15 Unusual Uses For Nail Files You Never Thought To Try

15 Unusual Uses For Nail Files You Never Thought To Try

Finally, a reason to have 101 emery boards! Believe it or not, there are many uses for nail files that don't actually involve nails at all, and some of them are absolutely brilliant.

Today we're sharing 14 new ways to use your nail files all around the home. You don't want to miss these uses - emery boards have never been so handy!

1. Remove piling on clothes using your nail file

remove pilling nail file
It's incredibly quick AND easy!

Has your favourite, Winter jumper started to go all bobbly?

Pilling isn't pretty and can make even the most expensive of jumpers look cheap and tatty.

Well, guess what?

You can remove small pills from jumpers and sweaters using a soft emery board. Just gently rub it over the bobbled areas to get it looking great again.

2. Get that 'shabby-chic' look

Shabby-chic is all the rage. Whilst it may look worn, the prices certainly don't reflect this and both furniture and home accessories can cost you a fortune.

There's no need to dig deep in your pocket - a few nail files will give a shabby look to almost any object in just a matter of seconds. Use a soft nail file for smaller, more delicate objects made of softer materials, and a hard nail file for metal and larger items.

3. Sharpen your eyeliner

sharpen eyeliner using emery board
The key to the perfect cat eye.

A blunt eyeliner is more hindrance than help. Get the sharp, sleek cat-eye of your dreams with the help of a nail file.

If you find yourself without a sharpener, gently run your emery board along the crayon to give it a sharp tip. 

This is a wonderful life hack for on the go!

Don't forget to check out our other eyeliner hacks for even more great ways to nail your makeup.

4. How to open envelopes neatly

How do people manage to open their envelopes so sleekly?

Well, you could invest in a letter opener, but there's really no need if you have a metal emery board.

One of the most sophisticated uses for nail files is opening envelopes - just slide the metal tip into the gap in the corner and along the opening.


5. DIY mini screwdriver

dior tortoiseshell glasses
Small items require small tools.

Whilst you have your metal nail file, let's try out another one of our wonderful uses for emery boards - a DIY mini screwdriver.

Small items, such as glases screws, can be so fiddly and require an equally tiny screwdriver to fix.

There's no need to buy a new one...

...use the sharp end of your metal nail file instead.

Clean freaks will LOVE the next hack on our list of uses for nail files!

6. Clean a rubber

clean rubber uses for nail files
Get that grubby rubber clean again!

Grubby rubber? Yuck - no thanks.

A nail file will soon have it looking clean and lovely again. Rub the rough edge on marks to remove them in seconds.

You'll have the best-looking stationary in town!

7. How to sand furniture at home

Doing a bit of DIY at home? Good for you - it's an amazing way to create something beautiful and unique on a budget.

If you want perfect results, it's important to sand wood thoroughly. For those tiny crevices your paper won't get into, try using a nail file.

These uses for emery boards really are amazing!

8. How to remove suede stains

clean suede with emery board
Stain-cleaning has never been easier!

The trick to keeping suede boots and shoes in tip-top condition? You guessed it - your nail file!

Gently rub a soft emery board over stains on suede to remove then.

We have a whole article on the best ways to clean suede - go check it out for more great advice!

9. Uses for nail files in the garden

Love to garden? You may not know, but shop-bought seeds are actually coated before being packed to help them last longer.

Whilst it serves its purpose, it does mean they take longer to sprout.

If you want flowers fast, consider using an emery board to file away the coating before planting your seeds. You'll be surprised by how much quicker they grow!

10. Sharpen needles & small tools

Sharpen needle nail file
Sew wuper swiftly with a sharpened needle.

Now, this is a really great tip.

Another one of our uses for nail files is using them to sharpen small tools. This is surprisingly effective, especially for items like tweezers and sewing needles.

11. How to remove rust using a nail file

Another extremely practical way to use emery boards is removing rust. Often, rust just requires a bit of friction to crumble off.

Use your nail board on rusty spanners, padlocks and other metal items to remove any nasty brown patches.

12. How to remove dead skin from feet

hard skin on feet
Get even the smallest toe sublimely soft.

Rough feet? No need to worry - it's perfectly natural.

The pressure from shoes and everyday activities can lead to a build-up of hard skin, calluses and corns.

Removing skin on your heels is relatively easy, but that in between and around toes is more difficult to reach. For these intricate places, a nail file can be really handy.

Learn how to remove hard skin and get super soft feet in our other article - you won't regret it!

13. Remove super glue from skin

Speaking on hard skin, let's talk about super glue.

Most of us have accidentally got super glue on our hands at one point or another. The texture can be extremely irritating and uncomfortable, and it can often seem impossible to remove.

Well, we have some good news for you...

Another one of our wonderful uses for emery boards is removing super glue. Although this isn't going to come in handy every day - or at least, we hope not - you'll be glad to have it when it does.

14. Open tightly-wrapped bottles

Vitamin D bottle nail file
Don't damage nails - try this instead!

One of the main reasons nails break is because we use them for things we shouldn't.

Those bottles and jars covered in a tight, plastic wrap? Not a job for your nails. Keep them strong, smooth and healthy and use a metal nail file to pry such things open from now on.

We have loads of other tips to help you grow strong, healthy nails - go check them out!

15. Give an antique look to craft supplies

Similarly to giving furniture the 'shabby-chic' look, crafts can also be given an 'antique' look using a nail file.

Rubbing an emery board along paper, beads and almost any crafting material will give it a more rustic-looking effect.

This is definitely a technique we recommend trying!

Wow, who knew there were SO many uses for nail files. Do you have any to add? Share your secrets with us in the comments below!

Stephanie C


Lover of all things fashion & foodie...I look to satisfy my tastes without obliterating my budget. Wannabe interior designer, I'm an avid cushion cover maker and charity shop hunter.

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  1. Author Susan Okellysusanokelly@ on April 18, 2018 at 1:59 pm

    Please send me a book so I will always Have it.

  2. Author L B on April 18, 2018 at 5:17 pm

    I smoothed a chipped filling with my file!

  3. Author Susan Bowden on July 28, 2020 at 11:20 am

    A pumice stone is good for most of these, too. They are particularly good at removing paint from your hands when decorating. I keep one in the kitchen and one in the bathroom.

    1. Author Joanne A on July 28, 2020 at 11:20 am

      Thanks for pointing that out!

  4. Author Andy G. on December 17, 2020 at 9:35 am

    I probably shouldn't do this, but I use the tip of a metal nail file to scrape away any plaque on the inside of my front teeth!

    1. Author Joanne A on February 10, 2023 at 6:09 pm

      Using a metal nail file to scrape plaque off your teeth is not recommended and can damage your teeth's enamel and harm your gums. Instead, it's better to speak with a dentist or dental hygienist for professional cleaning and advice on oral hygiene.


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