• Gloves or no gloves? Hand care after gardening

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    Protecting a gardener’s hands: Your advice…

    Sometimes a post on our Flea Market Gardening Facebook page just strikes a chord with everyone.  This one did and the result is many fine tips for caring for our hands after gardening.  After all we still want to have soft hands…  Where do you stand on wearing gloves?

    Awful hands!

    Awful hands!

    “My hands! I’m working them to the bone, and today THIS is what they feel like! Dirt under my fingernails just like when I was a kid! I pick up cement stepping stones to move them and feel the rough surface tear at my skin. What really gets me is the rough SIDES of my fingers that have tiny cracks. I should wear gloves more, I know, but I need someone to sternly tell me to do so! :-)

     What do you all do to care for your hands after gardening? ~~ Sue

    What you said:

    Deborah L. Cutter- Well, like you, I don’t like to wear gloves. I make sure I have a fingernail brush to get the dirt from under the nails when done and lots of lotion!

    Emily Diaz– The Satin hands system from Mary Kay is a lifesaver to me after gardening!! I love it!!!

    Tally CalvertMary Kay pretty hands and feet works about the best to get them clean, along with sandpaper lol! I have gotten better at wearing gloves and found that applying hand lotion first really helps, I have bottles on all the porches, by the chicken coop…

    Sue Walker- Sue, go to the store and purchase some “Bag Balm” (used to keep cow’s udders from drying and cracking) . . slather this on your hands and put on cotton gloves or socks to go to bed at night . . you’ll be amazed how much better they look/feel in the morning!

    Carlyss June Van Ness– I put a heavy hand lotion on before I go out and then again when I come in. It seems to help.

    Trish Hatcher Cooper– No Cracks Cream – works WONDERS!

    Melissa Sisk– My favorite gloves are a $12 dollar pair from Wall Mart that are thin on the backs with an almost mesh material and very thin leather on the fronts. They velcro shut and I can actually forget I’m wearing them which saves my hands soooo much pain when working with tools or moving heavy/sharp stuff. I still weed mostly barehanded so I can get the little stuff, but the gloves make a big difference.

    Bianca Tripodi PickardCamphor cream… an amazing product for gardening, sun care, dry and cracked skin… so many uses… a must in my home..

    Merik Hollis King– Wear the gloves and after you are finished and washed up use Alpha Keri oil. Good stuff!

    Tender Lee– Gloves save your hands, especially leather. Cost a tad more, but last 10x longer, and wear like a tough 2nd skin. I get the 3 pack of leather gloves at Sam’s every few years, takes a long time to wear out the index finger, which happens quickly with fabric gloves.

    Karen Davis- Make a paste of olive oil and salt or sugar and rub all over your hands and then rinse.


    Gayla Jones– My grandma taught me that bleach water in a bowl will whiten nails, also if you put lotion on your hands an do dish’s or wear glove “the plastic ones” while you are working in the garden your hand will be soft once again

    Sheila Coates King– Quick and simple… I scrape a dove soap bar with my nails which puts a little under my nails, and then I slip on my garden gloves. Also, I keep a little nail file by my sink and carry small lotions with me everywhere. I even lotion my hands in the car at a stop light. Easy, breezy. :

    Angela Dobes Carver– I don’t use gloves either. I use Palmer’s cocoa butter and have a file that I use to smooth the rough skin.

    Liz Miller Davey- Bert’s Bees Hand care.

    Dreama Bender– Hello Sue !! I’m the same way , When I fuss at my self cause my hands look bad , my hubby always has to remind me, about the gloves he bought , that I never use.

    Eliza Jayasinha– Dirty hands are the crown of a Gardener. But do wear gloves tho’ I too hate it.

    Shirley Womack Calhoun– Wash the dishes in the sink, not dishwasher… w/lots of BLUE DAWN DISH LIQUID. Then I use a moisture magnet hand/body satin lotion I get from www.melaleuca.com … put on a pair of white cotton gloves & n the morning start all over…. but w/gardening gloves.

    Marcia Chretien– Mary Kay here to…put it on at bedtime….:)

    Aminah Luqman– I do the dishes after I garden, so my nails get clean and my dishes do, too! Then I deep moisturize with organic coconut oil or some good Extra Virgin Olive Oil. I’m already in the kitchen, so that works out pretty well. :o)   (My daughter, Madeline, a cosmetologist agrees with this one because she says, only oils like coconut and olive have molecules small enough to penetrate your skin’s cells. ~~ Sue)

    Garden Glove rack from 'Instructables'

    Garden Glove rack from ‘Instructables’

    Joyce England– I use gloves most of the time but sometimes I just forget and start grabbing Mary Kay night cream is what I use I rub it into my hands real good and try to keep still until I fall asleep.

