How To Clean A Tattoo?

How To Clean A Tattoo

Aftercare for Your Tattoo – So, how can you make sure that new tattoo is something you don’t end up regretting? Follow these steps while your new tattoo heals.

  1. Be sure your artist covers your new tattoo in a thin layer of petroleum jelly and a bandage.
  2. Remove the bandage after 24 hours. Gently wash the tattoo with antimicrobial soap and water  and be sure to pat dry.
  3. Apply a layer of antibacterial/Vaseline ointment twice a day, but don’t put on another bandage.
  4. Gently wash your tattoo area twice a day with soap and water and gently pat dry before reapplying the antibacterial/Vaseline ointment.
  5. Keep applying a moisturizer or ointment after you clean it to keep it moist.

You should repeat this process for 2 to 4 weeks. Also try not to wear clothes that will stick to your tattoo, and avoid swimming and the sun for about 2 weeks. And take cool showers. Scalding hot water will not only hurt, but it can also fade the ink. Wear a physical blocker sunscreen  with at least 7% zinc oxide sunscreen during the daylight hours and/or cover it up (with clothing, a bandage).

How to clean a new tattoo at home?

Download Article Download Article Cleaning your tattoo is an essential, but simple, task. Most people aren’t properly told how to clean their tattoo and prevent infection because only seven states have policies that regulate how instructions are given. However, since a sharp implement is piercing your skin and drawing blood, you need to carefully clean the area and take steps to avoid infection. [2]

  1. 1 Wash your hands. Place your hands under clean, running water to get them wet. Squeeze soap into the palm of your hand. Rub your hands together until a lather forms. Scrub your palms, the back of your hands, between your fingers, and under your fingernails for at least 20 seconds. [3]
    • Use the paper towel to turn the faucet off as well.
  2. 2 Take off your bandage after 24 hours. Wait one day before removing the bandage. Slowly remove the bandage in case it has stuck to the wound. It shouldn’t if the tattoo artist properly applied Vaseline to the tattoo. [4] Advertisement
  3. 3 Turn the faucet on. Use a paper towel to do this so you can avoid contaminating your hands. Let the faucet run until the water is lukewarm (about 87 to 89 degrees Fahrenheit or 30 to 32 degrees Celsius). [5]
    • Make sure the water is not hot. Hot water can be painful. It can also cause your pores to open up, which can cause the ink to drain from your tattoo.
  4. 4 Use your hands to cup the water. Pour the water over your tattoo. Using a circular motion, gently rub your finger over your tattoo to wet the entire area. [6]
    • Do not place your tattoo directly under the running water.
    • Since too much water can cause the ink to drain from your tattoo, only pour water over it once.
  5. 5 Apply a gentle soap. [7] Make sure to use an alcohol and fragrance-free soap. Using your finger, gently rub the soap onto your tattoo in a circular motion. Lightly massage the soap into your tattoo until the majority of blood, ointment and plasma are removed. [8]
    • Do not force off pieces of blood and ink, as well as scabs that cannot be removed with gentle rubbing.
    • Do not use a towel or washcloth to rub the soap into your tattoo. These are too abrasive and may contain bacteria that can infect it.
  6. 6 Rinse with water. Do this once your tattoo looks and feels clean. Use your hands to cup the water again. Pour the water over your tattoo. Make sure to rinse the area thoroughly until all soap and residue are removed. [9]
  7. 7 Dry your tattoo. Gently blot your tattoo with a clean paper towel. If the paper towel sticks to your tattoo, wet the area to remove it. Do not use a cloth or bath towel to do this. These may contain bacteria that can infect your tattoo. [10]
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  1. 1 Use an antibacterial ointment for up to two days. [11] When your tattoo is first healing, an antibiotic can help prevent infection and speed up the healing process. However, don’t use it for more than one or two days because the cream can prevent oxygen from circulating around your healing skin, which is needed for the ink to seal. [12]
    • Apply the cream twice a day for up to two days.
  2. 2 Apply a thin layer of unscented moisturizer. Do this when your tattoo is thoroughly dry. Using a small amount of cream, gently rub it over your tattoo with your fingers in a circular motion. Only apply a thin layer of cream so that your tattoo shines. Try to avoid applying cream over any scabs. [13]
    • If you applied too much cream, use a clean paper towel to blot and remove the excess cream.
    • Plain, unscented creams are generally used to treat tattoos.
  3. 3 Leave your tattoo unbandaged. After you remove the bandage, do not apply another one. Your skin needs oxygen circulating around it to heal.
  4. 4 Clean twice daily for two weeks. [14] Your tattoo will take two weeks to fully heal. Use the same procedure to wash and moisturize the tattoo. Each time you clean it, check to make sure that it is healing. [15]
    • Don’t pick any scabs that form.
  5. 5 Contact a doctor if you suspect you have an infection. Your doctor will most likely prescribe a steroid or an antibiotic to treat the infection. Signs of an infection are: [16]
    • A very painful or hot to the touch tattoo after seven to ten days.
    • A pimply or bumpy rash surrounding your tattoo.
    • An extremely red, itchy and/or swollen tattoo after seven to ten days.
    • Blistering or unusual scabbing.
    • Pimples or boils that exude pus.
    • Continued bleeding after three nights, or red streaking.
    • A fever and/or swollen lymph nodes.
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  1. 1 Protect against sun exposure. During the two weeks that your tattoo is healing, stay out of the sun. UV rays can fade the inks in your tattoo, and they are damaging to your skin. If you must go outside, apply a sunscreen with an SPF 30 or more at least 15 minutes before you go outside.
    • You should also stay away from tanning beds. [17]
  2. 2 Avoid swimming. Don’t submerge yourself in any kind of water because it can infect your tattoo. The water is teeming with germs and bacteria. Stay away from swimming pools, lakes, rivers, streams, ponds, hot tubs, and the ocean. [18]
    • You will need to avoid swimming until your tattoo is fully healed.
  3. 3 Avoid picking or scratching the tattoo. Don’t pick scabs or scratch itchy parts. Not only will it harm the healing process, but you could infect the tattoo with germs under your nails.
    • You should also avoid wearing clothing that could irritate or stick to the tattoo. If you can, leave the tattoo uncovered. [19]
  4. 4 Allow two weeks for your tattoo to heal. Be careful with your tattoo for the full two weeks after you get it, even if you think it looks healed. Infections are serious, so don’t risk getting one by stopping your care early or engaging in risky activities, such as swimming. [20]
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Add New Question

