Laura is a technical writer. She enjoys playing the piano, traveling, fine art, and making jewelry.
The Problem: A Ring is Stuck On Your Finger
So, you’re wearing a ring that you haven’t been able to get off in months or years, and you’d rather not ruin it by going to the jeweler’s shop or ER to have it cut off.
This is a very common occurrence, especially as the weather warms up and your hands begin to swell. Weight gain, especially due to pregnancy, is another common reason for fingers to swell.
Here is a method that works for many people (though not all) for getting rings off without any damage in just a few minutes.
Ask Your Doctor Before You Try This Method If...
Note, however, that you shouldn’t attempt this method if arthritis-swollen joints are the reason you cannot get the ring off! This method will not allow a ring to pass over arthritic joints because the bone is not soft. Ask your doctor if you have any doubts!
Find Waxed Dental Floss and A Helper
First, locate a container of dental floss—preferably waxed to allow the ring to slip over it easier. Make sure you have plenty of dental floss in the container—you don’t want to run out.
Next, recruit a helper. This process will take less than five minutes if it is going to work for your situation at all.
Now you’re ready to begin!
Step 1: Wash Your Hands in Very Cold Water
Wash or soak your hands in the coldest water you can stand for awhile to shrink the size of the blood vessels in your hands.
Dry your hands.
Step 2: Insert the Dental Floss
Then, quickly, with your helper, work the end of the dental floss under the ring shank (bottom side or inside of the ring) leaving a loose end of about 3-4 inches facing your wrist (not facing the end of your finger).
Tip: A dental floss threader or possibly a needle threader might help if you have trouble with this step.
Step 3: Wind the Dental Floss Around Your Finger
Next, have your helper wrap the dental floss directly from the container (don't trim off the floss) very tightly and close together but quickly around your finger from the base toward the tip, while you hold the shorter end that you threaded under the ring.
Make sure the wraps all nearly touch each other so that you can’t see much, if any, skin between each wrap: have your helper quickly turn your finger into a tightly wrapped mummy.
Keep wrapping until past the point where the ring sticks. Remember to keep the wraps very tight and very close together even though this may be very uncomfortable for the person who has the stuck ring. (Sorry!)
Note: If you've tried this method (or a similar one) before and it didn't work, try quickly applying Vaseline or cooking oil on the area until the wrappings are soaked. Remember, the person with the wrapped finger is uncomfortable or even in pain at this point, so do this step quickly.
Step 4: Carefully but Quickly Unwrapping your Mummified Finger, Pulling the Ring Off with the Dental Floss
Now, quickly but carefully have your helper pull on the loose end of floss, pulling toward the tip of your finger (away from your palm). Have your helper unwind the wrap quickly but carefully from around the finger, pulling the ring slowly up the length of the wrapped finger as you go by pulling toward the end of the finger.
In less time than it took to wrap the finger, the ring should pop off onto the dental floss, at which point you can retrieve the ring, cut off and discard the used dental floss, and celebrate a successful solution to a common problem.
And the Ring is Off Your Finger!
Note that if the formerly wrapped finger hurts, another bath in cold water should help it to feel better almost immediately.
If this method worked for you, you just saved yourself a trip to the jeweler or doctor and saved ruining a ring by cutting its band. Congratulations!
If this method didn't work for you, I recommend trying it again (as long as the knuckle can fit through the ring) early in the morning, before your hands begin to swell, and making sure that the wraps are very tight and close together. Also, applying Vaseline or cooking oil to the wraps quickly but thoroughly should also help.
Questions & Answers
Question: What do you do to get a stuck ring off if you can’t get the floss under the ring?
Answer: Try using a floss threader, which can be found near the dental floss in your drug store or many retail stores such as Target. They are flexible pieces of plastic filament, similar to fishing line, with a loop in one end forming a “needle” that allows you to feed the floss through dental work and, in this case, under a stuck ring.
Rick ac on January 15, 2019:
My wedding band was hopelessly stuck. I went by my jeweler. He sprayed my finger with Windex. After several tired and more windex, I was able to get my ring off!
