Your can openers keep breaking. What exactly are you doing wrong? Here’s why this happens, and how you can care for one.

Ever since their invention in the 19th century, can openers have revolutionized the way in which we cook our food, and access the necessary ingredients to enrich it.

Not having a can opener in this day and age is like not having a TV. It’s unheard of. And yes, while every day more and more cans are designed with pop-top lids for easy access, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a convincing argument as to why you should get rid of your appliance.

That being said, just like any other unit out there, can openers are not eternal. Sure, you’ll hear stories about people who still use their grandmothers, but they’re few and far between. More often than not, you will need to replace yours after some time.

It’s completely normal.

What is definitely not normal is to have your opener break after only a couple of weeks of use.

Why is this happening?

There are many reasons why this could be happening to you. From buying extremely cheap models to misaligning the appliance when trying to open a can. For something seemingly so simple, can openers be more than capable of causing you some headaches?

I want to help you fix this, I really do. This is why I’ve prepared the list below, including the most common causes of this situation, and what you can do about it.

Ready? Let’s dig in!

Preventing Can Opener Breakage

If your current can opener is already broken, sadly, there’s very little we can do about that, but you can definitely implement some countermeasures, so that the next one you purchase, does not meet the same fate.

Throughout this piece, we will not only be looking at what might be wrong with the opener itself but also what you might be doing wrong while trying to use it. Believe it or not, something as apparently unimportant as failing to clean it properly can contribute to its destruction. 

Your can opener might keep breaking due to:

  • Buying cheap models
  • Excessive use
  • Rust
  • Improper cleaning
  • Misalignment
  • Insufficient pressure

#1 Buy Cheap, Buy Twice

a classic can opener in the table
Cheap models mean cheap materials

Not all can openers are created equal. Sure, they’re not meant to be as pricey as a premium blender or a freeze dryer, but even when it comes to these cheap tools, there are quality tiers.

Now, I’m not saying you should go out and buy a $150 can opener. That would just be a waste of money for the purpose this appliance serves, but making sure to buy a renowned brand from a reputable vendor, will decrease the chances of your opener breaking soon after purchase.

If you’re in the habit of buying can openers at the single-digit price, chances are this is why you constantly find yourself in the need to replace them.

Remember, buy cheap, buy twice.

Solution: Look online for some models with good reviews, or ask someone you know that has a can opener they like. This might not be the most interesting topic of conversation, but hey, word of mouth can’t be beaten!

#2 Excessive Use

A good can opener will last you a long time, but eventually, it will also break.

Sure, there are a lot of things that you can do to extend your appliance’s lifespan, but wear and tear is a part of life. Unless you’re going through can openers every couple of months, there’s nothing to be worried about.

Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

Solution: There’s not a lot to do here. You can try to be a little more conscious about how you use your appliance, but other than that, just enjoy it while it lasts.

If you’re in the need to open a can as you read this, there are tons of online resources that can show you how to go about this without your trusty kitchen tool.

#3 Rust

Dry your can opener completely after cleaning it to avoid rust from building up

Although most can openers these days are made of stainless steel, rust will always be an unwanted possibility.

Cleaning your appliance is very important, but making sure to properly dry it once you’re done, is essential. If you’re in the habit of washing your can opener, and immediately storing it away without wiping any excess moisture off, you could be contributing to the formation of rust on it.

This likely won’t be a problem for a couple of months, but after a while, this material deterioration could weaken the unit’s overall structure, and make it much more prone to breaking.

Solution: Let your can opener dry in the dish rack for at least a couple of hours, and then use a dry dish rag to remove any leftover moisture from its crevices.

#4 Clean, Clean, Clean

I can’t stress this enough. Improper maintenance will always be the number one cause of your appliance’s quick deterioration.

While washing your can opener adequately after using it might seem like an optional step, it is definitely not. As you open can after can, food buildup can start to become a problem, as it can get stuck to your opener’s handle, and gears.

Any kind of food residue stuck to them could misalign them, and even cause them to separate from the can opener’s body.

Solution: Ideally you want to clean your can opener after every use, but if that’s not possible, at least try to do it twice a week.

#5 Misalignment

opening a can with an opener
Keep the handle parallel to the top lid, instead of the sides when using a can opener

This next reveal is probably going to blow your mind. I know it blew mine!

Unless you grew up next to a can opener factory, there is a very good chance that you’ve been using your appliance wrong all along.

Let me explain.

If you’re anything like me, and 99% of the people on this planet, you probably use your can opener so that the handle is parallel to the sides of the can you’re trying to open, right?

Well, it turns out the right way to go about this process is to do it perpendicularly.  By keeping the handle parallel to the top lid, instead of the sides, you’ll be able to open it much more easily.

Provided that you’ve been opening your cans like the rest of us, there might have been some part misalignment that led to the appliance breaking.

Solution: There are tons of online resources that you can check out to try this method. If you’re going shopping for a new can opener soon, it would be a good idea to try and open your cans this way from now on.

#6 Squeeze It Tighter!

Lastly, let’s take a look at how much pressure you apply to your can opener when using it.

While you don’t need to be Hercules to properly use your can opener, making sure to squeeze the levers in your appliance as hard as you can, is the best way to guarantee that every part of it does its job.

When you rotate the handle, but don’t apply enough pressure to the levers, you could overwork other parts that are not designed to be subjected to the spinning forces that open the can.

This might sound ridiculous, but remember that every appliance out there is designed to be used under specific conditions, so, if your can opener keeps breaking, chances are you need to work on your grip.

Solution: There are many things you can do to address this issue. If you feel you’re not strong enough to apply the necessary pressure to your appliance, I’ve heard of people using several rubber bands to connect both levers, thus obtaining the desired pressure while also freeing up one of their hands.


Having a can opener break when you’re trying to use it, is probably one of the most inconvenient things that can happen to you, as it leaves you stuck with an unopened can, and in the need to replace it as soon as possible.

Truly disastrous!

Fortunately, I hope this piece has helped you see that, in about 75% of cases, this breakage can be easily prevented by operating the appliance more consciously, and making sure to clean it after every use.

Remember that you don’t need to break the bank on a premium can opener to prevent it from breaking, but buying extremely cheap models can be a lot more expensive over time, than spending a little more on one that will stand the test of time.

Thank you so much for sticking with me all the way to the end. If you found this article helpful, why not keep the learning going through our other incredible resources below?

Enjoy your meals!