  • Question Is it okay to wash a new tattoo? Grant Lubbock Tattoo Artist & Co-Owner, Red Baron Ink Grant Lubbock is a Tattoo Artist and Co-Owner of Red Baron Ink, a tattoo salon based in New York City. Grant has over 10 years of tattooing experience and he specializes in neo-traditional, black/grey, and color tattoos. Red Baron Ink’s main goal is for each tattoo coming out of their studio to be one of a kind custom pieces that will look good throughout a lifetime. Tattoo Artist & Co-Owner, Red Baron Ink Expert Answer Support wikiHow by unlocking this expert answer. You should wash your new tattoo twice a day, morning and night. It’s important to use antibacterial soap when washing. You can also lightly hydrate your tattoo with ointment, such as Redemption or Aquaphor. You can do this two or three times a day. When caring for your new tattoo, always consult with your tattoo artist and follow their instructions.
  • Question How can I keep my tattoo from fading? Grant Lubbock Tattoo Artist & Co-Owner, Red Baron Ink Grant Lubbock is a Tattoo Artist and Co-Owner of Red Baron Ink, a tattoo salon based in New York City. Grant has over 10 years of tattooing experience and he specializes in neo-traditional, black/grey, and color tattoos. Red Baron Ink’s main goal is for each tattoo coming out of their studio to be one of a kind custom pieces that will look good throughout a lifetime. Tattoo Artist & Co-Owner, Red Baron Ink Expert Answer Support wikiHow by unlocking this expert answer. After your new tattoo is fully healed, which generally takes about three weeks to a month, you should start to apply sunscreen anytime your tattoo is going to be exposed to the sun. Try to avoid long exposures to the sun as much as possible. You can also hydrate the tattoo daily with light lotion to help avoid fading and aging.