    Diane Tyler Button– Wear gloves for everything! Well, almost. I have to force myself but it makes a huge difference. Use Dove soap to bathe. Have hand cream by every sink and use it. When I come in from the garden and wash my hands, I dry them well and pour hydrogen peroxide all over my hands and nails, under my nails, then rinse, dry and put on hand cream. Makes a difference!!!!

    Ericka Possehn Ducret- Gloves! I wash them with a cream wash and then use Crabtree & Evelyn’s gardening cream…fabulous stuff that is…I need to hunt some more down before my hard work begins!

    Monika Clauberg- Grief, that sounds just like me. Had a pedicure yesterday, my feet are fabulous, but…..MY HANDS are in terrible shape for the same reason. I use “now solutions shea butter” from Whole Foods, comes in a 7oz little pot. It helps, but is very greasy for a while.

    Shirley Gaydos Brown– Sternly telling you to wear gloves always!!!!!!!

    Lauraine Piquette– First off, I start by scratching a bar of soap to get it under my nails instead of dirt. An old trick I learned in garden club. I always wear gloves and use tools instead of hands to pull weeds. It really helps. Use plenty of cream prior to gloves. I use cotton gloves first then mud gloves. Hope this helps.

    Janet Page- Get a pair of Atlas 370 Garden Club Gloves… It will change your life and you will always show up with a perfect manicure. Trust me you will have more than one pair.

    Kathy Taylor– I stopped using mesh made gloves for outside work because I almost lost the diamonds out of my wedding set. My body temp got so Hot it heated up the gold and the setting separated…with the pull of the mesh. Heads Up!

    Kelli Clukey Richardson– lately I can’t get enough hand cream…my hands are so dry and I promised myself “this year I would wear gloves more”…. well the year is young…. today I think I will roto-till some more even though its warm its to early to plant a lot of stuff….

    Kay Comer- PRID in a little tiny orange tin at most drug stores and Wal-Mart $4…will stop the pain and heal those finger cracks almost instantly…pain goes away instantly and if you rub it in good before bed…they’re healed the next morning….ready to start fresh with new cracks :-) I can’t work in gloves either and we have 5 acres in cottage gardens…a wildflower bluff…a open spot in a woodland meadow that I’m just now working up….and a 2 1/2 acre secret garden….and my hands look like a farmers hands…..I first clean with GOOP….then put some clorox in the kitchen sink and soak my hands for a bit in that….and scrub with a tooth brush to get it out from around fingernails…..it’s a constant hastle…trying to keep neat and clean hands in the spring for me…..but SO worth it… :-)

    Shirley B. Carlen– Today I am making lotion bars from a recipe on Birds and Blooms. Will let you know how they are. I also knit which dries the hands, also.

    Pamela Johnson– Spray Clorox-cleanup under your nails when you wash your hands. Dry them and use “Corn Huskers” Lotion! Between gardening and woodworking, my hands can’t catch a break!

    Margie Aldrich Smith Pope– I’m afraid I have dirt under my nails this morning as well. I’ve been transplanting and I never remember to put on gloves.

    Kathy Ashburn Meinberg– Goat milk lotions

    Katie Wellman- Before gardening, I scratch my nails over Bar soap to fill in where dirt normally would go, this helps with clean up after. Then after a good scrubbing I rub pure coconut oil into the dry skin… It keeps ot from cracking and smelling like a tropical island!

    Ginny Theilacker– I swear by Gardener’s Therapy Cream by Crabtree and Evelyn!!! An absolute lifesaver for me!

    Colleen Patrick Rucker– I found the greatest gardener’s hand soap in Seattle, WA. It’s little bits of lavender in it that help exfoliate my rough skin. I follow it with Angel Farms Deeply Moisturizing Lotion – also found at a kiosk in Pike Place Market in Seattle, WA. I live in north San Diego county, CA but make the trip north a few times a year to see our grandchild and to stock up on these lavender products :)

    Susan Hunter– had to force myself to wear gloves. I prefer the nitrile coated ones, because they last longer and keep my hands moist without being too hot. All the previous mentioned products work at one time or another, but can’t always count on them due to temperature, climate, and a whole bunch of other conditions. At times if my hands get really bad I slather them with carbolated salve and put on a pair of hubby’s old white cotton socks and go to bed. Big difference in the morning! Good luck and wear make a conscious effort to wear gloves.

