How-To: Remove Old Grommets


This post has nothing to do with the pups but they are just so darn cute and cuddly I couldn’t resist. Add in the fact that a lot of our New York friends only tolerate Jason and I in order to hang out with them, I thought a pup pic was more than due. This is how Riley and Dewey spent their entire day while I slaved over our main sail repairs. One of the things I had to address was replacing an entire panel in the sail. There were no holes or tears, but there were a ton of surface scratches that I was afraid would decrease the strength of the sail so I thought it was best to replace the panel.

First up, remove the old panel to trace out a new panel on the fancy new Dacron cloth I bought. Easier said than done. While my trusty seam ripper ripped through all the stitching easy enough, the panel was still firmly attached by two very well installed grommets that just would not budge! After an hour wasted googling “how to remove grommets” all I found was a YouTube video on removing and replacing corset grommets. Not exactly what I was looking for. About an hour and a handful of scratches later I was victorious! The second grommet took significantly less time to remove than the first, so I wanted to share what I found worked best.

Tools Needed:
small flat head screwdriver (I used the one from my sewing machine)
needle nose pliers

grommet-removal1.Take the small screwdriver and find a spot under the outside edge of the grommet where you can wedge the flat edge under the grommet just a bit. You should be working on the side of the grommet where the inside lip is folded under. Once your screwdriver is properly wedged under, give it a good twist to lift up the edge.


2. Using the needle nose pliers, bend the outside edge of the grommet back down so that only the inner ring is left bent up.


3. Using the small screwdriver again, wedge it under the lifted edge and twist lifting the edge as vertically as you can. Repeat until all edges are lifted.


4. Push the grommet out of the sail! You may have to use the screwdriver to lift the prongs of the grommet out of the sail fabric, so if it doesn’t come out easy enough check for that.


My beat up now removed grommets. Disclaimer, my grommets were brass and bent pretty easily. Not sure how well this would work with stainless grommets. If you try it let me know!


  1. Hi! I’m definitely going to try this. Would love to see the hole that remained in the resulting fabric… if you have a photo.

    • Hey Suz – I actually just put new grommets back in the sail just yesterday! However, the holes were as good as if you had just punched a 7/16 size hole in the sail. Absolutely no tear out around the old grommet!

  2. I tried to remove tight new grommets in a banner using your method without luck. I had much better luck using a needle nose plier and a regular plier bending the ring. Use one plier to grip the outer ring and use the other plier to bend the ring exposing an opening under the curved lip. Use a screwdriver to work your way around the lip lifting and loosening its’ grip. With persistence this 2 plier method worked like a charm.

    • Sorry to hear it didn’t work for you! Our grommets were pretty old and corroded so maybe that is why it worked for us. I will definitely keep your method in mind next time!

  3. Sorry to hear that it took you so long to remove the grommets. I have a method to remove ANY grommet from 3/8″ to 3 1/2″ in less than 5 minutes without risk to the sail and without any metal slivers or oil use. I use a patented custom designed press that removes brass and stainless grommets and leaves the original hole in the sail completely intact. I hope this will help some sailors out there. Mel.