How To Clean Your Tattoo: Key Tricks in Proper Tattoo Aftercare

You will know how to clean your tattoo with the help of this guide. Cleaning your tattoo is the most crucial part of the tattoo process.

If you fail to execute a proper aftercare routine, bad things can happen. It can range from an infection which will hurt you to your tattoo getting ruined – and no one wants that. After all that pain, planning, and preparation, you definitely want your skin art to look great and last a long while.

So what do you have to do for your tattoo cleaning? We’ve created a guide that will tell you of the most important things that you should do.

How to Clean Your Tattoo: Aftercare Techniques

1. Choose Your Tattoo Artist Wisely

Yep, the aftercare process starts even before your skin gets inked. How your tattoo artist will wrap up your session (or sessions) will set the tone for the process. So make sure that your tattooist is a reliable one who knows how to care best for your skin and their work of art.

To be able to choose the right tattooist for you, do your homework and research about these pros. Read what people are saying about them and if you can, visit their shops to see what the environment is like.

How To Clean Your Tattoo

If you can talk to them as well, it would be nice so you can get to know them a bit before you decide whether to entrust your skin to them or not. This will also be a great opportunity to ask them about their aftercare process and tips.

Tattooists can have different recommendations about aftercare, so it’s up to you which one you’d like to work with and go for.

2. Wait For A Couple Of Hours Before Taking Off The Bandage

To keep the fresh wound of your tattoo clean and prevent bacteria and other nasty stuff from getting into your system, your tattoo artist will cover or wrap your new tattoo with a bandage. After a few hours, it’s necessary to remove it to let the skin breathe and keep it from getting moist which can cause complications and problems down the line.

However, there are conflicting opinions on how long you should wait before you should remove the bandage. If you’re not sure, talk to your tattoo artist about it. Your activities after the session and the position of the tat are considerations to the timing of bandage removal, so it’s best to check with a professional to be safe.

RELATED POST:  Geometric Tattoo Guide

3. After Removing The Bandage, Wash The Tattoo Using A Mild, Fragrance-Free Soap

To clean the skin and remove the possible harmful microorganisms, blood, plasma, or excess ink and ointment on your fresh tattoo, wash it with a mild, unscented soap. Some will recommend antimicrobial soap but those things can be drying and have ingredients that can irritate the sensitive area, so it’s best to stick with mild ones instead. Some tattoo artists will have their own recommendations and even their own cleaning products, so check those out as well.

Do not rub the tattoo with anything abrasive so skip the loofa, sponge, or washcloth. Use clean hands when rubbing in the area.

4. Carefully Pat Dry The Area

Using some soft paper towels, dry the area carefully. Don’t use cloth or towels as they can harbor bacteria and you shouldn’t introduce any to your open wounds. Pat only, don’t rub, to avoid irritating and further injuring your skin.

5. Apply A Thin Layer Of Ointment Or Moisturizer

Ointments will help keep prevent bacteria and other harmful microorganisms from getting into your body as well as moisturize your skin a bit, so it’s a must-do. Make sure to only apply a thin layer so the wounds won’t get suffocated.

Note that some folks do not recommend using ointments. Decide on this on your own but make sure to do your research and talk to your tattoo artist first.

The same thing can be said for moisturizers, especially on the first day. Again, if you’re in doubt, ask your tattoo artist. Some tend to tread with care instead, though, by applying a thin coating of mild, unscented lotion every time they wash their new tattoo.

6. Keep The Area Clean And Dry

Avoid sweating or doing anything that can dirty up the tattooed area. It should also be washed and dried a couple of times during the day. Do not go overboard the washing, though, as the skin should also be kept somewhat dry to prevent infections, swelling, bruising, cracking etc.

RELATED POST:  Do Ear Tattoos Hurt

These are just some of the cleaning steps involved in the aftercare process. Do them until the tattoo is completely healed and follow other tips that will help you in further healing your tattoo properly.


What can I use to clean my tattoo?

Mild, unscented soap, clean hands, and clean running water are the only items experts recommend to use for washing your tattoo.

How many times a day should you wash your tattoo?

It’s recommended to wash your new tattoo a couple of times a day to keep it clean.

What to avoid after getting a tattoo?

Here’s a quick rundown of the things to avoid when your tattoo is not yet fully healed:

  • Rubbing on the fresh tattoo. This will irritate the skin.
  • Exposing the newly tattooed area to direct sunlight and bacteria. This can further damage the skin and cause infections.
  • Keeping the area soaked in moisture. This will invite infections. Avoid swimming, sweating, or letting moisturizers sit for too long on the tattoo area.
  • Exercising or other very strenuous physical activity. Doing so can strain the skin, especially if you’re tattoo is near a joint or if it’s huge.
  • Picking on the flakes and scabs when your tat starts closing up. Doing so can cause you to inadvertently remove inks and lines as well as damage your skin further.

You can also find some folks to be against re-bandaging the fresh tattoo while some strongly recommend it, especially during bedtime. Again, research and consulting with your tattoo artist will help you decide on this matter.

Is it OK to let a tattoo heal naturally?

Some people advocate for dry healing because they say that it helps keep the tattoo intact for much longer. While it’s possible to do, it’s not easy and some people might not enjoy doing it. If you’re interested in this process, make sure to do a lot of research about it first so you can make an informed decision.


How you execute your tattoo aftercare measure will help determine how well your new ink will turn out. So make sure to stick to the proper way of cleaning your tattoo so you can be sure that your tattoo will last a long time.

About the author

I’m S.R Bhuiyan, a proud Tattoo artist. I will share the body art journey with you here in PrettyJust. I have 10+ years of experience in the field of tattoo, piercing, nail art, and skincare. Check out my bio which has my tattoo studio/cat/travel pics!

Leave a Comment