How to Remove a Stuck Ring With Dental Floss

It’s summertime, which means that hands swell and rings get stuck on them. Don’t panic, and don’t rush to cut it off either. There are some simple things you can do to remove it safely.

First, try to place your index finger gently on the stuck ring, and thumb under, then start twisting the ring gently back and forth, while slowly pulling the ring out. Make sure that you don’t pull and tug too much. It could cause additional swelling and make it even harder to remove the ring.

Picture 1: Slip one end of the dental floss under the ring

You can also try the lubricant method, which uses something slippery to try to slide the ring off more easily. Plenty of skin-safe household items can be used as lubricants to get the ring off in one piece and with minimal damage to skin. Ammonia-based cleaners such as Windex often work best. If the skin is broken or cut, choose your lubricant wisely. Otherwise, try any of these, using a generous amount at least as far as the knuckle.

  • Vaseline
  • Windex or other window cleaners (professional jewelers often use this and make sure it is safe on skin. Read the bottle first)
  • Hand lotion
  • Hair conditioner/shampoo
  • Petroleum jelly or antibiotic ointment (the best choice if the skin is broken)
  • Cooking spray, soft butter, or cooking oil
  • Shortening (lard)
  • Peanut butter –smooth, not chunky!! (may be a little sticky but works to get the ring off)
  • Soap and water
  • Baby Oil
  • RingRelease

Picture 2: Wind the floss around the finger until it spirals over the knuckle and down the finger

Move the ring around, getting some of the lubricant underneath. Turn the ring around the finger a time or two, and spray or rub more lubricant on as well. Gently pull the ring off the finger, working it back and forth and turning it as you go, as necessary.

There is also the elevation method, in which you elevate the arm above shoulder level for a few minutes if you still cannot remove the ring.

Another method is to dip the hand in cool water. Have you noticed that your rings fit more loosely on cool days than hot ones? Place the hand in cool, but not ice cold, water and leave it there for a few minutes. It need not be painful to leave your hand in the water.

If soap, cold water, and elevating your arm isn’t helping you get that stubborn ring off your finger, the wikiHow site suggests an interesting method: using dental floss.

step 1.

First pass a decent length of strong suture material (Picture 1) (we actually have some thick fishing line set aside for just this purpose) under the ring. If necessary use a needle to get the dental floss under the ring.
Have the longer end on the distal side of the ring.
This method should never be considered if you suspect a fracture of the finger.

step 2.

Take this distal end of the string and begin wrapping it snugly around the finger. Continue wrapping around and around, spiralling over the knuckle and down the finger. (Picture 2) Wind snugly, but not so tightly that you cause pain or turn the finger blue. Unwind it if it’s too tight.
This can become a little uncomfortable (code for painful) for the lady, so try to do this smoothly and quickly. Let them know it might hurt a bit but will probably save their ring from a costly trip to the jewellers.

step 3.

Unwind the floss, while pulling it upwards

Next, and this requires a little practice, hold the distal end of the string against their finger, grab the proximal end.
Unwind the string, moving around the finger, whilst pulling firmly and maintaining tension.
Continue pulling on the string and unwinding it ‘over’ and ‘around’ the ring. With a little luck the ring will slowly slide down and off the patient’s finger earning you some rightful admiration. (Keep the ring cutters handy in case it becomes too uncomfortable or fails to budge.) If the ring only goes partially off, repeat the two previous steps from the rings current position.
I is also a good idea to have an electric ring cutter that will slice through most rings if we need to get them off in a hurry.

step 4.

Now give it a quick polish. (KY Jelly brings jewellery up a treat.) Present the intact ring to her, quickly reassess the neurovascular status of the finger and calmly proclaim, “just doing my job ma’am. Just doing my job.”
Walk away with a barely perceptible swagger in your step.


  • Don’t worry about getting your ring cut off, if you need to. It takes seconds, does not hurt at all, and rings are very easy to repair. Don’t damage your hand with a badly fitting ring—just go to the a hospital, fire station or good jeweler. They will all remove it for you.
  • Take a long, cold shower or go outside if it’s cold, to drop your body temperature. Don’t overdo it, of course.
  • This works well when you need to remove your ring from fingers that are puffy in the morning.
  • Get your ring size measured if you haven’t lately. It may change as you gain or lose weight or simply as you age. Any jeweler should have a set of sizing rings.
  • If your ring had to be cut off, any worthwhile jeweler should know to wait at least two weeks before sizing your finger, so that your finger has time to heal.
  • Always have the ring finger bent slightly as this reduces “bunching” of skin on the knuckle and therefore makes the knuckles slightly smaller.