How to Clean a Tattoo (The Right Way) in 6 Easy Steps

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If you recently got a tattoo, you might be wondering about the best ways to maintain and clean it so that it stays looking beautiful, as well as how to take care of your tattooed skin in the process.

washing new tattoo

In this article, we’ll be going over what you should do and what you can expect when it comes to cleaning and caring for your new work of art.

Clean Your New Tattoo Like a Pro in 6 Simple Steps

1# Wash your hands thoroughly

Before cleaning your tattoo, it’s important to ensure your hands are clean to avoid introducing any bacteria or germs onto your tattoo while cleaning it.

wash hands thoroughly before tattoo

2# Rinse

Make sure to use lukewarm to warm water.

Using hot water can irritate the tattoo and cause it to become inflamed, so it’s best to use lukewarm water to avoid any discomfort.

3# Apply soap

Remember to use unscented, neutral soap to the tattoo. Using a mild soap that is specifically designed for cleaning tattoos can help to prevent infection and ensure your tattoo heals properly.

applying tattoo foam soap

4# Gently wash your tattoo

PRO TIP: Wash the tattoo in circular motions, working your way out from the center of the tattoo.

The reason for this is because if there is dirt or bacteria you will push it to the outside of the tattoo versus just rubbing it all around.

washing tattoo in circular motions

5# Pat dry your tattoo

Remember to ALWAYS pat dry and never rub a healing tattoo. Avoid using any fabrics that may leave lint or cause irritation to the tattooed area, and use a clean, disposable paper towel instead.

pat dry your tattoo

6# Moisturize

Apply a specifically designed tattoo balm to the tattoo to promote healing. Using a balm that is specifically designed for tattoos can help to soothe the skin and promote the healing process, as well as prevent any scabbing or peeling. Learn more on how using ointments helps your tattoos heal faster and better on our article “Dry healing tattoos vs moist healing“.

REMEMBER: Use a clean paper towel to gently blot off any excess.

moisturizing new tattoo

Now that you have a basic idea of how to properly clean your tattoo, we can go over other possible concerns you might have, in order to keep you safe and sound.

When Should I Wash My Tattoo?

It’s recommended that you wash your new tattoo at least 2-3 times a day to keep it clean and well-maintained. Ideally, you should aim to clean it once in the morning and once at night to keep it clean during the day and while you sleep.

It’s important to clean your tattoo right after any activities that might expose it to more bacteria than usual.

For instance, if you go camping, hiking, or work out, you’ll want to clean your tattoo promptly afterward to avoid letting germs linger on your skin for too long. These activities are great for your overall health, but cleaning your tattoo immediately after is crucial to avoid any potential infections.

Which Type Of Soap Should I Use?

When cleaning your tattoo, it’s important to use a very mild soap and to use it sparingly. This means that you should avoid scented soaps, soaps that contain alcohol, or saline solutions, as these can be much harsher on your skin.

Foam-based soaps are a great option. These are generally light on harsh chemicals, easy to apply, and tend not to leave any residue, making them a good choice for cleaning sensitive areas.

tattoo foam soap applied

Alternatively, a basic bar of soap is a good example of a mild soap that would be suitable for cleaning your tattoo. These are typically safe, inexpensive, and can be used for an extended period of time to properly maintain the area.

How Should I Clean Myself Daily, After Getting a Tattoo?

To ensure the healing process goes smoothly, you should avoid taking baths for up to two weeks, depending on how well your tattoo is healing. Instead, take short showers with lukewarm water.

After you get a tattoo, it’s important to be careful with your bathing routine.

It’s important not to let the area stay wet for too long and to avoid using hot water, so keep your showers brief.

It may seem like a small inconvenience in the short term, but it’s worth taking these steps to make sure your tattoo heals properly in the long run.

How Do You Clean a Tattoo That’s Hard to Reach?

If you have a tattoo in a hard-to-reach area, it’s best to simply stretch as safely as you can and use a damp paper towel to clean the area. This method won’t cause scarring or infection and is a safer way to clean your tattoo.

We know you might be tempted to use a loofah or a sponge on a stick to get to those difficult spots. However, these items are not recommended because they can be too harsh on your skin during this sensitive time.

washing tattoo with soap


We’ve gone over the six easy steps to clean your tattoo like a pro: washing your hands, rinsing with water, using a mild soap, washing in circular motions, patting dry with a clean paper towel, and moisturizing with a specifically designed tattoo balm.

Remember to clean your tattoo at least 2-3 times a day, avoiding baths and using lukewarm water during showers. Be gentle with your tattoo and avoid using loofahs or sponges on a stick, as they can be too harsh on the skin. If you do any activities that expose your tattoo to more bacteria than usual, be sure to clean it promptly afterward.

By following these simple tips, you can maintain the beauty of your tattoo and ensure it heals properly. Take care of your skin, and enjoy your new ink!


Should I clean my tattoo with alcohol?

Avoid using alcohol or hydrogen peroxide to clean your tattoo, as they can harm the skin and slow down healing. Instead, use a gentle, fragrance-free soap or one designed specifically for tattoos, and wash with warm/lukewarm water.

Can I wash my tattoo with just water?

Washing your tattoo with only water is better than not washing it at all, but it may not be enough to get rid of bacteria and debris that could cause infection or harm the healing process. To make sure your tattoo stays clean, it’s best to use a mild soap or a soap designed specifically for tattoos, along with lukewarm water.

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