Hand Care Tips For Gardeners: Keeping Your Hands Clean In The Garden

Gardener In Garden With Dirty Hands
dirty hands
(Image credit: Anetlanda)

When it comes to keeping your hands clean in the garden, gardening gloves are the obvious solution. However, gloves sometimes feel clumsy even when they fit correctly, getting in the way and making it difficult to handle tiny seeds or fine roots. If you prefer to make direct contact with the soil, you must find ways to deal with dirty fingernails, embedded dirt, calluses, and dry, cracked skin. Maintaining clean hands in the garden (without gloves), requires a bit of extra tender loving care, but it’s possible. Read on for tips for keeping your hands clean and avoiding dirty fingernails, no matter how hard you’re working in the garden.

How to Avoid Getting Dirt Under Your Fingernails

These hand care tips for gardeners can help alleviate common issues with dirty fingernails and other related issues that come from not wearing gloves:

  • Keep your nails short and neatly trimmed. Shorter nails are easier to care for and less likely to snag.
  • Scratch your fingernails over a bar of damp soap, then massage petroleum jelly or heavy hand lotion into your cuticles before you head out to the garden.
  • Scrub your nails with warm water and soap when you’re done for the day, using a soft fingernail brush. You can also use the brush to gently scrub dirt ingrained in your hands. Use a natural soap that won’t dry your skin.
  • Brush your hands with a dry brush before every shower, then buff them gently with a pumice stone to improve circulation and minimize dry, flaking skin.
  • Rub a thick lotion into your hands and fingers two or three times a day. If your cuticles are dry and ragged, a warm olive oil massage will soften them.
  • Treat your hands to an exfoliating scrub if they’re feeling tight and dry. For example, try equal parts olive or coconut oil and brown or white sugar. Massage the scrub gently into your hands, then rinse with lukewarm water and dry them gently with a soft towel.
Mary H. Dyer

A Credentialed Garden Writer, Mary H. Dyer was with Gardening Know How in the very beginning, publishing articles as early as 2007.