Why should you need to cut your nails the right way?

The purpose of cutting or trimming your nails and toenails with a nail clipper regularly is to properly shorten the overgrown nails which can interfere with the daily use of hands and feet without creating any discomforts, wounds or infections.

After finish reading this article, you are going to nail it on how to cut or trim your own nails properly.

When the nail clipper was invented

Imagine that you happen to live in a time before nail clipper was around, how would you cut or trim your own nails? Even this simple task will take some time and diligent work as you try not to hurt yourself in doing so.

To solve this problem, the first nail clipper was invented by an American, Valentine Fogerty in 1875.

Over the years, nail clippers have gone through many improvements and have a shape and look that you see today.

And fast forward to modern days, whenever you want to cut your nails it would be very hard not to think of using a nail clipper.

Using the right type of nail clippers

A typical fingernail clipper.

Standard fingernail clippers for adults are about 2 inches in length and have one-half inch curved-in cutting blades. This curve in blades will create a curve shape on the fingernails to conform with the fingernail tips and reduce filing.

Standard toenail clippers for adults are about the same size of fingernail clippers with one difference that their cutting blades are straight. The straight blades prevent the forming of ingrown toenails by not over cutting the corners of the toenails.

Children nail clippers are about half the size of standard nail clippers. They are smaller so they can be used to cut delicate and thin children’s nails. Also, since their fingernails and toenails are relatively thinner and smaller, a child’s nail clipper can be used on both.

Special toenail clippers for cutting thick toenails usually have bigger cutting blades and long handles so that they can be used to cut a big chunk of big and thick toenails.

Are nail clippers safe to use?

Since nail clippers are used to cut or trim only the overgrown part of your nails and can be used on babies to the elderly, they are considered safe if used correctly.

Can a nail clipper be shared?

The majority of nail clippers are made off stainless steel so they could be washed with water and soap, sanitized or disinfect with alcohol. They can be shared among family members as long as they are cleaned and disinfected properly before they are being used on the next person. Otherwise, if one person in your family has nail fungus, the clippers will transmit the fungus to others. 

How to wash a nail clipper

  • First, shake off all the nail clippings that can deposit between the cutting blades.
  • Brush with water and soap to remove germs and other debris.
  • Pat dry or air dry.
  • Spray with 70% alcohol to disinfect and let dry.
  • Store in a plastic pouch to keep dust away.

What parts of the nail need to be cut

Our nails grow out over time and the parts that get long are called free edges. So the section of the nails that need to be cut or trimmed are these free edges.

Before using a nail clipper

Before cutting or trimming, fingernails or toenails should be soaked or in contact with water for 15 minutes to make them softer and flexible. Washing dishes or a taking shower will also soften your nails. Softer nails will be easier to cut and with less effort. Also, cutting soft nails will not create sharp edges because nails tend to break and crack when you cut them dry. 

How to cut fingernails properly

Remove any color polish so you can see all nails and their free edges clearly. This is particularly important so you will not accidentally cut into your skin underneath the nails and cause bleeding.

Before you do any cutting first take a look to examine your nails. it is crucial to know and see where you should clip your nails’ free edges so you will not over cut into your skin under the free edges.

Avoid cutting nails too short. Nails that are cut too short will irritate the fingertips when the soft tissues at the fingertips come directly in contact with surrounding objects.

Select a standard size nail clipper that has curved blades.

Change the nail clipper from storage to cutting configuration so that the clipper’s handle is in the upward position.

Start with one nail. You should only cut no more than one-quarter length of the nail each time. It is a good practice to leave some free edge so you can achieve even lengths and shape with filing.

Move the clippers so that the one side of the nail will be in between the upper and lower blades of the clipper and start squeezing the nail clipper until the nail is severed.

When you cut halfway through on one side, do the same cutting from the opposite side of the nail.

Repeat this for all nails.

Smooth our rough edges with a nail file.

Using a fine or medium nail file, gently smooth out sharp edges where two cuts overlap. Using this nail file, you can also create the shapes and fix the length of each nail to get the look you are happy with. Do not press too hard on the nails as you file them because it may cause the nails to split or crack and also ruin the shape of the nails by over filing.

Buffing for an even smoother feel.

You can smooth out the newly cut nail tips even more with a block nail buffer. Gently buff the edges with light side-to-center motions.

Do this 3 to 4 times on each nail.

How to cut toenails properly

Cutting toenails is similar to cutting fingernails except for three things:

The use of a standard toenail clipper is preferred.

Do not cut toenails too short, especially on the big toenails.

The best shape for toenails is straight across which corners are slightly rounded to remove sharp edges so the toenails will not catch on socks, bed sheets or blankets.

How to cut thick toenails at home 

If your toenails are excessively thick, they can be caused by one of the following:

  • Toenail fungus.
  • Injury to the toes or toenails.
  • Psoriasis.
  • Wearing ill-fitting shoes for too long.

Things you need:

  1. A comfortable chair
  2. A plastic container that can hold both feet
  3. Warm water and 2 teaspoons of hand soap
  4. Gloves
  5. Alcohol.
  6. Clean toenail clipper
  7. An emery board or disposable nail file
  8. An old toothbrush
  9. A dry towel
  10. A grocery shopping bag to hold trash


  • Put on gloves.
  • Pour warm water in the container so it is about ankle-deep and mix with soap.
  • Soak feet for about 15 minutes.
  • Start shortening a toenail by gently clipping a small piece at a time and from one side toward the middle. Do the same on the other side.
  • Repeat until the toenail is just above the tip of your toenail.

