Best Dressing Sticks

Updated October 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

18 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
120 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best dressing sticks

Last Updated October 2019

A simple zipper shouldn’t jeopardize your independence. But it can if an injury, surgery, or medical condition limits your ability to dress and undress yourself. Health care providers consider dressing oneself to be a critical measure of independence, one that hip surgery, shoulder injuries, or arthritis can compromise.

A dressing stick is an adaptive tool that helps people with joint problems or difficulty bending put on and take off their clothing. Different fixtures and hooks can help you slide on pants, pull up zippers, and button blouses. The right dressing stick for you depends on your diagnosis and needs.

Our buying guide covers everything you need to know when choosing a dressing stick, from length to materials to price. We also cover a few other products that can make dressing easier, like sock aids and shoehorns. You’ll find our five favorite dressing sticks on the market in the matrix above.

Dressing sticks aren’t just for dressing. You can use a dressing stick to remove laundry from the washing machine or dryer or reach light objects on shelves that are too high.

Key considerations

Length

Size is the biggest factor to consider when choosing a dressing stick. These tools are designed to keep you from having to bend or lean, so a stick that’s too short defeats the purpose. Dressing sticks that are too long, on the other hand, can fail to give shorter customers the leverage they need.

Standard dressing sticks are about 26 inches long and work best for those who are 5’2” to 5’10”, with some variation for leg length. Extra-long dressing sticks measure 28 inches and are best for taller users. Petite users should look for 24-inch dressing sticks.

While you’ll find some adjustable dressing sticks on the market, we don’t recommend them. On occasion, clothing items made from heavier fabrics take some force to maneuver. Adjustable sticks don’t hold up well to force or pressure.

Material

You can find dressing sticks made with metal, plastic, or wood shafts. While each material has its benefits, we recommend dressing sticks with wood shafts.

To keep them light, most metal dressing sticks are hollow. This means that hooks and other tools are attached using simple end caps. These caps pop off easily, exposing sharp edges that can cut you or tear your clothing. Plastic dressing sticks lack sharp edges but are more prone to snapping under pressure.

Wood shafts are lightweight but strong enough to hold up to the force needed to pull up stubborn pants. They also provide a solid surface for hooks and tools to screw into, reducing the chance that the tools will fall off.

Features

Push-and-pull hook

Most dressing sticks are outfitted with a push-and-pull hook at one end. This hook helps you put on shirts, jackets, skirts, pants, and shoes. A push-and-pull hook can also help you remove socks and stockings. While some of these hooks are formed from a single piece of metal, others are crafted from split wire that can help you get ahold of buttons.

S-hook

Some dressing sticks are outfitted with an S-hook as an alternative to a push-and-pull hook. These hooks are more curved than standard push-and-pull hooks. Some people find S-hooks easier to manage when it comes to lifting clothing and pulling pant legs up from the floor.

C-hook

On the opposite end from the push-and-pull hook or S-hook, many dressing sticks feature a C-hook. This small hook is designed for pulling zippers and shoelaces. It can also be used to lift hangers off high racks.

Coatings and tips

Most dressing stick hooks are made from metal, but a number are coated with vinyl. This eliminates sharp edges that could injure you or poke holes in your clothing. However, a vinyl coating can add to the thickness of the hook, making it challenging to loop through small zipper holes.

Some hooks have rubber tips at the end. This feature makes it difficult for fabric to slide off the hook. It also makes it easier to lift clothing off the floor.

Shoehorn

Some dressing sticks forego C-hooks for a shoehorn at the opposite end. This is a convenient feature, since shoes may also pose a problem for those who face challenges putting on pants and socks. Use care with these shoehorns, though. Sturdy shoehorns may be coated in a soft covering, but they are usually made from durable metal to withstand significant weight. Plastic shoehorns may not stand up to daily use.

Foam grips

Smooth wood shafts are ideal for comfort, but they can be slippery. A foam grip can help you squeeze more comfortably when you need extra force to pull on a particularly stubborn clothing item. Some manufacturers cover the entire shaft in foam, while other dressing sticks have focused grip areas.

EXPERT TIP

Practice with your dressing stick before your surgery date so that you can get the hang of using it.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

If your dressing stick doesn’t come with adequate instructions, there are many online videos that can show you how to get the most out of your tool.


