Contrary to this question I'm not asking for a way to open thick clamshell packaging, but for a way to open thin plastic film wrapped packages.

There are various variations of these wrapped plastic film packages. They mostly are on cardboard packages, such as cigarette packages. Following, a specific package I regularly struggle with.

skittles plastic film package

It may be hard to spot, but the stripe which should help getting off the plastic is at the end of the "S" in the picture. They usually have a latch to help peeling off the plastic, which is at a certain spot on that stripe.

Is there a way to quickly spot the latch to peel off the plastic?

My fingernails are sort of short, so it's hard for me to get the latch come off. On this particular package I'm not even able to spot the latch, so I just try to pull at the stripe or at the end of the fused plastic on the short side (right side in picture).

As the question title implies, I'm also looking for a way to open plastic packages without even using the stripe and latch.

I have tried using a lighter. It creates a hole in the plastic which I can grab to peel off the rest of it but through the melting the plastic sticks to the cardboard and depending on the content of the package the heat may make the contents unusable.

  • Use a nail clipper. Mar 19, 2015 at 17:21
  • "Is there a way to quickly spot the latch to peel off the plastic?" - is the yellow arrow in the pic added by you or present in the original package?
    – Random832
    Mar 19, 2015 at 21:46
  • @Random832 It's from the original package and indicates where to open the cardboard, not the plastic. It sadly is not that simple.
    – Alex
    Mar 19, 2015 at 22:16

6 Answers 6


Often I have the impression that these packages were not meant to be opened too. Especially refractory are those plastic wrappings around CD-Cases.

Unless, for any reason, we need to keep the wrapping I cut them apart. To do this quickly I use a knife, or an open pair of scissors to cut along the rims of the package underneath (i.e. cardboard, or jewel case).

enter image description here

This gives a slit in the wrapping that will leave enough space for my finger to fit under it and I can easily tear it off.


Usually I pop the plastic wrapping with something I have to hand. It is a little quicker and easier in some instances.

I usually have a pen or a screw driver which seem to be perfect for the job.


The answer to this is similar to that of How to separate plastic grocery bags? You need to increase the friction between your fingers and the plastic. Quoting from my answer to that question:

Breathe on your finger tips (not blow; breathe. like breathing on a cold window to fog it up.) before using them to pull at the plastic bag. Slightly moistening your fingertips provides greater friction and therefore a better chance of success.

After doing so, squeeze the box and pull. The wrapping should break right off.

Sometimes, at either end of the box, there is a folded plastic flap at each narrow end. You can often pull at any of these to open the plastic.


You need a sharpish object - I use whatever I've got, quite often a metal nail file or a key if I'm out. With a key, you have to sort of scratch into the plastic to rip it, then get your fingers in to pull it off.

Indoors, I use a sharp, pointed knife to puncture the plastic (use it at an angle, you're trying to slide the knife into the plastic rather than puncture the container).

My vision's not what it was, and there's nothing more frustrating than finally locating the pull tab and having it come off before its done the job, so I don't bother, out comes a knife.


Takkat suggested any sharp or pointy object that's nearby, and I agree. I just want to add one more tip.

Often the plastic is folded over itself and sealed, usually on a diagonal like a gift-wrapped present. It's easier to poke & tear along the edges of the folds instead of in the middle of a sheet.

enter image description here

  • This usually works well with greater packages (as the one in your picture), but with smaller packages (as the one pictured in my question) I find this extremely difficult. Also the edge is not always as loose as in your picture. I then fail because of my short fingernails.
    – Alex
    Mar 19, 2015 at 20:15
  • 1
    You're right, the package in your picture is too small for this. And the folds aren't accessible or useful on all packages. So this answer doesn't apply to your specific situation (with the Skittles), but might be useful in other cases. Mar 19, 2015 at 20:17

I always use my keys for something like this - one key in particular (my parents' house key) works much better than the others, so try different keys if the first one doesn't seem to get a good "bite" in the plastic.

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