Cleaning under your nails is more important than you may think.
Your nails, whether long or short, carry dirt and germs from your hands to yourself and others.
It’s easy to overlook this step and simply wash your hands.
What most are unaware of is you can get infections and other inconvenient issues.
Here, we’ll cover the best practices for cleaning under your fingernails.
What’s The Best Way To Clean Under Your Nails?
The best way to clean under your nails is to submerge them under tepid to warm water.
Do not use hot or cold as this is drying to the skin and nails.
Use a wooden nail stick—sometimes called an orange stick—and work the pointed edge under the nail from one side to the other until clean.
Do not force the pointed end down into the nail bed.
Even if there is dirt still there, you will puncture the skin and cause injury or infection.
You can clean your nails.
Washcloths are soft and pliable, and they are able to squish water and soap under the nail even though the material itself can’t fit under the nail.
You can sud it up with a mild dish detergent or soap and place the cloth over your nails.
While one hand holds the washcloth, push your fingertips of the opposite hand into the middle of the cloth.
Now, gently, but firmly, rub the fingertips into the cloth for a while until most of the grime is gone.
The next best way is to soak your hands with one part dish soap and three parts warm water for at least 15 to 30 minutes while you watch a program or something to distract you.
Take an orange stick and work it gently under the nails to remove the loose dirt.
A good grease-degrading soap like Dawn could work especially if you handle grease on the job.
How Do I Take Care Of My Nails Properly?
Proper care of nails involves a routine of thorough washing, drying, and moisturizing.
Adopting a nail care routine is easy and doesn’t take much time.
There are several steps you can take to keep your nails clean and healthy.
Follow the below steps initially.
- Cut your nails to a short length. However, don’t cut them too short because that can cause infection.
- Pay special attention to the nails when you shower, making sure that soap and water get under the nails.
- Drying your hands thoroughly is important. When they are left damp, the nails can develop a fungus issue.
- Keep the cuticle moisturized well by using cuticle cream or moisturizer without scent because if you have hangnails or small paper cuts, a scented product may result in a painful burning sensation.
Should I Use A Nail Brush?
Yes, you can use a nail brush with some special care and a few considerations.
There have been studies done on the use of nail brushes.
The Johnson Study of Hospital Infection found no difference in the health and cleanliness of the nails whether a nail brush was used or not.
In fact, a nail brush that is not properly cleaned can cause an infection.
Nail brushes have stiff bristles and will scratch the skin and cuticle around the nail.
It may not be felt at first, but it happens on the microscopic level and bacteria will get into small, superficial scrapes in the skin.
If you are comfortable with using a nail brush or are required to use one for work, then there are a few things you can do to prevent an infection.
First, make sure your nail brush is washed often.
It’s not enough that you are using it with soap or cleanser to clean your nails, the brush should be washed too.
If you use your nail brush as part of your nail routine, you should soak it in alcohol or Barbicide which is what beauticians use to soak the combs and other hairstyling tools and brushes in.
It’s that blue substance that you see in big jars in salons, and you can find it in a beauty supply store.
You can keep the nail brush in there without it degrading and use it right out of the solution.
Brush your nails slightly from side to side.
Don’t run the bristles in an unnatural way under the nail.
The brush will naturally go under the nail if you are gently brushing the tips of the fingers from side to side.
Why Do My Nails Get So Dirty?
Dirt can and will find its way under everyone’s nails.
This can’t be avoided 100%.
However, there are ways you can prevent it from being extreme.
There are some people whose nails get dirty easily.
The dirt just seems to stick to the underside of the nail and is very hard to break up and cleanout.
The reason this happens in some cases is the composition of the nail.
If they are dry and brittle or prone to cracking and splitting, then they will attract dirt and hold it more often.
Instead of working harder to clean them, we must heal the nails and the surrounding skin and cuticle.
Protect the nail by using a nail strengthener and fortify the nail from the outside first.
There are fibers in good nail hardeners, and they will merge together when it dries and protect the nail from cracking and splitting.
This is a nylon and clear coat that you are actually applying.
You could also get silk wraps.
These are little strips of actual silk.
A manicurist will paste them onto the nails with a little glue and some clear coat.
Then, they will polish them.
These fibers create a barrier between your nail and the elements.
People generally get them to protect their natural nails and help them grow as an alternative to artificial nails.
They can also be protected against the elements.
Looking into vitamins to strengthen nails may also help.
There are specialized types of vitamins for hair and nails.
Nail treatments like gels and acrylics will eventually make nails thin and more susceptible to dirt.
If the nail has lost its substance, it won’t be easy to clean.
If you work with your hands and aren’t handling fine instruments, wearing work gloves is another way to keep your nails free from grime and dirt on a daily basis.
How Do I Clean Long Nails?
You clean your long nails by turning your hands over and brushing them from side to side and from base to tip.
Cleaning long nails is a bit simpler than cleaning short nails.
Long nails should be cleaned regularly.
They will pick up a lot of dirt and germs because when our nails are long, we tend to use them on more things.
We open cans, we scratch an itch with them, we tap them on things.
They’re always getting dirty, and when your nails are long and polished, you won’t be able to see the dirt as readily as you would unpolished, short nails.
For long nails, there are several areas you need to cover to make sure they are thoroughly cleaned.
You can also take some steps to prevent infection because that’s really the main worry about having dirty nails besides the aesthetic.
You can introduce pathogens into the body by way of your fingers, too.