    Deb Peltier– I’m glad to hear about the coconut oil remedy…I’m a gloves wearer unless I forget. My hands are always a mess, even with the gloves. I don’t like the “feel” of gloves, so my favorites are the brown jersey gloves with the little nobs on them (better grip) but I burn through them quickly. One thing I LOVE is from Bath and Body Works is their cuticle cream…it really helps after I’ve showered and cleaned up to rub that on my cuticles and the ends of my fingers.

    Debbie Rust– Wear the gloves!!!! I’ve worn gloves since beginning to garden years ago and can’t work without them! Weather here in Seymour, IN is GORGEOUS today! Just came in for lunch and a short rest (needing lots more breaks these days!)

    Garden Whimsies by Mary– I wear gloves and my hands still feel like this LOL. I love Burt’s Bees Hand Salve . . . a farmer’s friend.

    Garden Knicknacks– Most of the time I CRY! I have the broken lines around my nails use liquid band-aid. Burns a little, but heals quickly. Can’t pull weeds with gloves on mine hands.

    Diana L. Duggan– I am a retired operator/salon owner specialized in hands and feet. I am also an avid gardener and practicing artist and have been most of my adult life. What I do and have recommended to my clients, is to wear latex gloves (form fitting)

    Nancy Myrick Gill– I wear snug fitting gloves and they are very helpful. I have developed a condition that is truly aggravated by gardening and that is tendonitis in both wrists. I’ve been to a hand surgeon and she prescribed an anti-inflammation cream, but even with that and no gardening over the winter, my wrists are still very uncomfortable and easily irritated. Any suggestions?

    Little Red Riding Hood– Wear latex coated gardening gloves and when you do get dirty…gently clean hands with a mixture of spoonful of sugar and a spoonful of cooking oil…massage into hands, rinse with warm water, pat dry!

    Cheryl Lewallen York– Wow glad to hear that I’m not the only one that does not wear gloves as often as I should! My husband is my stern reminder and he always wears gloves to work in. My problem is that I usually have no intention of weeding or picking up a few rocks when I go out, but it just happens. Lots of lotion (no particular kind) and since I haven’t a dish washer keeps them fairly clean. My nails are all different sizes though from breaking.

    East Dallas Art Gardens

    East Dallas Art Gardens

    Donna Hoopes Shipley– Richie I wear gloves and still get dry hands. Lotion often!

    Debbie J. Carter McMahon– I do not wear gloves, and like you when moving step stones they cut my hands up. I got lots of good info from all these comments.

    Joann Payne- Oh I know the feeling.. I hate wearing gloves also… when my hands get as bad as yours I use Bag Balm or a first aid antibiotic ointment… that will heal the cuts fast… as.. Love your page… thanks for all the wonderful posts.

    Cheryl St.Clair- Bag balm before you go to bed with socks on hands or those cotton gloves..

    Marion Cronen– Try wearing rubber gloves…the kind that doctors wear .. they are cheap for a big box of them…the dirt doesn’t get under your nails .. you can deal with the smallest plants…and your hands kinda sweat in them so they aren’t going to dry out ..I wore them while digging and transplanting some plants and they worked great..

    Ester De Weese– If I been out working and end up with rough dry hands, at night rub then down with vinegar. You may go to bed smelling like a salad but wake up with very soft hands. Once it a while it may take two nights, but if I’m gonna be home alone I’ll put it on again in the morning after my shower. Just don’t’ rub your eye! lol

    Judy Reschner Enzmann– I wear leather gloves (when I remember) they are very soft and save my hands…2 pair for 19.00 at Sam’s. I put them everywhere so I will always have them handy! Living in Georgia with the red clay… it really messes up you hands and nails!

    Carol Lee Barth– Crabtree and Evelyn Gardeners cream. Wear it year round and it has a refreshing smell too.

    Blondeponders Garden and Duck tales- I learned the hard way WEAR GLOVES. Usually I would get a thorn or something and after a good soaking it would dislodge But one day I could not get a splinter/thorn under my nail bed. As the week went on nothing I could do helped and my finger got yellowy green,swollen and SORE! Off to Urgent Care where the Doc took one look and said We’re goin fishing! Shot o’ Lodocaine and a small incision and I was almost good as new. Words to the wise WEAR GLOVES and get a tetanus shot!

    3Beeze Homestead– I do wear my gloves. They may have wholes in the fingers but they work. I am always sorry when I don’t so I just do. Looking to get out and do some weeding in the flower beds today.

