What Is an Electric Toenail File?

Madeleine A.
Madeleine A.
Electric toenail files take less time to use than manual files.
Electric toenail files take less time to use than manual files.

An electric toenail file is commonly used for smoothing and shaping the toenails. It can also be used on the fingernails, but electric fingernail files are available for that purpose. An electric toenail file typically uses an electric cord that can be plugged into an outlet, or it may run on batteries, usually the AAA or AA type.

One appeal of an electric toenail file is that it is easy to handle, and takes less time to file the toenails than a manual file. Generally, manual toenail files are either stainless steel or the emery board type. Although more expensive than traditional nail files, the electric toenail file may be especially helpful for those with arthritis or other painful conditions of the hand.

When used on the fingernails, electric toenail files are effective for filing down natural nails or acrylic artificial nails. The operator, however, may need to change the attachments of the electric toenail file when alternating between natural nails and artificial nails. This is very simple to do, and the units are usually packaged with easy, simple-to-follow operating instructions.

When someone decides to get acrylic nails, the natural nails need to be prepped. Part of this preparation includes filing the surface of the natural nail so that the acrylic material will adhere well. Although emery boards are typically effective in producing this effect, an electric file can be faster and more precise. These tool work fast, so even the professional manicurist needs to monitor how much of the natural nail is being filed in order to prevent permanent damage to the nail bed.

Filing and shaping acrylic nails has typically been an arduous task, however, since the advent of the electric toenail file, it has become almost effortless, and the preferred method in most professional salons. Maintenance of the electric toenail file is generally easy. Users should wipe off the handle with a damp cloth and disinfect it with a small amount of rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide.

Although electric nail files can last for years, battery-operated nail files can lose power and become sluggish. When this occurs, users should replace the batteries, and the unit will again perform like new. These instruments can usually be purchased at beauty supply stores and occasionally at big-box retailers. It is important to note that children should not operate an electric or battery-operated nail file because they can easily injure themselves or even get an electrical shock.

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Discussion Comments


@donasmrs-- Great tips! I also suggest avoiding the batter operated ones as the batteries die quickly. And reading product reviews online before investing in a file is a good idea.


The most important things to look out for when buying an electric toenail file is speed and durability. If the file is going to be used on artificial nails, it has to be strong and durable or it won't hold up. Also, it's a good idea to get one that has several speed options and the fastest speed should be fast enough. Slow electric files cause chipping and damage nails.

I do my own nails at home and I use artificial nails frequently. I have used several different electric nail and toenail files. I have only been pleased with the last one I bought and wasted a lot of money. So I've learned the hard way.


I use an electric nail file for both my nails and my toenails. I've never used it for acrylic nails, but I have not had any problems using it for regular nails. I just wish that the electric nail file could be charged.

Mine has to be plugged in to run. It's not a big deal when I'm doing my nails but I have a hard time while filing toenails because my outlet is near the sink in the bathroom. The cord is not very long so unless I sit right under the sink, the electric file doesn't reach my toenails. If the toenail file could be charged, then I could use it anywhere.

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    • Electric toenail files take less time to use than manual files.
      By: terex
      Electric toenail files take less time to use than manual files.