Of cooking and cleanliness......

calilooAugust 9, 2012

Okay - here's the short background to my question. WHen I had my oldest 14 years ago, I cut all my nails really short (so I wouldn't scratch him) and have kept them really short since then. Fast forward to this year - I got a couple of gift certificates for mani/pedis for my last birthday and decided to grow my fingernails out so I could have a "real" manicure.

OH. MY. GAWD! I spend 10 - 15 minutes before I touch food scrubbing with a nail brush and manicure tools cleaning out everything that may have accumulated under my fingernails and at least 10 minutes after digging out any food residue from prepping a meal. I did dry rubbed chicken last night and the dry rub that was under my nails almost made me freak out.

I am ready to cut them all off again, but I'm sure you lovely ladies that keep nicely manicured nails have secrets that I don't know to keep your hands pristing (and your food sanitary).

Please share your tips tricks and secrets!


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I play piano and have always been yipped at because of my long nails. Oh well. I've learned to play with the tips of my fingernails. :) Love my long fingernails (not REALLY long, just a bit longer than 1/2").

I use a boar's hair nail scrub brush to keep everything sanitary.


Here is a link that might be useful: Nail Brush

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 6:26PM
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beachlily z9a

I have hand eczema plus nails that grow really well. I use nonlatex hospital type gloves when working with meats and sometimes as simply general purpose. I don't have to scrub my hands and I know everything is clean.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 6:35PM
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disposable gloves for some tasks ( buy the good ones made for dentists and doctors...they come in sizes and have a right and a left hand) and that manicure tool with the flat side and the point...cleans the crudleys out really well.
Frankly really long nails and finger tip length get equally dirty. Unless you have your nails cut to the quick, you still need to scrub and use the tool to clean them.
Linda C

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 6:48PM
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I gave up on fake nails/long nails. Back when I was in college I was taking charcoal painting and it was impossible to get them completely clean. It was so frustrating to spend half of my lunch break scrubbing them before my next class.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 7:02PM
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LAtex gloves it will be.

To be honest, I did keep them cut so no white showed at all and still used a nail brush before I touched food. It just seems there is a lot more places for stuff to hide now (and no they aren't long by fashion sense, they come to the ends of my finger tips).


    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 7:25PM
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Mine are cut to the quick. I don't like to mix food with my hands and always use a spoon or spatula. If I had nails at all I would use gloves for a dry rub. I am a constant hand-washer as it is.


    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 7:36PM
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I am sure your medical supply place will have them....really great when making ewey gooey breads and the phone rings....or when squishing meatloaf...or dealing with hot peppers.
Or polishing silver...
I need another box...I am down to only a few lefts!!

Here is a link that might be useful: procedure gloves

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 7:38PM
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I use the cheap non sterile gloves you can buy in Big Lots! They work just fine and they are also great for using in the garden underneath the regular cloth garden gloves!

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 8:06PM
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"I spend 10 - 15 minutes before I touch food scrubbing with a nail brush and manicure tools cleaning..."

Hello???? Better not come to my house. I wash my hands a lot. We are almost never ill. I do not scrub my hands, nails or not, nearly like that.

Sorry, but I can see wearing gloves when handling hot peppers, or really messy things. I wash my hands well. I do not use rubber gloves.

OK, I guess that none of you want to come to my house to eat!

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 11:03PM
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Ever prep habaneros??...ever cut up a jalapeno with bare hands?
I thought I didn't want to be bothered with gloves for just one little jalapeno.....scraped the seeds out with my bare fingers and burned for easily an hour. Even wearing gloves and cutting up a bunch of habs....if I touch the knife before washing it my hands burn.
And I really love, when I am mixing up a lot of rolls...to be able to roll out a batch, tos the gloves and put on a fresh pair when the next batch is ready to do....no scrubbing the sticky goo off my hands and no washing my hands well before I begin again.
What I can't stand is to see someone with obviously grime encrusted knuckles and nails handling food...EWWWW!! Even if it's their own food and they are eating it themselves.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 11:39PM
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I said I would use gloves for peppers, altho I don't use hot peppers for home cooking, so it isn't an issue.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 12:10AM
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Being slightly disabled and it being extra steps to wash hands as frequently as I was in the habit of doing....I have become very accustomed to wearing disposable gloves for many many chores. So easy to just toss them away. I bought a double box some years ago, and I am still using them. In the garden too...when I feed the worms and check for moistness etc. Dig around and toss. I remember that years ago I would use gloves when doing anything with chicken and I thought it was easier than all that uncertainty about how clean my hands were....gloves are great no matter what you are doing in the kitchen!

