5 Ways to Painlessly Remove a Splinter

You can remove splinters with tweezers, but there are other methods you can try. Image Point Fr/Shutterstock

For many people, the joys of going barefoot outweigh the risks. At least until you get a splinter walking along a hardwood floor or on the boardwalk along the shore.

Splinters are an injury that we rarely think about until they happen, and then it can be hard to think about anything else. Some are shallow enough to be removed manually, or at least with a pair of tweezers, but some are so deep that attempts to remove them can seem hopeless.

But you shouldn't give up hope, not least of all because leaving splinters in place can potentially lead to an infection. If tweezers won't get the job done, there are other ways to remove a splinter, some of them relatively painless, some of them not so much.

Painless ways to remove a splinter

1. Baking soda. Is there anything baking soda can't do? This splinter remedy from "The Baking Soda Companion" outlines exactly how to get out a splinter with that versatile white powder. Clean the area with soap and water and mix 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda with enough water to create a paste. Apply the paste to the spot where the splinter is and apply a bandage over the paste. Let it set for 24 hours and then remove the bandage. The splinter should be sticking out a bit, and then you should be able to gently remove it with tweezers. If not, repeat the process until the splinter has worked its way out of your skin. The baking soda forces your skin to swell up a bit, and that process drives the splinter to the surface.

2. Duct tape. This method is recommended if a splinter is already at the surface, but it's resisting the tweezers. (Or you're just not crazy about using tweezers.) Apply a piece of duct tape over the area, leave for a few minutes and then gently pull away. If you want a bit of extra help, soak the splinter area in warm water first to soften the skin.

A banana peel against a blue background
This slip risk is also a way to remove a splinter. LightField Studios/Shutterstock

3. Produce. This approach is particularly useful if you happen to be at the grocery store or farmers market and get a splinter. The first bit of produce is a banana peel. Wrap the area with a ripe peel (white side down) and tape it tight. After about 30 minutes, the enzymes of the banana peel should soften your skin and draw the splinter closer to the surface.

If you don't have a banana handy, then maybe you have a potato lying around. Cut a potato into thin slices and tape a skinless slice onto the area with the splinter. Between 10 and 20 minutes should do the trick, but you can also leave it overnight. (Ditto the banana peel.) When you remove the potato, the splinter should come with it.

4. Vinegar. Like baking soda, vinegar is a versatile household item that's good for a range of tasks. When it comes to splinter removal, it's a simple matter of soaking the splintered area in vinegar for 10 to 30 minutes. And if you don't have any vinegar, a cotton ball soaked in hydrogen peroxide secured over the splinter for a few hours should work just as well.

5. Essential oils. Draw out the splinter with this small mixture of oils. Put a drop of tea tree oil and a drop of lavender oil onto a bandage then secure the bandage over the wound for a few hours, or even overnight. Remove the bandage slowly and pull out the splinter.