If you are looking for how to keep underneath your nails clean, then today, you will learn a Complete Approach to not only preventing dirt from building up, but for removing it most effectively when it does.
There is nothing worse than realizing that you have been collecting dirt under your nails!
I have lost track at the number of times that I have looked at my nails in disgust. Seeing how dirty they have become always completely shocks and horrifies me.
There is nothing quite like having clean nails.
Not just in how they look but in how they make you feel.
As a Nail Blogger and Technician, knowing how to maintain, grow and look after nails is my job – it is essential.
I have worked with hundreds of clients at the Salon. It always amazes me at the amount of dirt that they often have under their nails and how they do not even realize it is there.
That’s why, I would like to bring to you today my favorite and go to ways to keep your nails clean. This will focus on prevention and cure, so you can be sure that dirty nails are a thing of the past.
The truth of the matter is, if you are like me, then you are probably constantly using your hands for one thing or another. Whether you’re typing, travelling or even outside, there’s a lot of dirt in the environment that we come into contact with.
Unfortunately, this exposure can cause unattractive dirt buildup under your fingernails. In the worst cases, it can even stain your nails. Thankfully, with a few simple adjustments you can clean and keep your nails looking healthy.
What NOT To Do
Before we take a look at the thing that you should do, lets first consider what you should not.
Remember, prevention is always better than cure.
- Bite, Pick or Chew your Nails and Nail Polish – This will cause your nails to damage and weaken. It will also push dirt and bacteria into and under your nails. This bacteria can proliferate (expand) and cause further dirt and debris to collect underneath your nails. Biting and picking can also cause infections which makes your nails look dirty, unhealthy, and prevent them from growing.
- Forget to Wear Gloves – When you are cleaning or doing any activity that means you could add dirt underneath your nails. Wearing Gloves is a simple, cheap and effective way to protect your nails from dirt. It also helps to prevent dangerous chemicals from weakening your nails. So if you regularly use cleaning products, Gloves should always be put on first.
- Not Clean Nails Regularly – It may sound pretty obvious, but one of the most common causes of dirt buildup and collection is because you are not cleaning your nails regularly or effectively enough. Its always important to remove dirt and debris as early as you first notice it to prevent buildup.
What TO Do:
Now lets turn to what you should do to keep your nails clean. Not just underneath your nails, but across the entire bed.
All of my experience and research points me to one effective strategy to prevent dirt buildup: Regular Cleaning, Grooming and Care
I cannot emphasize this enough, you must proactively look after your nails if you want them to remain clean.
Its like a cascading effect, the more dirt you have under your nails, the easier it will be for more dirt to be added.
Here’s some quick simple methods to prevent dirt from building under your nails:
- Get A Nail Brush – A Nail Brush is a quick, easy and great way to quickly scrub your nails. Its brilliant for preventing you from adding further dirt and grime back under your nail. The Fendrihan Bristle and Olive Wood Nail Brush is my favorite. It’s sturdy, durable and looks great. Its also suitable and ideal for both men and women. All you need to do is scrub your nails, and underneath, when you notice dirt collecting.
- Wear Clear Nail Polish – This may not be everyone, but simply painting your nails can be a really effective way of preventing your nails from getting dirty. You do not need to paint every day with this method, instead, just once a week will suffice. The best Nail Polish for dirt prevention are Clear Opaque Nail Polishes (like this). These are able to hide any dirt or discoloration underneath your nails and it will not even be noticeable that you are wearing it.
- Soap Technique – Is great if you need to work with certain materials where dirt is likely to be pushed under your nails. What you need to do with this technique is to scrape your nails against a bar of soap. This will push the soap up inside your nail beds and block any dirt and debris from being able to get in. Once you have finished your task with those materials you can then use a toothpick, a pointed nail-cleaner stick, an orange stick, or the flat end of a cuticle-pusher tool to remove the soap.
How To Clean Under Your Nails
So now let’s turn to some practical, quick and useful techniques that you can do at home to clean up your nails and get them back to their best.
Lets say you already have dirt underneath and you want to get rid of it.
Method: Using Q-Tips and Alcohol
This method focuses on using Q-Tips and Alcohol to clean up under your nails. Its great if you have long natural nails or acrylics.
For this method you you will need:
- 2 Q-Tips
- Nail Oil (I swear by this)
- Toothpick/ Pointed Nail-Cleaner Stick/Orange Stick/ or the Flat End of a Cuticle-Pusher Tool.
Step One: First take your Q-tip and dip it into your Alcohol. Now Depending on your size of Alcohol you may want to pour some into a small bowl beforehand.
Step Two: Start to clean under your nails using your Q-Tip. Alcohol is great for this because it doesn’t only remove the dirt and the buildup, but it also removes the stains on your nails. Water will not be able to do this.
Go through each and every one of your nails, being sure that your Q-Tip is regularly soaked in Alcohol and that there is enough on the Q-Tip to break down the dirt and bacteria.
