HOW TO SOLVE A RUBIK’S CUBE: 3×3 Cube

Are you struggling with solving this puzzle? 

Do you want to master the formidable Rubik’s cube? 

For almost 50 years now, people have looked to solving the 3×3 Rubik’s cube as one of the hallmarks of intelligence and problem-solving skills. 

As someone who has attended cube-solving conferences and competitions, I’ll let you in on a secret: 

Once you’ve got the process, it’s actually quite simple. 

Don’t believe me? I don’t blame you. 

But my videos on solving the cube have received over 3 million views altogether, helping literally millions of people learn how to solve the Rubik’s cube. 

Figuring out how to solve the 3×3 Rubik’s cube is simple. Solve it by setting up the first layer, middle layer, and then the last layer through steps. We look for specific patterns and then perform moves based on where the colors are. 

For more details, check out the rest of the how-to guide. 

Note: Though we love the Rubik’s cube here are Cool Cube Merch, we aren’t officially affiliated with the brand name. Check out their website for more cool stuff too!

How To Solve A Rubik’s Cube: Layer By Layer

In this section, we’ll go deep into the steps for how to solve the 3×3 Rubik’s cube. 

If you’re looking for the 2×2 or Pyraminx, click the links to check those out. 

In each section, we’ll include our popular video instructions. 

This is the easiest way to learn it. 

However, if you prefer to read, we offer written instructions as well.

Either way, don’t give up and practice, practice, practice!

Solving The First Layer

The first layer is based on getting one side completed. 

It’s not just getting one side all one color; it’s about getting the edge of the completed side to also match the color of the centerpiece on the same side. 

Most people (including us!) start by solving the white side first. 

Here are the different phases of solving the first layer. 

The Daisy

The first step is called the Daisy. In this step, you want the yellow in the middle, surrounded by four white pieces. 

This makes it look like a daisy. The white sides need to also line up where the other color matches the middle color on the side. (Use the graphic or video to help you here). 

Orient your cube, so the yellow center is on top. 

Look for white edge pieces (not the corners). The middle layer is often the easiest to solve. 

When you find one, twist the side cube up or around, so the white is next to the yellow center. 

Then, turn the top, so the other color on the white side matches the middle color on the connecting side. 

Repeat with all 4 white edges. You may have to twist some white edges down if they’re already on top but facing the wrong way. Use the video to help with visual examples. 

The White Cross

The next step is the white cross. In this step, you’ll move those white edge pieces, so they’re now surrounding the white middle. 

It looks like a cross. 

This step is pretty simple if you’ve done the Daisy correctly. 

Keep the yellow side up, and find a white edge whose side color matches the center color next to it. 

If none do, twist the top layer until one matches. 

Now, turn that whole side two times until the white edge piece with the matching side is now against the white middle. 

Return to the yellow side and repeat with the other white edge pieces, making sure the edge color matches and twisting the top until it does.

Solving The White Side (The Corners)

Here it gets a little more tricky. Now, we need the whole white side to be white and the corners pieces to match the side middle color they touch. 

Keep the white side on the top. 

There are four places to find the corner pieces: 

  • On the bottom layer facing the bottom layer
  • On the bottom layer facing down
  • On the top facing the right way, but with wrong side colors
  • On the top facing the wrong way

I suppose you’ll also find some in the right place (though this is rare). If it is, don’t move it! 

Bottom Facing Out

Find the other colors on the corner piece and twist the bottom to match them up with the middle pieces on the sides. 

For example, if you see blue and orange with the corner piece, twist until it’s in between the blue and orange sides.

Perform an “elevator” move. Twist the bottom out of the way. Move the top side down to pick up the corner piece. Twist the corner piece back onto the elevator and move it up. 

Don’t forget the video will help!

Bottom Facing Down

Find the matching corner colors and twist the bottom until it matches the side colors. 

Move the elevator down (the side with the white edge). Rotate the bottom layer two times. Raise the elevator again. 

Now the white corner should be on the bottom layer but facing out. 

Then, you use the corner just like the “Bottom Facing Out” from above. 

Top With Wrong Colors

Find one with the wrong colors. 

Lower the elevator and move the corner off the elevator by twisting the lower layer. 

Raise the elevator. 

Now the corner is either a “Bottom Facing Down” or a “Bottom Facing Out.” Figure out which one it is and do the steps. 

Top Facing The Wrong Way

This is the same as the previous one. 

Congrats! You’ve solved the first layer. 

The whole white side should be solved with the side colors matching the middle color of the side it’s on. 

Solving The Middle Layer

The goal of this phase is to solve the middle layer. If we turn the white layer to the bottom, you’ll notice we’ve actually solved the entire bottom layer! 

Now, we need to get the edge pieces, so they match the middle colors. 

Make sure you have the first layer solved before trying this one. 

The edge pieces you need to add are the ones without yellow. 

Turn the cube, so the white layer is on top again. 

Look for an edge piece (not a corner) on the bottom that doesn’t have yellow. 

If you can’t find any, read the steps anyway, and I’ll tell you how to fix this later. 

Solving A Bottom Layer Edge Piece

Say you have an edge piece on the bottom layer that’s blue and orange. One of the colors will be on the side, not yellow. 

Let’s say orange. 

Rotate the top two layers (not messing up your white layer) until the orange-blue edge lines up with the middle orange piece. 

It makes a same-colored T-shape. 