    Tracy Narveson Bantel-  OMGoodness IS ME~ My wonderful nail lady that tends to all my cracks, loose skin torn on my fingertips, bleeding rose pricks, scars, re-nicked sores, she is always reminding me how beautiful my garden is!

    Espe Del Sol- I also hate to wear gloves, I love the feel of the leaves and the softness of the petals, just don’t like the thorns, but since it comes with the territory I try to remember to protect my hands a little.

    Sydney Van Buskirk Minor– I turned down a gift of a manicure for Valentines’ Day because I knew it would be readily ruined.

    Kathy Zeller- ha!…same here, most of the time I end up putting on Vaseline and night time gloves

    Connie Springer Schneider Baers– Pure Skin Repair-after I wash my hands with warm water and their soap I rub them gently with this salve. It feels wonderful and the pain, swelling, cracks go away. baerspure.com or on fb

    The Meandering Path– Atlas 370 gloves ! In bulk from Palmflex.com.

    Sally Scholes– I have always worn gloves since I ran into some Poison Oak. Never needed another reminder :(.

    Kathy Johnson Swarms– I very rarely wear gloves. I love the feel of God’s good earth between my fingers and the more dirt under my nails the better!! Working in the soil, growing things, and harvesting the fruit of the earth makes me feel closer to God.

    Rhonda Illar– I work in the garden center at home depot and when I am not there I am in my yard…God’s garden in my yard….I do not wear gloves …love to feel the earth between my fingers….so my hands are only pretty in the winter time…its so well worth it!!!!

    Lynne Humphrey– I am guilty of not wearing gloves either. I have found that Mary Kay has an awesome hand lotion.

    Becky Shaul Norris– I always put a heavy lotion on my hands and arms before I even go outside. I know when I get there I might forget my gloves and if i do, then the lotion protects and it also makes it much easier to clean my nails and fingers

    Cary Itson– Working at a steel mill here in Japan, wishing I was in my garden :-}

    Help my hands!


    Terresa Stoll– I found a hot wax hand spa at the thrift store. Bought some wonderful smelling wax for it and each morning I treat my self to a “dip” and sometimes two. Or before bed, put Vaseline on them and wear white cotton gloves. Learned that from a friend that was a stewardess.

    Sherry Heier Haskin- I wear a snug pair of latex gloves under my garden gloves. It keeps my hands dryer and when I need more dexterity to do a task, I pull the garden gloves off and my hands are still protected. Put hand cream on before you put on the latex gloves and you get a spa treatment while you work. They make non latex gloves, too. You can buy them at a pharmacy

    Flea Market Gardening– THANKS, everyone,…I think we all may have learned  a lot from all your suggestions! :-) I’ll be looking up some of the gloves mentioned, will be more diligent about WEARING them, (even if they get wet) and will try soap under my nails, even though it will feel weird. Did you all notice the wedding rings on my ‘skeleton hand?’ ;-P Sue


    Soap and Garden– I wear gloves most of the time, taking them off for delicate weeding and separating, etc. I make and use Gardener’s products including soap that is gentle, yet effective at deep cleaning. I also use my lotion and at night, whipped butter to keep my hands in shape. Exfoliating with my Gardener’s Hand Scrub helps keep the skin looking nice!

    Donna McCool– I use Dawn hand renewal with Olay to wash and put lotion on!

    Jeanne Sammons– I HATE GLOVES but wear them almost all the time now…immune system is lacking now-a-days so I catch stuff…but still dry, rough, etc. ‘Aquaphilic’ Ointment (the white jar stuff, I call it)! Helps a lot!

    Carol Swann- Yeah, noticed the rings…they’re in the wrong place. (No, they’re not, Carol) Crazy glue or liquid Band-Aid will heal those cracks in jig time

    Elizabeth Torma Lombardo– Vaseline and white cotton gloves overnight! Makes your hands soft AND pulls out any remaining dirt.

    Cindy Klein– WEAR GLOVES!!!

    Jeanne Smith- Wear the GLOVES !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Kathleen Hussey Switzer- WEAR GLOVES, LADY! Was that stern enough? 😛

    Would you?


    Note: For your convenience, all the products mentioned have been linked. Most all links point to Amazon, where you can order or just see what the suggested products looks like!  ~~  Sue


    Share and Enjoy


    Sue Langley, a passionate gardener and photographer lives and gardens with her husband and Corgi, Maggie on 7 acres just south of Yosemite, Zone 7 at 3000 feet. She manages the Flea Market Gardening Facebook page and website.


