Tips for keeping fingernails clean?

I did some work on my bicycle this morning, resulting in my fingernails are all black around the edges. No time to take a shower. I used some of that waterless cleaner stuff – GoJo I think it is called – which did a pretty good job & got most of the gunk off, but still some remains around the edges, and it’s a pretty gruesome sight I must say … lol … I guess I could have put some rubber gloves on, but a certain loss of tactile sense is lost, which makes handling small items like bicycle bearing parts (which is what I was doing) more difficult.

So what’s your tricks for avoiding or at least mitigating this problem? One mechanic told me he’d scrape his fingernails into a bar of soap before starting the job. Does that help?

I have done lots of bicycle work since the 1970s. Soap under the fingernails helps, but the ticket is those thin blue exam gloves that come in a box of 100. They actually make fine work like ball bearings extra easy. They are not very durable, but they are inexpensive. You’ll love them.


Ok, I have a box of those already, will try your idea next time. Usually the problem I have with them (besides accidentally tearing them while putting on) is little bulges develop in the fingertip area, makes handling small items difficult. To your credit, my bicycle repair book suggests that idea too. the soap idea seems like it would help at the tip of the fingernail, but not where the edge of fingernail meets the finger on the other end.

D and L hand cleaner and a fingernail scrub brush works for me. GoJo just never worked quite as well. The scrub brush works the crud out.


I like the 20 Mule Team for hard grease removal. I second Go-Jo not being that great.

I use dawn dish soap and an old tooth brush. As others have said Go Jo is not what it used to be,

@George_San_Jose1 the trick with gojo etc. is to use a paper towel untill you get off all the gunk. no water until you are happy.

Go Jo and Lava combination plus a good scrub brush and as said scrape the fingernails on the bar of Lava. That is once they are dirty. But the best is to just use latex gloves. Makes clean up a lot easier.

Keep your fingernails as short as possible and rub some Fast Orange on your hands like lotion before you start your work as a protective coating. A quick hit with Fast Orange when you are done and 90 percent of the crud is gone. A second hit with Fast Orange and/or a follow up wash using Dawn dish soap will finish the trick. Sparkling clean fingers every time.

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I also have that problem if my hands are not completely dry. Even some (unseen) sweat will result in difficulty putting the exam gloves on my hands and getting a decent fit.

The next time that you use exam gloves, make sure that you haven’t washed your hands just before putting them on, and try using a paper towel–or two–to get any residual moisture off of your hands. When in doubt, the use of a blow dryer on your hands for a couple of seconds should do the trick.

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I’ve also used a hand moisturizer BEFORE starting the work. Give it some time to soak in and it helps prevent dirt from penetrating too deeply.

Oh, and I don’t do it when whatever I touch can get contaminated by whatever is on my fingers. In that case, I tend to use gloves.

Me too. The 20 Mule Team powdered soap in a can works better for me than Goop, GoJo and the like. It cleans more thoroughly and doesn’t dry the skin at all. I was pleasantly surprised a few years ago, and it’s been my favorite ever since. A small nylon brush helps under and alongside fingernails.

I work on and play guitars, too, and like to have clean hands for that.

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Years ago I remember something from the parts store that you rubbed on before working the car. Can’t find it now. Probably acts like a moisturizer, as @CapriRacer mentioned.

Now, I use nitrile gloves.


I think this is like what you are mentioning. I never tried it.

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Yep, that’s it.

Great tips, thanks for the feedback.

I use nitrile gloves. Some talcum powder in the glove before you pull it on helps a lot getting it on and off. And, try them a size too small. They will die sooner but they will fit snug so there’s less of the bubble of glove at the end of your fingers.

When there’s nothing else to wash up with try some dishwashing liquid (Palmolive, Joy, whatever), rub it in well on dry hands, then have someone sprinkle some sugar on the soapy areas you want to scrub and start scrubbing, no water yet. Work it and then just a little water, work it some more and then some more water, lather, rinse, repeat.

I use nitrile gloves, which are now free because of Medicare Advantage. When I’m impatient and forget, or don’t have them, I keep worn out scrub pads (the thin things, no sponge). I buy the cheaper kind at the Dollar General (nobody else has them - they all used to) and when they’re too thin to wash dishes/counters/etc. they’ll get greasy dirt off my fingers better than anything else. They’re a little too abrasive for skin new.

If you have trouble getting the gloves on, a little shot from the air compressor will open them up. I also do that sometimes to get them off without destroying them. I think I paid $14 for 100 and maybe takes a couple years to go through the box.

Anybody for a finger brush?? But gloves would be useful to prevent a problem.