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How to Get Plastic Cups Unstuck: 5 Basic Tricks!

Stacking plastic cups is very convenient for saving space. However, they can make us break a sweat. When we stack wet plastic cups, they get stuck. As a result, pulling them apart can create quite a struggle.

How to get plastic cups unstuck?

First, you can put ice on the top cup. And then, pour hot water around the bottom cups and twist them to separate. You can also try twisting them after putting some cooking oil or dish-washing liquid between the cups. Sometimes, freezing the stack works like magic!

Follow these steps and you’re good to go! But wait, there’s more! If you’ve got a minute to spare, read along to learn an in-depth explanation of separating plastic drinking cups.

Let’s get to work!

How to Get Plastic Cups Unstuck

Plastic cups getting stuck is a common problem because we often overlook wet drinking cups or glasses and stack them to save time. But don’t fret, we all make mistakes and there are several techniques you can apply to get the cups apart.

Why does this happen?

Stacking wet cups is the prime reason. If the cups are not 100% dry, trapped air and moisture cause suction and as a result, the cups get sealed tightly. If you’re familiar with sticking window clings, then you’ll see this working principle in action. 

Another reason for cups getting stuck is stacking them before they’ve cooled down from the warm sink water. Naturally, they don’t part easily so you’ll need to follow a few instructions on how to take plastic cups apart.

Before we begin, here’s a list of things you’ll need to separate the plastic cups.

What You’ll Need

  • Ice cubes
  • Hot/boiling water
  • Dish-washing liquid
  • Cooking oil/Salad dressing oil
  • Paper towel

Method 1: The Hot and Cold Method

This is one of the most effective ways to unstick your plastic cups. And it’s super easy! All you need is some ice cubes and a bowl of hot water. Warm running water from the sink will also do the job.

For starters, put some ice cubes in the topmost cup of your stack. This helps the cups to contract. After that, take a bowl of hot water to submerge the bottom cups in it. Soon you’ll see the hot water expanding those cups.

After 3 minutes, twist the cups apart. Repeat the process to separate two or more sealed cups.

Method 2: The Boiling Water Method

Now, not all of us have time for the hot and cold method. So, if you want a quicker process, this method is for you. Although hot water is a big no for removing candle wax from sink, it works like magic when separating plastic cups!

Boil two pots of water and fill your sink up to several inches. Drown the stack of plastic cups and, after 20 minutes, try wrenching the cups apart.


Well, the water here is actually boiling. So, let’s keep away our bare skin from it for a while. And you know the drill with children, pets, and hot water.

Method 3: The Oiling Method

The lubricating/oiling method is another quick way to unstick your stubborn plastic cups.

You can use a little cooking oil and pour it around the rim of the bottom cups. Make sure the oil gets in between the sealed cups. Oil-based salad dressing will also do if you don’t want to use cooking oil.

Rotate and tug to get the plastic glasses apart. Repeat the process for the remaining stack.

Finally, wash your cups with dish soap to remove the oil.

Method 4: The Dish-washing Liquid Method

Another quick technique is using dish-washing liquid and warm water.

Put the stack of cups under warm running water for a few minutes. Pour dish-washing liquid around the rim of the bottom cups and twist it free.

Method 5: The Freezing Method

Freezing can also help solve the problem! From getting melted plastic off a roaster pan to unsticking a stack of plastic cups, you name it, freezing will come flying to save your day!

Keep the whole stack in the freezer for an hour or two. This will help the cups contract as much as possible. After that, tug the frozen cups one by one and pop them apart.

Extra Tips

Although all of the mentioned methods work almost 98% of the time, there are a few others you can try to separate the plastic drinking cups. A few of these are listed below:

  • Put a straw between the stuck plastic cups and try blowing inside.
  • Squeeze a paper towel in between the stuck cups and try to absorb the trapped water.
  • Saving one cup is better than losing the whole stack! Cut the bottom cup if it’s being too stubborn.


Plastic cups are essential! So we must make sure they don’t get stuck. Before we stack them, we need to let them cool down and dry properly. Wipe them with a paper towel or keep them upside down for half an hour.


Question: Is separating plastic bowls the same as plastic cups?
Answer: Absolutely! The hot and cold method works for almost any material. You can also try oiling the bowls to wrench them free.

Question: How to get glasses unstuck?
Answer: It’s similar to separating plastic cups! Try running them under warm water and put ice cubes on the topmost glass. This method will loosen up the glasses, making it easier to pull them apart.

Question: How to unstick acrylic cups?
Answer: If you know how to unstick plastic glasses, then you can separate cups of any materials. Especially acrylic!

Parting Words

Since your plastic cups are now separated, you can throw your dream party!

Now that you know how to get plastic cups unstuck, make sure you try out a suitable method!

Have a great day!