly?

mikemmcmeans (author)ELF2007-07-31

no they break and stain your clothes if you try to pull them off

ELF (author)mikemmcmeans2007-07-31

Yea ok, so one of those two things... I've never seen that version there before though... But it would be hard to make an exploding not-harmful wireless version :P

!Andrew_Modder! (author)2007-07-23

yeah, i baught shoes 1ce that they didnt take the tag off, which i used a neodynium magnet to get it off

_Kent (author)!Andrew_Modder!2007-07-26

How does that work? (The neodynium magnet)

!Andrew_Modder! (author)_Kent2007-07-30

most ink tags are taken off with a magnent (that block thingie in dept. stores) well anyway the powerful magnent pulls the tag off exactly how dept. stores do! :-D

SurferGeek (author)2007-07-26

Sweet! I'm heading to the mall to do a little "shopping"!!

downgrade (author)2007-07-23

I think Im more excited about glass ink vials then getting the security tags off, I used to stick them all over my pants when I worked retail and pry them off with a screw driver when the boss wasnt there, make neat designs... but ink grenades! how wonderful

armindilo (author)2007-07-23

This is your first instructable? Wow, I am astonished! It is spot-on! Every step is clear, the pictures (although done afterwards) are purposeful and useful. Keep up the good work. One question though, why risk taking it off yourself instead of going back and gettting them to take it off for you?

Leoster (author)armindilo2007-07-23

some of the time they leave it by mistake and when you bring it back, they will NOT take it out for you. And if you dont have a receipt, they might even accuse you of stealing it

rockyt (author)2007-07-23

is that a french manicure?

dbarak (author)rockyt2007-07-23

It's a "freedom" manicure... : )

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