OK You Manly Men, What Kind Of Waterless Hand Cleaner Do YOU Use?

Way over fifty years now I have had dirty hands. Sometimes they had dirt and grease ground into them so bad, nothing would get them clean

This is no exaggeration, I can take a shower, scrub and scrub my hands, make sure my fingernails are clean, get dressed, come in the living room, sit down and do basically nothing and look down twenty minutes later and my fucking fingernails are dirty.

I shit you not, it comes out of my blood stream, I swear.

Over the years, I have tried almost any and everything you can think of to clean my hands. From powdered Comet scrub, to gasoline, solvent, brake cleaner, GOOP, Orange hand cleaner with pumic, LAVA bar soap with pumice, dish soap, you name it.

I have been using this stuff I picked up at Wally World fairly cheap as of late.

hand cleaner

It works OK but it’s messy because it drips all over the place and the pumice in it sticks in between my fingers like a bastard after I try to wipe it off. I really have to wipe them down hard.


Because I know a bunch of you who read my stuff here have absolutely ran into the same problem over the years, I’m curious to see if anyone has some magic stuff that works awesome without making a big mess.

Let me know what you guys use.

41 thoughts on “OK You Manly Men, What Kind Of Waterless Hand Cleaner Do YOU Use?

  1. I’m and office worker by vocation and a weekend warrier in the weekends. Nothing exceptionally grimy handled, so just establishing my work parameters.

    I use ordinary laundry detergent kept in a spare plastic laundry cup on the sink. The granules do a good job of taking off oil when that occurs. Does leave the hands very slick though, it takes some rinsing to get off that film. But grime itself – gone.


  2. I use Dove soap, it works much better than lava. I know it’s not marketed as a grimy greasy hand soap but it works, give it a try.


  3. The way I always used the orange stuff with pumice was to wash the orange stuff off with regular soap and water after it takes the grime off. So, I always left it by the bathroom sink which made for a few dirty door handles now and then.


  4. The basic principle is to swap the dirty grime on your hands for a clean grease that can then be washed off with soap. I’ve found DW40 works pretty good for me as does GOOP.
    In the late 60s we lived in the oil camps of lake Maracaibo in western Venezuela where the water table was so F’d up from the oil derricks that you’d often get a slug of oil on your head when showering. So you kept a tub of butter in the bathroom. You’d goober yourself up with that to mix it with the black oil and then wash it off with dish washing liquid.


  5. Sorry buddy. I can’t be much help. I am a GOOP, LAVA soap and Comet if there is nothing else around guy to clean my hands.

    I did find over the years when I lived in Florida that if I went for an extended swim in the ocean, my hands would kinda sorta clean themselves, especially if I rubbed handfuls of wet beach sand in them. Eventually they got clean. But how often do you go to the beach after fixing the car?

    The other thing I noticed over the years was that if I washed ALL the pots, pans and dishes by hand from my wife’s Sunday dinner cooking, my hands would also pretty much be clean. But that only worked on Sundays and I have never informed the wife of this technique lest I would end up taking the place of the mechanical dishwasher that I keep fixing for just that reason, so I don’t need to wash dishes. Matter of fact the wife complains all the time that she can’t get a new washer and dryer because I keep fixing the old ones. Well duh? Exactly. Why spend crazy dollars to get new stuff when $20 worth of parts and a half hour of my time works just as well? But that’s a whole other story.

    Anyway, these days, in my old age, I have kinda of wussed up. I tend to wear Harbor Freight nitrate gloves to solve the problem of dirty hands. Something I would never have done in my younger years, since greasy mechanic hands were a badge of honor to be worn proudly in my hot rodding days (‘69 Chevelle SS 396 with 427 aluminum heads, a Holley 850 double pumper, Edelbrock high-rise manifold, Appliance headers, M22 trans with a Mr. Gasket straight line shifter, 411 posi rear, Micky Thompsons on Craiger SS rims, and many other goodies-figure I was pushing at least 400-425 plus HP and one of the fastest cars on my block). Never should have sold that car? But again, that’s another story.

    Besides, wearing the gloves gives me an excuse to keep going to HF to buy more sh*t. So maybe try the HF gloves?