Look at the other color on the targeted edge piece. Figure out if the middle color matching this one is to the left or right. This will determine this first move as you always move OPPOSITE in this step. 

If the color is to the left: 

  • Rotate bottom layer right
  • Left side down
  • Bottom layer back to the left
  • Left side back up

If the color is right: 

  • Rotate bottom layer left
  • Left side down
  • Bottom layer back to the right
  • Left side back up

Now your corner is messed up, but the edge is in place. However, the corner will go back easily in with the elevator move described in the first section. 

Repeat with as many colored edge pieces that are on the bottom layers that you can find. 

When It’s In The Right Layer But Wrong Spot

This one seems simple, but it’s tricked many people. 

Essentially, if you have no colored edge pieces on the bottom layer (not yellow), you’re going to do one of the move cycles from the previous step. 

The only difference is you pick a yellow edge piece to serve as a substitute or knockout. 

Find one of the colored edge pieces that are in the wrong place. Turn the cube to the right or left and pretend the bottom yellow edge piece needs to move there. 

Do the steps from above to knock the desired piece out. 

It’ll be on the bottom layer now. 

Next, you treat it like how it’s supposed to be treated and follow the steps above. 

Congrats! You solved the shortest layer.

The white side is solved, and the middle layer matches the white edges and middle pieces. The only thing left now is the yellow layer. 

Solving The Last Layer

At the end of this phase, you’ll have the whole Rubik’s cube solved and know how to solve the Rubik’s cube. 

There are several different phases to this step of solving a Rubik’s cube. 

Take your time and reference the video to figure it out. 

The Yellow Cross

First, we need to make a yellow cross on the yellow layer. 

In this case, we’re not going to worry about the edge colors matching the yellow side with the middle pieces; that comes later. 

Take a look at the yellow side (it’s the one with the yellow piece in the middle). 

You’ll see one of 4 options: 

  • Yellow dot (no yellow edge pieces, corners are ignored)
  • Yellow hook or L
  • Yellow bar or line
  • Yellow cross

If you’re at the yellow cross, hurray! Skip to the next step. 

If you’re not, do these same 4 steps to shift the pieces through the options until it reaches the cross. 

Hold the cube, so the yellow side is up. 

Yellow dot

  1. Front layer clockwise
  2. Right side up
  3. Top to the left
  4. Right side down
  5. Top to the right
  6. Front counterclockwise

Yellow Hook

  1. Put the hook, so it’s in the top left corner (again, ignore corners)
  2. Do the same moves as above

Yellow Bar 

  1. Make the bar horizontal
  2. Do the same moves as above

Yellow Edges

Take a look at your yellow edge pieces. Do their colors match the side colors?

This happens rarely, and if it does, skip to the next phase. 

If not, twist the top until two yellow edges match their side colors.

The two that match will either be across from each other or next to each other. 

Matching Edges Across From Each Other

When they’re across, follow these steps. 

Keep yellow on top!

Keep one of the matching sides facing you with yellow on top. 

  1. Right side up
  2. Top to the left
  3. Right side down
  4. Top to the left
  5. Right side up
  6. Top side two turns
  7. Right side down

Now, the matching colors will be next to each other. 

Matching Edges Next To Each Other

Put the matching edges, so one is on the back, facing away from you. 

Do the same moves as before. 

End by making sure the yellow cross edges match the side colors. 

The Yellow Corners

In this phase of solving the Rubik’s cube, we’re looking at getting the corners in the right place even if they’re not facing the right way. 

Look to see if you have any corners in the exact right spot. Take note of these, but this isn’t likely. 

Also, look for corners in the right spot but facing the wrong way. 

If you have no corners right, either way, do these steps with yellow on top. 

  1. Top to the left
  2. Right side up
  3. Top to the right
  4. Left side up
  5. Top to the left
  6. Right side down
  7. Top to the right
  8. Left side down

Look for a corner piece that matches up (even if facing the wrong way). If none do, go through these moves again. 

If any corners are in the right place (even if facing the wrong way), turn your cube in your hand until that corner is in the bottom right with the yellow layer on top. Do the moves from this perspective. 

Check to make sure they’re all in the right place even if they’re not facing the right way. 

If not, do the steps again with one correct corner in the bottom right. 

Finish The Cube

Double-check your yellow cross is still correct and your corners are in the right place, though they may not be facing the right way. 

Put one of the corners that need fixing in the front right. Look straight at the side color and hold the four upper left squares on the side so they don’t move. 

Follow these moves: 

  1. Right side down
  2. Bottom to the left
  3. Ride side up 
  4. Bottom to the right
  5. Repeat these twice!

Always face the same side of the cube for these steps! 

If the targeted corner is correct, move on. 

If it’s not, repeat the double step from above again. 

When it is solved, rotate only the top layer, so another wrong-face yellow corner is in the same spot. 

Do the steps again. 

Repeat until all corners are facing the right way. 

Your Rubik’s cube is solved!! 

This step is the most stressful because it feels like you’re breaking your progress. 

Don’t panic! Keep the same side of the cube facing you, and it’ll be OK. 

Final Thoughts

Phew! 

Now you know how to solve the Rubik’s cube of the 3×3 variety! 

Practice will make you faster, and you may even discover some shortcuts of your own. 

Practice speedcubing, join competitions or meet others in the cubing community. If you’re ready for a faster cube, you can read reviews on cubes in all price ranges at SpeedCubeReviews.com.

Don’t forget to show off your love of the Rubik’s cube with some sweet Rubik’s cube gifts.

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