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Getting hands clean

Hi all, After many years of working as a jeweller I have gotten used
constantly dirty hands (from polishing) but as I am getting
married in 6 weeks I was just wondering if anyone has some secret
recipe for getting, and keeping hands clean. Any advice will be
greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance,
Sharon in South Australia.

Hi all, After many years of working as a jeweller I have *gotten used
to* constantly *dirty* hands (from polishing) but as I am getting
married in 6 weeks I was just wondering if anyone has some secret
recipe for getting, and keeping hands clean. Any advice will be

Hi Sharon;

I recommend a product called “pr88” which can be purchased from
Stuller ( ) or you could look it up in one of
the internet search engines and see if there’s a supplier in
Australia. It’s a cream that you apply to your hands which dries to
form an invisible layer. You simply rinse it off with water and the
dirt goes with it. All our sales people use it to keep their hands
clean when they occaissionally polish customer’s jewelery.

David L. Huffman

Sharon, Try an old-fashioned hand soap like Fels-Naptha with a brush
and just keep working at it. It doesn’t seem to dry my hands as much
as some soaps and should get yours “relatively” clean if you just
keep working at it. Fair warning - it can be hard to find, but there
should be at least one grocery store in your area that carries it -
just keep looking.


Dear Sharon it can be painful, but i use ammonia and a scrub brush
to clean up. It may take a couple of days and can be painful, but it
will work. Jay


I’ve been in the habit of giving my hands a scrub with my ammonia
and soap solution with the same toothbrush I’ve used to scrub
whatever I’ve been polishing. Seems to work nicely, and keeps the
layer of grime to a minimum :slight_smile:

I’ve also been using a substance called “ArtGuard” prior to
polishing. It’s a creme, comes in a jar, and is available in fine
art supply stores here in the states. Made by Winsor & Newton, who
specialize in oil paints (that’s the section of the store you’ll find
it in, probably). It coats the skin with a water-soluble, non-greasy
and invisible barrier film that makes it much easier to remove things
like oil paints and greasy polishing substances. Once applied and
rubbed in, you won’t even know it’s there. I’ve used it for years in
oil painting and decided to try it when I took up traditional
jewelrysmithing and realized just how stained the fingers were
becoming from the polish.

One other thing you might want to try is a finger wrap on your
forefingers and thumbs. Basically, it’s a self-sticking thin
ace-bandage-type material. It’s sold in jewelry supply under the
brand name Alligator Skin, but the stuff you get in your local
athletic supply or pharmacy is just as good, in my opinion. This has
the nice side-effect of also insulating your fingers from the heat
and your fingernails from the chipping and “sanding” they
occasionally get. You can also get leather or rubber finger-guards
(called “finger cots”) if you want to go for something more durable
and permanent. However, they decrease the sensitivity, so if you’re
doing a lot of small pieces, they may not be suitable.

Best of luck!
Karen Goeller

Sharon, Try one of the “Hand Cleaners” found in most auto parts
stores and some hardware stores. These have lanolin and a few have
pumice. By the way, the cleaners without pumice are good for cleaning
polishing compound off jewelry. There is always Lava soap, if you can
find it.It is a bar soap with pumice. Best wishes on your wedding.
Will Estavillo

My favorite is laundry borax and liquid dishsoap in combination
(especially the grease cutting ones like Dawn or Ajax). The Borax
provides a mild abrasive and boosts the detergent effect. The one
drawback is that is drys your hands out a bit, but I have to wash my
hands so much that there’s hand lotion in most rooms of my house as
well as my car ( my day job involves a lot of very dirty pieces of

 Ron Charlotte -- Gainesville, FL

Orange Goop and/or 1 tbsp. Dawn, 1tbsp. Mr. Clean, 32 oz water Mixture
(what we use to clean our hands and jewelry after polishing!)

Dwain Coufal
D.C. Designs

Hi Sharon, A product my brother, a shipbuilder recommended is called
glove cote by The Fiber-Glass Evercoat Company. Use it on clean
hands and it will be quite easy to clean your hands up afterwards.
I make sure to get it under my fingernails as this seems to be where
the stains stick the most on my hands. Congratulations on the


G’day; there are no hands with worse grimed in black than those of
a motor mechanic (and my youngest son’s between the ages of 2 and
about 16.) Garage mechanics usually have a drum of what they call
’Goop’ and before washing, take some of this oily looking mess and
rub it well into their hands, then rinse them off in warm water then
wash with soap. They don’t use very alkaline mixtures like ammonia
or borax for this makes hands very dry and they soon develop painful
cracks. I personally use citrus smelling 'Mobil Hand Cleaner’
which contains no solvents, which I buy from the local garage, and
then afterwards use a small amount of standard hand cream as my skin
is very dry indeed. I have to have a fatless diet. And may the
marriage be as happy as my own for the last 56 years. – Cheers for

John Burgess; @John_Burgess2 of Mapua Nelson NZ

I buy a cheap super grainy face scrub from the drug store and use
that- much kinder to your skin and then I follow up with a super
rich hand moisturizer from Kiehls. If your hands get dried out it
becomes to painful to work so treat those hands to lots of kind
moisture rich things!


