Mechanics Hand Cleaner: A DIY Hand Cleaner for Mechanics That Works!

This post may contain affiliate links.

Mechanics Hand Cleaner

This recipe for mechanics’ hand cleaner gives mechanics a natural hand cleaner that’s free from all the harmful chemicals in commercial scrubs.

I had my car serviced recently and took notice of my mechanic’s hands. They were dry and cracked with dark grease stains and hard callouses. I thought: I bet I can fix that!

Identify what you’re trying to remove or improve

For Rob, my mechanic, this was easy. His hands see a lot of grease along with heat and friction. Frequent hand washing made his hands dry and cracked. So, for these, I set up a chart:

  • remove grease
  • exfoliate
  • moisturize
  • protect

It may seem simple to come up with a scrub to accomplish these things, but remember that you don’t want any lingering slick feeling as most lotions do. Tools slipping out of a mechanic’s hands is not a good thing! The scrub needs to work as a cleanser AND a degreaser.

Recipe #1: Mechanics Hand Cleaner Powdered Scrub

I’ve formulated this scrub in two ways: you can make it dry, or keep it as a cream and make it soft. The first recipe is the dry, powdered one.



Mix everything together and keep it in a wide-mouth container. I use an old gelato container as they are readily available and wide at the top. It’s easy to get your hands into.

Using Your Scrub

To use your mechanics’ hand cleaner paste, scoop a tablespoon or so into your palm. Add a bit of water and make a paste. Rub this all over your hands, back and front. Concentrate on really dirty areas. Leave on or scrub for a full minute. Rinse well.

The small amount of orange oil in this scrub is not enough to worry about citrus phototoxicity. It is also rinsed off and not left on the hands, which could constitute a problem.

Recipe #2: Mechanics Hand Cleaner Cream Scrub

For this variation, the ingredients are similar, but with an extra step.



  1. Place the soap flakes in a glass bowl and add enough water to cover, but just to the top of the soap. Too much will make it runny.
  2. Let the soap soften to become a paste. You may need a little more water, depending on the soap itself and the humidity level in your area. If the paste is too runny, you may need to add more soap flakes and make a note that next time to use a bit less water.
  3. Once you have a fairly thick paste, mix in the rest of the ingredients. Walnut shell tends to come pretty coarsely, so I grind mine a bit further so it’s not as scratchy on the skin.
  4. The mechanic’s hand cleaner paste is naturally alkaline and shouldn’t need a preservative. If you feel that you need it, you can add a bit of Germaben™, Phenonip™, or Optiphen™. These are natural and work well. Without a preservative, the cream will last a few weeks, but chances are that you’ll need to make more by then!

Using Your Hand Scrub

To use your hand scrub cream, apply a small amount, like the size of a pearl, to your palm. Add a bit of water and scrub well. If you have large hands, you may need a bit more. If your hands are super dirty, use the scrub once, rinse well and then apply and scrub with a bit more. Rinse well and dry hands when finished.

Ingredients Used

The ingredients chosen for this mechanics hand cleaner scrub are all chosen for specific reasons. The oats, cornmeal, and walnut shell help to loosen up tough grease and dirt. Pumice makes a finer exfoliating element. Soap flakes or shreds lift dirt and grease away from the skin to keep it in suspension until it can be run down the drain by rinsing. Shea butter helps to moisturize and protect the skin. And orange essential oil helps to break up grease and oils. It can also help with pine sap and resins. Other citrus oils can work the same way, but orange is the most effective. And water in the cream base helps to make the powder into a cream. Distilled water is free of bacteria and chlorine. Filtered water can work as well.

Other Automotive Tips

Surprise your favorite mechanic with a jar of this DIY mechanics’ hand cleaner, but keep some for yourself for working in the yard!


About Debra Maslowski

Debra is a master gardener, a certified herbalist, a natural living instructor, and more. She taught Matt and Betsy how to make soap so they decided to bring her on as a staff writer! Debra recently started an organic herb farm in the mountains of Western North Carolina. You can even purchase her handmade products on Amazon!

PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for us to support our website activities, we may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for our endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this website.

DISCLAIMER: Information on DIY Natural™ is not reviewed or endorsed by the FDA and is NOT intended to be substituted for the advice of your health care professional. If you rely solely upon this advice you do so at your own risk. Read full Disclaimer & Disclosure statements here.


  1. Crystal says

    Hi! This is a great formula and I’ve made something very similar for years for my husband. For the soap flakes I buy an actual soap that contains pumice and then basically do exactly the same as you have. I played with different combos and ingredients using my mechanic hubby as my guinea pig lol. I will sometimes use dried, finely ground orange, lemon & lime peels and have used grapefruit as well for additional exfoliation. I tried dry corn meal, oatmeal and several different things before I settled on the soap bar with pumice. I also added a bit of tea tree essential oil in case of small cuts & abrasions as well as some vitamin E oil. My husband says it works as well if not better than the store bought variety!

  2. Mary says

    Hi Debra, I wanted to ask about the soap flakes or shreds. I’m not sure exactly what kind to use. I’m assuming a bar of regular soap grated would do the trick but just wanted to ask as I’m new to this sort of thing. My son is a master mechanic and when he is home I can still see the grease in bedded on his hands and nails. He has said the stuff they use is hard on their hands and he only scrubs so much. I’ve noticed his hands are getting dry and cracked, along with the nicks and cuts he gets doing his job. I’m not even sure how I ended up on your website for this cleaner but thankful I did. Thank you for your help.

  3. Sonja Gjokas says

    Hi, I was interested recipe because I saw some kind of Walnut scrub in a mechanic’s bathroom that I used where I was getting my car fixed, I once bought a walnut body scrub from a place called body- time, of course they don’t make it just because I like it so much! All you needed was a pinch to do an arm or leg, it made you very soft not oily, it tended to be on the dry side but don’t remember the other ingredients, must have been some kind of binder. Do you have or could come up with a a recipe for that? I would love that and I think you would too