Here's The Right Way To Use A Can Opener That You Probably Don't Know

No more sliced fingers or stuck lids.

Muscle memory applies to all sorts of things, from how you tie your shoes in the morning to the way you put on mascara. Who else is a wiggler? In that same tune, our skills in the kitchen are no exception. You probably crack an egg, whisk together pancake batter, or pour your cereal in a particular way without even thinking about it. Oh, and until now, most of us have probably been using the can opener the same way, which is supposedly incorrect.

According to handy hack finders on the Internet, we're doing it all wrong—and this hack makes a lot of sense. Who else has used the can opener only to be fishing out the top from the inside afterward, risking a serious slice and stitches to the fingers? And then, you're never able to peel out the top anyway, even with a fork or knife? Apparently, the "correct" way to use a can opener eliminates those issues altogether.

Correct Way To Use Can Opener
Getty Images/Kameleon007

How to Use a Can Opener

What is the correct way to use a basic can opener? Well, it does not go sideways. It goes flat on top. Basically, instead of clamping the handheld tool onto the side of the can, so that the knob you're turning is aligned on the rounded side, you simply place the can opener horizontally, on top of the unopened can. Clamp the round mechanical cutters onto the top (or lid) of the can, so that the tool is flat on top and the wheels are aligned with the edges of the lid. Turn the knob to cut open the top, and you'll find that the entire top comes off cleanly (with no leftover lid) in one fell swoop. No digging required and no sliced fingers. And no dirty lid falling into your food. See a demonstration in a TikTok video by @julie_eigenmann below.

Many users in the review and comment sections note that this can-opening technique reduces potential danger more than the old-fashioned way. However, it's important to note that this method is not inclusive to all can openers, such as electric or certain specialty ones, and you still need to heed any sharp edges of the opened can at all times because while there is no longer a sharp lid to fish out of the can with this method, the cut edges of the can could be sharp.

If you still prefer your original method, there's no shame. As long as we all get our canned peas, corn, soup, or Rotel, right?

How to Clean a Can Opener

No matter the method you prefer, make sure the can opener you are using to cut into a can of food is clean. A dirty blade could introduce bacteria like salmonella or E. coli into your food. Most handheld can openers can't be put in the dishwasher. To clean them, wash with soap and warm water after every use, and use a small brush to clean hard-to-reach areas, like the gears and blade, or caked-on food. Dry completely before storing to prevent rust. Clean electric can openers with a damp cloth and dry thoroughly.

For rust and gunk, soak the handheld can opener or the removable cutting wheel of an electric can opener in vinegar for a few minutes. Then carefully use a brush to scrub with warm water and soap, and dry thoroughly.

You can also use a few drops of mineral oil to lubricate the gears and keep your can opener working like new and help prevent rust.

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