How To Open A Stuck Jar Lid: 11 Tricks That Work

Use a rubber glove, a can opener, a wooden spoon, or a kitchen towel to open a stuck jar lid.

Learning how to open stuck jars is a handy skill, especially for us empty nesters who no longer have strong young adults at home to do it for us! I don’t contend with stuck jar lids very often, but when I do, I find it quite annoying when I have to drop what I’m doing to go find help.

But I’ve picked up a few tricks that enable me to open a jar with a tight lid on my own, and I’ll be sharing those with you here in this post! You probably won’t need to try all 11 different ways to open jar lids, but it’s always good to have a few options you can try if your first couple of attempts don’t get it to budge!

11 Ways To Open A Stuck Jar Lid

Open a Stuck Jar Lid is easy if you wear a rubber glove for a better grip.

1. Rubber Glove

Pull on a pair of rubber gloves, then hold the jar firmly in one gloved hand and twist the lid of the jar with the other. The gloves will give you a better grip on both the jar and the stuck lid, making it easier to twist off.

A kitchen towel might give you enough traction to open a stuck jar lid.

2. Towel

You can unscrew a tight lid using a towel for added grip. Just put the towel over the stubborn lid and twist. (If a dry towel doesn’t work, try a damp cloth!)

Silicone hot pads are great for opening tight jar lids.

3. Silicone Hot Pad

If you have a silicone hot pad or oven mitt, you can use it to open stubborn jar lids. Silicone is very effective when you need a good grip around the rim of the jar lid.

Loosen a tight jar lid using a rubber band around the lid for traction.

4. Rubber Band

There are so many great uses for rubber bands around the house, including as jar openers! I keep a large rubber band in my kitchen drawer just for this purpose. Place the rubber band around the lid you’re trying to open, then grip the lid and twist.

You can even use a mouse pad to unscrew a tight lid.

5. Mousepad

One of the most unexpected ways to open a jar is with the aid of a computer mousepad. Just place the bottom of the mousepad against the lid of the jar, then grip it with your hand and twist.

Use duct tape to open a tough jar lid.

6. Duct Tape

To open a tough jar with a piece of duct tape, place a piece of duct tape around the edge of the lid, leaving one end of the tape loose to use as a handle. Pull on the loose edge in a counterclockwise direction and the lid should twist off with minimal effort.

Running hot water over the lid will often loosen it up so you can open a tight jar.

7. Hot Water

To loosen a jar lid with hot water, turn on your kitchen faucet and try running the lid under hot water for 30 seconds or so. The heat will cause the lid to expand slightly, loosening the seal and making it easier to open the jar. Just be careful not to burn yourself!

Smack a stuck jar lid with a wooden spoon to get it to come off.

8. Tap The Lid

If the lid of a jar of food just won’t come unstuck, try tapping it with a spoon or the handle of a butter knife. Sometimes food gets trapped near the lid and makes it hard to unscrew. Tapping the lid helps dislodge the food, which could solve the problem!

Turn the jar upside down and smack the bottom of it with your hand - this often loosens stuck jar lids.

9. Tap The Bottom Of The Jar

Another easy trick that people swear by for removing glass jar lids is to flip the jar upside down and smack the bottom of the jar with your hand. This may disrupt the seal enough that the lid will twist right off.

Using a can opener to loosen a tight jar lid.

10. Break The Seal

As a last resort, you can use a bottle opener to either pry the lid off the jar or pierce the lid and break the seal. You won’t be able to use the lid anymore, but at least you’ll get it off! (Be sure to use a bottle opener for this, not a knife — you don’t want to end up in the emergency room!)

Using a jar opening tool to unscrew a tight jar lid.

11. Use A Gadget

If you frequently struggle to unscrew jar lids, consider investing in a jar-opening gadget! They can accommodate several different lid sizes and aren’t terribly expensive. Just slide the gadget over the lid, grip, and twist!

How do you deal with stuck lids?

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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  • Re #10 breaking the seal. I use the tip of a spoon to do it. With the back of the spoon on the jar, I find a place where I can edge the tip between the jar and the lid. Then I push the handle toward the jar until I hear the pop of the seal breaking. Don’t have to use much force (so the jar is safe), it’s just a matter of finding a place to edge it in enough for. the tip of the spoon to catch on the edge of the lid. Works great though.
    BTW My cat says hello– short version of the long message she just typed when she laid on the edge of the computer. (bit of an eyeroll here)

  • This works every time. If it’s a jar that you’re not going to need to keep, put the point of an old knife, or something sharp like a skewer on the lid and bash it with a rolling pin. This will make a hole in the lid and break the seal.

  • Apart from the gadget, which is the same as the one I have and which works brilliantly, there is one other method, guaranteed to work every time, just bang the edge of the lid on a hard surface, you generally hear the seal pop but, even if you don’t, it’ll still open. I always used this method until I got arthritis in my thumbs. Thanks for a brilliant post Jillee. Once again I’ve posted something that already has been! I must learn to read all the tips first!

  • The easiest, most simple way to open a jar is by using a spoon under the edge of the lid and breaking the seal. The lid is still reusable and it comes off easily.

  • I love it that you did this post! I hate how feeble I am when trying to open jars unassisted. I grew up using a can opener to lever the lid and break the seal, but that can easily ruin the jar lid for future use. I started a few years back trying various other “twists,” liked rubber gloves and ended up with my favorite being latex gloves.

    Now I keep a pair of latex gloves – the thin “medical” ones that feel like deflated balloons – in a corner of my gadget drawer just for opening things. I bet un-inflated balloons would work just as well, come to think of it. I don’t put the gloves on (that’s hard) but just lay one on the palm of each hand or on the object I’m working on and get to twisting . They add an amazing amount of power and can easily open just about anything. I wash them with dish soap when they get grubby, and hang them to dry. I’ve used the same pair for several years now and they’re still good to go.