Hi Sharon, I use a liquid soap and a fingernail brush and warm water.
If that doesn’t get it, I use a pumice-based liquid soap called Lava
which is designed for mechanics. I’m not sure if you have Lava, but
you probably have some pumice-based liquid soap. Check with a
hardware store or auto parts store and ask what mechanics use.

JoAnna Kelleher
Pearl Exotics Trading Company

I use the stuff that auto mechanics use- Goop is one of the
better-known brand names. It does a great job of cutting through
grease and dirt, jewelry related or otherwise.

Lee Einer

Here, try this.

a. 1 cup baking soda.
b. 1 teaspoon dish washing liquid
c. Enough water to make a paste.
d. Use with a brush to clean deep down.

This works very well, is economical, most people have the
ingredients kicking around the house, and this formula can also be
used on your finished jewelry pieces to remove polishing compounds
without scratching.

The baking soda is a mild abrasive and won’t hurt your hands. If
you need something with more grit, then use the formula with pumice
powder or Diatomaceous earth instead of baking soda; but be warned
if you use either of these do not use it to clean finished jewelry
pieces. It will scratch.


Sharon, Call me a wimp, if you will, but after 23 years of polishing
and the appearance of my fingers (never looking clean) I decided to
start using gloves to polish with. I use leather “batting” gloves.
Some jewelers I know use golf gloves. Makes a huge difference in the
appearance of my fingers and hands. I was concerned at first that I
could not polish as we ll wearing gloves or that it would be awkward.
Not at all.

Best wishes on your wedding!

Bob Staley
B.Staley, Goldsmiths
Precision Laser Welding

Hi Sharon; I found “Gardeners After Work Scrub Grains” from Crabtree
& Evelyn works wonders. It is a granular powder but boy it really
gets the grime off. When my hands are really black, I use a bit of
ammonia w/dish soap first and then follow with the Gardeners After
Work Scrub Grains. Ammonia just dries out your skin so badly. And
the GAWSG last a long time - it takes very little to do the job.


I’ve found that baby oil or body butters help lift the compound that
is down in the cracks and splits you get from the twelve hour grinds
at the bench and polishing wheel during the busy season.

Give your husband to be a backrub or two over a weekend and your
hands will be clean and almost callous free.

The pr88 is a great product helps minimze the problem. The
alligator skin is an excellent idea too. Speeds production, reduces
minor injuries, and helps keep calluses from building up.

Good Luck

for hand cleaning, fast orange by permetex works really well. it has
pumice and cornhuskers lotion is it, it doesn’t have any petrolium
products. it cleans buffing compound and removes lapidary cutting oil
remove patina from the surface of textured metals with a brass brush.
it smells good. it comes in a 128 oz. plastic bottle with a pump
dispenser.after reading all the other postings, i would not try anything
else unless they stop making it.

  I decided to start using gloves to polish with.  I use leather
"batting" gloves. Some jewelers I know use golf gloves. 

Aw, Bob, now you’ve gone and done it! Stand by to hear gruesome
first-hand stories about people having their wrist snapped like twigs
in the buffer after having a glove get caught. You should have
included a disclaimer about “at your own risk…”

Having said that, I do the same. I started with the skin-tight (no
loose material) racquetball gloves. When they wore out I went to
batting gloves, but they had a sticky substance on them that made
them unusable. I recently bought golf gloves, although they’re a bit
less durable. The gloves to help keep hands clean, but my primary
motivation was to be able to hold the pieces as they grew hot from

Don’t take this lightly though! There is a serious risk to this
solution. I don’t discount for a moment the hazard of a 3750 RPM
buffer doing damage to my person. In a case of “do as I say, not as I
do”, I would probably recommend the “alligator skin” fingers, and
don’t know if I’d want to go on record as recommending gloves for the
buffer. If you do opt to use gloves, be very conscious of the risk

As a side anecdote, a friend/client was in the studio the other day
and, knowing of my decidedly non-athletic lifestyle, had to ask what
I was doing with all the athletic gloves in the studio!

All the best,
Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)

Formulae for GOOP Pour some good quality turpentine into a clean
glass pot, add washing up liquid (Dawn) - about 50% and stir. It will
gel! The good quality turps can be obtained from art suppliers.

Of course there’s always the alternative. You just work up a rich,
all over patina of grime and have an antique theme to the wedding!

Tony Konrath