As an anti-theft measure, clothing stores affix certain items with security tags that will set off an alarm should you attempt to leave with the tag still on the garment. Some tags will also ruin a garment by spilling ink from the tag if you try to remove it yourself. This usually isn’t a problem, as long as the tag gets removed before you leave the store, but sometimes clerks can miss a tag at checkout—or you’ll receive a shipped-from-store item ordered online to find out whoever packaged it up left the tag on. Oops. If you’re in this situation, here’s what you can do about it.
But first: This should go without saying, but don’t shoplift. It’s not a nice thing to do, and it’s illegal. This post is intended simply as a remedy to a situation we’ve all found ourselves in at one time or another. Use this information for good, people.
The unfortunate reality is that there is no magic method to removing the security tags on clothing, which different in form and function. The best thing you can do is just go back to the store, explain what happened, present your receipt, and hope they believe you. If going back to the store is not an option or you can’t find your receipt, here are some alternative methods to try:
- 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 if you do, it’s a method eHow endorses. They note that a standard wire cutter won’t work, because they’re often too thick to get into the innards of the security tag. So, get a thin one. Ultimately, however, the dremel will probably be more effective, but it’s definitely the costlier option. This is tip is more aimed at people who happen to have one of these items already, or perhaps a friend with an impressive tool collection.
- You can use a magnet to remove certain types of sensors. This post reveals how to spot them, and this video shows you how to make it work.
- 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.
- Do not attempt to freeze the garment and remove an ink tag. Advice to freeze the garment and remove an ink-containing tag through brute force is pretty common online, but it probably isn’t a great idea. A few sites advise that this ink is treated with anti-freeze, meaning it will still stain your clothing even after a night or two in the freezer. Another similar alternative is to wrap a plastic bag around the tag and rip it off, but there’s a high margin for error with this method, too.
- Just hit it in the right place.
This article was originally published in August 2011 by Adam Dachis and updated on March 1, 2021 by Joel Cunningham to add additional methods and revise and correct old advice.