how do you keep fingernails clean?
January 23, 2008 6:47 AM   Subscribe

how do you keep fingernails clean?

since I've relocated to london, I can't keep my fingernails clean any longer. I'm not quite sure what to blame, perhaps it's that nasty ink they use on newspapers here, perhaps I should keep my fingers out of certain dark spots. alas, suddenly they're dirty a couple hours after having left my house with them pristine, clean, nice, washed.

I'm a guy and I keep my fingernails relatively short, yet I see people with considerably longer nails have no problems with dirt all day long and into the night. so what's the trick? do other people dash into closets with files and scissors every couple of hours? or how do they do it?
posted by krautland to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Do you mindlessly fiddle with stuff? I do, and that's how they get so damned dirty. I trim obsessively and carry around a nail clipper so I can dig the damn crap out of there whenever I notice it.
posted by milarepa at 6:55 AM on January 23, 2008

If it's a dirt emergency, I sometimes use the end of a paperclip or an earring back to scrape the dirt out. (And it's not a bad idea to have a pair of clippers with you at work - a dirty or uneven nail will drive me bonkers until I can deal with it.) Washing underneath the nail tips with a nail brush helps too. When I kept my nails longer, I used to use a whitening pencil, which kept my nails looking nice and bright.

However, the best thing I've done for dirt is just cut my nails short and keep them that way. To the quick; no white tip left. By the time any noticeable amount of dirt can collect under my nails, it's time to cut them anyway.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:24 AM on January 23, 2008

I actually think it's easier to keep long fingernails clean, unless you're working with your hands all day. When mine are short, anything I touch with my fingertips (like a newspaper) easily moves under the nail; when they're longer, it doesn't seem to happen as much.

Mostly I just try to turn my mindless fiddling into nail-cleaning fiddling, and use the edge of one nail to clean under the others. Which sounds horribly uncouth now that I type it out.
posted by occhiblu at 7:24 AM on January 23, 2008

(I probably should note that I'm a woman, so "short" to me is likely "long" to most men; Metroid Baby's comment makes sense that if you cut them really short, that would likely solve the problem too.)
posted by occhiblu at 7:25 AM on January 23, 2008

I suggest making it a point to wear gloves when you leave home. If you ride public transportation your hands and nails may become filthy.

Also, why not get yourself a fingernail brush? They are small enough to carry in your pocket. Carry it in a plastic baggie (or dry it under the hand-blower thingy). Keep it in your pants pocket and use it each time when washing your hands.
posted by mamaraks at 7:50 AM on January 23, 2008

Scrap your nails down a bar of white soap before leaving the house, leave the bits packed in underneath your nails to seal out dirt. I do this before gardening and it makes a world of difference.
posted by BridgetR at 7:54 AM on January 23, 2008

I chew them down to nubs so there is no where for the dirt to hide.
posted by ian1977 at 8:15 AM on January 23, 2008

Short nails and constant cleaning whenever I'm not doing anything else. Some people hum, or twiddle their thumbs, I scrape under my nails. I also clipped one corner of my main credit card into two 90 degree angles and use those edges to scrape out crude when I'm stuck for another instrument.

All that works to keep them pretty clean or at least clean them quickly, except when I'm drinking. Everytime I get drunk I wake up with horribly nasty crude encrusted nails, but that's a small price to pay.
posted by Science! at 8:26 AM on January 23, 2008

I keep my nails clean by using my fingernails to massage shampoo into my scalp. I also have short nails, so my hairs rub underneath my nails and wipe away the grime. After a minute of lathering my nails are completely clean. Sounds gross, I know, but it actually works.
posted by HotPatatta at 8:43 AM on January 23, 2008

Use hot soapy water and a nail brush. Scrub with the bristles poking under your fingernails. They'll be Sunday-best clean!
posted by red_lotus at 10:01 AM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

oops mamaraks beat me to it, sorry!
posted by red_lotus at 10:02 AM on January 23, 2008

The nailbrush is a great invention. I noticed this too living in the UK -- the newspapers really are much inkier, and, to be honest, the public spaces tend to be quite a bit grubbier than where I lived before. all time typo catch: sub public for "pubic". So, keep'em short but buy a nailbrush, they are so efficient they will make your head spin.
posted by Rumple at 10:14 AM on January 23, 2008

Sorta same as others. Wash hair == really clean nails. Either really short or a little bit longer than normal (for man people). Trim the thumb/first finger a little bit square so you can use it to scrape under the others. Paper clips, even a plastic straw that you flatten out with your teeth to make into a good scraper tool. I can't quite get into carrying around a brush or nail clippers, too much junk in my pockets already.
posted by zengargoyle at 10:48 AM on January 23, 2008

Even just washing your hands like you would normally, but just more often will help. And file them shorter.
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 1:27 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

Get manicures.
posted by bingo at 2:14 PM on January 23, 2008

It took me a long time to realize that the reason I was having the same problem once was that I was going through a phase of wearing new dark jeans and a black leather jacket. Every time I put my hands in my pockets the dye was scraping off. Slight change in wardrobe and the problem went away.
posted by trembleclef at 2:27 PM on January 23, 2008

I simply wash my hands every time I use the washroom and I never have to do any particular scraping or anything. I also keep my nails short, with about 1-2mm of white showing.
posted by loiseau at 3:11 PM on January 23, 2008

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