I've found an old bottle of PVA-based glue in one of my cabinets. The glue in the bottle appears to be useful, but I can't use any of it since the bottle seems to be sealed shut with the same glue.

How can I unseal the bottle of glue, and use the glue inside it? I don't want to damage the applicator, so cutting or removing the tip isn't an option.

2 Answers 2


PVA glue doesn't bond well with the plastic the bottle is made of; the dried glue peels off easily if you start at one spot. It's harder to separate the glue and get the cap off when you're working against a lot of glue surface area at once.

If you grab the base of the cap with pliers, you can typically get enough leverage to break the glue bond and unscrew the cap without damaging anything. Once it's open, you can peel the glue out of the dispenser tip and get any dried glue out of the bottle neck.

If brute force isn't enough to unscrew the cap, you can warm it to soften the glue a little, as Joachim suggests. That will help it stretch and peel as you unscrew the cap.

Actually, depending on the glue, freezing it to make the dried glue harder can also sometimes help if the bottle is empty and you just want to save the bottle for reuse. It makes the glue less flexible, so brute force can more easily break the bond. But freezing can ruin any remaining good glue, which is your goal, so this wouldn't be applicable in this case.

  • Depending on the shape of the nozzle/cap, flexing it before getting the pliers out can crack the bond and make unscrewing easier. This also works for superglue, which is brittle but bonds its nozzle a bit more than PVA
    – Chris H
    Aug 13, 2020 at 7:24

Try holding the lid in hot water running from the tap for a while. That usually softens the glue sufficiently. For more severe cases, you can try holding it in (near-)boiling water.
Afterwards you can use a towel to get more friction and hold on the lid, and carefully force it open.

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