    Keep up the great website. And stay greasy and dirty my friend. Cause if you ain’t dirty and greasy, you ain’t really workin’ right?


    • I also went with the gloves when I started changing the oil in my VW diesel. That oil stained my hands so bad nothing would take it off but time – about a week. And it is another “reason” to go to HF. There are also creams I’ve used on my hands before working that when washed off takes the dirt/grease with it. Don’t remember the names because the gloves work better.


    • When I was in High School and shortly after, I worked in a small engine shop during the day. I washed dishes at an italian restaurant at night.

      Folks at the shop used to ask me what I used to clean my hands, ’cause I started each morning with clean, pink hands. No dirt or grease under the nails, no embedded carbon in my skin.

      “Joy dishwashing liquid”.

      I just never told ’em that I soaked for 6 hours every night…

      But it works.


      • I did some work at a Pirelli tire plant in Hanford California. One of the
        reasons tires are black is that they use tons of fine carbon powder.
        This stuff goes right through clothing ends up in every nook and
        cranny (including your ass crack.) After the first day, I asked the
        employees what they use to get it off, and it was Joy dishwashing


    • Jonathan, your Chevelle was set up almost exactly like a buddy’s of mine in Dallas back then. He had a blue ’69 SS396 with the high performance motor option rated at 375 HP (most likely about 425) vs. the standard 325 HP. It had the aluminum heads, edelbrock intake, Holley carb, and most radical solid lifter cam that Chevrolet had available at that time. Four speed with Hurst shifter, 4.11 rear end. He put a set of Hooker headers on it and we figure it was in the 450 HP range. It was a great street racer since most people driving GTOs, 442s and 440 MoPars thought it was a standard output car. 🙂 Good times … boy do I wish I had that car or one of the others my friends and I had back then!

      As to hand cleaner, we always found that after we had eaten fries from Burger King our hands were a lot cleaner! seriously … but I also have learned to use gloves (nitrile or those made for mechanics) especially when using gin cleaning solvent of any type. Palmolive dish soap works pretty well for getting a fair amount of grease off, and use a stiff fingernail brush all over your hands and several applications of the stuff. But as Skinnedknuckles says below, sometimes only time will help.


      • My Chevelle was alpine green (technically I think it was called verdoro green metallic) with a black vinyl top. And yup, my engine code was for the 396 rated at 375 HP. Forgot to mention, I also had an 8 track and a dash switch rigged to turn my reverse lights on or off as a sign I was ready to street race. Beat a 327 Nova one nite. Cops got behind us. He got the speed contest ticket. I got away clean.


  6. My Dad used to work on his car a lot. He kept a bar of Lava soap and a pumice stone (from the beach) on the sink. After washing off most of the grease with some solvent (kerosene, gasoline, whatever) he would scrub his hands with the Lava and use the pumice on the tougher places. If that combination won’t take the stain off you, it’s probably a tattoo.


  7. USed to build engines and all…
    Clean grease, really, that dissolves the black grime, then Gojo. If
    I need the next step then dish washing soap, Dawn seemed work best.
    Sometimes a small hand brush.
    Works for this girl.



  8. Best ever. 50/50 mix of Simple Green and water in a spray bottle. Puts all the hand cleaners to shame. U don’t even have to rinse it off. 3 or 4 squirts, some scrubbing, wipe it off. Ur church ready clean.


  9. My grandfather was an auto mechanic whose career started in the late ’20s. He reasoned that petroleum dissolves petroleum so he used petroleum jelly to clean his hands until he retired in the ’70s. I wear nitrile gloves because I find that modern synthetic oils (tranny fluid especially) irritate my skin. I also keep some waterless hand cleaner with lanolin in the garage.


  10. I paint almost every day, and can’t seem to keep the nitrile gloves from ripping.
    This stuff will do a hell of a job at removing (even dried) paint and grease.
    Instead of adding a bit of water to make it easier to scrub, I use a small amount of any of the cream hand cleaners.
    A bit expensive, but it works really well.


