How to CORRECTLY Remove Ink Tags & Security Sensors from Clothing and Accessories

How to CORRECTLY Remove Ink Tags & Security Sensors from Clothing and Accessories

Posted by Big Brand on 20th May 2020

You may see “remove ink tag hack tutorials” on YouTube… these tutorials are garbage. All of these tutorials will leave you with a massive hole in the apparel, ink all over your hands and table and some are so dangerous that you risk serious injury.  Here's how to ACTUALLY remove sensors... written by a company who does it for a living!

There are 3 main types of ink tags / sensors and each is removable in a different way. In todays article I will explain the cheapest and best ways to remove each type.  

Let’s first look at the 3 different styles of tags so you can decide which type of remover you need, then we will give you clear instructions telling ya how to remove it:


These are commonly used by N*RDSTR*M, sometimes M*CYS and on occasion SEARS, BL**MINGDALES, SAKS and more. Small Magnet-remove tags do not contain ink. Large, circular ones do contain ink. No, you can NOT use a refrigerator magnet to remove them... I'll explain why later, but here’s examples of commonly used Magnet-Remove tags:



Alarm Sensors. These are usually applied to VERY expensive items, like a Fendi handbag or a high end parka. You can tell just by looking at the alarm sensor that the sensor itself was expensive so the store would never waste one of these on a low-end item! These are pretty cool looking. My teen sons love playing with them and have fun taking them apart. They do “beep” so it makes it even more enjoyable for the kids. Don’t worry, they do not contain ink (and if they do, I have yet to see one that does in over 15 years of business). These can come in a variety of colors, shapes and styles, but they look similar to this:



These are commonly used by most stores. You can identify a Clamp Remove because it has 2 indents, like this:

See the two little circles on each tag that look like eyeballs staring at you? That absolutely means it is a Gator.  You could even pretend, if it has eyeballs, it is an alligator, this way you can always remember what type of tag remover you need:

These may or may not contain ink. USUALLY they do not, but they CAN indeed... however it is rare for a Gator to be ink-filled. Regardless, never try to rip one off because it will just tear a massive hole in your garment... plus, a Alligator can barrel roll!  Crikey!


These are less common in general but used frequently by M*CYS and BL**MINGDALES and sometimes SAKS. These may or may not contain ink. They look like this:

Specifically, ALL of these contain a hole:

As you can see, there are NO circular indents (no eyeballs), so these can NOT be removed the same way as a Gator tag. Never try to rip one off or bust it with a hammer because there's a 50% chance it has ink, even if it doesn't literally say "ink" on it. These are the most difficult to remove without the correct tool.

Next lets discuss INK.

Ink Tags are specifically designed to “explode” when you tamper with them. Again, there’s hack tutorials that say “Just freeze the clothing with the tag then hit it with a hammer” - DO NOT EVER DO THIS!!! Ink tags are usually “freeze proof”, so you’ll end up literally freezing the jeans but when you bash it, ink will spray EVERYWHERE. The ink does NOT come off. It’ll stain your hands for days! Even “Orange Clean” or a “Magic Eraser” won’t save you! God forbid you get it on your carpet, linoleum or tile grout.

Ink inside most tags is little capsules, or even a large capsule. Sometimes it is visible and other times it is totally hidden:

When the tag flexes because pressure is applied, the capsule breaks, causing a massive mess. With that in mind, you want to make sure you are absolutely avoiding “hacks”.... Or literally hacking at it. Ink tags can be ANY shape, not just round!



You need to have a strong magnet. NOT a fridge magnet. Magnets are measured by “Gauss”, which is called “GS”. A fridge magnet is 50 GS. The magnet you need to remove this type of tag is 12,000+ GS. See why a fridge magnet won’t work? A 12,000 GS magnet is strong enough to wipe an electronic device clean, so you have to make sure you keep the magnet away from your important stuff.

We have tested many, many magnets and found the best (cheapest) one to be for sale on amazon.  The price has increased over the years, ranging from $13.99 to $25 or more, so we cannot say exactly how much the magnet will be today on Amazon.  The Amazon magnet is a square magnet, shown in our video below:

But, if you want to make a great investment, you should instead purchase a golf tag remover. Yes, it costs more, but it whips the tags right off with no work and it lasts forever. Plus, it has a convenient size and shape that is specifically designed for this task. Worth every cent if you’re an online seller who may have to take off hundreds of tags over decades of business (Or in our case, we remove over 1,000 tags a day…. With this exact remover!)

You can get these on Amazon for as low as $29. Seriously, worth every penny. The difference between the $13 Amazon magnet and the $29 Golf remover is about 20,000 GS of “pull power”. This is basically the difference between a bodybuilder lifting a 100 pound weight versus a 400 pound weight. Although both are weights and both can be lifted by the body builder, one is a beast! When it comes to taking off sensors, you want the strongest “pull power” to get the job done as fast as possible AND without making the pin-hole in the garment larger.

MAGNET REMOVE ALARM SENSORS - If the sensor has a cable, like this:

You can just cut through the cable with wire cutters if you do not have a magnet detacher. If you try to use regular scissors, you will absolutely destroy your scissors. IF you don't have wire cutters, throw the garment in your purse and go to home depot and borrow theirs quickly. I am not referring to "steal" theirs, I mean use them super quick and put them back, if this is your last resort.  

