My Fingernails Pick Up a Lot of Crud Really Quickly -- Why?
July 6, 2004 7:20 AM   Subscribe

My fingernails are like magnets for dirt. Every day I have to clean out the crud that gets underneath them. While it isn't a hassle, how is it that a female with long nails is able to keep hers clean where I struggle to keep mine clean for more than 2 hours or so? Is there some fingernail gnome who just loves to keep my fingernails dirty? Is there an easy way for me to keep them clean for more than lets say half a day?
posted by thebwit to Health & Fitness (12 answers total)
Do you work in dirt or other crud? Your fingernails will get considerably dirtier if you work in landscaping or food service (gross but true) than say, at an office.

Wash your hands more often. That will probably help.
posted by jennyb at 7:25 AM on July 6, 2004

You could scratch your fingernails on the bar of soap after you wash them. Dirt can't get in where the soap is.
posted by crunchland at 7:30 AM on July 6, 2004

Also, a friend of mine noticed that most the stuff under their fingernails was little pieces of them — sebum from scratching their scalp, ear dust and wax from cleaning their ear canal... you know: all the personal detritus that one is loathe to mention in public. So you may want to take a look at yourself and see if maybe you're just more of a scratcher than the females you compare yourself to.

And while working: the crunchland trick is a good one — before doing something grimy, drag your nails across a bar of soap (one that's a little softer, so the shavings stay put).
posted by silusGROK at 7:42 AM on July 6, 2004

Can we assume you know about toilet paper?
(Asking in the sense of plugging in the power cord of the 'computer that won't turn on'.)
posted by mischief at 7:52 AM on July 6, 2004

It's all about the nail beds, kiddo. If you have deep nail beds, you're going to have nails that need to be cleaned more often. It doesn't matter what you do or how pristine you are, your nails are going to get dirty far more often than the nails of most other people. Have you tried one of those white nail pencils? They look just like regular pencils, only they're white (which is why they're called white nail pencils...) and they rock. Your nails will be so purty. I'd suggest keeping one of those, along with a nail brush, in your handbag or backpack or desk or whatever. This is

ps - there is no fingernail gnome. There is, however, a fingernail fairy.
posted by iconomy at 7:54 AM on July 6, 2004

This is

Argh...the fingernail fairy cut me off mid-sentence.
posted by iconomy at 7:58 AM on July 6, 2004

As a female who varies her nail length, I have observed that I actually pick up less under-nail crud when my nails are slightly longer.

I've never worked out the exact mechanism, although I suspect it has something to do with distance of scratching edge to dirt-holding crevice.

Ditto the suggestion of the white under-nail pencil, if it really bothers you.
posted by Karmakaze at 8:13 AM on July 6, 2004

There is, however, a fingernail fairy.

this is so true! it lives in your nostrils!
posted by quonsar at 8:15 AM on July 6, 2004

Really Karmakaze?? I always thought the shorter the better for keeping out dirt....
posted by aacheson at 8:38 AM on July 6, 2004

Response by poster: Ahh thanks so much for all the helpful advice. I work in an office and as I forced myself to note what my fingers do, I scratch my head an awful lot. I will try the soap trick.
posted by thebwit at 9:30 AM on July 6, 2004

My strategy is if my nails are long enough to have crud under them, I cut them short (short enough that there is no space for dirt). If I ever accidentally let my nails get longish, typing feels weird and my hands just feel wrong.
posted by beth at 9:32 AM on July 6, 2004

nail brushes are cheap and work well - use one each time you wash your hands and you won't get buildup
posted by tristeza at 4:15 PM on July 6, 2004

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