Here's How You Should Really Be Cutting Your Duct Tape

Around a leaky pipe, on a torn vacuum hose, over the holes worn in your outdoor furniture — is there any place in your house where duct tape isn't useful as a quick fix? While there's no questioning the sturdy adhesive's versatility, there is growing debate regarding how you should really be cutting duct tape. Get ready to ditch the heavy-duty scissors, utility knife, craft shears — and spare your teeth — it turns out that all you really need are your fingers, a simple fold, and a swift tug.

If you instantly reach for a roll of the sticky stuff whenever disaster strikes, you aren't alone. According to The New York Times, Americans shell out nearly $150 million for duct tape annually.  Renowned for its durability, duct tape is made from cloth coated with waterproof polyethylene resin while its adhesive layer contains rubber compounds, which gives it its famously aggressive hold. It's also what makes duct tape so challenging to cut.

Hands-on alternative

When you aren't turning to TikTok to learn how to stage a bed or use WD-40 to remove water stains from shower doors, you can use the video-sharing app to score a clever tip on how to cleanly rip off a piece of duct tape with just your hands. TikTok is teeming with viral videos on how the world should really be cutting duct tape. And all of them require nothing more than the tools you were born with — your fingers. In less than 10 seconds, TikTok user,, shows you how it's done. 

Start by peeling off the desired amount of tape. Next, fold the part of the tape closest to the roll into a triangle. Then, adhere the end of the tape farthest from the roll to the edge of a solid, flat surface and give it a good yank. The duct tape tears pristinely and you aren't left with an uneven mess of frayed tape. In another TikTok video, hadleyfam1210 offers slight modifications to the hands-on method, but with the same success. His process starts by securing the end of the tape to a stable surface before folding the triangle. He also suggests holding the triangle flap with your finger prior to tugging.

Pros and cons of tugging

The surprisingly simple duct tape hack not only provides you with a neatly cut piece of tape, but also presents the next user with a handy triangle tab indicating the exact spot where the tape begins. No more struggling to locate the end of the roll. On TikTok, veteran duct tape user hadleyfam1210 expressed his shock at the ease and effectiveness of the hack: "You're telling me for 40 years any time I needed to cut tape but I couldn't find scissors all I had to do was this? No way." 

Still, the tool-free duct tape tugging technique is not without its critics. For example, TikTok user, dave_mvc55, notes that the triangle tabs left on the roll are wasteful, while others complain that duct tape's ultra-stickiness makes it tricky to undo and fix a triangle tab if you make a mistake in the folding process. 

If you are reluctant to fully embrace the fingers-only duct tape-cutting formula but still want a clean and effortless tear, consider placing a strip of duct tape on parchment paper before cutting it with scissors. The parchment paper's silicone coating will prevent the tape from sticking to the blades while still allowing for a smooth slice. Another alternative is to cut duct tape using a utility knife on a self-healing craft mat. The durable pre-measured mats feature built-in metric markings to ensure a precisely cut piece of duct tape.