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  • It is normal for ink to come off throughout the cleaning process.
  • Wear loose fitting clothing so your tattoo can breathe and heal.


  • Do not pick at or scratch off scabs.
  • Stop using creams or soaps that cause irritation, a rash, or excessive heat or discomfort.


Should I wash my Tattoo before washing it?

About This Article – Article Summary X Cleaning your tattoo is an important step in the healing process and will help prevent infection. Just make sure to leave the bandage on for 24 hours before cleaning it so it has time to heal. Before you wash your tattoo, wash your hands so you don’t spread germs to your skin.

Once your hands are clean, cup a handful of lukewarm water onto the tattoo then apply a gentle, fragrance free-soap. Gently rub the soap onto your tattoo until the majority of blood, ointment, and plasma are removed.

If anything isn’t removed easily, leave it, since forcing it could damage your skin and the tattoo. Once it’s clean, use your hand to cup water onto the tattoo to rinse off the soap. Gently blot it with a clean paper towel and apply a thin layer of unscented lotion to keep it moisturized.

How do you get blood out of a new tattoo?

Download Article Download Article Taking good care of your new tattoo right after you get it will help it heal quickly and stay vibrant. Keep the bandage that your tattoo artist applied on for at least a few hours before gently removing it, washing your tattoo with lukewarm water and antibacterial soap, then patting the skin dry. By keeping your skin evenly moisturized and clean, staying out of the sun, and avoiding picking or itching your new design, your tattoo will heal beautifully.

  1. 1 Leave the covering on for 2-3 hours. Once the tattoo is complete, your tattoo artist will clean the area, apply an antibacterial ointment and cover the tattoo with a bandage or plastic. Once you have left the tattoo parlor, resist the temptation to open the bandage. The bandage is there to protect your tattoo from dirt and bacteria and should be left on for up to 3 hours before you remove it. [1]
    • Since different tattoo artists have different methods of wrapping new tattoos, ask your tattoo artist when they recommend removing the bandage. Some artists may not wrap the tattoo at all, depending on the products and technique they use.
    • If you leave the bandage on longer than the artist suggests, you are more prone to infection and the ink may bleed.
  2. 2 Wash your hands before carefully removing the bandage. Washing your hands beforehand will help prevent your tattoo from getting infected when you go to touch it. To remove the bandage more easily, you can apply warm water to it to prevent the bandage from sticking to your skin. Pull the bandage off slowly and carefully so you don’t damage your new tattoo. [2]
    • Throw away the used bandage.


