Dirty hands and nails

jusdewit(z7TX)November 4, 2003

I dislike gloves, but HATE dirt under my nails and on my hands. I use high pressure spray (NOT jet!Ouch!) from my outdoor hose to blast dirt out from under my nails,then use a pumice on spots where dirt/stains seem to stick in my hand's little lines and creases.Alternatively, the best nail brush I've found is one of those 3-sided toothbrushes!

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meldy_nva(z6b VA)

Try covering your hands with cheap shortening or petroleum jelly before digging... I guess it fills in the little lines, but the dirt washes right off! I put a small bucket of water in the sun when I start, by the time I'm finished the water is usually nice and warm. I put soap bits (you know, when the bar is too small to use but too big to toss) in an old nylon stocking and use that for a gardener's washcloth.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2003 at 1:05PM
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NewPenny(z8a-7b WA, USA)

I love the soil on my hands. I just wash off as much as I can clean out most of the dirt from under my nails with a nail file then when I take a shower and wash my hair it usuely gets them clean. :-p LOL Maybe I'll try a 3 sided toothbrush?? Never heard of one but I'll look. I know those brushes they sale for cleaning your nails only do the top not under them, unless you keep your nails trimmed realy short.

Meldy I love the soap chunks in a nylon stalking tip. Thanks. :-)

Take care, Penny

    Bookmark   November 7, 2003 at 11:48AM
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meldy_nva(z6b VA)

Someone wrote the nylons tip in to a gardening column years ago. They suggested tying one end to where the faucet sicks out from the wall, but that does let wet soap drip on the wall. I have a garden-hose hanger close by and find it more convenient to tie it there. And I never feel guilty about the rain washing away the soap, because the bits would have been thrown away if they weren't put into the stocking.

I've never heard of a 3-sided toothbrush either. I did use a a tiny cone-shaped brush the dentist wanted me to try as a sort of pick/cleaner. It was too big to get between my teeth and too small for anything else! I use the small surgicl brush sold by leevalley.com Actually I have about 6 or 8 of them: one by each sink, one by the outside faucet, one for scrubbing potatos and carrots, one for de-silking corn, and spares. They are small enough to be handy , big enough to hold on to, soft enough not to poke or scratch, firm enough to really clean and the bristles are long enough to actually get under the nail. I obviously don't keep my nails so short dirt can't get under :)

Gloves: I have (and even wear occasionally) the cheap cotton with plastic nubs; heavy cowhide; medium cowhide; rubber covered gardener's gloves (foxgloves brand?); light-weight goatskin (these are really nice to wear but the fingertips don't last) and the disposable latex (thin medical type) which I pull on over slathers of handcream or petroleum jelly -- I have never gotten a blister from raking or using the push lawn mower or anything if I have those on! But I have to admit that most of the time I'm well into digging before I even think about putting on gloves, and by then why bother?! So most of the gloves just sit on the shelf.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2003 at 2:03PM
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I am likely stirring an old topic but if your hands become stained by grass/weeds or walnuts/pecans, try lemon or lime juice. works well for me.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2003 at 12:02AM
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undercover_owl(8 Pac.NW)

If you're female, you can wear brown nail polish.


    Bookmark   November 10, 2003 at 3:10AM
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mycarbumps(Zone 6b E.TN)

take up hydroponic gardening- no dirt = clean fingernails. see some of my homemade hydroponic creations at http://www.geocities.com/newagehydro/03.html please email me if you want more info about hydroponics or stop by the hydroponics forum at GW. ~Ryan

Here is a link that might be useful: my hydroponics

    Bookmark   November 10, 2003 at 3:30PM
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Dustbunny(z9 FLA)

My Mom always used to rake her fingernails across a bar of soap before working in the garden. Keeps the dirt out. Thanks for making me think of that!

    Bookmark   November 12, 2003 at 1:59PM
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gardengal106 Roses and Gardening In General

I was always trying to get my nails clean until I found the foxglove gardening glove. I hated wearing gloves, but tried these and they are amazing. A little pricey but well worth the money. So comfortable you can do anything in them they are like a dress glove and washable. Picked mine up in July and can't get out the side door without them now.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2003 at 9:14PM
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Try the very cheap blue nitrile milking gloves. Fit like the skin and last through one day of gardening, but are very inexpensive, like $13.00 for a box of 100. We dairy and use them to milk and I forgot and left them on one day as I strolled from the barn to the house via the flower beds and used them to pick weeds, pinch back plants, etc. as I went and loved them. I also am one of the "can't wear gloves" persons. I would start out and the minute I needed to do something intricate, would take them off. Give them a try!

