How To Remove Security Tags From Clothing

As an anti-theft measure, clothing stores fasten certain items with security tags so you'll set off an alarm when you leave with the tag still on the garment. Some also spill ink from the tag if you try to remove it yourself.

This isn't a problem so long as the tag gets removed before you leave the store, but sometimes a tag will get missed at the checkout. If that's happened to you, here's what you can do about it.

It's Evil Week at Lifehacker, which means we're looking into less-than-seemly methods for getting shit done. We like to think we're shedding light on these tactics as a way to help you do the opposite, but if you are, in fact, evil, you might find this week unironically helpful. That's up to you.

This should go without saying, but don't shoplift. It's not a nice thing to do, and it's illegal. I decided to write this post not to encourage people to steal clothing, but to remedy a situation I've been in before. So use this information for good, people.

The unfortunate reality is that there is no magic method for removing the security tags on clothing. The best thing you can do is just go back to the store, explain what happened, and hope they believe you. If you still have your receipt that shouldn't be a problem. If going back to the store is not an option, you're just too lazy, or can't remember, here are some alternatives:

  • Cut it off with a dremel or thin wire cutter. You're probably not going to want to spend the money on a dremel if you don't already have one, but that's what eHow suggests. They say a wire cutter won't work because it's often too thick. So, get a thin one. Ultimately the dremel will probably be more effective, but it's definitely the costlier option. (Not that this situation really warrants spending more than $US5 in the first place.)
  • Another eHow article offers a better solution for some tags — use rubber bands! Basically, you wrap the rubber band around the pin until it loosens, then pull the tag out. Full instructions here.
  • For ink tags, just freeze the garment and the tag, then rip it open with brute force. Ink can't spill when it's frozen. (Thanks Josef!) Another similar alternative is to just wrap a plastic bag around the tag and rip it off. (Thanks Brant!)
  • Just hit it in the right place.

Special thanks to everyone for all their suggestions! Got any other suggestions? Let's hear 'em in the comments.


    A lot of these are opened by magnets. So powerful rare earth magnets should also do the trick. I know the security collars we use at work for the bottles of spirits operate like this.

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