Introduction: How to Make Evil Childproof Caps Easy to Open

About: ''If you haven't seen my Instructables, or comments, you might not know I have Onanon Disease. I go On 'n', On 'n', On...'' My hobby is collecting hobbies. I read that in Make Magazine. It fits me well. I've …

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.


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.

Made a video to go with the Instructable.

Once again: don't do this if you do have kids around.

Step 1: Push Down and Turn Type Caps

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

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

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 7: Squeeze Cap and Turn - 2

I just clip off the tabs with fingernail clippers.

Total cost: Nothing (assuming you have fingernail clippers)
Total time: around 10 seconds

Step 8: Push Down Tab and Turn Type Prescription Bottles

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.