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How to Clean the Inside of Your Toenails

by Lisa S. Kramer, studioD

Regardless of whether you traipse around in the sand and mud or spend all day inside wearing clean socks and closed-toe shoes, the areas underneath your toenails are going to get dirty. Even if your toenails do not appear dirty to the naked eye, there still may be microscopic organisms and bacteria lurking beneath your nails -- and these intruders can cause toe fungus, infections and foul odors. As such, cleaning the inside part of your toenails should be a regular part of your personal hygiene and grooming regimen -- so take that extra bit of time and remove those harmful guests.

Fill a bucket or bathtub with warm water. The water temperature should not exceed 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Add a couple of drops of shampoo and antibacterial soap to the water and swirl the water around. Let your feet soak in the water for 10 minutes.

Scrub underneath your toenails with a soft-bristled nailbrush or toothbrush. It is best to do this while your feet are still submerged in the warm water.

Clean out dirt and debris gently from under your toenails with a pointed nail-cleaner stick. These sticks are included on many nail cutters. Alternatively, you can use an orange stick, a toothpick or the flat end of a cuticle-pusher tool.

Submerge your feet again and scrub gently under your nails with the nailbrush or toothbrush to remove any remaining dirt. When you are finished, rinse off your feet and dry them with a clean, dry towel.

Items you will need
  •  Bucket or bathtub
  •  Shampoo
  •  Antibacterial soap
  •  Soft-bristled nailbrush or toothbrush
  •  Pointed nail-cleaner stick, orange stick, toothpick or cuticle-pusher nail tool


  • Sterilize your nail tools with boiling water or rubbing alcohol after each use.
  • If you are cleaning another person's toenails, you should wear rubber gloves.


  • Be careful not to poke the flesh underneath your toenails with your nail-cleaning tool as this can be extremely painful. Also, do not apply too much pressure with the tool since this can break the toenail.

About the Author

Lisa S. Kramer is a licensed attorney practicing civil litigation and estates and trusts law in southern Florida. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Florida, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa and cum laude. Kramer earned her Juris Doctor from the University of Florida Levin College of Law.

Photo Credits

  • Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images