  11. I’ve been a mechanic since 1975. I’ve tried everything over the years,I keep going back to and still use BORAXO TMT® Powdered Hand Soap. I haven’t found anything better.


  12. I’m so fucking old, I had only two choices, Lava and the original Sta-Lube paste.
    I have also used GoJo with pumice, Zep and a few other brands.

    I had an experience at a Northrup facility that I swear is true. I had to go to the
    shitter and I noticed MSDS warning stickers on all of their soap dispensers.
    As I recall, the soap was creamy and contained pumice. Ever the smart ass,
    I sought out the MSDS document station and read the details;

    Do not ingest.

    Do not get in your eyes.

    Health hazards, none.

    So let me get this straight, you need government mandated red tape to tell your
    employees something every mother taught her kids at age two?

    I later went to work for a paper mill. They hired a new environmental dork, who
    like Northrop took the rules too literally. I had my pet 5-gallon plastic pail that
    I used as a tool bucket. Instead of cleaning out a used Mobil oil bucket, I
    went with a Sullair synthetic compressor lubricant. Jet black with gold lettering.
    They called this shit 24 KT oil because it sold for 100 dollars a gallon back

    I tried reasoning with the dork; The bucket is de-headed, it hasn’t had drop
    of oil in it for 5+ years, etc. If it was labeled, I would have to have an MSDS
    sticker on it or I would have to get rid of it.

    I got a plain-Jane white plastic bucket. I got the idea of labeling it myself,
    “Sonny’s” (my nickname) environmentally correct, chemically inert, non-toxic,
    intrinsically safe, etc. etc. bucket.” A coworker added a final descriptor,
    “totally gay.” I love Sharpies markers, they are great tools to have around
    when dealing with idiots!


    • So lye soap with aloe basically. The white ash works best. Ace Hardware has started carrying lye soap I noticed. Try using Glove in a Bottle or Liquid Glove. I had a buddy that worked in the service department at a auto dealership. He said a lot of the guys swore by it. Seems it puts a protective coating on your hands that grease can’t penetrate.


  13. I also use the Go Jo with pumice, buy a gallon with pump and it lasts for years for the weekend warrior types. There used to be a variant with crushed walnut shells, both work fine but you have to wipe down the sink afterwards as it gets coated with dirty grey splatter. Need to wash with regular soap after, I use glycerin type soap for that, seems to be a bit less harsh on the already dried out skin.


  14. I was a GM tech all my life. Even though I made more money than most of the white collar people I knew I couldn’t stand to be judged by my greased stained hands.Keeping my nails cut short, blue liquid Tide and a stiff scrub brush removed all traces of my profession. Absolutely clean.


  15. I just ran across Boraxo a few years ago – it works pretty well.
    Back in the 60’s, I believe it was in Popular Science (when they were good), they had a column by Smokey Yunick. The suggestion was: before you go out to work, scrape a bar of soap with your fingernails to get soap under the nails. This prevents grease buildup and makes it easier to clean up. Of course, this requires pre-planning. I have never remembered to do it.


  16. Lanolin, I think they call it. Lamb fat. I love working on cars and motorcycles but hate having dirty greasy hands that don’t come clean. So I became a butcher instead of a mechanic. But I loved cutting lamb the day after a garage visit because lamb fat will pull all that dirty grease from your skin and out from under your nails like nobody’s business. Sorry customers, but you did me a solid. Thank you.


  17. I rarely use waterless hand cleaner. When I’m done and greasy, I just use some dish washing soap, warm water, and a small scrub brush. Wet my hands, add the soap, then lather and rinse.

    Works for me…..


  18. I thought you would use this stuff just because you’re you:


    I use the gojo cherry stuff, with a pump of Dawn platinum foam dish soap. Works as well as anything.
    My problem is all this stuff dries out my hands, which makes them crack which give me an edge to pick at which makes it hurt which makes me aware of the edge which makes me pick at it which……
    ADD combined with OCD. not a good thing.


  19. I‘m allergic to that orange shit.
    Turns my skin red and brittle, followed by burning sensations.
    When I can’t use working gloves I put on some sort of soapy cream that dries on my hands and really helps afterwards when washing all that grease and gunk off.


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