When I tie my shoes, which have round cord laces, they very frequently become untied, even if I knot the loops. How can I tie them more securely?

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    What are the laces made of... cotton? cording? leather?
    – Phlume
    Commented Dec 10, 2014 at 21:09
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    We need more information to know what the problem is, it's currently too vague to answer. Commented Dec 10, 2014 at 22:46
  • @MattS. - it's a common issue for people who learned it the wrong way - all others will hardly suffer from that ;)
    – Takkat
    Commented Dec 10, 2014 at 23:13
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    @Takkat So then it's not really a hack is it? It's just the right way to do it? Commented Dec 11, 2014 at 1:24

6 Answers 6


More than the material used, it is the techniques that determines the tightness of a knot.

One of the safer shoe lace knots is the reef knot (with loops to ease opening). Unfortunately many people, including myself, only learned how to make a granny knot, which is not as secure and easily gets loose.

Both knots are extremely similar:

Reef knot Reef knot (left lace under, then right lace under)
Granny knot Granny knot (left lace under, then left lace under)

So when lacing our shoes we will easily make one or the other without realizing until it gets loose.

To make a proper reef knot we need the following steps:

  1. Bend the left lace over the right and pull it through.
  2. Make the left loop and take the right end around on the front.
  3. Make the loop by pulling it through to the front.

This can correctly be made in different ways, i.e. we may start by bending the right over the left, and then start with the right loop (see Ian's Shoelace Site for more details and step by step images).

What is essential is that we had learned it the wrong way.

To overcome this we need to change the directions once different to what we were used to. What I do is I start by not putting the right end over the left (this is how I erroneously got used to do it), but just start with the left end over the right. Just this alone made my knots almost always tight.

  • This just blew my mind.
    – goodguy5
    Commented Mar 31, 2016 at 19:57
  • I wonder if this error that's been passed on to us is due to most people being right-handed. Maybe the right hand wants to do most of the complicated work, or movement.
    – n00dles
    Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 17:13
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    @n00dles my idea was that maybe this switches between generations because generally you are taught to bind your shoes by a person sitting in front of you, effectivly mirroring the process.
    – fho
    Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 20:58
  • @fho OMG, that is awesome logic. Although if that was the case I think a lot more people would be doing it the right way. Roughly half I think. But it seems that almost everybody does it wrong.
    – n00dles
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 11:47
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    I think it may be easier to make the same knot twice, and much harder to make 2 different knots, one the mirror image of the other.
    – Oreo
    Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 9:06

@Takkat shows one way to tie a secure knot which is very good.

A friend in meatspace has shown me an easy to teach variant of this.

When you tie your shoe you:

  • Cross the ends over each other
  • Make a loop
  • Wind the loose end around the loop once and push the middle into the winding part to make the second loop
  • Pull on the loops to tighten

In my friend's method, you:

  • Cross the ends over each other
  • Cross the ends over each other again
  • Make a loop
  • Wind the loose end around the loop twice and push the middle into the winding part to make the second loop
  • Pull on the loops to tighten

My friend told me that this is a variant of the Surgeon's knot. You can see a video for it (minus the extra first step) here: http://youtu.be/9YVQ79slKzY


Rub a candle along your shoelaces. The wax will prevent them from untying.

I have been using this technique for a long time with my football boots, which before opened up all few minutes. Now the laces stick together until I choose to open them up again.

The cool thing about this lifehack is, that it will work with almost any shoelaces, no matter if they're round or flat, if they're made out of leather or cloth.

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    THIS WORKS. This is the best hack of all. They're even easy to untie WHEN YOU WANT, NOT BEFORE.
    – Stan
    Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 15:39
  • @Stan thanks for the cheese, but it's true, it really works it doesn't require any skill like top voted answer :)
    – WayneEra
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 8:48

A solution that's worked for me is to tie your shoes in the typical fashion. When you get to the point where you run the lace around the loop, go in the opposite direction. For instance, when I run the lace around the loop, I run it around the back of the loop then around to the front. Instead, go the opposite direction, running the lace around the front of the loop and around to the back. It's a little trickier, but apparently creates a stronger version of the typical tying method you were most likely taught as a child.

  • I'm pretty sure this is the same as Takkat's answer.
    – Gwen
    Commented Dec 14, 2015 at 6:57

I use what Ian Fieggen calls the surgeans knot.
Which is the same knot but a different method of tying as the secure knot of the same site.

Basically, you tie your shoelaces the same way you usually do, checking that you do make a reef knot, not a granny, and when you bring your loop through, you do it twice.
It is rather simple, slightly bigger than a usual bow but way more secure. New laces in my work boots would come undone in half an hour with the normal knot, not at all in 8 hours with this knot.

If you can not get the bow to sit side ways on the foot, (so you are unable to use the reef knot,) try this method of tying the second half, single knot.
Or learn to tie the first half of the knot in the other direction.

That same site has loads more about shoe laces and their knots.


I saw something on TV about this (nothing to do with the type of laces).

The space scientist Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock said that most people tie their shoe laces the wrong way. The right way will make the laces tighter and more secure while also looking better.

Basically, she said that instead of going clockwise with the non-looped lace, you go anti-clockwise [?]. You know you've done it correctly when the 'ears' sit right.

You could probably find the episode of the show, it's called "Duck Quacks Don't Echo". It was the episode with the welsh comedian, Rhod Gilbert.

As for me, my mother taught me to do laces differently to everyone else. I didn't even notice until years later. My mother taught me to just make two hoops and tie them together, so that is what I have always done.

  • See Takkat's answer for more on this. Whether you should go clockwise or anti-clockwise depends on the direction of the first knot.
    – Stephie
    Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 11:27
  • Yeah, you're right. This was a quick answer, I didn't read Takkat's answer properly. It explains what Dr Maggie was talking about nicely.
    – n00dles
    Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 17:07
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    It is easier to change the direction of the first part of the knot, rather than the second.
    – Willeke
    Commented Dec 30, 2016 at 19:56

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