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 1:28AM
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I use ""disposable"" nitrile gloves. I buy them on sale at a place called Harbor Freight. Several times a year they have them on sale for 2-4 dollars box -- depending on the thickness. BUT I keep a cloth bag hanging on hook in the kitchen and put the gloves in this bag after use. (I wash the gloves before remove just like hand-washing) Every week I throw the gloves into the washing machine with a bit of bleach and a CLEAN bath towel. I put the gloves into the dryer with that towel until the towel is dry. I go through hundreds of gloves so this saves me a bit on money. The gloves I usually get are the middle weight because they last longer and wash/dry better.


note: The gloves in link are the ones I purchase but I do not buy online - they cost less in our local store.

Here is a link that might be useful: Gloves medium weight

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 3:18AM
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totally understand the fingernail issue, but what about all those rings and long sleeves involved in food prep? Just bugs me no end to see a long sleeve on a cook...and every finger with a ring on it....those rings may be diamonds and they may be lovely, but they harbor no telling how many germs, debris, etc..... probably more than fingernails.
good grief....I need to go wash my hands just thinking about it.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 6:12AM
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I constantly was my hands when prepping food. Not so much because I'm worried about cleanliness, vis vis the food, but rather because my hands get stuff on them and it bugs me!

For really messy jobs like skinning chicken, putting rubs on ribs and pork butt, mixing burgers or meatballs or dealing with hot peppers I use disposable gloves. Again not so much for the cleanliness of the food but for the cleanliness of my nails!

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 7:52AM
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Exactly what Chase said. Except for the peppers; they don't seem to bother me for some reason. Even habaneros.

I buy vinyl gloves at the restaurant supply.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 8:18AM
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Agree on the long sleeves! People don't realize how much cat hair, dog hair and their own hair cling to sleeves.

Whenever I bake cookies, I put on a clean short sleeve t-shirt, especially having a cat in the house.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 8:56AM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

I always have a nice pedicure but keep my fingernails really short for all your reasons.
I never cook in long sleeves, btw.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 9:29AM
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Ditto what chase said.

I get the powder-free vinyl exam gloves at Walgreen's and stock up on boxes when they have occasional 'buy one, get one half off' sales on them.

My nails are medium length and I always keep them polished and in good condition. My tip is that except for filing, NEVER use metal implements on your nails or cuticles - only wood.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 9:44AM
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Non latex exam gloves from Costco. Thought my mom was crazy for bringing me boxes of them when we were moving, cleaning old place and new place. Now I use them for everything. Especially in the kitchen, bathroom and doing plants.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 10:20AM
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I can't say I've ever scrubbed my nails before cooking. I wash my hands but it sounds like you guys are prepping for surgery :) Then again, I don't have long nails, or jewelry and I never wear long sleeves. I also don't ever handle meat so I guess that helps too!

This has been a really interesting discussion! I had no idea so many people wear gloves when they cook. I use them when I'm dying fondant or gumpaste for my cakes but that's so my hands don't turn colors when I knead it.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 10:44AM
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Helene, I'd eat at your house. I do wash my hands before, after and sometimes during cooking processes, depending on the substance. I use a nail brush after I do things like garden, clean the calf pens or chicken coops, etc. I've only had one manicure in my life and it annoyed me endlessly and I've never had fake nails. I clean my nails every morning when I shower and scrub well if my hands get dirty but it sure doesn't take 10 minutes, more like 2 or 3.

My nails are usually shorter than the tips of my fingers because I use them to pry things, scrape things, grip things. (shrug) I don't really care and I never polish them. Makayla does polish my toenails sometimes, LOL, but she's the only person that I let touch my feet, I hate having my feet touched and I will never allow anyone to give me a massage. Ugh.

The girls got fake nails for Ashley's wedding and I could only think of those nail techs with their metal instruments and wonder how well they are sterilizied. I just kept thinking "Hepatitis C", because a couple of people got it in another county from one of those nail places.

So, I'm a lot more worried about the people giving me a manicure than I am about food which will be cooked anyway.

And, I've been known to work four or five hours in the barn, run my hands under the hose with some Goop and share a peanut butter sandwich with the horses. Of course, I'll also eat a tomato out of the garden, dusted off on my shirt.