    Thank you, Jillee, for all your wonderful ideas. Your can-do attitude, encouragement and great tips have made big improvements in how I go about, and feel about, housework.

  • I am 43 years old and I have never had a problem opening a glass jar lid. My dad taught me a trick ages ago when I was a kid. Flip the jar upside down and slam the bottom of the jar with the palm of your other hand. This action causes a weakening of the pressure in the jar. Then flip the jar over and turn the lid. It should work immediately with ease. This only works on glass jars though. Hope this helps.

  • On some jars, an old fashioned can opener that has a pointed end, placed under lid upside down and pushed downwards will work (spaghetti jar lids)try it the lid will make a pop noise

  • I use the sharp end of an old fashioned bottle opener. Just wedge under edge of lid and gently push down on tool until you hear the seal break. The lid is still usable.

  • I hope you don’t mind an historical anecdote. My sister’s mother-in-law was Marion Becker, author of the Joy of Cooking. I knew Marion pretty well, had stayed at her home and she came to mine. Marion sometimes found something she thought was so great that everyone she knew had to have one. Consequently, we all – and that probably included at least 100 people! – got a Gilhoolie one year. I have had mine more than 50 years, and use it probably at least once a week. My granddaughter’s mother lives with us, and she told me that at first she couldn’t understand why I would keep such an old thing in the drawer, and now she is also addicted to it. When it is misplaced, everyone who cooks panics until we find out where someone washed it and put it in the wrong place! I just checked EBay and found several for sale — only $16-$18 and I find that an amazing price. It is rare when we find the jar or bottle that has a cap that is too small or too large for Gilhoolie. (Yes, we all call Gilhoolie by name, and “she” is our second household pet, just behind our dog, Lulu!)

  • I take something heavy like the side of a can opener, and hit the upper corner of the lid where it goes from the top to the sides to make a little dent. This breaks the vacuum seal and you can still reuse the lid. I do sometimes have to do this in two or three places but it works every time.

  • Found a great jar opener on Amazon. It’s shaped like a v with teeth. It is mounted under your kitchen cabinet. You put the jar in the v. Twist counter clockwise and the lid pops right off. Since It’s v shaped you can use it on all types of bottles, even mail polish. I have no grip strength and It’s a lifesaver.

  • As Nancy told already: Smack it (not too hard and not on a stone floor) on the floor, lid under. This way a bit of air will enter thus breaking the vacuum. Pretty sure this is also what happens if you tap it with a wooden spoon ;-))

  • Do you have any tips for opening bottles that want you to pinch two spots at the bottom of the cap, and then twist? I’ve even tried pliers, to no avail. Thanks

    • Ohhhh Mary, I feel your pain!! They are absolutely the worst, I have to get someone to open them for me, either my daughter or granddaughter (who are here the most) or a delivery person! Once it’s opened, I always make sure to not completely close it, a mistake I made only once

  • I have a rubber twister and it’s my 2nd most favorite. I’ve also tapped the jar lid on the counter and used hot water. The best openers I’ve used have been my husband or my son. With only a please and thank you, I’m done!

  • The absolutely best is a “jarkey”. You can buy them online and it works like a champ. Several other posts refer to this but did not know the name. Check it out, you will love it.

  • Invert jar and hit FLAT against table. The shock wave is distributed evenly around the entire lid. Then I can easily twist it off. For decades I taped against an edge, then switched to using the heavy handle of dinner knite to tap around edge. All work adequately.

  • I have invested in the best lid remover!! Search: Kuhn Rikon Gripper Jar Opener. The teeth grab the lid when you turn the top knob. Fits all sizes of jar lids. Be sure to search exactly as named….they have lots of different products. I have given this to some folks with bad arthritis and they love it.

  • Hello You’ll! I’ve found that dampening a paper towel(or cloth) adds a little extra gripping power. So far, that’s worked like a charm for me. The damp paper towel is also great for spreading out on top of that plastic-topped food tray. It keeps your plate, and your beverage from sliding off and making a mess.

  • If I can’t get the lid off, I take my sturdiest knife and stab the top. The little hole it makes releases pressure and the lid comes off easy. If it is something like pickles you can still use the lid and jar when you store the remaining portion in the fridge. Since you aren’t fiddling around with the side of the lid it isn’t dangerous.

  • I’ve used a gadget- I don’t know what it’s called. It’s a small round circle you can easily buy, which makes opening jars easier. It’s kind of like the silicon trivets, but much thinner.

  • Hi, after spending over 30 years in Catering & Hospitality industry and having chronic arthritis, the only method I use is to knock the lid on the kitchen unit top/wall to release the vacuum. A good sound knock is enough, it is similar to knocking with a spoon but gives a firmer tap.
    I would not advocate piercing the lid with a nail or knife as these can introduce bacteria from the jar lid or item used to pierce, (jars are usually kept in ambient storage warehouses where rodents, birds etc can defacate and contaminate by other means).
    It also saves purchasing any costly equipment.
    Hope this helps.
    Michelle

  • Hi, there is a small cheap easy to use plastic gadget that releases the vacuum in the jar, with no danger whatsoever to the operator- and it is very cheap. Available on the www. Just look for it. I have one and I am old, nearly 80 years and have Arthritis in hands wrists etc. No problem opening jars now, since my purchase of this gadget. Forget everything else – just Google.

  • You can also use a spoon (or the end of a non-ornate utensil). Slip it between the lid and the glass, and push forward to break the seal.

  • Best way to open a stubborn jar for me (severe arthritis) is to tap a very small, clean nail into the lid with a hammer…it releases the vacuum.
    I’ve tried just about everything else..

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