What is a term for wiping hands together to get dirt off?

For example, when someone falls down and they push themselves up and clean their hands by sort of clapping but then rubbing sideways.

  • Is there a reason why 'wiping' isn't suitable? Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 5:04
  • @KillingTime It isn't quite wiping, though.
    – Kris
    Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 5:34
  • @KillingTime wiping suggests use of a cloth, possibly damp (to me). After working on the bike I wipe my hands (with a rag) so I don't get grease on the door handle on the way to washing them (for example). After gardening I dust them together so I don't get soil on the handle (as in my answer)
    – Chris H
    Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 7:47
  • 2
    Any reason why "rubbing [together]" isn't suitable?
    – user323578
    Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 9:41

1 Answer 1


Dusting one's hands off (or - together) is the version in most familiar with in British English. It can also be applied on completion of a job, in a figurative sense. This doesn't appear to be common in American sources, and I haven't yet been able to find a good source to link to.

  • 1
    Brushing one’s hands also shows up on Google ngram.
    – Xanne
    Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 7:20
  • @Xanne, it may well do. I don't recall having come across it so I don't propose it as an answer
    – Chris H
    Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 7:48
  • Oddly, the only specific form of the phrase that Google returned hits on was brushing my hands and dusting my hands. But note that brushing is more common. You should not ignore objective evidence just because you haven't heard of it. Commented Apr 26, 2019 at 1:07
  • 1
    @Jason you're free to propose that as answer. You have to be careful though - watch out for hits like "she brushed his hands away" and many "brushed his hands against..." (except of course "...each other") both of which are far more common in my searches than any sense of cleaning. My searches used "one's hands" in looking for a fairly footman source of a definition, or "his hands" because of the historic assumption of dirty work being men's work, rather than "my hands" as you use.
    – Chris H
    Commented Apr 26, 2019 at 5:48
  • ... The first page of excerpts for "brushing" on your link contains one example that matches the question exactly, one close (brushing on clothing), one that may be the figurative use I mention for "...dusting..." and all the rest are lightly feeling. The "dusting" version does rather better
    – Chris H
    Commented Apr 26, 2019 at 5:52

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.