Why should we not cut nails at night?

Back in my childhood, I remember my grandmother always reprimanding me not to cut nails at night. Also she strictly mandated to avoid cutting nails after dusk, especially after 6 PM. She always mentioned that it’s inauspicious to cut nails at night and that it invites bad luck!

Not only at night, she also forbade me from cutting nails on Saturdays and the day of the week I was born! Also strictly, no cutting of nails inside the house!

So why should we not cut nails at night? Is there any scientific reason for it?

Why should we not cut nails at night? - pic of hand cutting nails

Is it then just a cultural thing? Many cultures and religions around the world have always forbidden cutting of nails at night by associating various myths, superstitions, curses and ill-fate to it.

Why should we not not cut nails at night? - Possible Scientific (common sense)  reasons

In olden days, when there was no electricity and with no proper lighting after dusk, it made sense that the very act of cutting nails could pose considerable risk and could cause injuries.

Moreover in those days, unlike today, there were no sophisticated nail trimming tools like nail clippers or nail cutters and other manicure worthy paraphernalia!

Obviously, the tools and instruments they used for cutting nails were very crude – they supposedly used knives, scissors etc. – these could be quite dangerous to use in poor light!

So elders strictly asked everyone in the household to avoid cutting nails after dusk and during the night! And rightly so!

Why should you not cut the nails inside the house? – Possible scientific (common sense) reasons

The reason for avoiding cutting of nails inside the house obviously is cleanliness & hygiene!

Nail clippings are a cornucopia of dust, grime, microbes and germs and hence extremely dirty!

If you cut the nails inside the house, unless you dispose of the clippings properly there is a possibility of them getting dispersed everywhere in the house.

Why should we not cut nails inside the house? - pic of woman showing her nails

If there are toddlers or kids in the house, there is every chance of them picking up these nails clippings and putting them in their mouths, which could cause serious digestive issues and gastrointestinal diseases in them. And god forbid, if while swallowing the nail cuttings get stuck in the throat leading to choking, it would be catastrophic!

Also the sharp edges of the nails strewn about could injure not only the kids but also adults, especially when they are moving around the house barefooted.

And nail clippings getting into the kitchen or by chance landing into your prepared food and dishes could contaminate them.

So it makes sense to put a restriction on cutting nails or hair inside the house.

Which days of the week should we not cut nails as per Hindu religion?

What are some Nail cutting customs, myths, cultural practices and superstitions in India / Hindu religion?

In India, and particularly in South India where I belong to, as I already mentioned – Tuesdays, Saturdays, birthdays, and the day of the week that you are born should be avoided for cutting the nails.

Also one should never cut nails after dusk and inside the house. The clippings shouldn’t be thrown anywhere inside the house but should be carefully disposed off outside - in the garden and covered with mud.

In North India, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays are considered a strict no-no for nail cutting. And of course, the night taboo also holds!

Why should we not cut nails at night as per Hindu religion?

Just after the sun goes down and the dusk begins, it’s believed that Goddess Lakshmi or Laxmi, the goddess of fortune, wealth and prosperity makes her entry into our homes. During this time, it’s not considered auspicious to use the broom and sweep the dust or throw garbage out. Cutting of nails and hair and disposing of this dirt during this period is not a good thing!

Such acts may displease the goddess and make her feel unwelcome! So there’s a  high possibility that  good-luck, fortune, money and prosperity will evade you, if you indulge in such activities at dusk and during the night.

Why should we not cut the nails on Saturdays as per Hindu customs?

Saturday, in particular has significance because it is associated with Lord Shani or the planet-god Saturn. In Indian / Hindu / Vedic astrology, the planet Saturn is considered as the most troublesome planet said to have considerable influence over our lives. Shani Dev strikes fear in many people’s hearts for the harsh punishments he dispenses to the evil doers.

Saturdays are also associated with the monkey-god Lord Hanuman, who’s also a friend of Shani Dev or Lord Saturn.

So as a mark of respect to Shani Dev and Lord Hanuman, it is not recommended to cut our hair or nails, which were considered as growing body parts in olden days.

Why should we not cut the nails on Tuesdays and Thursdays as per Hindu religion?

