How to Untie Shoelace Knots

Shoelace knots are one of life's little inconveniences. Although frustrating, most shoelace knots can be untied with a little patience. So take a deep breath, have a seat and get to work.

Work with dry shoelaces. If the laces are wet, or even damp, the knot can tighten and be more difficult to work with. Allow wet shoelaces to dry before attempting to loosen the knot.

Examine the shoelace to be certain it's knotted and not merely tied. Parents often use double knots on small children's shoes. They are easily untied if you understand how they work. To see common variations of shoelace knots so you can understand how to untie them, please see our Resources section.

Grab a common household fork. It must be metal; a plastic fork will break. Use an end fork tine to work the knot. A fork is safer than other pointed tools, such as an ice pick, but you must use caution. Even a common fork can cause injury if too much pressure is applied and it slips.

Look for any part of the knot that sticks out from the rest. You can pull small loops or overlapped sections to untie the shoelace. Insert an end tine into the gap and work it back-and-forth. If there is no gap, aim for the center of the knot. Push lightly on the fork.

Work the tine in small circles until it exits the other side of the knot. Slide the fork all the way onto the knot, as far as you can. Wrap your fingers around the tines of the fork, with the pointed edges sticking out from the side of your hand. Using this safety grip, continue working the knot until it loosens.

Repeat Steps 4 and 5 until you loosen the shoelace enough to untie the knot. If this method doesn't work, twist the lace tightly in one direction and then the other direction. Repeat several times. Repeat Steps 4 and 5 once more. If the knot still doesn't budge, cut and replace the shoelace.