If You Love to Garden, You Need to Know This Hack for Keeping Your Hands Clean

Because no one wants to carry their garden soil around with them.

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Excellent news, gardeners: Spring has finally sprung! That means at long last, it’s time to unearth your trowel, stock up on potting mix and start planning your perfect garden. After a long, wet winter, many of us are eager to feel the dirt on our hands as we sow new seeds.

But one part of gardening that’s not so enjoyable? Trying to get that pesky dirt out from underneath your fingernails after a long day’s work. Sure, you could wear gardening gloves, but even they don’t always keep the soil out, plus they can limit your mobility for delicate tasks, like counting out seeds.

So what’s a proactive gardener to do? Fortunately, there’s a super simple hack for protecting your hands and nails while out in the garden. With just two common household items, you can have the easiest post-gardening clean-up of your life. Here’s what to do.

How to Protect Your Hands While Gardening

For starters, go to the store and pick up a bar of soap, a small tub of petroleum jelly and—if you don’t have one yet—a nail brush. Keep the bar of soap dry for this hack.

Before your next gardening session, scratch your fingernails over the dry bar of soap. You basically want the soap to fill up the gap beneath each nail so that the dirt can’t. Make sure that each fingernail is treated.

Then, rub a little petroleum jelly over the cuticles of each nail. This will allow the dirt to stick to the jelly, instead of getting buried in your delicate cuticles. Now, you’re ready to go out into the garden, leaving the soap and jelly on while you work.

How to Clean Off Your Hands After Gardening

Man Washes Dirty Hands After Working Outdoorskobzev3179/Getty Images

After your gardening session, wash your hands as you ordinarily would. Then, use the nail brush to get over and under your nails, scrubbing off the dirt, petroleum jelly and soap. Thanks to the protective coat, your hands should clean up very easily, leaving you with no lingering residue on your nail beds.

More Gardening Tools

If you’d rather not use the soap and petroleum trick, check out these specialized garden hand tools which can increase the distance between your nails and the dirt. Or, invest in some fancier yard tools, like a stand-up weeder or gorilla hands to simplify your garden cleanup. Or, simply embrace the soil—after all, isn’t getting your hands dirty one of the great joys of gardening?

Van Van Cleave
Van Van Cleave (they/them) is a California-based journalist, environmentalist, and artist. A graduate of Brown and Oxford Universities, they specialize in environmental news coverage and sustainable home and garden solutions. When they're not writing, they are typically tending to their plants or experimenting with home design trends.