Nicolas on November 15, 2018:
That’s insightful. If I was ever confronted to this situation I think I would try wrapping the finger in teflon tape as used by plumbers (you can easily find that in any hardware store). Teflon should be even more slippery than wax and because the tape is wider it should wrap teh finger more evenly. Also it’s extremely thin. Just an idea I never tried it.
goat on May 02, 2018:
my ring is too wide
Makena on October 02, 2017:
Dan Buckley on May 10, 2016:
I got my finger jammed in a machine once, and it swelled up. The dr. at the hospital wrapped suture material around the finger and my wedding ring came right off.
Jyoti Kothari from Jaipur on June 19, 2015:
I found this article useful. Thanks for a good hub. There is some different process, generally adopted in India.
It's just rubbing some soap water on the finger and pushing the ring out. It is a very simple method and often work.
Rated up and interesting.
Laura Schneider (author) from Minnesota, USA on January 20, 2014:
I think my grandma was the first to tell me about it... Hope it helps!
llc on January 19, 2014:
How did you find out that amazing idea
Laura Schneider (author) from Minnesota, USA on October 23, 2013:
Thanks, SamitaJassi! I hope this helps you or someone you know someday. I know it's saved me on a number of occasions. :-)
Laura Schneider (author) from Minnesota, USA on October 19, 2013:
Samita Sharma from Chandigarh on October 19, 2013:
Great dear.. well done
Laura Schneider (author) from Minnesota, USA on May 14, 2013:
You're very welcome, rose-the planner. But I'm so sorry to hear about your sister-in-law's predicament. Hopefully this helps at least a few people from needing to cut off their rings (I know it doesn't work in all cases, but in many it does). Certainly worth trying.
I hope she and her ring are whole and healthy once again.
rose-the planner from Toronto, Ontario-Canada on May 12, 2013:
I wish my sister-in-law knew of this method before she went to the jeweler to get her wedding band cut off. Poor thing was so swollen with her first pregnancy that she couldn't get her ring off on her own. Great article! Thanks for sharing.
Laura Schneider (author) from Minnesota, USA on April 01, 2013:
Tina, your poor daughter! I hope she wasn't too scared. It looks scary, even if it doesn't hurt, when they have to cut off the ring.
Laura Schneider (author) from Minnesota, USA on January 25, 2013:
Thanks, DDE! I hope this idea works for your friend(s) who need it. I'm sorry that you had to have your ring cut off; I can imagine how heartbroken I would be at having several of my rings cut off.
Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on January 24, 2013:
I remember years ago I had to get a ring cut off my finger if only I had known then but it si no too late to learn something new, I will definitely recommend this Hub to someone else. Voted up!
Tina Elliott from Saint Cloud, MN on November 16, 2012:
Great article! I wish years ago I could have used this idea on one of my older kids. My daughter placed a ring that was too small on another finger and it was imposible to remove. We had to get it cut off in the ER.
Laura Schneider (author) from Minnesota, USA on July 02, 2012:
Oh no, that's too bad! Rats--time is so mean to us sometimes.
Hopefully you'll never need another ring cut off again. It doesn't work in all cases, but in many. (especially if you use waxed dental floss and can stand to have the finger wrapped REALLY tightly)
Best of luck!
iamaudraleigh on July 01, 2012:
I wish I had known this the two times I had rings cut off! It is very interesting technique! Voted up for interesting!
Laura Schneider (author) from Minnesota, USA on May 11, 2012:
Thanks, SusieQ! You sound pretty resourceful yourself, so I'm sure you can tackle problems like this with creativity and wit. If you find another way that works for the REALLY stuck-on rings, let us know!
SusieQ42 on April 02, 2012:
Hi Laura! I've not heard of this before. I have a "stuck ring" but its my wedding ring so I don't want to take it off, but it's a great idea. I always thought I'd get mine off, if I need to, with oil or lotion. Voted up and useful.
Laura Schneider (author) from Minnesota, USA on February 22, 2012:
Thanks, Debbie! I've used this method a number of times myself and although it's a little uncomfortable for a minute or two it works like a charm! Cheers! --Laura
Debbie Roberts from Greece on February 22, 2012:
What a good method of removing a stuck ring! I'm sure this hub will come in handy one day, in fact if I'm honest I can't wait to try it out!!Curious or sad?....I'm not sure.
Thank you for sharing this, I'll be passing it on...