How to clean dirty hands?

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Dirty, ragged fingernails do not give the best impression. Part of standard grooming is to maintain fingernails, toenails and cuticles. Cleaning the nails from dirt and debris is an indispensable part of that. If you work around messy materials, or enjoy gardening or similar activities, it is necessary to learn how to keep dirt out of your nails. It is way easier to prevent getting nails dirty and grimy than spending the time having to clean them extensively.

Trim your nails. Dirt accumulates faster when you have long nails. Use a standard nail clipper. Clip straight across the top of the nails. Cut them to just about the tip of your finger. Use the clippers to trim the sharp corners.

Hold a bar of soap under water and get it thoroughly wet. Any type of bar soap is suitable. Run your nails over the surface of the soap. Dig your nails in a bit so that the soap builds up underneath the nails.

Wear gloves. Thin, latex gloves will keep dirt out of your nails. Another option is cloth gloves used in gardening. Put on the gloves and make sure that they fit well so that they will keep out dirt.


File the nails using an emery board so that they are smooth. It will keep them from snagging on the gloves.

Stains from pulling weeds without gloves. Bad girl!

So I’ve been working in the garden a lot lately, which is great, because, yay flowers and vegetables! I’ve loved grubbing around in the dirt for the last 50 or so years, but lately, now that I’m blogging at Deep Roots at Home, I’m extra glad to have a chance to get outdoors and be off the computer for a few hours every day.

I believe that microorganisms in soil are healthy for your microbiome!

However, there is a downside to gardening. It tends to completely trash your hands!

I seldom wears gloves (unless I’m working with my roses) and don’t protect them like I know I should, so I need a little help with my hands from time to time.

They have never been truly pretty to my eye, but my children tell me that they LOVE my hands! They say it has something to do with all the work my hands have done through the years for them, I think. If you’ve ever heard the Velveteen Rabbit, or How Toys Become Real, then you know how ‘becoming real’ feels! May it never be said that stay-at-home moms don’t work!

But now I’ll get to the point… right when I come into the house, I’m done with the dirt and stains on my hands and under my nails! I want them clean again!

I will show you how I have always done it!

Remove Stains From Hands & Nails

I said NO to using those gritty hand cleaners like GOJO or Fast Orange for mechanics and farmers that contain ingredients with chemicals or harsh cleaners in them.

There are times I need a nail brush first to get the big stuff, but ohhh! the stains still there!

I found out several years ago just what a good friend simple lemon juice is – the inexpensive store-bought kind in a plastic bottle. I save the healthy organic lemon juice for cooking and my Good Morning Sunshine Drink or my Lemon-Turmeric Detox Drink!

Lemon Juice Fades Stains, Softens Skin, Lightens Scars and Age Spots

Straight (inexpensive) lemon juice works, because of the citric acid in the lemon juice dulls and completely fades the stain to the skin! It also softens the skin, and over time can lighten scars and dark spots.

I keep a bottle of lemon juice in the refrigerator dedicated (labeled “for hands only”) for this purpose.

It also has disinfecting properties to clean small cuts and scrapes lowering the risk of infection.


  • Wash hands with soap and/or nail brush to get off the worst of the dirt and grime.
  • Dry to remove excess water. I always have greenish-brown stains left.
  • Squirt or pour a small amount of lemon juice directly on your fingernails and hands, rub them together a little and let it remain where you need it for 15-30 seconds. That’s all.
  • You should see the stains fade out right before your eyes.
  • Repeat if necessary.

Brace yourself if you’ve got some cuts or rose thorn punctures! Ha-ha!

Baking Soda

Chopping garlic or cleaning a fish can leave their “essence” on your fingers long after the chore is done. Get those nasty food smells off your hands by simply wetting them and vigorously rubbing with about 2 teaspoons baking soda instead of soap. The smell should wash off with the soda.

See More Uses for Baking Soda.

Bath Oil

It doesn’t take much tinkering around the inside of a car or mower engine to get your hands coated in grease or oil. But before you reach for any heavy-duty grease removers, try this: Rub a few squirts of bath oil onto your hands, then wash them in warm, soapy water. It works, and it’s a lot easier on the dermis than harsh chemicals.

See more uses for Bath Oil.


Your fishing trip was a big success, but now your hands reek of fish. What to do? Just rub some butter on your hands, wash with warm water and soap, and your hands will smell clean and fresh again.

See more uses for Butter.

