We’ve all been there at some point; staring at a Rubik’s cube while feeling bad about our “lack of intelligence” and frustrated because a good chunk of the day has led up to a grand fail.
In fact, you’re reading this, you’re probably holding a cube in your hand right now. Don’t worry though, most people get stuck solving the cube after completing the first face, and then they need some help.
Today, we’re showing you the simplest of how to solve a Rubik’s cube. So whether you’re trying to impress your significant other, prove your friends wrong, or put this childhood mystery to rest, get ready to conquer your Rubik’s cube.
Getting to Know the Rubik’s Cube
The first step to solving a Rubik’s cube is getting to know it. This means learning about the pieces of the cube, how the turns you make can be represented by letters, and how algorithms work.
An algorithm is a combination of moves that you need to do in a specific order to rotate pieces or relocate them to where you want them to be.
These algorithms are expressed using the following notation, so feel free to consider this section a reference and come back whenever a symbol slips your mind.
In a 3×3 Rubik’s cube, you’ll find 3 horizontal layers:
- Top layer: includes the 21 tiles at the top of the cube.
- Middle layer: includes the 12 tiles of the midsection.
- Bottom layer: includes the 21 tiles at the bottom of the cube.
There are 6 sides on a Rubik’s cube that we call faces. You can turn each face independently of the others. The notation for these faces is:
- U (Up)
- D (Down)
- L (Left)
- R (Right)
- F (Front)
- B (Back)
There are 3 different ways or directions you can turn a face. We’ll explain them taking the upper face as an example:
- U refers to a clockwise quarter rotation of the upper face.
- U’ refers to a counter-clockwise quarter rotation of the upper face.
- U2 refers to a half-turn of the upper face in either direction.
Applying the same idea to the other faces, it’ll go like this: D, D’, D2, and so on.
There a single tile piece located at the center of each face of a Rubik’s cube. When solved correctly, each face will have the color of its center piece. Remember, the center pieces always stay in the same position regardless of the type of face rotation you do.
There are 12 edge pieces in a cube, each one has 2 colored tiles.
There are 8 corner pieces, each one has 3 colored tiles.
Solving a Rubik’s Cube – Step by Step
Top layer: Step 1 – Create a Daisy
Start by holding your Rubik’s cube and have the yellow center piece on the Up face.
Locate the edge pieces on the top layer that have a white tile and leave them where they are.
On the middle layer, locate the edge pieces that have a white tile and move them into the top layer. Be careful not to lose the white edges already in the daisy. Here, the algorithm is U’ then F’.
On the bottom layer, locate the edge pieces that have a white tile and move them into the top layer with an F2. If the white tile doesn’t end up on the Up face, flip it using R’, U, then F’.
Top layer: Step 2 – Make a White Cross
To create a white cross, hold the cube with the daisy on the Up face and look at the Front face.
If the Front tile of the Up edge piece matches the Center tile, turn the Front face 2 times (F2) so the white tile ends up on the Down face. If not, turn the Up face (U or U’) until it does.
Repeat these actions for each white edge. Once all 4 edges are correctly placed, flip the cube and you should see a white cross with matching edge tiles on the Red, Blue, Orange, and Green faces.
Top layer: Step 3 – Solve the White Corners
Hold your cube with the white cross on the Up face and locate a corner piece with a white tile on the bottom layer. Then, turn the Down face (D) until the corner is between 2 center tiles of matching color.
While keeping the white cross on the Up face, hold the cube so the white tole is on the front face.
If the white tile is on the Left, follow this algorithm: D, L, D’, then L’.
If the white tile is on the Right, follow this algorithm: D’, R’, D, then R.
Proceed once all the white corner pieces are in the correct position.
Middle layer: Place Edge Pieces in the Middle Layer
Now, flip the Rubik’s cube so the completed white face is the Down face. Pick a Front face and turn the Up face to make a vertical line with matching colored tiles on the Front and different colored edge pieces extending on the Up. Remember, the center piece of the Up face should be yellow.
If you’re moving the edge pieces to the left, follow the algorithm (U’, L’, U, L) to place the edge piece next to its correct corner piece. Then this algorithm (U, F, U’, F’) to bring the edge piece to the correct position in the middle layer.
If you’re moving right, the algorithms will be (U, R, U’, R’) then (U’, F’, U, F).
Bottom layer: Step 1 – Make a Yellow Cross
Focus on the yellow edges on the Up face and follow the algorithm (F, U, R, U’, R’, then F’). To create a yellow cross on the bottom layer, you need to begin with either a yellow center piece, a matching horizontal line of yellow tiles, or 2 yellow edge pieces.
Bottom layer: Step 2 – Orient the Corners
Observe the Up face:
- If one corner piece is yellow, have it positioned at your Left hand.
- If 2 corner pieces are yellow, hold your cube so you can place your left thumb on the yellow tile on the Front.
- If no corner pieces are yellow, hold the cube so a yellow tile is located on the Left face.
Now, follow this algorithm: R, U, R’, U, R, U2, R’.
Bottom layer: Step 3 – Place the Yellow Corners on the Bottom Layer
Hold your Rubik’s cube with the yellow face as the Up face. Turn the Up face until 2 corners are in the correct spot (the colored tikes match the center colors).
Now, hold the cube so it has either matching adjacent corners or matching diagonal corners.
Proceed by following these algorithms: (R’, F, R’, B2) then (R, F’, R’, B2) then (R2, U’).
Bottom layer: Step 4 – Position the Yellow Edges on the Bottom Layer
Almost there! Hold your Rubik’s cube so the face that has a solid color is Back and the yellow face is Up. If no face is a solid color, it makes no difference which face is the Back.
Follow the algorithm: F2, U, L, R’, F2, L’, R, U, then F2. You may need to repeat it up to 3 times to move the unsolved edges clockwise.
– Congratulations! You solved your Rubik’s cube.
There you have it, a simple step by step guide on how to solve a Rubik’s cube. This method will help you just solve the cube in your hand and you can call it a day.
But if you want to be able to solve any Rubik’s cube you’re given, then you’ll need several hours of practice so you can smoothly repeat the process without pausing too often to think about it.