I only wear gloves when I'm cutting peppers or as chi mentioned, dying fondant. I should wear them while pitting sweet cherries, those dye my fingers until it looks like I've been working in the garage with Dave!


    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 11:08AM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

A funny story: Somewhere in the eighties, I woke up late for work so decided to stop by a very popular hole-in-the-wall local biscuit/breakfast place. I'd never been there before although I grew up in the town it was located. Again, it was quite well known and had been there for many years.
It was right across the street from where I worked and convenient. I ordered a sausage biscuit at the counter and watched with awe and disgust as the very friendly and nice waitress ( Flo) picked up my biscuit with dirty talons, quite carefully, and wrapped it up.

I threw it out in the outside trash bin!

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 11:37AM
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Using a whitening toothpaste and a soft toothbrush will work wonders for removing food stains from the underside of fingernails. I read that someplace and tried it, easy to do.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 11:46AM
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Tooth paste/brush is a good tip. I'll have to try that. For some crazy reason my fingernails start to hurt when they get a bit too long. They were longer recently and so I thought I'd try to grow them. They were so irritating, I had to give up and cut them. I keep them so there is a little white showing, just barely visible when looking from the "other" side. I wash my hands a lot while cooking for the same reason as Chase, I just can;t stand the feel of foody stuff stuck to them. I keep a fingernail brush at the sink and give a scrub under them as needed. The brush takes the occasional run through the dishwasher.

I never wear gloves, but I have never worked with peppers.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 1:26PM
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Yeah there's a deli right by my work and they have the worst hygiene, which is a shame cause it's so convenient. You can see in the back and I watched the man at the cash register touch all the buttons, handle my money, answer the phone and then go in the back and pick up my sandwich with his bare hands and wrap it up. Last time I ever ate there! All I could think about is how dirty money is and what kind of bacteria had to be all over that phone and cash register and was now resting on my whole wheat.

I know worse things happen in almost any restaurant but I try not to think about it. But when I have to watch it, it's impossible to ignore.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 3:42PM
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I'm pretty much as Chase said. Nail brush and a bottle of bleach water (maybe 10-15% bleach to water ratio) in an old ketchup bottle in the kitchen. Kills about everything under my nails (medium length, maybe 1/8-1/4" of white showing), on my cutting boards, knives, whatever. I DO use gloves for hot peppers...for ME, not necesarily for cleanliness.
I am a frequent hand washer. Drives me crazy (er) to have "stuff" on my hands.

So far, I seem to have a pretty good immune system. I bleach-clean knives and cutting boards after handling raw meats and use a designated board for that. Extra precautions if preparing meals for someone with compromised immune system, but otherwise, I don't obsess.

I am a firm believer in being exposed to "some" bacteria to develop immune system. Not "risky", but, like Annie, I will eat a tomato or even carrot right out of the garden. Then again, I've been doing this since childhood.

I'd eat at your house anytime, sushipup. Sounds just like mine! :)


    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 8:03PM
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I don't scrub with a brush before prepping and cooking. Washing hands in hotish, soapy water is fine with me. My nails aren't long,but they do go a little past my fingertips. I very seldom wear gloves to do things. I don't seed or rib hot peppers, I like the hotness so just chop and toss in. I do wear onion glasses though. Other then wiping down the counters first and washing hands, that is the extent of my cleaning for cooking. Haven't died yet! NancyLouise

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 8:24PM
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Restaurants are the worst! I remember on one of my first days as a server I was commended by the cooks for washing my hands after taking the trash out. "You'd be surprised how many people don't do that," he said. And it was true! But that also falls on the management- some of these people are under so much pressure to get things done quickly.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 8:24PM
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beachlily z9a

I always prepare meals for a person with an impaired immune system--my husband. However, I'm a multiple hand washer, and my hands just can't take it. You wouldn't believe the salves I put on them. Gloves are just better.

We have friends who work at a local hospital. When the hospital got a shipment of gloves that didn't meet their specs, they let employees have them rather than send them back. Shipping cost too much. But, knowing that hospital, they didn't want to bother. They have an attitude. Well, a case of those gloves ended up here with supervisor approval. Our friends really look out for us and I truly appreciate it. I have a year's supply of gloves. The salves I use are costly and the gloves really help.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 8:48PM
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