Coffee Beans

If your hands smell of garlic, fish or other strong foods you’ve been handling, a few coffee beans may be all you need to get rid of the odor. Put the beans in your hands and rub them together. The oil released from the coffee beans will absorb the foul smell. When the odor is gone, wash your hands in warm, soapy water.

See more uses for Coffee Beans.

Cooking Spray

Forget smelly solvents to remove paint and grease from your hands. Instead, use cooking spray to do the job. Work it in well and rinse. Wash again with soap and water. These times that employees exposed restaurants’ dirty secrets are both gross and hilarious.

See more uses for Cooking Spray.


You come back from the garden with stained and gritty hands. Regular soap just won’t do, but this will: Make a paste of oatmeal and milk and rub it vigorously on your hands. The stains will be gone and the oatmeal-and-milk mixture will soften and soothe your skin.

See more uses for Milk.

Olive Oil

To remove car grease or paint from your hands, pour 1 teaspoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt or sugar into your palms. Vigorously rub the mixture into your hands and between your fingers for several minutes; then wash it off with soap and water. Not only will your hands be cleaner, they’ll be softer as well.

See more uses for Olive Oil.


Your family’s favorite carrot soup is simmering on the stove, and you’ve got the orange hands to show for it. Otherwise hard-to-remove stains on hands from peeling carrots or handling pumpkin come right off if you rub your hands with a potato.

See more uses for Potatoes.

Sandwich and Freezer Bags

You’re sitting on the beach and it’s time for lunch. But before you reach into your cooler, you want to get the grit off your hands. Baby powder in a sealable plastic bag is the key. Place your hands in the bag, then remove them and rub them together. The sand is gone.

See more uses for Sandwich and Freezer Bags.


In place of soap, some straight shampoo works wonders for cleaning stubborn or sticky grime from your hands. It even works well to remove water-based paint.

See more uses for Shampoo.

Shaving Cream

The next time your hands get dirty on a camping trip, save that hard-lugged water for cooking and drinking. Squirt a little shaving cream in your hands and rub as you would liquid soap. Then wipe your hands off with a towel.

See more uses for Shaving Cream.


Your work is done for the day, but your hands are still covered with grease, grime, or paint. To clean filthy hands easily and thoroughly, pour equal amounts of olive oil and sugar into the cupped palm of one hand, and then gently rub your hands together for several minutes. Rinse thoroughly and dry. The grit of the sugar acts as an abrasive to help the oil remove grease, paint, and grime. Your hands will look and feel clean, soft, and moisturized.

See more uses for Sugar.


The ingredients in toothpaste that deodorize your mouth will work on your hands as well. If you’ve gotten into something stinky, wash your hands with toothpaste, and they’ll smell great.

See more uses for Toothpaste.


  • It’s often difficult to get strong onion, garlic, or fish odors off your hands after preparing a meal. But you’ll find these scents are a lot easier to wash off if you rub some distilled vinegar on your hands before and after you slice your vegetables or clean your fish.
  • You can use undiluted white vinegar on your hands to remove stains from berries and other fruits.

    See more uses for Vinegar.


Clean dried glue from virtually any hard surface with ease: Simply spray WD-40 onto the spot, wait at least 30 seconds, and wipe clean with a damp cloth.
See more uses for WD-40.

How Clean Are Your Hands?

After spending some time at the playground, soccer field, or in the backyard, it can be easy to see the dirt on our hands.

What you can’t see are the invisible-to-your-eye germs that accumulate on your hands throughout the day. To help kids see the effect those germs have, give this this eye-opening experiment a try.


What you’ll need:

  • Three slices of bread (the kind from a bakery or homemade works best — the fewer preservatives the better)
  • Three resealable bags


  1. Label each of the three bags:
    • Control
    • Dirty
    • Clean
  2. Place one slice of bread in the “control” bag without touching it. You can use clean tongs, or turn the resealable bag inside out and use it like a glove to get the slice inside. Seal the bag.
  3. Remove a second slice of bread and have your child touch the bread with her unwashed hands. Place the bread in the bag and seal it.
  4. Have your child wash her hands with soap and water.
  5. Take a third slice of bread and have your child touch the bread with her freshly-washed hands. Place the bread in the bag and seal it.
  6. Take all three sealed bags and put them in a cool, dry place.
  7. Look at the bread daily and write down your observations, but do not take the bread out of the bags. In a few days, mold should start to appear. What slice of bread gets moldy first? Which grows the most mold? Which grows the least? If mold starts to appear, have your child take a ruler and measure it and record your observations. You can even draw a picture of the bread each day, or keep a photo diary by taking pictures of the bread each day to watch the changes over time.

Learning about hand hygiene

When Should I Wash?