Tuesday is the birthday of lord Hanuman and as such nail cutting on Tuesday is also taboo. Thursdays, on the other hand are associated with a Guru or the Teacher and also the planet God Jupiter or Guru / Brihaspati.  Hence in Hindu culture, it’s suggested to avoid cutting nails on these days.

Why should we not cut  nails on our birthdays and the day of the week on which we were born? – Hindu viewpoint

This one is a little tricky.

The nails and hair were considered as growing body parts in olden days.

It’s was not considered a good practice to chop off our living body parts like hair and nails on your birthday or the day of the week on which your actual birth date fell. Cutting nails on these days is believed to shorten your lifespan, cause diseases, invite ill-luck etc.

Now we know that only the roots are living and the hair above the surface of the head and the nail parts crossing the nail bed are actually made of dead cells.

Even though the hair and nails that you see aren’t made of living cells, our tresses and fingernails are very much a living thing as their roots are still alive! So this custom / superstition still holds!

Nail cutting customs, myths and superstitions across different cultures, religions and countries

Nail cutting customs, myths and superstitions across different cultures, religions and countries

In Japan, cutting nails at night will supposedly shorten your life, attract evil spirits, causes your untimely death or that you  won’t be able to visit your parents on their death bed. (1)

In Korea also, you have a similar superstition if you cut your nails at night. Also they believe that mice may steal your nail clippings and turn into something evil and steal your soul. (2)

According to a Filipino superstition, cutting nails in the evening or at  night might bring bad luck and cause you to meet some accidents. Countries like China, Malaysia and Albania also share this belief.(3)

In Islamic tradition however, it’s not forbidden or haram to cut nails at night. However prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had advised not to let the nails stay on the fingers or toes for more than 40 days and that it’s best to cut the nails on Friday. However chopped hair and nails are supposed to be buried so that they are not available to black-magic practitioners. (4)

In ancient Ireland, there was this practice of casting a spell or rather driving off a disease of a person by mixing his /her finger and toe nail clippings in wax and sticking this wax, before sunrise, upon the door of another person to transfer diseases from one person to another! (5)

Also it was believed that clippings of the hair and nails of a child tied up in a linen cloth and placed under the cradle will cure convulsions.

An old Irish rhyme in fact mentions how choosing to cut nails or hair on a particular day of the week bodes for you:

Cut them on Monday, you cut them for health;
cut them on Tuesday, you cut them for wealth;
cut them on Wednesday, you cut them for news;
cut them on Thursday, a new pair of shoes;

cut them on Friday, you cut them for sorrow;
cut them on Saturday, see your true love tomorrow;
cut them on Sunday, the devil will be with you all the week.

what is the best time of the day to cut your nails?


What is the best time of the day to cut your nails?

Now the above question has got nothing to do with astrology or superstition. What I actually meant was should we cut our nails before or after bath / shower.

According to American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), the best time to trim your nails is immediately after taking a bath or shower when your nails are soft and easy to cut. If that is not possible, you can soak your nails in lukewarm water for a few minutes to soften them and then go ahead and clip them using sanitized nail clippers or a nail cutter.

Also read: Why we should never share our nail clippers with others.

And while cutting toe nails remember to cut toenails straight across to avoid ingrown toenails.

Where should you dispose of your nail clippings or cut nails?

It’s a better practice to cut nails outside the house to avoid the clippings flying all over the room. But when that is not possible, you may try this hack using duct tape to prevent your cut nails from dispersing everywhere.

Collect all the nails clippings and either toss them in trash to prevent anyone from stepping on it and injuring themselves.

If you prefer to recycle them can put them in your compost pile or bin. Or you can put them underneath any plant in your garden or in a potted plant and cover it with soil.

Whether it’s cut hair or nail clippings, they can act as good manure for your plants.


So what do you think of this age-old custom of avoiding cutting nails at night? Do you think you will incur the wrath of gods by cutting nails after dusk? Or would you just like to carry on with the custom just to uphold the tradition followed in your house.

Now that we have adequate light at night and sophisticated nail cutting tools, I don’t think it’s much of  a problem to cut nails at night. But if you would like to respect the traditions and culture of your household, do that by all means!

Why cutting of nails is to be avoided at night? - pics of cutting fingernails and toenails

References: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Image credits: Courtesy of ponsulak 1, 2 at freeedigitalphotos.net

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