How to Use a Foot File Properly: a Guide

Yes, we need to talk about your feet. When it’s the beginning of summer and the sun is out, there is only one thing left to do: prepare your feet and legs for all the barefoot shenanigans about to begin. Jokes aside, it is crucial to keep your feet clean in the summer, whether you’re wearing sandals or going barefoot.

Now you may go to a spa to get a professional pedicure, or you can decide to do it yourself. It’s not that hard, really. What you’ll need, though, is a foot file. That’ll help remove all the rough and crusty (and gross!) layers from your feet.

Although using a foot file isn’t a complex task, it’s always good to know the proper techniques of using it. That’ll make the job easier for you while also making it more effective. You’re bound to be pleasantly surprised by the results.

If you follow this guide, going to the spa every month will be off your priority list, for sure!

Table of Contents

Preparation for Using a Foot File

Okay, so a foot file isn’t the only thing you’ll need. First, gather all the tools you’ll need for scrubbing hard, dry skin off your feet. Don’t worry, I have noted them down for you. The total procedure does require a few extra accessories. But believe me, it’ll be worth it!

Filing tools

A filing tool is used to scrape (or file) dry and dead skin off. You have two options here:

  • Foot file: A foot file features a double-sided scraper with a metal, plastic, or wooden handle. The scraper sides aren’t equally rough, do keep that in mind! One side is coarser than the other. You can get an electric foot file, too. They work fine, except for the added nuisance of having to change parts regularly.
  • Pumice stone: A pumice stone can work just as well, if not give better results. Using a pumice stone will leave your feet feeling softer and smoother. Pumice stones come in a variety of shapes. You can get it in its natural state, or get one with a handle, totally up to you.

Accessories for soaking, cleaning, and drying your feet

Now, you can’t just start scraping your dirty feet! You should prepare your feet before you begin the attack by soaking them in water and softening the calluses. For that, you’ll need these:

  • Basin or bowl: The basin or bowl has to be big enough to keep your feet submerged in it. If you have a spa basin at your place, that’s fantastic. Using a regular big bowl works just fine.
  • Hot water: Hot water softens hard skin quicker. The water doesn’t have to be boiling hot. Warm water is enough. You should have enough water to immerse your feet entirely.
  • Salt: The foot soak should ideally contain some mineral salt. You can add Epsom salt. It’s known for its healing properties for cracked skin. You can add any other salt.
  • Essential oils: One or two teaspoons of any essential oil in the foot soak will help moisturize your skin. Consider adding olive oil, coconut oil, or chamomile oil. Lavender oil will also add a pleasing scent. The oils also decrease the risk of cutting yourself while filing.
  • Soap/shampoo: If you like bubbles in your soak, then why not! Use soap or a mild shampoo in the water.
    Pedicure soaks: If it feels too much work, skip the rest. Go ahead and buy pedicure soaks that are expressly made for this purpose. These soaks contain nutrients and goodness designed for your feet.
  • Towel: Of course, you’ll need a towel to wipe off water and grunge from your feet. A small wipe also does the job, as long as it’s clean.

How to File Your Feet

How to file your feet

Phew! That was quite a list. I hope you’re not overwhelmed? I promise the actual process is much simpler. Let’s jump right into the ins and outs of using a foot file:

1. Making the solution to soak the feet

Fill a basin or a big bowl with hot water that’s tolerable. Too much hot water will soften your skin too quickly. This is a great way of burning yourself, so don’t do this!

Add essential oils and salt to the water. Take one teaspoon of each of them. Contrary to their name, you aren’t required by law to use essential oils. So, skip this step if you wish.

Next, add soap, shampoo, or a pedicure soak to the water and create soap suds by mixing suitably. Alternatively, skip all of this and go right ahead and dip your feet into mild-to-hot water.

2. Soaking and drying the feet

Drying feet

After 10-15 minutes of keeping your feet dipped in the bowl, the calluses will be soft enough. Don’t skip this step! Otherwise, you might end cutting yourself if your skin is too dry.

Take a fresh towel or cloth and press it against your feet to absorb water. Dry them enough to file them, but don’t overdo it. Again, leave enough moisture. The skin has to be soft enough so that filing doesn’t irritate it.

3. Scrubbing and Filing the calluses

Filing the calluses

Make sure the foot file is clean and dry before you start. Look for thick areas in the skin of your feet. You’ll need to flex and stretch your legs to keep the balls of your feet closer to you. Sit in a position that makes it easier for you to reach the calluses.

Now, take your foot file and press it against the thicker areas of your skin. Work it around the edges of your foot where most of the calluses are found. Using a bit of pressure, move the file backward and forward. In this way, scrub all your entire foot. Continue doing this until your skin feels smooth all over. Don’t go too hard on softer regions. Otherwise, you’ll make them bleed.

Once you’re done with the edges, move to the toes. Use circular motion while applying pressure on the toes. Once you’re done with one leg, move on to the other.

Finishing it up

After scraping off all the calluses using the foot file, all you’ve left to do is apply the final touches. This will give your feet a more supple finish. It’ll also make moisturizing your feet that much easier.

To check if you have any calluses left, move your palms along the skin of your feet. If you feel any rough patches, you can use the file again. If you choose not to use the foot file, you can now use the pumice stone for a gentler effect. Take the smoother side and rub it on the edges of your feet.

Even if you don’t have any calluses left after filing, you can still use the pumice to get a smoother finish.



Now that you’ve put your feet through all that torture, wipe the feet with a clean cloth for one last time. Take a dollop of foot cream or a moisturizer in your palms. Gently massage it into your feet, particularly in the areas where you used the file most.

If you can’t find a foot cream or moisturizer, it’s all right. Just use glycerin or an oil of your choice. The goal is to keep your skin hydrated. If you follow this routine, there is no reason you can’t keep calluses at bay.

This is pretty much everything you need to get velvety soft skin using a foot file. So, grab the material I’ve listed for you, and get to work. Now, you and your feet will be ready for all the summer fun. That too, without trips to your local spa!