Note: do not try to cut a big chunk of the toenail at one time! Even the toenail look thick but it is very brittle and porous, trying to cut a big piece of a thick toenail can cause it to crack or split.

  • When all toenails are shortened, gently brush the tips of the thick toenails to remove as much as you can the powdery substance that deposited between the nail and skin with the toothbrush.
  • Dry your feet and toenails with a towel.
  • Spray alcohol onto the toenails for additional cleaning and disinfecting.
  • Discard the gloves, emery board and toothbrush.
  • Wash the plastic container, toenail clipper thoroughly with water and soap. Spray alcohol to disinfect. 

If your thick toenails are hurting you or if you don’t think that you can safely cut them, see your podiatrist for help.

Cut your nails often

The best thing you can do for your

How to cut toenails with fungus

Cutting your toenails with fungus is similar to that of cutting thick toenails with one difference.

Slowly and gently remove as much as the free edge on the infected nail without hurting you. This will expose the fungus so they can dry out faster.

If you leave your toenails untreated, the fungus might continue to grow and will cause the nails to get thicker and eventually detach from the toes.

If you think that you have a fungal infection after visually inspecting your toenails, see your podiatrist for help on how to treat toenail fungus.

Using a fingernail clipper to cut toenails

If you do not have a straight blade nail clipper to cut your toenails, you can use the standard fingernail clipper instead.

If you do this, try not to cut toenails too short especially the big toes because over trimming the corners of the nails will cause ingrown toenails later. You can always shorten toenails with a file until the are of appropriate lengths.

When not to cut your own toenails

  • Do not cut your own toenails if you are:
  • Trying to cut ingrown toenails and it is painful
  • Can not reach or see your toenail clearly.
  • Diabetic and difficult to reach your toenails

In any of these cases, make an appointment to see a podiatrist.

Long nails can cause discomfort

Long fingernails can interfere with your daily use of your hands. A little movement at the tip of a long nail will translate to a lot of bending and swaying on your own nails. 

Long fingernails are also more susceptible to breaking or splitting. When this occurs, it tends to happen on the nail itself and can cause bleeding from this open wound.

Long toenails will likely hit the inside of the shoes as you walk. This will cause the toenails to be pushing back to the base of the nail and cause pain.

Long nails can cause injuries

It is easier for you to lose a fingernail if it is too long. Long nails will have higher chances of hitting something as you work with your hands, nails get stuck in a car door or as you try to lift a heavy box.

You can also lose a toenail easily if it is long when you accidentally kick something. In severe cases, the toenails can even detach from the nails if the impact is strong enough.

Diseases caused by long nails.

Long fingernails will create a good place for fungus to grow. Many people prefer to put on hand lotion or cuticle oil right after they wash their hands because they like the feel of soft hands and also protect them from drying out in the cold weather.

In doing so, excess lotion or cuticle oil will go under the nails and inadvertently trap the moisture. Given enough time, warm and moist conditions will cause tiny fungal spores to grow and create fingernail fungus under the nail free edges.

Similarly, long toenails will likely cause nail fungus to grow.

If you leave your toenails long, it will create an area under the free edges where water from taking a bath or shower and your own sweat can stay for a long period of time. One instance you can get fungus if you walk barefoot on a gym locker room that might have fungus left by other people who already have foot fungus. This fungus will likely deposit on your own shoes and socks and later can be transferred to under your toenails. The fungus will have a perfectly warm and moist condition to develop under your toenails.

Caring for your nails

Trimming your fingernails and toenails regularly is one simple best thing you can do for your nails. This routine will minimize the chances of getting injured or contracting diseases on your nails.

Short nails will have:

  • No germs underneath nails and reduce your chances of getting sick
  • Less breakage

Short toenails will have:

  • Less chance of getting foot fungus
  • Less breakage

Steps to cut your nails

  • Cut your nails after they are softened by soaking in water.
  • Cut your fingernails at least once a month or when they are interfering with your daily routines.
  • Cut your toenails at least once every six weeks or when they cause discomfort or pain as you walk.
  • Do use a nail file to smooth out rough edges after cutting.
  • Do use a nail brush to clean under the nails to remove dirt, germs or whatever you might have so your nails are completely clean.

Let a nail technician cut your nails

Treat your hard-working hands and feet to a manicure and a pedicure at your local reputable nail salon. Now nail salons have transformed the seemingly simple nail trimming services to a hard-to-resist pampering experience so the customers will come back for more.

Besides getting your nails cut properly, you will also enjoy the additional pampering and relaxation from these professional services. It is a win-win deal.

To sum up, cutting your own nails is a life long practice to maintain good hygiene and prevent nail injuries. With proper and regular care, you will enjoy working with healthy nails for a long time.

Your hands and nails enable you to do great things and feet and toes enable you to go and see great places. The appearance of well-maintained nails can also boost your confidence when you happen to wear sandals or flip flops. So do give your nails the care they deserve.

Happy nailing.

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