    Bookmark   December 6, 2003 at 7:04AM
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albert_135(Sunset 2 or 3)

I have done something similar to Dustbunny's suggestion: dip fingertips in dishwashing liquid, remove excess from fingers with a paper towell but leave excess under the nails.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2003 at 3:02PM
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I have had dirt and grime in my hands so bad, I've actually had to use a brillo pad..it's a little extreme but it DEFINITELY will work....... :)

    Bookmark   December 10, 2003 at 11:32PM
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laa_laa(Sunset /8 or 9)

Years ago, I read a tip in a goodhousekeeping book of some sort. It said to not only use an old toothbrush for the dirt under the nails, but also scrub them with the toothpaste. It really works,and fast too!

    Bookmark   December 12, 2003 at 2:01AM
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palottii(4 nw IL)

Go to the automotive section of a large department store and look for Orange Goop, and a good fingernail brush should do wonders. Jerrie

    Bookmark   December 16, 2003 at 7:44PM
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spellmar(Southern IL)

What kind of gardener doens't like to get a little dirt on their hands? Sounds like you picked the wrong hobby!

    Bookmark   January 15, 2004 at 6:03AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

You ain't seen nuthin' 'til you picked 'maters all day long.

When I was a kid we worked on truck farms pickin' strawberries, pickles, peppers, and such. After 100 or so half bushel of 'maters, you couldn't even see skin on the fingers of your main pickin' hand 'cause the crust was too thick. Took 'bout three days & a fair amount of scrubbin' to get allaway back down to the skin agin, but by 'at time we wus into som'in else to get us all dirtied up agin. Didn't hurt us none, as I recall.


    Bookmark   January 23, 2004 at 4:39PM
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I have one of those battery operated cheap grocery store toothbrushes i use, its the best trick ive found so far for when I mess up my hands being too lazy to run for a glove lol

    Bookmark   May 30, 2004 at 2:17PM
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Tapla try working on a tobacco farm. I spent a summer on my uncle's farm and the task I hated most was topping (pinching out the growing tips). By days end my hands would be a single thick layer of tobacco resin.
Oh and Goop is a grease remover. I have tried it in the past and it works like wonders for grease but not so great for plain ol' dirt. If you can handle the abrasion try lava soap. It has punice in it to help remove that dirt.
Me I don't notice the dirt under my nails but the wife sure does. Oh and don't forget the dirty knees. I wear shorts (it does get very hot here) and tend to have to use a nylon scrub pad to even begin to get the dirt to move.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2004 at 4:08PM
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Before you start work, wash your hands in ordinary soap and work up a good thick lather. Keep rubbing until the lather dries-- do not use a towel. Also scrape your nails across the bar of soap. When you finish work--- hands under the tap - and the dirt washes off with the soap that is in your skin.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2004 at 1:45AM
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Although I love my MudGloves and FoxGloves, I also apply "Gloves in a Bottle" or "Armadillo Skin Barrier Lotion" before going into the garden. (I always end up whipping off the gloves for one reason or another.)

I make sure to slather the lotion under my nails and around the cuticles. It won't come off even when your hands get wet, and it isn't tacky, as the petrolium jelly can be. If I'm gardening all day, I might re-apply if I think of it.

I no longer need the blowtorch and Clorox to get my hands back in shape. If things were really rough that day, I like "Boraxo Powdered Hand Soap" much better than the Lava soap.

Read you later,

    Bookmark   June 2, 2004 at 2:55AM
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skye_(Zone 10 - South Florida)

Not sure how it will work for gardener's hands, but I use baby oil to clean my hands after painting or staining.... works for me! - and makes my hands feel soft too!

    Bookmark   June 10, 2004 at 12:38AM
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chervil2(z5 MA)

Latex and nitrile gloves help prevent my hands and nails from getting dirty. I also keep my nails trimmed short. However, I tend to forget my gloves when working with Concord grapes which stain skin quite badly. I will try some tips here to remvoe the red grape stains from my skin.


    Bookmark   June 10, 2004 at 1:44PM
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MeMyselfAndI(5/6 central OH)

Nothing I've tried works better than soap called "Hogwash" and a toothbrush for under the nails.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2004 at 11:09PM
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I LOVE the way the earth feels on my hands and under my nails!!! Frequently, I end up with remnants in my cuticles or nailbed, but I don't mind at all! It serves to remind me of sacred, succulent moments in the garden: kind of a badge of pleasure! greenwitch

    Bookmark   June 16, 2004 at 7:57PM
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This works for me. I wash some of the dirt off at the kitchen sink, then put a couple of tablespoons of sugar in my palm and some liquid hand soap. I work this mixture into my hands and around the nails. Juanice

    Bookmark   June 17, 2004 at 11:15AM
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I use rubber gloves for washing dishes that are flexible, Playtex is my favorite type. Cloth or leather, the water can get in side, and dirt, this also happens with the rubber ones, but then I can replace them. But, if I was doing certian things I use leather like pruning, but cloth glvoes means your hands get wet, and I never use cloth. I keep my nails short, it is hard to garden and also have long nails.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2004 at 11:02AM
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meldy_nva(z6b VA)

Spelmar, it isn't that we object to get ours hands dirty, it's that we'd rather have them look clean while we're eating!