Step Three: Taking the pointed equipment of your preference (Toothpick/ Pointed Nail-Cleaner Stick/Orange Stick/ or the Flat End of a Cuticle-Pusher Tool) scrape very gently underneath your nails to get rid of any excess dirt.
Using a sharp tool is great to get to the very bottom of your nail and to get to the dirt that’s hard to remove.
Step Four: Grab your Q-Tips and Alcohol once again and go over one last final time.
Step Five: Rinse your nails in the Sink with Soap and Warm Water.
Step Six: Take your Oil, and using the other clean Q-Tip, gently massage your nail – both underneath and on the top of your nail. Let the oil dry and you’re done.
Removing Stains: Cleaning Paste
If you have stains on your Nails then you may need to use some Cleaning Paste to remove them.
If you want to create the Paste, here’s what you will need:
Here’s what you will need to do:
Step One: Create the Paste: Firstly you will need to create the Cleaning Paste that you will use in Step Three. In a small bowl mix mix 2 ½ tablespoons (1.25 oz) of baking soda, 1 teaspoon (.16 oz) of hydrogen peroxide, and a few drops of lemon juice. Let this sit whilst you move onto step two.
Step Two: Remove Any Nail Polish: Start by applying some Nail Polish Remover to a Cotton Ball. Rub the cotton ball over your nails. If you are using a Acetone Based Nail Polish remover you risk damaging your fingernails, weakening and drying them out. This is why I like to use this Natural Chemical Free Nail Polish Remover as you will not experience these side effects
Step Three: Apply the Paste: Use a toothbrush and dip the head into the paste. Then scrub away at your nails being sure to go over your entire nail beds – including under your nail and over any stains. Let the paste sit on your nails for 2-5 minutes. The more stained your nails are the more you will need to let it rest. For very stained nails, leave the paste on for 20 minutes.
Step Four: Wash Your Hands: Once the paste has been on your nails for a fair amount of time, wash your hands and your nails with warm water and a small amount of soap.
Step Four: Apply Cuticle Oil: Whilst this technique works very well to remove stains, it is advisable to apply some vitamin rich Cuticle Oil (like this) to your nails. This will help preserve your nail health and promote future growth.
Grooming Your Nails
The final element to keeping your nails clean and healthy is to regularly and routinely groom them. This is relatively simple but will keep buildup from occurring. It will hopefully prevent the need to having to clean them like advised in the steps above.
Here’s a great grooming process that you can follow:
Step One: Cut Your Nails: Unless you are growing your Nails, it is advised to regularly cut them or at the minimum trim them back a little – you can do this to a length that suits. It also depends on the length of your nails; you may decide that you actually want to jump to Step Two (Filing). But ultimately, the shorter the nail the easier it is to keep them clean and there is less chance of dirt buildup.
If you decide to cut your nails, use a pair of Manicure Scissors or Nail Clippers. Start by trimming in a straight line over the top of your nails. Then, move onto the side of your nails and cut the edges into gentle curves. Be sure that your nails are not sharp or they can catch on other surfaces. (Read More: How To Shape Nails At Home With Nail Cutter
Step Two: File Your Nails: to remove any loose or sharp edges. In my experience a Crystal Glass Nail File is best for natural fingernails. (They are also cheap and last for over 10 years!)
File nails in a back and forth motion and be careful not to cause damage or file to aggressively.
Step Three: Use a Top Coat and/or a Nail Strengthener:
It is an industry secret that a Clear Nail Polish (Top Coat) makes your nails look and appear impressively clean. Likewise, Nail Strengthener provide two great benefits: they give your nails a glow and they also help to repair any potential nail damage.
First start by adding a thin layer of Top Coat or Strengthener over your nails.
Alternatively you can add a thin layer of Top Coat, let that dry and then add the Nail Strengthener (advised).
Give them time to dry before you move on.
Top coats and Nail Strengtheners are great because you cannot actually notice that you are wearing them. They completely fade. So whilst they are protecting and looking after your nails, they can be concealed very easily.
If you are looking to keep your nails clean, then it is important if not imperative to focus on prevention.
Preventing nails from getting dirty in the first place is far easier than trying to remove it later.
There are many ways that you can go about doing this. But its always good to regularly care for and clean your nails.
That being said, there will always be times when you will get dirty nails and need to remove it.
In this article you will have learnt all the things that you should do, and what you shouldn’t do. In my experience the best ways to keeping your nails clean and dirt-free is with Regular Cleaning, Grooming and Care.
If you have any other techniques or suggestions, it would be great if you dropped a comment below! I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Hey – I’m Jemma – a certified nail technician and manicurist with over fifteen years of hands-on industry experience. I created AlmondNails.com to share all that I have learned about the nail industry – from the different types of manicures available, suggestions for wear, recommendations for keeping nails strong and healthy, all the way through to providing the best nail salon tips and practices.