Polish and Pearls

The Hidden Dirt: How to Clean Under Nails Like a Pro

Keeping your nails clean and well-maintained is not only a matter of personal grooming but also a crucial aspect of overall hygiene. While most people focus on the visible parts of their nails, such as trimming and polishing, they often neglect the hidden area underneath.

Cleaning under your nails is essential to maintain healthy and attractive nails, as well as prevent hygiene-related issues. In this blog post, we will guide you through the step-by-step process of effectively cleaning under your nails, providing you with the knowledge and tools you need to achieve clean and beautiful nails.

Tools and Materials Needed

To effectively clean under your nails, it’s important to have the right tools and materials on hand. Here are the essential items you’ll need for a thorough nail cleaning session:

Soft-Bristle Nail Brush

Invest in a soft-bristle nail brush that is specifically designed for cleaning nails. The soft bristles are gentle on your nails and cuticles, minimizing the risk of irritation or damage. Look for a brush with a comfortable handle that allows for easy grip and control during the cleaning process.

Cuticle Pusher or Orange Stick

A cuticle pusher or an orange stick is a handy tool for gently pushing back your cuticles. This helps expose the hidden area underneath your nails, making it easier to clean. Choose a cuticle pusher with a rounded edge to avoid accidentally scraping or injuring your nails.

Mild Soap or Nail Cleanser

Using a mild soap or a nail cleanser is essential for effective nail cleaning. Look for a gentle, pH-balanced soap or a cleanser specifically formulated for nails. Avoid harsh chemicals or abrasive cleansers that can strip away natural oils and damage your nails.

Warm Water

Warm water is an important component of the nail cleaning process. It helps to soften dirt, debris, and any residue that may have accumulated under your nails. Fill a clean basin or a bowl with warm water to create a comfortable soaking environment for your hands.

Clean Towel or Paper Towels

Having a clean towel or paper towels nearby is crucial for drying your hands and nails after the cleaning process. Make sure to use a towel that is free from lint or any residue that may transfer onto your freshly cleaned nails.

Preparing Your Nails for Cleaning

Before you start cleaning under your nails, it’s essential to prepare them properly. This preparation will ensure that your nails are in the best condition for effective cleaning. Follow these steps to get your nails ready:

Removing Nail Polish or Artificial Nails

If you have nail polish or artificial nails, it’s important to remove them before cleaning. Use a gentle nail polish remover that is acetone-free to prevent excessive drying of your nails. Soak a cotton pad with the nail polish remover and gently wipe off the polish or dissolve the adhesive holding the artificial nails.

Trimming and Shaping Your Nails

Take a nail clipper or a nail file and carefully trim your nails to your desired length. Ensure that the edges are smooth and free from any sharp or jagged corners. If you prefer a specific nail shape, use a nail file to shape them accordingly, whether it’s square, round, oval, or another shape that suits your preference.

Soaking Your Hands in Warm Water

To soften your nails and loosen any dirt or debris underneath, soak your hands in a basin or bowl filled with warm water. Make sure the water is comfortably warm, but not too hot. Soak your hands for about 5 to 10 minutes, allowing the warmth to relax your skin and nails.

Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning Under Nails

Cleaning under your nails requires a systematic approach to ensure thoroughness and effectiveness. Follow this step-by-step guide to achieve clean and healthy nails:

Wetting the Nail Brush and Applying Soap

Start by wetting the soft-bristle nail brush under warm running water. Once the brush is moistened, apply a small amount of mild soap or nail cleanser to the bristles. Make sure to distribute the soap evenly across the brush for optimal cleaning.

Gently Scrubbing the Nail Surface and Surrounding Area

Take the soapy nail brush and gently scrub the surface of each nail. Use circular motions to clean the entire nail, focusing on the areas close to the cuticle and along the sides. Pay attention to any visible dirt or debris, and be thorough in your cleaning.

Paying Attention to the Cuticle and Nail Bed

As you clean, pay special attention to the cuticle and the area around the nail bed. The cuticle can accumulate dirt and dead skin cells, so gently brush along the base of the nail to remove any buildup. Be careful not to apply excessive pressure or cause any discomfort.

Using a Cuticle Pusher to Remove Any Remaining Dirt

After scrubbing, take the cuticle pusher or orange stick and gently push back the cuticles. This step helps expose any remaining dirt or debris hiding under the edge of your nails. Use the rounded edge of the tool to carefully scrape away any stubborn buildup, being cautious not to damage the nail or cuticle.

Rinsing Your Hands Thoroughly with Warm Water

Once you have finished scrubbing and removing dirt, rinse your hands thoroughly with warm water. Ensure that all traces of soap or cleanser are washed away. Pay close attention to the underside of your nails, using your fingers to gently rub away any residue.

Drying Your Hands Properly

After rinsing, pat your hands dry with a clean towel or paper towels. Take care to dry the entire nail area, including the underside of your nails, to prevent any moisture from lingering. Avoid rubbing or harshly towel-drying, as this can cause friction and potential damage to your nails.

Tips for Effective Nail Cleaning

Cleaning under your nails is a vital part of maintaining proper nail hygiene. To ensure effective and safe nail cleaning, consider the following tips:

Avoid Using Harsh or Abrasive Products

When selecting soap or cleansers for nail cleaning, opt for mild and gentle formulations. Harsh or abrasive products can strip away natural oils from your nails and cause dryness or damage. Look for pH-balanced cleansers that are specifically designed for nails.

Be Gentle to Prevent Damage to Nails and Cuticles

While cleaning, it’s important to be gentle to avoid causing any harm to your nails and cuticles. Use light pressure when scrubbing and brushing, and avoid aggressive scraping or digging under the nails. Being gentle will help protect the delicate structures of your nails and prevent irritation or injury.

Clean Your Nails Regularly to Prevent Buildup

Make nail cleaning a regular part of your hygiene routine. Regular cleaning prevents the accumulation of dirt, debris, and bacteria under your nails. Aim to clean your nails at least once a week or as needed, depending on your lifestyle and daily activities.

Use a Nail Brush with Soft Bristles to Avoid Irritation

Invest in a nail brush with soft bristles to minimize the risk of irritation or scratching your nails. Brushes with softer bristles are more gentle on your nails and cuticles, making the cleaning process more comfortable. Look for brushes specifically designed for nail cleaning.

Moisturize Your Hands and Nails After Cleaning

After cleaning, it’s crucial to moisturize your hands and nails to replenish any lost moisture. Choose a nourishing hand cream or cuticle oil and massage it into your hands and nails. This helps to hydrate and protect your nails, preventing dryness and maintaining their health.


Maintaining clean and healthy nails goes beyond just trimming and polishing. Taking the time to clean under your nails regularly can make a significant difference in both the appearance and overall health of your nails.

By following the steps outlined in this blog post and incorporating good nail hygiene practices into your routine, you can ensure that your nails are not only beautiful but also free from dirt, debris, and potential infections.