Among the many annoying variants of consumer-proof packaging is the ubiquitous, infuriating child-proof cap, a nuisance that appears on everything from over-the-counter cough medicine to household cleansers to mouthwash. If you don’t have a kid, you do not need to be protected from yourself. If you do have a kid or three and are smart enough to stow toxic chemicals out of their reach, you and your kids do not need to be protected from yourself. And if you have arthritis, these things make it almost impossible to open your meds or any other product that you need in your day-to-day life.
Interestingly, there are simple ways to foil the damn things. Several years ago, Instructables posted a multi-pronged set of how-to’s covering the several varieties of adult-proof caps.
The first one — how to foil the accursed push-and-turn things by securing the spinning outer cap to the inside cap with a thumbtack — didn’t work for the simple reason that on all my bottles, the outer cap is too brittle to allow you to push a tack through the plastic. However, what you can do is take a hammer to the damned outer cap and SMASH IT TO BITS. This will leave you with an intact inner cap, which is made of a softer, more pliable plastic, and which, freed of the exterior spinner, functions as a normal cap.
Most of the caps that you squeeze and rotate have a small flange on the inside of the rim that you can nip off with a pair of wire-cutters or even a pair of nail clippers.
Line-up-the-arrows nuisances require you to risk life and limb to shave off the little tab that appears opposite the arrow.
Of course, the simplest and fastest way to get one of the things open is simply to hand it to small child, who will pop the lid off for you in about three seconds flat.
God, how I hate those things. There’s even a word for the hatred of overpackaging and stupid packaging. Did you realize that the Brits estimate some 60,000 of their people have to get hospital treatment for packaging injuries per year?
And I especially hate those damnable bubble-packed pills. In our parts, you no longer can get pseudoephedrine — generic-talk for the decongestant marketed at an inflated price under the name Sudafed — in a bottle full of loose pills, thanks to our collective fear of the meth manufacturers. In addition to having to register yourself at the pharmacy counter and expect your purchase to be reported to the authorities, you have to take a pair of scissors to the damn packaging to get the pills out. I always cut the entire bunch out and drop them into an old spice jar.
One woman accidentally dropped a package of them into a dishwasher and discovered that if you get the backing wet, it will lift off easily. Who knows what water — or better yet, dishwasher detergent — will do to your allergy pills, though! 😆
Alternatives to trying to jimmy the caps or having to shatter plastic lids:
• Save spice jars (or buy new ones at Penzeys, which sells them for a modest price , as do Amazon and Cost Plus) and, after you’ve broken into a pill bottle or hacked apart a sheet of finger-slashing plastic & cardboard, transfer the pills.
• Leave the lids off, if and when you get them off the first time. This, of course, means that if a jar tips over, the meds will spill all over the place, especially annoying if the stuff is a liquid. Oh well.
• Use wine corks on glass liquid bottles, such as the ones that hold cough medicine.
• Save and reuse any inside caps that you do manage to break free from the whirling outer cap . Most of these are fungible — the seem to fit most bottles.
• Use a channel wrench to squish open the accursed squeeze-and-turn type. Keep a channel wrench in or near your medicine cabinet.
• Keep a pair of tin snips in or near your medicine cabinet, for hacking open bubble packs.
• Try to get the pharmacist to give you adult-friendly bottle caps (and good luck with that!)