Article related image

A Complete Tutorial on How To Solve a Rubik’s Cube

There are 43 quintillion color combinations on the standard 3x3 Rubik’s Cube. That's right, quintillion. With such an unimaginable number of combinations, the Rubik’s Cube has earned the reputation as one of the most notoriously difficult puzzles ever. You could opt for the easy way out and peel all the stickers off and rearrange them — who hasn’t been tempted to do that? — but if you want to take on the puzzle without cheating, here’s how you solve a Rubik’s Cube.

Step 1: white cross

View of Rubik's Cube on white surface showing initial stage of progress completion
Credit: Andrew Call / Call Creative

The first step toward solving the puzzle is to get a cross on the top. Find the face with white in the center square and hold it facing up. The color you start with doesn’t have to be white, but that’s what we’ll use in this example.

Now, move the blocks around so that the other white edges (don’t worry about the corners just yet) are situated around the top of the cube and form a white cross. This step can be done without too much difficulty. If you need some help getting the cross into formation, check out this helpful guide.

Once the white cross is formed on the top of the cube, match the colors around the outside top row to their respective centers. At the end of this step, your cube should have a white cross on top, and each center around the outside faces of the cube should also have a similarly colored square above them.

Step 2: white corners

Rubik's Cube on white surface in progress, with scattered toys nearby
Credit: Andrew Call / Call Creative

Now that you have the cross on top and the corresponding top colored edges all lined up, it’s time to get the white corners into position. If you’re determined to solve the puzzle without using patterns, try to get the corners into position yourself. If you need some help, there are some algorithms you can use to get the pesky corners where you need them.

If the corner you need is on the bottom of the cube, hold the cube so that the corner you need to move is in the top right corner, and use this pattern to flip it to the top corner directly above its current position:

  1. Rotate the left vertical column back toward you.
  2. Rotate the front horizontal column to the left.
  3. Rotate the right vertical column forward.
  4. Rotate the front horizontal column to the right.

If the corner you need is already on the top but in the wrong position, use the same pattern to flip it to the bottom. Rotate the bottom layer of the cube as needed to get the corner directly underneath where you want it to be. Then use the pattern again to move it to the correct position in the top layer. Continue the process until the top face of your cube is solid white and the top layer around the outside of the cube matches the center of the corresponding faces.

Step 3: second layer

Up close view of Rubik's Cube showing partial completion on a cluttered white table
Credit: Andrew Call / Call Creative

Now, it’s time to complete the middle layer around the cube. Flip the cube so the white face is on the bottom. Rotate the (now) top layer until one of the center edge pieces matches the center square. To transfer the center edge piece to the left center square, use this pattern:

  1. Rotate the rear horizontal column to the right.
  2. Rotate the left vertical column forward, away from you.
  3. Rotate the rear horizontal column to the left.
  4. Rotate the left vertical column back, toward you.
  5. Rotate the rear horizontal column to the left.
  6. Rotate the entire top row clockwise.
  7. Rotate the rear horizontal column to the right.
  8. Rotate the top row counterclockwise.

If you would like to transfer a center edge piece to the right center square, use the pattern:

  1. Rotate the rear horizontal column to the left.
  2. Rotate the right vertical column forward, away from you.
  3. Rotate the rear horizontal column to the right.
  4. Rotate the right vertical column back toward you.
  5. Rotate the rear horizontal column to the right.
  6. Rotate the entire top row counterclockwise.
  7. Rotate the rear horizontal column to the left.
  8. Rotate the top row clockwise.

Both of these patterns can also be used if the color you need is already in the center row but in the wrong position. Just use the pattern to get it out of its current incorrect position, rotate the top layer to position it above a matching center, then use the pattern once more to place it where it needs to be.

Step 4: yellow cross

Up close view of Rubik's Cube showing yellow cross on front surface
Credit: Andrew Call / Call Creative

The next step is to form a yellow cross. It will be on the opposite side of the solid white face — and should currently be facing up. There are four possible positions that your cube can be in. There could be one yellow dot in the center, an “L” pattern, a solid horizontal line or a cross. If you have a cross, good work! You can skip this step. If you have anything else, you’re going to need to use this pattern:

  1. Rotate the entire top row clockwise.
  2. Rotate the right vertical column forward, away from you.
  3. Rotate the rear horizontal column to the left.
  4. Rotate the right vertical column back, toward you.
  5. Rotate the rear horizontal column to the right.
  6. Rotate the top row counterclockwise.

The pattern transforms a dot into an “L” (It should be a backward “L.”) Orientation is important. Rotate the “L” to a line and the line into the cross. If you have the dot, you’ll need to do the pattern three times. If you have a line, you’ll need to do it only once.

Step 5: yellow edges

Rubik's Cube on white table nearing completion, surrounded by LEGO and toys
Credit: Andrew Call / Call Creative

Make sure that all the edges match their corresponding centers all the way around the cube. Aside from the yellow face, all faces should have two solid rows on the bottom and at least the center square of the top row matching.

If you can’t simply rotate the top layer around to get the top edges to match, use this pattern to swap the position of the front center edge — facing you — with the one on the left center edge:

  1. Rotate the right vertical column forward, away from you.
  2. Rotate the rear horizontal column to the left.
  3. Rotate the right vertical column back, toward you.
  4. Rotate the rear horizontal column to the left.
  5. Rotate the right vertical column forward.
  6. Rotate the rear horizontal column to the left twice.
  7. Rotate the right vertical column back, toward you.
  8. Rotate the rear horizontal column to the left.

Use the pattern until all edges around the top layer of the cube match their corresponding centers.

Step 6: yellow corners

Rubik's Cube on a white table, showing orange, blue, and yellow squares nearing completion
Credit: Andrew Call / Call Creative

In this step, you just need to make sure the yellow corners are in the right places, not necessarily the right orientations. As long as the blue-yellow-orange corner is in the corner of the blue, yellow and orange faces, it doesn’t matter if the colors are facing the right way. You’ll deal with that in the next step.

Start with a corner that’s in the proper position and hold the cube so that the corner is on top of the right-hand side. Use the following pattern to rotate the remaining three corners:

  1. Rotate the rear horizontal column to the left.
  2. Rotate the right vertical column forward, away from you.
  3. Rotate the rear horizontal column to the right.
  4. Rotate the left vertical column forward.
  5. Rotate the rear horizontal column to the left.
  6. Rotate the right vertical column back, toward you.
  7. Rotate the rear horizontal column to the right.
  8. Rotate the left vertical column back, toward you.

Continue the pattern until all the corners are in their proper places. If there aren’t any corners in the right spot, just use the pattern until one is.

Step 7: position corners

Completed Rubik's Cube on a white table, surrounded by cluttered toys
Credit: Andrew Call / Call Creative

All that’s left is getting the corners in the proper orientation. Hold the cube so that the corner you want to fix is in the front-right-top position and use this pattern:

  1. Rotate the right vertical column back, toward you.
  2. Rotate the front horizontal column to the left.
  3. Rotate the right vertical column forward, away from you.
  4. Rotate the front horizontal column to the right.

If the corner didn’t orient correctly, just use the pattern again. Repeat on all remaining yellow corners until the cube is solved. Congratulations, you’re now a Rubik’s Cube master!

You Might Be Interested In