    1. Carol says:

      I guess if you want to look like you don’t work you’d wear gloves. On the other hand I like to look like I’ve done an honest day’s work so although I wear gloves when I leave the house, they are off by the time I start weeding. I feel like I can dig down into the earth and get a better grip on the roots with bare fingers. I like seeing calluses and hands that show character…why is it considered better to look like we’ve never done a day’s work in our lives???

    2. Beth says:

      I do believe in wearing gloves as much as possible. But, I also find myself ripping them off to get do fine work and for those times when I weed when I wasn’t planning on it.

      I’m fortunate, though, because I started a company specializing in natural/green, handcrafted products especially for gardeners. I use my soap to fill my fingernails before going out and then to clean up afterwards. It has exfoliants to help get the dirt out. Of course, a nail brush is essential! I also make and use a gardener’s hand scrub for tough grime and for conditioning, and then, my lotion. At night, before bed, I use whipped butter to soothe and protect my hands, elbows, etc. I think I’m quite well protected!

      I would rather not use bleach as I try to stay natural and green.

    3. No glove girl here. I buy them take them to the garden but rarely do they get onto my hands!! I use a nail brush and make my hand lotion.

    4. Nancy Meyer says:

      No, gloves most of the time. Use them when raking off the beds in the spring. AND I wear latex “dr.” gloves when planting up my containers —otherwise naked !!!!

    5. I don’t think wearing latex or any plastic for an extended period of time is good for the skin, but I get those cheapo Home Depot yellow and black gloves that are a think latex (but thick enough to protect from stinging nettles) that allows dexterity with a cloth back that lets my hands breath. They also wash well, and at little more than $1.50 apiece, you can’t go wrong.

    6. *thin latex…(typo)

    7. mk1ndred says:

      As much as I used to hate gloves, I wear them all the time now. My aunt got an awful bacterial infection in her index finger after gardening without gloves. She didn’t realize that the dirt could contain bacteria and she had a minute abrasion on her finger. It took months for it to heal and in the beginning weeks, they thought she might lose her finger….whoa! That should do it for anyone who doesn’t like gloves!

    8. miscelaineous46 says:

      I often start out with gloves on but within 5 minutes they are off because I can’t feel what I’m doing! I will put one back on to pull up a thistle, but then I take it off again. I find that, when washing up after playing in the mud, if I wash with only water first, and get everything off I can that way, then wash with soap, I get cleaner than if I started with soap. Don’t know why, but it works. I have always used Avon’s Moisture Therapy-Intensive hand cream (the one in the blue & white tube). It soothes and heals all the gardener’s hand’s woes.

      1. kathy says:

        same here…can’t feel the weeds when I wear gloves

    9. Patirica says:

      I don’t like gloves but I wear them. Garden gloves for the heavier work. Surgical gloves for potting, weeding and lighter work. Surgical gloves are much easier to work in and a box does not cost much. I keep a box in my kitchen drawer. Also good for lot of other messy task, like painting, washing the car/boat, etc.

    10. Nancy says:

      Ladies- I have found the most wonderful gloves for gardening. They are called Foxgloves. They were invented by a fellow gardener who was tired of not being able to pot plants or do delicate weeding with regular garden gloves. She used to buy old, long evening gloves at the second hand stores, but they wore out so fast, so she invented Foxgloves. They feel like they aren’t even there. They are made of a cloth material so your hands don’t sweat. They are on the expensive side, but I have had several pairs for over 4 years not. I just pop them in the washer when needed. Once in a while I will get a hole on the end of one of my fingers (I have long nails) but I just sew it up with some nylon thread and I’m good to go. You would still need to use a more sturdy glove for heavy work, and Foxgloves aren’t totally waterproof, but I will never garden again without them!!!!

      1. Sue Langley says:

        I love foxgloves and have used them before…glad to know you like them, too.

    11. janatk43@gmail.com says:

      Lotions and creams? Just use my Grammie’s cure for everything-hands,feet face-glycerin and whitch hazel mixed in whatever ratio feels good to you. That’s all you will need-ever.

    12. DanaP says:

      The little tubes of Vaseline for lips is a must – you can control just where to put it, and use the tip to massage it in fully. Urea cream, the prescription med to soften your feet, works very nicely on your hands as well, to remove the roughness and prevent the splitting/cracking.

    13. Karen says:

      I never used to wear gloves until I became aware of the fact that garden soil is loaded with bacteria (good and bad) which can cause a terrible infection if you have any cuts or scratches (think rose thorns!) Leather is best since I wear cloth ones out really fast.

    14. Judy B. says:

      So glad for this post. My hands are awful, year round! I’m not the only one who uses sand paper on their hands! I’m not a freak :’ ) hehehehe…