  3. 3 Wash the tattoo with lukewarm water and antibacterial soap. Instead of soaking your tattoo in water, cup your hands together and scoop lukewarm water over it. Use a mild, unscented liquid antibacterial or antimicrobial soap to rub the tattoo gently with your fingers, removing all traces of blood, plasma, or leaked ink. [3]
    • Do not use a washcloth, loofah or any sponge to clean the tattoo, as these may harbor bacteria. Do not resume use of the items until the tattoo has healed completely.
    • Avoid holding the tattoo directly under the water—the stream of water from the faucet may be too harsh on your new tattoo.
  4. 4 Let the tattoo air dry or pat it dry with a clean paper towel. While it’s best to let your skin air dry after the tattoo has been cleaned, you can also use a clean, dry paper towel to gently blot the tattoo until it’s dry. Avoid rubbing the tattoo with the paper towel to avoid irritating your skin. [4]
    • Regular towels can irritate your tattoo or cause little bits of fluff to get stuck in them, so it’s best to only use a paper towel for drying.
  5. 5 Apply a non-scented antibacterial cream. Once your tattoo is fully dry, apply a little moisturizing ointment, preferably an all-natural aftercare, to the tattoo. Make sure to apply only a very thin layer and pat it in gently until it’s absorbed by the skin. If you’re not sure what kind of ointment to use, ask your tattoo artist what they recommend for your skin. [5]
    • Aquaphor is a good, recommended option for a moisturizer.
    • Don’t use petroleum-based products, such as Vaseline or Neosporin, as these are too heavy and may clog the pores.
    • Once your tattoo is clean and moisturized, avoid rewrapping it.
  6. 6 Listen to your tattoo artist’s advice. Your tattoo artist will explain how you should care for your tattoo immediately after getting it, so try to follow their instructions. The way they bandage your tattoo may be different from other tattoo artists, so take the advice they give you seriously to ensure your tattoo heals correctly. [6]
    • Write down the instructions they give you on a piece of paper or type them up on your phone so you don’t forget.
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  1. 1 Wash and moisturize your tattoo daily until the scabs are gone. You should continue to wash your tattoo 2-3 times a day with antibacterial soap and lukewarm water until it’s fully healed. This can take anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks, depending on the size and location of the tattoo. [7]
    • While moisturizing is important, be careful not to smother the tattoo in lotion or ointment—a thin layer is all you need.
    • Continue using an unscented mild soap when washing.
  2. 2 Avoid scratching or picking at your tattoo. As it heals, your tattoo will start to scab over, which is normal. Let the scabs dry out and fall off by themselves, and don’t speed up the process by picking or scratching at the scabs. This can cause the scabs to fall off too soon, which can leave holes or light spots on the tattoo. [8]
    • Dry, scabbing or peeling skin can become very itchy, but scratching at your tattoo may also cause scabs to fall off.
    • Keep using moisturizing ointment to combat itchiness if it is a problem.
  3. 3 Keep your tattoo out of direct sunlight. The harsh rays of the sun may cause your skin to blister and bleach some of the colors from your tattoo. For this reason, it is best to keep your tattoo covered and away from the sun for at least 3 to 4 weeks until the initial healing is complete. [9]
    • Once your tattoo is healed, you’ll want to wear sunscreen to prevent the tattoo from fading.
  4. 4 Avoid soaking the tattoo in water. Until your tattoo is fully healed, don’t swim in a pool or the ocean. Avoid soaking in the bathtub as well. Exposing your tattoo to lots of water can pull the ink out of your skin and do damage to the tattoo’s appearance. The water may also be carrying dirt, bacteria, or other chemicals that can infect your tattoo. [10]
    • It will be safe to resume these activities once your tattoo is healed, but for now you should stick to rinsing your tattoo in the sink or shower.
  5. 5 Wear clean, loose-fitting clothing to avoid irritating your tattoo. Try not to wear tight or restrictive clothing on the area with your new tattoo, especially at first. As your tattoo heals, it will seep plasma and excess ink, which may cause the clothing to stick to the tattoo. The clothing will then be painful to remove and may rip off any freshly formed scabs. [11]
    • If your clothing does stick to your tattoo, do not pull! First wet the area with water, which should loosen the clothing to where it can be removed without damaging your tattoo.
    • Tight clothing will prevent enough oxygen from getting to your tattoo, and oxygen is essential for the healing process.
  6. 6 Wait for your tattoo to heal before doing strenuous workouts. If the tattoo covers a large surface area or is near your joints (such as elbows and knees), it may take longer to heal if the skin is forced to move around too much during physical activity. The movement will cause the skin to crack and become irritated, prolonging the healing process. [12]
    • If you work in a job that involves physical activity, such as construction or dance, you may want to consider having your new tattoo done right before you have a day or 2 off so it has time to heal before you return to work.
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What is the best way to remove a tattoo without surgery?

About this article – Article Summary X The best way to remove a tattoo is to see a dermatologist and ask about laser surgery removal. However, if you want to attempt to remove your tattoo at home, try rubbing the area with moist gauze and table salt for 30-40 minutes.

  1. Once you’re done, apply antibiotic ointment and cover the area for 3 days;
  2. In a week, the top layers of skin will peel off and the tattoo will fade;
  3. Just be wary of do-it-yourself chemical peel products, as they could cause chemical burns;

To learn how surgical removal and dermabrasion work, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 1,396,774 times.