How to Clean Nails Professionally

At a minimum, clean your nails every week.
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When you visit a nail salon, a professional nail technician will typically clean your hands and nails prior to applying nail polish. Weekly professional manicures are a luxury to most college students. Fortunately, you can clean your nails yourself just as effectively as a professional.

Wash your hands with warm running water and antibacterial soap, taking special care to scrub all parts of your hands. Use a soft-bristled nail brush to clean underneath your nails, then dry your hands completely with a clean towel or paper towel.

Cover your workstation with an old towel or disposable mat.

Remove any old nail polish from your nails with a cotton ball dipped in nail polish remover.

Carefully trim or shape your nails with a nail cutter or file your nails with an emery board, if desired. Shortening your nails will make them easier to keep clean as they attract less dirt and debris.

Apply cuticle cream to your cuticles on each of your nails, using a circular massaging motion.

Fill a small bowl with warm water and let your fingers soak for three minutes. Do not soak your fingers for any longer, as the water will saturate your nail beds causing them to swell.

Gently push your cuticles back with an orange wood stick -- an inexpensive nail tool made out of pliable orange wood -- which can be purchased at most drug stores or beauty supply stores.

Use the pointed end of the orange stick to gently clean under the free edge of the nail to finish this professional nail-cleaning treatment.

  • Do not share your nail tools. After each use, wash your tools with warm, soapy water and then disinfect them with a cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol.
  • If you do not have a soft-bristled nail brush to clean under your nails, try using a clean, soft-bristled toothbrush.
  • Take care not to push the orange stick too far into your cuticles or under the free edge of your nails. This can painfully bump or cut your nail bed leaving it vulnerable to infection.
  • If you do not have an orange stick to clean under your nails, try using the curved end of a cuticle pusher tool. In a pinch, you can also carefully use a toothpick or the tip of your tweezers.

Lisa S. Kramer is a licensed attorney practicing civil litigation and estates and trusts law in southern Florida. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Florida, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa and cum laude. Kramer earned her Juris Doctor from the University of Florida Levin College of Law.