How to Keep Dirt and Grease From Getting Stuck Under Fingernails

by Josh Baum

If you're working on your car, tending to your garden or doing any other dirty activity that involves getting your digits in some serious muck, pre-treat your fingernails. When you get lots of grease, soil or other dirt trapped underneath your fingernails, it can take you quite a while to get it all cleaned out. The following steps show you how you can plan ahead for getting dirty and make quick work of cleaning up.

Items you will need

  • Bar of soap
  • Soft-bristled fingernail brush
Step 1

Hold a bar of soap in one hand while gently scratching it with the fingernails of the other hand. Scratch softly enough that you don't break your nails but firmly enough that you get bits of soap to accumulate under your fingernails.

Step 2

Put the bar of soap into the other hand and scratch your other nails along the bar.

Step 3

Make sure you scrape some soap underneath the nails on your thumbs. Check each nail individually to see that there is some soap trapped underneath.

Step 4

Do whatever dirty activity you planned ahead for.

Step 5

When it's time for cleanup, wash your hands as usual with soap and warm or hot water. Use a soft-bristled fingernail brush to clean underneath your fingernails. You'll find that the soap prevents most of the dirt from accumulating in the first place, and that the visible dirt cleans away easily because it was mixed in with the soap.


  • If the bar of soap feels too hard at first, soak it in lukewarm water for about a minute before trying to scrape at it again.


  • Don't use particularly hard bar soaps for this. Harder soaps may flake off in sharp, hard pieces that can cut the skin beneath the nail and cause significant discomfort.