6 Simple and Painless Ways to Remove a Splinter

Before reaching for the tweezers, try these less painful methods for removing a splinter.
Before reaching for the tweezers, try these less painful methods for removing a splinter. / BSIP/UIG/Collection Mix: Subjects/Getty Images

Splinters are as sneaky as they are annoying. You never see one coming, but once one gets embedded in you, you’re definitely going to feel it. The most common way to pull one of these out of your body is to grab a pair of tweezers and start digging—but while that might work for splinters that haven’t lodged too deep, it’s far from ideal for the ones completely under the surface. Plus, it hurts.

Thankfully, you don’t always need sharp instruments or a trip to the doctor to get rid of those stubborn splinters—there are plenty of items lying around your house right now that can help draw them out. So the next time you find yourself with a painful piece of wood or other material stuck in your foot, finger, etc. be sure to wash the affected area with soap and warm water and give one of these simple (and painless) remedies a try.

1. Soak the splinter in epsom salts ...

Wicker bowl of epsom salts and spoon
Epsom salts can help with splinter removal. / Diane Macdonald/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

Epsom salts are an incredibly versatile cure-all for common ailments like sunburn and sore muscles. But one of its lesser-known uses is helping to bring deep splinters to the surface of your skin.

To get this to work, just dissolve a cup of the salts into a tub of warm water and soak whatever part of the body has the splinter. You can also put some of the salts onto a bandage pad and leave the splinter covered for a day. Both methods will eventually help bring the splinter to the surface, after which you can pull it out completely with tweezers.

2. ... Or hot water.

Pot of hot water on a stove
Warm water should help bring a splinter out. / VICUSCHKA/Moment/Getty Images

If the splinter is wood and you have no epsom salts lying around, soak the affected body part in plain hot water for 10 to 15 minutes. (Just make sure it’s not too hot—you don’t want to scald yourself on top of having a splinter.) The bath will cause the wood to swell, which will push it out of your skin enough so that you can grab it with tweezers and gently pull it free. The hot water will soften your skin and make the area around the splinter more malleable, easing its removal.

3. Make a baking soda paste.

Baking soda in a measuring spoon, with a bit spilled on a table
Baking soda paste can help bring splinters to the surface. / Michelle Arnold/EyeEm.Getty Images

First, before you do anything, clean the affected area with soap and water. Then combine a little water with one-quarter of a tablespoon of baking soda to make a paste that you can then spread on the splinter. Cover the pasted-over area with a bandage and keep it just like that for a full 24 hours.

The splinter should make its way to the surface, allowing you to remove it. If you still can’t get a hold of it, you can repeat the same procedure until the splinter is sufficiently brought above the skin.

4. Stick tape to it.

Clear tape being pulled out of a dispenser
Tape can grab on to that splinter. / Image Source/Getty Images

This method is best when a splinter is already drawn to the surface a bit but tweezers just won’t do. Simply take a piece of tape—go for something a little stronger, like duct tape—and place it over the splinter. Once the tape is secure (leave it on for a few minutes), gently pull it off at the angle the splinter went in. You may have to repeat this a few times to coax the splinter out. To make it easier, soak the area in warm water first to soften the skin.

5. Dunk the affected area in oil or vinegar.

Two bottles containing oil and vinegar on a table
Good for salads, great for getting rid of splinters. / Kevin Trimmer/Moment/Getty Images

Another simple way to draw out that stubborn splinter is to soak the splintery area in oil (such as olive or corn) or white vinegar. Just pour some in a bowl and soak the area for around 20 to 30 minutes, then eyeball the splinter and see where it is. If it looks closer to the surface, but not enough to pull out, soak it longer. Once it gets far enough out, just remove it and wash the area with soap and water.

6. Cover it with glue.

Bottles of glue with orange caps
Be sure to use safe, non-toxic glue for this splinter-removing hack. / Susan Sheldon/EyeEm/Getty Images

The glue hack is similar to the tape hack. If you can see part of the splinter sticking out from the skin, cover that area with a thin coat of non-toxic, water-soluble glue (like Elmer's school glue). Wait for it to dry completely. Then, carefully pry up the dried glue with your fingernail and gently peel it off your skin. With any luck, the splinter will come out with it.