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  • Writer's pictureDIYTechnician

4 Easy Ways to Remove Retail Clothing Security Ink Tags

Updated: Jun 6, 2020

Loss prevention is a tough thing to manage. Often times it can affect honest customers who choose to use the old fashioned method of paying for an item. Such is the case with retail clothing security ink tags Removal of these plastic devices affixed to clothing items are frequently overlooked by the store clerk who probably has other things on his or her mind. This leaves the customer in a position of having to make a choice to return all the way back to the store where they purchased the item or in the position of removing the tag at home. Of course this typically happens at the most inconvenient time. Maybe right before you need to wear it or right before you are going to give it as a gift. After this has happened to me and people I know numerous times, I decided to explore options on how to remove these pesky tags myself.

Bag the workout, drive back to the store?

The ink tag removal below was the first successful attempt I'd had at doing this. I had gone shopping for some workout clothes and presents for friends and family. As the store clerk rang me up I sat there and watched him and we struck up a conversation. I believe this was the point of failure. We both became distracted during the course of the conversation and the removal of the tag was overlooked. Once I arrived home I decided that I'd quickly get changed and squeeze in a workout in my newly purchased clothing items. This is when I discovered that the tag was still on there. Being in the workout mindset, the last thing I wanted to do was drive 1/2 hour all the way back to the clothing store, park my vehicle, go into the store, wait in line, wait for tag removal, walk back out to my vehicle, and fight traffic driving home. Fed up, I decided to start the removal process on my own. I wasn't 100% sure of the results I was going to get so I took more time removing it than I normally would now. I didn't know if this thing would explode ink all over the place or maybe some kind of high pitched annoying alarm would go off (as it says on the tag). I went carving into it with my favorite rotary tool.

Although removing these tags is fairly simple, care must be taken not to hurt yourself in the process or damage the clothing item. There are many methods that you can use to remove these tags and all of them require the use of some sort of destructive process. In the video above, I use an electric rotary file like a Dremel tool ( to carve at the tag layer by layer to expose the ink cartridges carefully without hitting them.

Exploding Ink?

Inside these precarious cartridges lies multi-colored ink capsules that are designed to break and leak all over the clothing item upon attempted detachment. Like most things, there are a few ways around it. The video below exposes those ink capsules and shows exactly what happens when those capsules are broken onto a shirt. The ink doesn't exactly explode how you might think. These little capsules actually just break and have a low viscosity which makes the ink penetrate and stain the garment forever.

The video below demonstrates a DIY easy security ink tag removal process and quick detachment method. Extra care must be taken with regards to safety when using this method (like most methods) as the clothing item could easy get wrapped around the grinder and pull a finger or hand in with it. So be careful! This method is not recommended for the Ink capsule style tags as the ink will spray everywhere if it gets ground into by the pedestal grinder. This Ryobi pedestal grinder ( worked really well.

Using "Common" methods

Easy removal of these tags boils down to using what tooling you have on hand or what resources are readily available to you at the time. I've even seen them removed with just a lighter or heating up a butter knife and pressing it down into the plastic to remove them. Although I haven't personally tried those methods yet, I'm sure they work really well if that's all you have.

In the case below, I happened to remember at the time that I have a hand held angle electric grinder ( remove the tag. This method worked just fine however it was probably the least preferred out of all methods used. If you can hold the tag stationary in a vice or clamp of some sort this would be the safest when using this method. That way you can use two hands on the angle grinder. A Rockwell Jawhorse is always a good method of securing whatever it is you are working on. This is another piece of tooling that you should not go without. I won't get started on it, but I love the thing.

I was reluctant to create and post a some of these videos as first until I quickly came to the conclusion that most people will not use them for stealing items rather the videos would help honest paying customers remove the tags at home after realizing the clothing tags were

accidentally left on there.

Do they prevent theft?

An additional thing that these videos demonstrate is the lack of effectiveness in the use of these tags. With the amount of information available on the internet now, people have figured out many ways remove these tags. I would say that overall they may be a slight deterrent for theft, but they won't prevent it. I think that many people still believe that these tags explode once you exit the store.

According to a National Retail Federation survey, American retailers lose almost $50 billion annually to theft. Shoplifting accounts for most (36.5%) of those losses. 

Here (below) are the links to some of the tools I've used in a few of these videos and other videos as well. All easily available for purchase from amazon. Even if you don't use them for these tasks, if you are a true DIY Technician you should have one on hand.

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