“You should wash your hands before, during, and after preparing food. Also wash before you eat, after using the restroom, after blowing your nose, after touching animals, and any time your hands appear dirty,” says Terri Stillwell, MD, Associate Hospital Epidemiologist at Mott Children’s Hospital, where she is responsible carrying out various roles for infection control and prevention. Dirty hands can spread all kinds of germs from the common cold to food poisoning to more serious illnesses.

How Do I Wash?

Most of us do not properly wash our hands. The Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) recommends a multistep process:

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

“The scrubbing part of washing your hands is important. It’s the combination of the friction of rubbing your hands together along with the soap that really gets them clean. Take your time and sing or hum the Happy Birthday song twice,” says Dr. Stillwell. If soap and water are not available, Dr. Stillwell recommends using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. “Make sure it’s at least 60 percent alcohol. Rub the sanitizer all over your hands just like if you were scrubbing your hands with soap and water. Then allow the sanitizer to dry.”

Other science activities from Camp Little Victors:

  • What does your body do with the food you eat?
  • Super sensory scavenger hunt
  • Model magic comet activity
  • Learn about nutrition with carnations and color

Whether you’re working on your car, painting your living room or cleaning out the garage, you should be proud of your greasy hands. They’re a badge of honor. They tell others that you’ve worked hard, had fun and at the end of the day accomplished something. But when a simple bar of soap and water don’t do the trick and remove all the oil and dirt what do you do? There’s got to be a better solution than spending an hour at the bathroom sink scrubbing your hands raw with a nail brush.

At Workman’s Friend we are experts in clean hands. We’ve spent hours, days and weeks researching how to get your hands clean after a variety of activities. Along the way, we’ve noticed a few home remedies that many people swear make their hands grease-free without drying or cracking them. It starts with an application of our Workman’s Friend Skin Barrier Cream and then it goes from there. Always apply a layer of Workman’s Friend Skin Barrier Cream to your hands before tackling a greasy job and the grease will wipe right off. Here are some hope remedies to try as well…

Related: Hand Washing or Hand Sanitizer: Which is better?

A Spoonful of Sugar

A tablespoon of a rough crystalized sugar added to some water and mixed into a paste will remove the grease from your hands. Before you rinse the sugar mixture off use a pumice stone to buff your palms; or you can use an old toothbrush and scrub your fingers and nails. Either way, the extra scrubbing will help the sugar mixture do its job and eat-away at that grease, then follow-up with soap and water.

Fight Oil with Oil

It may seem like a strange idea, but you can remove the grease from your hands using another kind of oil. Baby or olive oil, are gentle enough on the skin while being equally effective at removing the grease from your hands. Start with a dime-sized dollop of the oil and rub it briskly over your hands, palms, knuckles and in between your fingers. Wait a few minutes and then rinse, follow-up with a good lathering of soap and water. If your hands still feel greasy try another drop of oil and repeat the process.


Wd-40 is a commercial oil-based lubricant with a long list of uses including loosening tight screws or bolts, unsticking zippers and silencing noisy door hinges. But this 65-year old product is also very good at removing the grease from your hands. Simply spray the solution into your palms and rub them together. Wait a few minutes and using paper towel remove the lubricant from your hands. Then you can follow-up with soap and water.

One Final Wipe

Of course, if you applied Workman’s Friend Skin Barrier Cream, that grease is not sticking for long anyway. The grease just wipes away because the protective coating you applied is not allowing the grease to bond to your skin. Applying a fresh coat of Workman’s Friend Skin Barrier Cream.

So, whether your greasy hands are the result of tuning-up your bike, fixing your car or painting your bathroom, greasy hands can be a menace. The examples above are just a few of the hundreds of homemade remedies available nowadays. The most important thing is though having greasy hands can be a nuisance remember the fun you had getting them dirty. Plus, a simple application of our Workman’s Friend Skin Barrier Cream before you start any project and a deep clean afterwards with Workman’s Friend Hand Cleaner with Activated Charcoal makes the clean-up easier.


Workman’s Friend Barrier Skin Cream is a light-weight and odorless hand cream perfect for anyone who likes to get their hands greasy. A simple application of our moisturizing, non-greasy formula means you can get your hands as dirty as you want without harming your skin.

Workman’s Friend Hand Cleaner with Activated Charcoal is a deep cleaning, detoxifying hand cleaner with activated charcoal which removes toxins and odors from your dirty hands leaving your skin feeling refreshed and rejuvenated after a long day of hard work or diligent activities.