If you need to purchase wire cutters, Amazon is a great place to score some cheap.  If you only plan to use them a couple times, you can grab a $6-$8 cutter.  These will last you a couple months.  BUT, if you plan to invest in high end inventory on a regular basis then you should absolutely invest in the proper tools.  Amazon has super nice, lasts-forever cutters that you'll only buy once and have for years to come. These will run you $12 - $29 but make cutting the sensors off easy-peasy!


These are also called “Gator Tags”, because the clamping action is like an Alligator… I assume. These can be removed in two different ways. One is a hack that requires a little strength. The other is the legitimate way to remove it. Let’s first talk about the legitimate way.

All you need is a Gator Tag remover. This one is exactly what we use. It is so simple and fast. It’s amazing how the tags just fall right off:

I do truly encourage you to purchase one of these because gator tags are the most popular type of tag. It’s so much easier to be able to pop your own tags off then having to contact the seller (or store) and complain, return the item and wait for them to remove the tags. The ultimate BEST place to buy a Gator is eBay because you can score a used one for usually $20 or less!

But, if you genuinely do not want to go this route, you can indeed hack this but you MUST buy a mini pry bar, like this:

The trio of pry bars shown above is for sale on Amazon. Or, you can get 1 really awesome, way better, highly-recommended-by-me, pry bar that is substantially better than all three shown:

If you want to get the awesome one shown above for even less, Home Depot has them dirt cheap (around $3!).  ****THE SIDE OF THE PRY BAR YOU WANT TO USE IS THE SIDE THAT LOOKS LIKE A BIRD BEAK, NOT THE FLAT SIDE****  BUT...These work great but you need to have some physical strength. Our male staff has no problems using the mini pry bar to pop the sensors right off but most of the females do not have large enough hands or hand strength to achieve the goal.


These tags can NOT be removed with a magnet or a Gator tag remover. These are “Garvey Tags”. You can identify slide-style tags because there will be a small, rectangle hole on the TOP SIDE of them:

The reason for the hole is that a piece of metal slides into the hole and pushes on the pin to detach the tag. Gator tags and magnet-remove tags do NOT have a hole on the side of them. To remove these types of tags you need a special tag remover that looks like this:

If you look at the upper left of the image above, you can see that you slide the security sensor into the tool, then you pull the trigger on the tool. It shoots a piece of thick metal into the tag and the tag comes right off.

IMPORTANT NOTE: You’ll see tons of listings for these types of removers online. A GOOD QUALITY one is going to cost $40-$125. We paid $125 for ours ( BECAUSE we made the mistake of buying a $24 version off eBay and it was absolutely HORRIBLE. It broke in 2 days. But the expensive version is fantastic, works every time and is an AMAZING tag detacher and I truly think it will last us years. You can literally feel the difference in quality just by holding it.

Once again, there are many cheaper “hacks” you will see online. They all suck. And, absolutely DO NOT purchase these things that you may see online for only like $5:

These are super cheap metal, do NOT work and usually break before they even take off a single tag. Additionally, you’ll spend 15 minutes fussing with it because it’s super small, hard to hold and even harder to maneuver. It’s a massive source of frustration and a total waste of money and time. You’re better off just throwing your $5 in the trash or buying a different piece of inventory with it. 

If you insist on not buying anything to remove a slide-tag (Garvey tag) AND if you are willing to risk damaging the apparel by making a large hole where the tag is, here's what you can do:

1. Pry off the top part of the tag so you can see if there is ink on the inside. You can use anything you want to separate the top two pieces, at the seam:

You can crack it with pliers or whatever, just be as gentle as possible.  Again, your only goal is to discover if there is an ink pack inside. 

2. Now that the top part is off, see what it looks like:

If it looks like this, there is no ink.  

3. So now, you can turn the remaining tag on its side and smash it with a hammer.  BE SURE TO DO THIS ON TOP OF CEMENT!!!!!! Never do this on your kitchen table for Pete's sake!  You need to really smash hard. 

4. After a solid whack, one of two things will happen, either the tag will come off and all that will be left is the pin, in which case you can now easily cut it off with good wire cutters, or, the tag will break enough that you can now reach in and cut it off with wire cutters. 

But if you discovered ink on the inside and you can not remove the ink capsules, your only option is to wrap that half of the tag as tightly as possible using a plastic bag (like the kind you get for free when you go grocery shopping).  Then you can proceed to Step 3.


  • If you are planning to "freeze it"... be sure to attempt removal OUTSIDE. Never, ever attempt removal in your home.  Ink will destroy your house.  Even if you put down newspaper or boxes, the ink will seep through or spray.  
  • If you are planning to "burn it off" .... PLEASE be exceptionally careful.  Burning plastic is HIGHLY TOXIC.  Plastic DOES catch fire and when it catches fire it can burn FAST!  The smoke from burning plastic is thick, black.  It can set off your smoke alarms and make you very sick.  If you have to do this in your home, for the love of God, please do it IN your sink with windows open and a fan on. It truly wouldn't hurt to have a bowl of water ready in case that sucker goes up in flames.  Additionally, metal components conduct heat.
  • If you plan to attempt to "Cut it off"... PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE don't do this because the area you have to cut through will literally be in your hand.  But if you absolutely insist on doing this, at least wear some protective gloves and make sure you are not cutting on top of anything you care about. 
  • If you plan to "force it off", it isn't going to come off without spilling ink or slicing up your hands.  This is the entire purpose of the tag to begin with.  All you are going to do is create a massive hole in the garment.  I have 0 advice for this route.

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