Acrylic nails look beautiful, but dirt, food, and bacteria can hide beneath the nail. Cleaning underneath your acrylic nails requires a gentle touch so that the acrylic nail doesn’t separate from the natural nail. Be aware, however, that most discoloration on acrylic nails is caused by fungus, not dirt. This means that you will have to remove the nail and treat your finger before you can apply a new one. Prevention is easier than treatment, however. Practice daily hygiene habits to reduce your risk of fungus or other infections.
EditRemoving Dirt from Nails
- Wash your hands with antibacterial soap and warm water. Do this whenever you go to the bathroom, eat or cook, touch animals, or handle dirty objects. Don’t wash your hands unless they need it, however. Too much washing can weaken the nail glue.
- Dry your nails thoroughly with a towel whenever they get wet. Water can cause fungus and bacteria to build up under the nail. It can also cause the acrylic nail to separate from the natural nail, which can encourage infections.
- Scrub under the nail using a soft-bristled nail brush. Dip the nail brush into a cup of warm, soapy water. Tap out any excess water. Move the brush back and forth under the nail to remove dirt. Be gentle, however, so that you do not weaken the glue.
- Do not press hard against the underside of the nail. Instead, just sweep the brush back and forth.
- A soft toothbrush may also work.
- Scrape out dirt with a cuticle pusher. Rub the dirt off onto a paper towel before cleaning the next nail. Only clean areas that you can reach. Try to avoid applying pressure to the nail, as this can cause the nail to separate.
- Do not stick the cuticle pusher down between the nail and skin.
- Soak your nail in rubbing alcohol before replacing a fallen nail. This will prevent fungus or bacteria from getting under your nail. Pour some rubbing alcohol into a cup, and soak your fingernail for 15 seconds. Dry your natural nail before gluing the acrylic nail back on.
- You should do this even if the nail is still partially attached.
- Dark streaks, yellow discoloration, or a crumbly crust on the natural nail are all signs of a fungal infection. Throw out the acrylic nail and treat the fungus.
EditEliminating Fungus on Nails
- Remove the nail from your finger. Fungal treatments do not work if the acrylic nail is still attached. You will have to treat the fungus before you can apply new nails. Toss the infected nail as soon as you remove it.
- To remove acrylic nails, soak your fingers in a cup of warm water for up to ten minutes. This will soften the acrylic nails so that you can easily peel them off.
- Alternatively, you can soak cotton balls in acetone. Wrap them against your fingernails using aluminum foil, and leave them for twenty minutes. This should remove the acrylic nail.
- Remove any remaining glue with a damp sponge. The leftover glue may contain the fungus. Soak the sponge in warm water, and gently scrub around the nail to remove any remaining glue. Polish the top of the nail with a nail brush if the glue is stubborn.
- Soak your fingers in vinegar. You can use white vinegar or apple cider vinegar. Keep the affected fingers in the vinegar for at least thirty minutes a day for up to a week.
- Do not dunk in your entire hand, as this might cause your skin to dry out.
- Try a mouthwash soak. Instead of vinegar, you can soak your fingers in mouthwash for up to thirty minutes a day. The alcohol should help kill the fungus. If your fingers start stinging, however, remove them from the mouthwash.
- Apply a mixture of tea tree oil and olive oil to the nails. Mix equal parts of each oil, and apply to each affected nail with a cotton swab. Do this twice a day until the infection is gone.
- Visit a doctor. If natural treatments do not clear up the fungus after a week, see your doctor. You may need a prescription cream or pill to kill the fungus. You should also visit your doctor if you notice any:
- Redness around the nail
- Itching under or around the nail
- Broken skin around the nail
- Broken natural nails
EditKeeping Nails Clean
- Wear gloves while you clean or bathe. This will prevent dirt from getting under your nails. It can also keep your hands dry so that fungus does not grow beneath the nail. Latex or rubber gloves work best.
- Visit the nail salon to touch up the nails every two to three weeks. Gaps that appear between the acrylic and natural nail can cause infections. Your salon can prevent this by filling in the gaps or reattaching loose nails.
- Replace nails after three months. Acrylic nails can attract more dirt and grime the longer that you wear them. To prevent fungal infections and dirty nails, get rid of the nails after three months.
- Let your natural nails rest for a month before applying new acrylic nails to them. This will keep them clean and prevent damage that can cause infections.
- Make sure your nail salon sterilizes their equipment after every use. Sterilization kills any germs, bacteria, or fungus that may be on the tools. Ask your nail technician if you can see how they sterilize their tools before you let them handle your nails.
- Make sure they remove a brand new nail file straight from the packaging. Nail files cannot be sanitized like other tools can be.
- Do not go to any salon that does not sterilize their tools.