Workman’s Friend offers skin care products after a hard day at work or after a full day of fun activities.

How To Clean Under Nails The Right Way, Because It Can Get Pretty Gross In There

Be honest, how many random utensils have you used in your lifetime to get annoying dirt and grime out from under your nails? After realizing it was a really bad idea to use scissors (true story, what was I thinking?), I decided it was time to find out how to clean under nails properly once and for all. Thanks to a little investigative action, I’m happy to report the most consistently reliable solution is way too simple.

As fall begins to drop temperatures, your hands’ best friend could in fact be the dirty nail enemy. Glamour commenters pointed out nails often get dirtier faster in cooler months, and the lint from inside gloves could be to blame! If you start to notice your nails are always full o’ crap, turn your gloves inside out and dust them off.

Of course, not all problems stem from gloves and, regardless of where dirt comes from, it has to be tackled. Nothing ruins food -inspired nails so nom worthy you’ll work up your fashion appetite like ugly grime lines collecting under your nail bed. So put down the scissors (or whatever the heck else you’ve used before), and follow the steps below!

1. Get A Nail Brush

Wooden Nail Brush, $5, Amazon

Beauty Heaven says nothing is more important than a good nail brush for dirt removal. It works better than any object that scrapes the grime out, as those can cause you to accidentally push dirt further or damage under nail bed. The Body Shop’s nail brush is my favorite. It’s affordable, sturdy, and pretty dang elegant as far as nail brushes are concerned.

2. Soak Your Hands

Make sure your hands are nice and moist (ugh, moist) before scrubbing. If you just rinse your hands under water quickly, you could damage your nail bed! My favorite time to clean under nails is in the shower, because hello, my hands are definitely going to be moist within like, one minute.

3. Scrub ‘Till Squeaky Clean

Beauty Heaven also broke down exactly how to scrub. Clean underneath your nails by squeezing a touch of antibacterial soap on the brush and then holding it downward. Move the back and forth lightly until all dirt is removed and your nails will be sparkling clean.

4. Moisturize

Hydrating Hand Cream, $19, Amazon

Don’t let your nails get dried out from the soap and scrubbing after you’ve cleaned under them. My favorite hand moisturizer of the moment is from Trilogy, thanks to it’s crazy good smelling mix of natural vanilla and orange!

Image Credit: myllissa, SCA Svenska Cellulosa Acktibolaget, Chiot’s Run/Flickr

How to Clean Your Fingernails

Table of Contents:

  1. You Will Need
  2. Steps
  3. Additional Tips and Advice


Our hands are perhaps one of the most under-appreciated, over-worked parts of the human body. They help us to cook and clean, to communicate, to get us where we need to go, and they quite literally help us point the way for others. Hands are impression makers. Our hands say a lot about us as individuals, so how we care for them is very important. Sometimes when dirt and other gunk gets under our fingernails, it can seem impossible to fully clean it all out. But fear not, because whether your nails are dirty from work, play, or you just need a routine nail cleaning, here is how to get your fingernails clean.

You Will Need:

  • Pointed, metal emery board or similar tool
  • Nail clippers
  • Hand soap
  • Warm, running water
  • Clean toothbrush or nail brush
  • A shallow bowl
  • A dry towel
  • Moisturizing lotion


  1. Using the pointed, metal emery board, go under each of your fingernails to scrape the hard dirt from underneath. It is alright to go slowly; be attentive and patient so as to be sure you get all of the dirt out.
  2. Under warm, running water, scrub your nails with a clean toothbrush or nail brush, being sure to scrub the cuticles as well as the tops and underside of the fingernails.
  3. Wash hands with soap and water to eliminate all dirt; rinse, and pat hands dry with towel.
  4. In a bowl of warm, soapy water, soak just your nails (not the entire hands) for around three minutes.
  5. Wash your hands one more time, very thoroughly, with soap and water.
  6. Pat dry with towel, do not rub. Apply some nourishing lotion or cream, and cut or file nails as desired.


Additional Tips and Advice:

  • Being in a well lit room will aid in making sure you are able to see all of the dirt, and remove it from under your nails.
  • Patting your hands dry, rather than rubbing them, will reduce the chance of chapping them, which can create cracks for bacteria to enter into your body.
  • Make sure the water you use isn’t too hot, nor lukewarm. A good, warm temperature will help clean the most.
  • For the three minutes that you will have your fingers indisposed, a good idea to keep yourself occupied (and entertained) would be to find a funny video, or a song you like to sing along to, that is around three minutes long. This way you will not be too bored, and it is a good way to keep track of time.

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