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10 Tips and Tricks for Removing Stuck Objects

Next time you're at a loss for how to remove a stuck item, see if one of these nifty tips does the trick.

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peeling label off of a plastic containerFamily Handyman

Magic Label Remover

When you try to peel the gummed label off new plastic food storage containers, it often turns into a gooey, smeared mess. You can scrub, scrape and soak it, but there always seems to be a lit­tle adhesive left behind.

Here’s a simple trick: Fill the container with hot tap water but keep the label dry. Let it sit for a few minutes to soften the adhesive, then slowly peel off the label. Voilà! A perfectly clean plastic container. — Judy Holt.

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using a jar opener on a pickler jarFamily Handyman

Heavy-Duty Lid Twister

Jar openers for food items come in many styles and sizes, but this strap wrench made for oil filters is the best. It gives me all the leverage I need and works on lids from one to eight inches in diameter. — Susan Barrett.

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handy hack of using a car jack to get a fence post unstuckFamily Handyman

No-Sweat Fence Post Pulling

To remove a stubborn 4×4 fence post, fasten a 2×4 to the post with five or six screws as shown. Then set a car jack on a board or a block underneath the 2×4 and jack the post right out of the hole. — David Yanciw.

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one hand pointing a hair dryer at stickers on a wall while the other hands uses a putty knife to scrape them offFamily Handyman

Easy Sticker Removal

My son plastered his bedroom furniture with stickers. Once he moved out, I turned his bedroom into the guest room. To remove the stickers, I softened the adhesive with a blow dryer and scraped them off with a plastic putty knife. — Steve Winter.

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Double Up On Stubborn Nails Pliers TrickFamily Handyman

Prying Stubborn Nails

Some nails just refuse to be pulled out, or the heads break off. Then what? Place the “V” of a pry bar around the nail, then clamp the nail with a locking pliers and pry away. — S. Overmeyer.

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Remove Gum From Carpet With Ice TIpFamily Handyman

Get Gum Out of Carpet

When gum freezes, it turns brittle and easily breaks apart. So if you have gum stuck in your carpet, freeze it. Place a sandwich bag filled with ice cubes on top of the gum and wait about a half hour. When the gum is frozen, pull it out of the carpet. No trace left behind.

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using a hair dryer on a stuck command hookFamily Handyman

Remove Stubborn Command Hooks

Accidentally rip the pull tab off a Command Hook? No big deal! You can still remove it damage-free.

First, warm up the adhesive with a hair dryer. Thirty seconds or so seems about right. Next, use dental floss or fishing line to gently cut through the adhesive strip. Rub off any remaining adhesive residue, and the Command Hook is ready to reuse!

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cleaning sink drain with zip tiefamily handyman

Zip-Tie to Clear Clogged Drains

When my bathroom sink gets clogged, I don’t reach for chemicals. Instead, I use a long zip tie with several notches cut in the end. It hooks the hair clog so you can pull it out. Problem solved. The eye of the zip tie is big enough to prevent me from inadvertently pushing it past the stopper. — Rick Holmen.

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handy hack of using a screwdriver with a hammer to get out a stuck nailFamily Handyman

Quickly Remove Stuck Nails

When the head of a nail is barely sticking out of board, a hammer claw has plenty of leverage to pull it out. But when a nail is partially pulled but still firmly stuck, the claw is no longer effective. You can only pull the hammer back so far before it reaches the end of its leverage/pulling capacity.

To regain that leverage, put something solid under the head of the hammer. This sets the hammer back to the start of its pulling stroke. A block of wood works best because it won’t mar the board underneath it. In a pinch you can use whatever you’ve got, like a screwdriver handle.

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Handy Hack of using a Rubber Band to get out a stripped ScrewFamily Handyman

Rubber Band to Grip Stripped Screws

We’ve all stripped a couple of screws in our day. Normally it isn’t a big setback until you need to unscrew it. The next time you’re in this situation, try a rubber band for a screw grip.

Alex Shoemaker
Alex is an avid DIYer but had little experience before purchasing his first home in 2019. A Family Handyman subscription was one of his first purchases after becoming a homeowner, and he's been hooked ever since. When he’s not working, he can be found fixing up his 1940s Florida home or relaxing on the beach with his family.