Keeping nails clean

Nail care, nail problems, and the use of nails in playing the classical guitar.
Guitar Nut
Posts: 10
Joined: Thu Mar 30, 2017 4:08 pm
Location: Glasgow, UK

Keeping nails clean

Post by Guitar Nut » Fri Mar 31, 2017 9:49 am

I do manual work most days that often leaves my right hand nails oily and stained even after scrubbing them several times in hot soapy water with a nail brush. They can still be dirty days later. My left hand ones are clean after the first wash. Although I can't discern any difference in tone, having dirty nails is probably not very good for the strings, not to mention unsightly.

I have tried wearing gloves to protect my hands while I'm working, but the nature of the work means that rubber or latex gloves can get torn and my hands sometimes end up dirty anyway. Is there something more I could be doing to keep my nails in pristine condition? Or do I just need to spend even longer washing them?

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robin loops
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Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2012 8:57 am
Location: California

Re: Keeping nails clean

Post by robin loops » Fri Mar 31, 2017 6:41 pm

You can buy soap for mechanics at an automotive store but I find clean oil is one of the best things for removing dirty oil. It basically dilutes the dirty oil and pulls it out of the pores (and porous surfaces). Rub it in really good, use something like a folded business card to 'scrub' under the nail (be gentle and rub the oil in under the nail). A toothbrush works well too but it's too easy to stab under the nail with one of the bristles. Then wash up with a good dish soap (or mechanics soap). Sometimes a little bit of lighter fluid (naphtha) can be used after the oil treatment, for troublesome spots but has a tendency to dry out the skin and nails. It's important to use enough oil that it doesn't become dirty itself. I usually add clean oil as I go (if they are really bad). Generally I try to match the oil with the oil on my hands (i.e. if working on car I use motor oil, if working on a sewing machine I would use machine oil, etc.).
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them.
-James-

Guitar Nut
Posts: 10
Joined: Thu Mar 30, 2017 4:08 pm
Location: Glasgow, UK

Re: Keeping nails clean

Post by Guitar Nut » Sat Apr 01, 2017 6:49 am

Thanks for the tips, Robin. I work with bicycles so my hands are covered in a mixture of the lubricants and grease that are meant to be on the bikes and whatever grime has been picked up along the way. I will look out for mechanics soap.

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