Tattoo Cleaning Bible: How to Clean your Tattoo and Promote Healing

By Tephanie Stephenson / October 20, 2018
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Now that you’ve got your new tattoo, it is time to know how to take care of it to promote proper healing. A new tattoo is just like a new wound, which means that you would have to take good care of it until it is completely healed.

Today, we will discuss how to clean your tattoo to make sure that it heals well and on time.


Why is it Essential to Clean my Tattoo?

Just like what we have mentioned earlier, getting a new tattoo is just like obtaining a new wound. The pores are all open and you are prone to getting a bacterial infection, which you definitely do not.


Getting an infection will ruin your tattoo and can even make you feel sick.

Cleaning it Immediately After Getting your New Ink

Different tattoo artists will recommend different time frames when it comes to removing your bandage or wrap, which is why it is important to listen to them since this part is very important. It can be around 2 to 24 hours, so make sure to listen up.


Keeping the Bandage On


If you need to be somewhere else aside from your house after getting the tattoo, then you would want to keep the bandage on to make sure that dirt, sweat, and dust won’t get into it. Your pores and wound are still pretty much open during those times, which means that bacteria can easily infiltrate it. Keep it on until you come home and make sure to rinse it with mild soap and lukewarm water after taking the bandage off.

Taking the Bandage Off

Now, when it comes to taking the bandage off and washing your tattoo, remember the following statements. Your new tattoo may be filled with gooey stuff such as plasma, blood, lymph fluid, and ink and it might look nasty at first. This is perfectly normal, but you definitely have to wash it properly to get the plasma off, especially, since it can heavily scab your tattoo if not cleaned properly.


If you are still seeing bits of dried up blood and plasma even after washing the tattoo, then just leave it be. Do not rub on it or scratch it too hard, as this can ruin your tattoo or even infect it.

Cleaning with Soap and Water

After cleaning it with mild soap and lukewarm water, make sure to tap it dry with a clean piece of napkin. DO NOT rub – just tap the napkin over your tattoo and let it soak the excess water.


Putting Lotion and Ointment On

Once you are done with this, you can go ahead and put a little bit of lotion or ointment to your new tattoo. Do not use too much, as this may cause your tattoo to suffocate, which can eventually lead to an infection.

What to Expect During the First Day

Your tattoo will be sore, red, and tender during the first day and for the next couple of days, so make sure to take good care of it and not touch it too much. Your new tattoo can also affect the way you sleep, especially if it touches your clothing or your beddings. Make sure to lay on the opposite side of where you got your new tattoo to avoid getting it all pressed up on your clothing or your beddings.


Cleaning your Tattoo Step by Step

If you are curious about how to clean your brand new tattoo, then go ahead and read on to make sure you clean it properly.

Keep Your Hands Clean

The first thing that you should do is to wash your hands before cleaning your tattoo. You would not want to get any bacteria into your new ink, which is why it is important to keep your hands free from dirt and germs.

Wet your hands, put some soap in there, lather and rub them together, rinse well, towel or air dry your wet hands, and then clean your tattoo with it.

Use an antibacterial soap to make sure you get the germs and the bacteria off of your hands.

Cleaning the Tattoo

Wet the area and put some soap on it. Do not put the tattoo directly under the running water and rub it way too hard. Instead, you would want to just wet it with your own hands and then lather it with mild soap.

Soaping it Up

Make sure to use an antibacterial yet mild soap that is free from any harsh ingredients such as fragrances and alcohol. Using soap that contains these ingredients can irritate your new tattoo and may even start a rash.

Rinsing the Tattoo

washing tattoo


Rinse your tattoo by using lukewarm water to keep it clean. Do not use hot water, as this can hurt you and irritate your new tattoo. You also should not rub it way too hard while rinsing, as this will irritate your new ink.

Let it Dry

You can use a clean piece of paper towel to dry your new tattoo. Make sure to just pat it over the tattoo and do not rub, as this can irritate the wound.

If you want, you can also just leave it to air dry naturally.

Apply Some Lotion or Ointment

Take a small dollop of ointment or lotion and put it on your tattoo. Now, make sure not to overdo it, as using too much of the cream can suffocate your tattoo and irritate it.

Ask your tattoo artist what the best type of cream or ointment you can use to keep your tattoo properly taken care of.

