How to Open a 5-Gallon Bucket

Updated July 20, 2017

Many industrial-use liquids come in 5-gallon buckets. These include chemical cleaners, solvents and paint. Opening a 5-gallon bucket for the first time can be tricky at best and disastrous at worst. However, leverage and the right tools go a long way in helping with this endeavour. With practice and the right tools, opening a 5-gallon bucket is a task you can handle in the comforts of your own garage.

Set the 5-gallon bucket on a flat sturdy surface. The ground will work. However, in order to get some leverage on it while you work the lid, you may want a short table or work bench that is elevated about 3 to 4 feet from the ground.

Pry up any tabs or rim covers using the needle-nose pliers and flathead screwdriver in tandem. Not all 5-gallon buckets have a protective lid or rim covers. Some will open like an ordinary 1-gallon can of paint. However, other 5-gallon buckets do have tabs or rims that push down and inward helping to fasten the lid down. All such edges or tabs will have to be pried up before you can continue the opening process.

Wedge the hooked edge of the paint can opener between the lid and the bucket and gently pry the lid upward.

Work the paint can opener (using the flathead screwdriver to help you pry upward to gain leverage) fully around the 5-gallon bucket until the lid is completely loosened and ready to lift off.


It is a good idea to place an old garbage bag or similar type of protection under the 5-gallon bucket you will be opening in case of spills.

Things You'll Need

  • Paint can opener
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Flathead screwdriver
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About the Author

Ashton Daigle, a New Orleans native, graduated from Southeastern Louisiana University in 1998 and went straight to work as a journalist. In 2005 he tackled the biggest news story of his life - Hurricane Katrina. Daigle is writing a collection of essays: What It Means to be a Saints Fan.