How to Seal a Partly Used Caulking Tube

Using a nail to seal up the nozzle on a tube of caulking.
Using a nail to seal up the nozzle on a tube of caulking.

To seal up the nozzle on a partly used tube of caulking so it doesn’t dry out:

  1. Insert a long nail or screw that’s a tight fit into the hole in the nozzle.
  2. Apply duct tape over the end of the nozzle and nail.

To use the caulk again, simply remove the tape and nail or screw to provide a channel through the dried caulk in the nozzle so fresh caulking can come out. Watch this video to find out more.

Further Information

Joe Truini: There’re very few caulking projects that require you to use a full tube of caulk, so it’s important to find a way to seal it so you can reuse it next time. Now I’ve seen people use duct tape and even wire nuts to seal it but these ideas don’t really work because they don’t seal out the air. The air gets in the nozzle and dries the caulk and you can’t get it out.

So here’s an idea that works really well. After you cut it open and use some of it, plug up the nozzle with either a long steel rod, a screw, a long screw, or even just a nail. 16-penny nail, slide it in there, and then, tape the end of it with some duct tape.

What that does, it seals out most of the air and even if a little air gets inside the nozzle, you can pull out the screw or the nail, and there’ll be a channel so you can get the rest of the caulking out. And you can do this as many times as necessary, until you use up the entire tube.


  1. Yeah, well, I’d already read to use a nail in a DIY book, and what happened? The nail just got sealed in the caulk. I spent about a half hour very slowly cutting caulk off with a utility knife, alternating with pulling the nail out a bit further with pliers. I finally gave up. I tackled it again later that year, finally got the nail out and everything was dried up in there. In the long-run, the only solution was cutting open the tube itself and dipping out caulk from that open end and trying to put it on without a caulking gun, and running around the house finding everything I could to use it up. I’ll NEVER do that again. My brother thought it was a terrible idea & couldn’t believe I read that in a book. I’ve found electrical tape works pretty well as long as I form a seal over the end, except for the concrete type caulk.

  2. I agree with Kay, above, with an additional messy dilemma using a metal object to seal an opened caulking tube: For Decades my father, & his father, would do this & as you suggested they would cover the plugged tube top with duct tape. Perhaps you are constantly opening, using & changing the plugs for your tubes. But if you don’t need that caulk again for maybe several months, then you remove that tape (ok all appears good there) then pull out that nail (if you can) or unscrew the screw you plugged the tip with…you have a rusty-caulky mess. Do you use “Specialty” nails or screws? I opened a few of the caulks my father had “saved” (it should have only taken one time for me to learn if I was going to caulk something at their house…Bring Caulk). True, at least for me, there always seems to be an open unused half+ tube I don’t want to waste; and after experiencing my father’s “saved caulk”, I tried a few ideas (failures) then found My “method”. I purchased a “mini” glue gun at a 99-cents store (it came with mini glue sticks) and have been plugging my caulk tubes with a small glob of glue for years. Works Great & fairly easy to remove when ready to use the caulk again…

  3. Use a large Wire Nut, they are practically invented for this purpose. Before you screw it onto the caulking gun top, put a dab of petroleum jelly in to reduce air and drying it out. When re-opening the tube be sure to discard the silicon/caulk that first comes out so the jelly is not present as it could keep it from curing. If the companies who sold these caulking materials cared about consumer and (dried-out) wasted tubes, they would put simple instructions like this on the tube. It’s not rocket science, but would hurt their bottom line.

  4. Why don’t the manufactures add a screw on cap, or allow the nozzle to be unscrewed cleaned and sealed with some cling film, or give one or two spare nozzles….

  5. Caulk tubes come in two main types, fiber, and plastic. It is also possible to cut the nozzles on both fiber and plastic tubes to create a wider tip for use. Needle nose caulking tubes provide for the specific application of the material to plumbing fixtures for safe weatherproofing or tidy seals.


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