This is something we want to prevent at all costs.
First, long nails are easy to clean because you have a longer and wider surface area to work with.
Begin with the tops of the nails.
Soak them in a mild dishwashing detergent like Dawn dishwashing liquid or a mild liquid soap.
Don’t dry them yet.
After lightly brushing the tops of the nails, turn them over.
This is where you can inspect the nails for fungus or discoloration.
Take the nail brush and brush the nails firmly from side to side, and if they are long enough, from base to tip.
If you do discover a discoloration that is yellow, gray, or black, you should take some steps immediately to stop any growth of the fungus.
Some fungicides are made for nails specifically.
If it seems to be deep in the nail bed, then going to a doctor may be advisable.
Sometimes you need a deeper treatment than you can get at home.
Apply the fungicide and keep any polish or nail hardener off for several weeks until the fungus clears up.
If it doesn’t, then a trip to the doctor is a must.
If you have acrylics or any type of nail treatment, we suggest that they are removed until the fungus issue has been satisfactorily resolved.
What Is The Dirt Under My Nails Made Of?
Nail dirt is mostly made up of keratin and skin cells.
The color of the dirt under your nails may tell you a lot about what’s going on under the nail.
The gunk under your nails, if it’s brownish, may just be what you’ve been handling.
Common dirt, some lint, and any hair care or other products that you use your fingers to apply are just a few things we can name.
Other than that, keratin debris and skin from the nail bed when it sheds monthly are also going to show up there.
If you see it turning green or a funny yellow, then bacteria and fungus may be present.
It’s quite stubborn at that point.
Unlike the gray or brown common gunk, it has staying power long beyond scrubbing.
It’s imperative that you dry your hands completely and don’t keep them damp for long.
If you have a profession where your hands are in and out of the water all day, you may need to use an antifungal regularly and keep a clear coat on the tops and insides if your nails are long to keep them watertight.
How Do I Clean The Dirt From Under My Toenails?
You can clean the dirt from your toenails with an orange stick or a washcloth to dig it out or massage it out with a soapy cloth.
The toenails are the most susceptible to dirt under the nails.
The hands are exposed to things on a daily basis, and the toes are typically inside a pair of shoes.
This encourages the common belief that the toes are more protected from dirt than the fingernails.
The shoes harbor two things: dirt and warmth.
It gets hot in there, especially with sneakers and even dress shoes.
Closed-toe shoes are safe harbors for fungus.
Steps To Cleaning Dirt From Your Toenails
First, find yourself a good quality foot soak.
There are many, even natural ones, that are made for feet.
Get yourself one that contains Epsom salts which will draw the toxins out of the feet and toes.
You can soak them in the tub, but you can also buy a separate foot bath.
Sit and watch your favorite shows and soak away all the toxins and dirt.
The idea is the same as cleaning your fingernails.
Soak them thoroughly until you get prune toes.
That’s the little wrinkles on the skin.
The skin around the toenail will be nice and soft and ready to clean.
Push back the cuticle with the orange stick with the beveled edge.
Gently cut any dead cuticles down.
You can tell it’s dead because it will be a white or lighter color than the rest of the skin.
Now, for the toenail cleaning.
With the other end of the orange stick, gently insert the pointed edge slightly under the toenail top.
Don’t insert too far and poke the delicate skin underneath the toenail.
The flesh on the nail bed is quite delicate and this could result in injury and pain.
Gently slide the point from one side to the other.
Make sure the dirt is removed naturally, meaning that it doesn’t have to be forced out.
Leave anything there that can’t be reached with the orange stick.
If you aren’t satisfied with the amount of dirt that was removed, try something different.
How Do I Use A Washcloth To Clean Under My Toenails?
You can use a washcloth with sudsy water to massage the dirt from the nails.
As with fingernails, toenails can collect dirt way up to the nail bed line.
With toenails, it happens more often because the shoes push the dirt way up there when you walk.
Soak the feet again and soap up a washcloth with a light grease-reducing dishwashing soap.
If your skin is sensitive, you can try a nice sudsy natural or non-perfumed soap.
After you see that the toes are good and wrinkled, go ahead and take the sudsy washcloth and press your toes into it.
Gently move the washcloth from side to side a few times to get the soap under the toenails.
Then, massage each toe, one at a time with the washcloth.
This action, done over the course of a half-hour, should loosen the remaining dirt so that it either disappears right then and there, or you may have to use the orange stick again.
It should be much easier.
If it’s hard to do or won’t budge, you’ll need to inspect the situation further.
Can I Use Toenail Clippers To Get The Dirt from Under My Toenails?
You can use toenail clippers to clip off the nail tips as the nail grows to remove the dirt.
If the dirt is gray or black, there may be a fungus issue.
Look to see if the toenails are yellow in any spots.
Then, inspect the nail tips.
Are they thick? That’s a sign of fungus.
At this point, a foot doctor or your family doctor should have to look at your toes.
It’s common, especially with age, but if you catch it all in time, you can usually reverse the situation.
Sometimes, it’s just dirt and it gets stuck in the nail due to keratin deposits under the nail.
You could also grow the nail out and continue clipping the tips down until the stuck dirt is also clipped out.
Don’t just clip down to the nub though.
You’ll encourage infection and injure yourself.
Nails are a part of our bodies.
Hair and nails are dead cells.
They collect dirt every day.
By the time you see it, it’s been a while.
The secret to healthy nails is frequent maintenance.