Dirty and unkempt nails are not only bad for your health, but also your reputation. With dirty nails, innocent gestures like shaking hands or waving hello can easily become unwelcomed and make others cringe.

If picking the dirt out from underneath your nails has become a regular habit, it’s time to get on the right track and maintain them properly. A variety of materials can constitute the buildup under your nails.


If you’re otherwise pretty good with personal hygiene, then chances are you’re merely harboring the keratin debris from the underside of your nails or dead skin from the nail beds.

intro clean fingernails

Lint, dirt, and personal care products can also become part of the dirty buildup. It may also be breeding disease-causing germs under the nails.

While keeping your nails short is the easiest way to keep them clean, fashionistas and nail art enthusiasts will seldom go for it. Hiding your nails is not an option either – at least not a practical one.


So, what you need to do is get down to business and learn how to clean and maintain your fingernails properly.

Steps to Clean and Maintain Your Fingernails

Things you’ll need:


  • Orange stick
  • Liquid hand soap
  • Water
  • Nail brush
  • Nail polish remover
  • Moisturizer
  • Soft towel

Step 1. Clean underneath your nails with an orange stick

Step-1.Clean underneath your nails with an orange stick

Start by dealing with the visible dirt accumulated underneath your nails by gently pushing the dirt out with an orange stick. This will not entirely clean your nails but accomplishes the bulk of the job.

While an orange stick is a much better option than your average choice of tools (like pencils, hair sticks, or pocket knives), remember to be gentle in the process. The skin under the nails is quite sensitive, and you can easily injure yourself.


Alternatively, you can use a cuticle pusher. In a pinch, you can also use a clean wooden toothpick for this purpose but, an orange stick the safest option and natural.

Step 2. Wash your hands

Step-2. Wash your hands

Wash your hands after cleaning or trimming your nails to wash off dirt and germs. Washing your hands is your best line of defense to minimize any chance of infection.

Wet your hands under running water and squirt a little liquid hand soap into your palms.


Rub your palms together to work up a rich lather. Be sure to gently scrub the area near and around the nails. Rinse your hands thoroughly when done.

Step 3. Put some liquid hand soap into a bowl of water

Step-3. Put some liquid hand soap into a bowl of water

Squirt a little liquid hand soap into a bowl of water. You should use a hand soap that is mild and not excessively drying.

Keep the water temperature close to your comfort level. Dissolve the soap completely into the water.

Step 4. Soak your nails in the soapy water

Step-4. Soak your nails in the soapy water

Soak your nails in the soapy water for about 5 minutes. Soaking softens the nails, making them more suitable for extensive cleaning as compared to dry nails.


Be sure to soak only your nails, as soaking your entire hands can dry out your skin.

Step 5. Clean underneath your nails with a nail brush

Step-5.Clean underneath your nails with a nail brush

Now, you can easily use a nail brush to get at those hard-to-reach places underneath the fingernails. Placing the nail brush underneath your nails, brush in sideways motions to clean the nails thoroughly.

If you don’t own a nail brush, you can easily get it at any cosmetic or drug store. A clean toothbrush kept separate for this purpose is a good alternative.

Step 6. Remove old nail polish

Step-6. Remove old nail polish

In order to make your nails presentable, you need to do away with your old and chipped nail polish. Remove the old polish with nail polish remover pads.

You may use nail polish remover in liquid form, but it’s usually messy. Nail polish remover pads make the job easier, neater and fuss-free.

Step 7. Rinse your hands and pat dry

Step-7. Rinse your hands and pat dry

Rinse your hands with plain water and pat them dry with a soft, absorbent towel.

Step 8. Moisturize your hands and apply a base coat

Step-8. Moisturize your hands and apply a basecoat

To restore moisture to your skin, squirt some moisturizer in your palms and massage it into both hands. Also, massage it into the area near and around your fingernails, working it into the skin. Manicure once or twice a month to maintain healthy nails.

Note: You may apply a layer of clear basecoat to protect your nails.


Additional Tips

  • If you can’t invest time in the upkeep of your nails, keep them trimmed short. Short nails almost always stay cleaner by themselves. You may opt to shape them for a more finished look.
  • Similar steps can be applied to maintain your toenails.
  • Give your nails a break from nail polish at least once a month. This will help them breathe and become strong and healthy. This will also help to reduce the yellow discoloration in your nails.
  • Use a light moisturizing cream or oil on your hands. Greasy and goopy creams end up attracting more buildup underneath your fingernails and are harder to clean.
  • If you have the habit of nail-biting, make a serious effort to stop doing that. Nail-biting makes your fingernails appear very unkempt and more difficult to maintain.