Staff  | BestReviews

Accessories

Customers who use dressing sticks sometimes face challenges with putting on other clothing. A formed sock aid helps those who cannot bend at the waist put on socks safely and comfortably. The Royal Medical Solutions sock aid has foam grips to help those with diminished hand strength don socks independently. It’s adjustable and works best for feet of average width.

Everyone has at least one pair of stubborn shoes. Take charge with the Comfy Clothiers Long Stainless Steel Shoehorn. At 18 inches, it’s one of the longest shoehorns on the market and lets you slip your shoes on without bending over. Rugged stainless steel construction means this heavy-duty model won’t let you down.

If you have balance challenges, reaching for dropped objects isn’t worth the risk. The Royal Medical Solutions Grabber Reacher with Magnetic Tip lets you extend your reach by more than two feet. Use it to lift objects weighing up to 10 pounds with the traditional pinching jaws, metal post, or magnetic tip.

Dressing stick prices

Inexpensive: You can find budget dressing sticks for $10 to $13. In this price range, sticks will likely be plastic or metal in standard and petite lengths.

Mid-range: Mid-range dressing sticks cost $13 to $16. At this price, dressing sticks should be 26 to 28 inches long, made from wood, and have one or two sturdy metal hooks. The hooks should be coated to keep you from tearing your clothing or hurting yourself.

High-end: Superior dressing stick kits often cost $20 or more. For this price, you should receive a quality wood dressing stick and other adaptive tools, such as a sock aid, extension grabber, shoehorn, or other devices.

DID YOU KNOW?

Dressing sticks are extremely lightweight, with some models weighing less than half a pound. They should not be used for picking up heavy items.

Tips

  • Many customers unscrew the hooks from their dressing sticks upon delivery and add a squirt of super glue to the joints. This helps prevent the hooks from coming out of the shaft when pressure is applied.

  • Dressing sticks are helpful for standard socks but may not provide enough resistance for compression socks. Consider using a sock aid or a doffer/donner tool with compression footwear.

  • Some dressing sticks come with additional tools for dressing and reaching, like sock aids and extension grabbers.

Other products we considered

If you’re on a fixed income, consider this Everyday Medical Supply Dressing Stick. It doesn’t have any foam handles, but it’s made from sturdy wood and features a coated push-and-pull hook and C-hook. The FabLife CanDo Multi-Grip Hip Kit is specially made for those recovering from hip surgery. It comes with a variety of equipment, including a 24-inch dressing stick, sock aid, reacher, sponge, and shoehorn. An all-in-one kit is a great way to prepare for your surgery recovery even before you’re discharged from the hospital.

Some people like dressing sticks with rigid hooks, while others prefer hooks that have some give. Fabric is less likely to slip off rigid hooks, but it may be harder to grab in the first place.

FAQ

Q. Do I need a dressing stick if I have a caregiver or home health aide who can help me?

A. It’s always a good idea to stay as independent as possible. Your caregiver might not always be available on your schedule, and a home health aide’s arrival could be delayed by an earlier patient. Additionally, many health care professionals judge whether you can live independently based on how well you can perform the activities of daily living, including dressing. If your doctor ever has to make hard decisions about your living situation, the ability to dress yourself independently could become a factor.

Q. What clothing items do dressing sticks help with most?

A. While dressing sticks can be helpful for putting on shirts, socks, and other clothing items, they are most useful for pants. Pants pose a special challenge for many with balance problems as well as hip and shoulder limitations. Rather than bending over and stepping into your pants, a dressing stick allows you to thread your legs through the pants while seated, then pull them up from a position you find comfortable.

Q. Can I use a dressing stick with shoes and socks?

A. You may be able to, but there are better options on the market. Your dressing stick’s C-hook can be used to grab and draw a sock up your foot and ankle, but it doesn’t provide any way to open up the sock and place it over your toes in the first place. With a sock aid, you slide your sock over a formed cylinder and pull the entire contraption up over your foot. Long-handled shoehorns are designed for putting on shoes. Unless it’s made from sturdy metal, any shoehorn on a dressing stick is likely an afterthought.

The team that worked on this review
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    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Enid
    Enid
    Editor
  • Katherine
    Katherine
    Editor
  • Kristin
    Kristin
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Moriah
    Moriah
    Writer

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