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How to Clip Your Own Nails

Clipping your nails will keep them looking trim and neat, and it's certainly more sanitary than biting them.


  • Step 1: Choose the clippers Choose the right clippers for the job. The blades on fingernail clippers are slightly curved, while toenail clippers are bigger and feature straight blades.
  • Step 2: Clean the clippers Before you begin, clean the clippers by rinsing them in rubbing alcohol, even if you're the only one who uses them.
  • Step 3: Decide a length Look at all your fingernails carefully and decide how short you want to clip them.
  • TIP: Keeping your nails short – so that you can see just a little bit of the white part at the top – will make them easier to keep clean.
  • Step 4: Position and cut Position the clipper at one side of the fingernail you’re going to cut first, so that the curve of the clipper is in line with the curve of the nail. Squeeze the clipper until it cuts through the nail.
  • TIP: If you nick your skin, press on the spot firmly with a tissue or paper towel to stop any bleeding.
  • Step 5: Follow the curve It should take two or three separate clips per nail to trim the whole thing. Carefully follow the curve of the nail with each snip.
  • TIP: A good time to trim your nails is after a bath or shower, when they’re a little soft.
  • Step 6: File the edges Gently use a nail file or emery board to smooth any sharp or uneven edges. File straight across and in one direction, not back and forth.
  • Step 7: Sit for toenails To trim your toenails, sit on a chair or the floor and bend your knee so that you can reach your foot. Using toenail clippers, trim each nail straight across, which prevents ingrown toenails—when the nail grows into the skin of the toe.
  • TIP: Clip your nails over a trash can or a paper towel that can catch the clippings.
  • Step 8: Use lotion on cuticles Rub a little hand cream onto each cuticle, which is the skin between your nail and your finger. It’s there to protect your nails from infection; when it gets dried out, it can let germs in.
  • FACT: The record for the longest set of fingernails in the world is a combined length of 24½ feet.

You Will Need

  • A fingernail clipper
  • A toenail clipper
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • A nail file or emery board
  • A trash can
  • Tissues or paper towel (optional)
  • Hand cream (optional)

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