Chervil2 - try lemon juice for the grape stains. I found that the cheapie brand of bottled-from-concentrate worked almost as well as juice straight from the lemon. Dump it on and rub it in, then wash with soap. Thanks for hint re nitrile gloves - I'm a new convert (and now am trying to convert everyone else lol) and nitrile is better than skin for pulling weeds when it's muddy, neither mud nor weed sticks to it!

tapla - been there, done that. I still remember how my hands would smell of tomato vine even though they were washed clean. Oh, yeah: we slathered shortening on our hands and arms before picking. I guess it helped a bit.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2004 at 9:53AM
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stacey_turner(N Yorks)

I use a nail brush to get the dirt out from under my nails; alternately, a vegetable scrubbing brush also works well.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2004 at 7:52AM
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I soak my fingernails in small bowl with a bit of cooking oil and then use a nail brush.
I used to use bleach (as my mother does) but I wrecked to many blouses splattering it with the nail brush!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2004 at 10:53AM
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This has always been a problem for me too. I have several pairs of gloves but don't wear them much. I love getting my hands in the soil but have always had trouble getting the dirt out from under my nails. I work in a restaurant so my hands & nails have to be completely clean. I'll try some of the tips listed here.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2004 at 7:48AM
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I love my Foxgloves. My nails/hands never looked better since I've started wearging them. I got my first pair in '02 and my second & third pair in '03. That way I always have a clean pair to work with. I gave them to my sister and sisters in law for Christmas one year. After some initial reservations all tried them and now they won't be parted from them either. :)

IA Z5a

    Bookmark   August 20, 2004 at 2:57PM
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jannie(z7 LI NY)

yesterday I was watering and (by mistake) grabbed a rose bush. Got a thorn stuck in my right index finger.OUCH!!! Today it hurts like HE--. I work at a keyboard all day. Must remember to wear gloves ALL the time I am in the garden.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2004 at 1:15PM
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I soak my fingernails in hydrogen peroxide when they are really bad. It also helps clean those little nicks and scratches. I start out wearning gloves, but usually take them off at some point. I try to remember to scrape soap under my nails and put hand lotion on.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2005 at 5:50PM
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Crafty_Canuck(W Canada)

Hello Everyone:

Try using denture cleaning tablets, the effervescing type. Place it in a dish shallow enough to fit the tips of your nails in, fill the dish with warm water and soak your nails for about 10 minutes.

I use this whenever I polish my nails, whether I have been in the garden or not! It makes your nails really clean and 'pinky'/healthy looking!

Della :)

    Bookmark   May 22, 2005 at 2:09AM
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I use a standard nail brush and the peroxide-and-baking-soda type toothpaste. Even the most staining vegetables tend to lighten up from the peroxide, and the baking soda is a mild abrasive.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2005 at 3:21PM
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I love to get my bare hands in the dirt but my skin does not. I hated all gardening gloves until I tried Atlas Nitrile Touch gloves:


and what I do is keep about a dozen pairs near me when I'm gardening so that I can quickly put on a clean pair if the one I'm wearing gets too wet. Later, I throw all the dirty ones in the laundry. In three years I have not worn out a single pair!

    Bookmark   May 25, 2005 at 12:32PM
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homegrown54(z6 SE Ohio)

I found a winner in that and other departments. Lee Valley was selling surgery scrub brushes, little inexpensive plastic thingies that have been of use all over the house. Or, if you're pals with a doc or nurse, perhaps they can get you one. They're really soft, but really thorough.
Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 1, 2005 at 3:31PM
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I don't mind the dirt on my hands, but it really dries out my skin. I like thin suede type gloves. But when doing intricate stuff (like pulling weeds from among the good plants) I will pull them off.

Deb in PA

    Bookmark   June 3, 2005 at 8:53PM
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I hate damaging my hands in the garden and always wear gloves. I like the kind Crocosmia mentioned. Very tough rubbery stuff on the palms and fingers, knit on the top. They are quite flexible where you need it, and tough where you need that feature.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2005 at 6:50PM
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