Cleaning your Tattoo for the Following Days

You will most probably still see a little bit of blood and plasma oozing out of your new tattoo, but it should be lessened by now. You will also experience swelling and redness still and this can take up to a week before it starts to go down.

If you usually get bruised easily, then you can get a little bit of bruising during these days. It should be nothing to be alarmed of, so if it gets too purple or red and the area seems to spread out, then it might be time to see a doctor.

You should continue sleeping in the opposite direction of where you got the tattoo to make sure that you won’t press the tattoo on your beddings and clothing.

Lastly, make sure to clean your tattoo with mild soap and lukewarm water 2 – 3 times per day to make sure that no type of infection will be present.

Drying and Scabbing

After 4 – 5 days, your new tattoo will start to scab and peel off. Don’t worry – this is not the ink coming off, it’s just the extra layer of the skin and ink that’s actually peeling off. Just make sure not to voluntarily peel everything off, or else, you can create a new wound or even take some of that ink off. Just leave it to scab and peel off on its own – it will eventually pass anyway.

tattoo scab

You should still continue to clean your tattoo properly during these days and make sure to apply the ointment every after wash to keep your tattoo moisturized, as this can be a pretty dry moment for your new tattoo.

You will notice a little bit of dullness on your tattoo, but do not worry, as this is completely temporary. It will brighten and become vibrant once again after all the scabbing and peeling is done.

Avoid wearing tight clothing during these times to make sure that the scabs and the new tattoo won’t stick to it. Wear comfortable and loose clothing, plus make sure to stay away from super hot places and doing strenuous activities.

Itching and Scabbing

The itchiness will start to commence by day 6 and can last up to day 14. Remember: no matter how itchy it gets, you should resist to scratch it at all costs. If it gets too difficult to handle, then just tap on the tattoo lightly until the itchiness goes away.


The cause of the itchiness is mainly because of the tattoo being too dried up. This is the reason why it is important to keep your tattoo clean and properly moisturized during the whole period.

Also, know that during this period, your skin and tattoo will look all scabby and peeling. This is pretty normal, so there is nothing to worry about. Just let it scab and peel on its own and you will be good.

The Last Few Days

Days 15 – 30 are most probably the best days that you will experience after getting your new tattoo. The inflammation and soreness should have disappeared by now and your tattoo should be as flat as your usual and untattooed skin.

Itchiness, peeling, and scabbing may still be present in the area, but it should not be anything major. Make sure to still clean your tattoo well and moisturize it with cocoa butter or even your usual unscented lotion.

Do not shave the tattooed are until it is fully healed to make sure that you won’t run into an infection or even a botched tattoo.

How to Take a Shower with your All New Tattoo

Most tattoo artists will advise you to wait a few hours before showering with a new tattoo. You should be able to do so after 4 hours and after taking your bandage or wrap off. There are a few rules that you must follow when showering with a new tattoo, so make sure to continue reading below.

Shower with Lukewarm Water

If you love showering with hot water, then this is the time to stop doing that for a while. Hot water can open your pores up, which means that bacteria can easily enter the wound and give you an infection.


Instead, shower with lukewarm water to properly kill any bacteria off and keep your tattoo moisturized.

Just Use Mild Soap

Now, we might have mentioned this earlier, but it is definitely important, which is why we would like to repeat ourselves. Make sure to use a fragrance-free and mild soap to clean your tattoo. Do not use anything with harsh ingredients and full-on fragrance, as this can irritate your tattoo.

Don’t be Rough

Do not rub or scratch on the tattoo during bath time, as this can ruin the pigments and ink on your new tattoo. Just casually wash it with water and mild soap, you also do not want to use a loofah or scrubber on the area, as this can disrupt the ink.

Rinse Right Away

Do not stay inside the shower for too long. Instead, make sure that you get out of it as fast as you can. You do not want to expose your tattoo to the steam and water too much, which can be harmful to your new tattoo.

Remember to keep these tips by heart and follow each one to make sure you get that tattoo properly taken care of. Best of luck and enjoy your new tattoo to the fullest!

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About the author

Tephanie Stephenson

Tephanie has extensive knowledge when it comes to body and facial piercings. She has seen it all – from nostril piercings all the way to nipple piercings. She has over 10 piercings including a nostril, medusa, eyebrow, tragus, earlobe, and industrial. She is an expert when it comes to cleaning piercings and keeping it infection-free. If you have got any questions for Tephanie about any type of piercing, comment it down below and she will get back to you in a jiffy!

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