How Long After Getting A Tattoo Can You Wash It With Soap?

Get the best aftercare tips on when to wash your tattoo with soap for lasting, vibrant ink.

Written by , MA (English Literature) Aparna Harry MA (English Literature) linkedin_icon Experience: 3 years
Edited by , BTech Anjali Sayee BTech Experience: 7 years
Fact-checked by , BA (English Hons) Pahul Nanra BA (English Hons) Experience: 2 years
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Taking proper care of a new tattoo is the cornerstone of keeping its colors vivid and the lines sharp long after you have left the tattoo parlor. A crucial aspect of this aftercare routine is knowing how long after getting a tattoo you can wash it with soap. This initial step is often overlooked, yet it is essential for preventing infections and ensuring your skin heals correctly.

Washing your new tattoo is vital for several reasons, most notably to ensure proper healing and to prevent infection. When you get a tattoo, the process involves needles piercing your skin thousands of times to deposit ink into the dermis layer. This creates an open wound vulnerable to bacteria and pathogens that can cause infections. Addressing the care process early on means your tattoo will have a better chance of healing neatly, thus preserving the artwork you’ve chosen to carry with you.

This guide is all about tattoo aftercare, focusing on washing your new artwork. We aim to provide clear and straightforward tips so you can confidently care for your tattoo from day one. Stay with us as we dive into the best practices for a beautifully healed tattoo. Scroll down to read more.

How Long After A Tattoo Can You Wash It With Soap?

A woman using hand soap to wash her tattoo
Image: Shutterstock

A tattoo wash is crucial in the healing journey. Do it right and your skin will thank you with a beautifully preserved piece of body art. Avoid using a soap until recommended to do so by your tattooist. This is usually around 24 to 48 hours after getting your tattoo. Some artists may even recommend waiting for 1-2 weeks before washing your tattoo with soap. In most cases, your tattoo artist will ask you to gently wash your new tattoo with lukewarm water and no soap for the first few days.

Using a soap on a new tattoo could dry out your newly inked skin, leading to flaking and dryness. Additionally, not all soaps are gentle. Using harsh soaps on your freshly inked skin can lead to irritation, especially if you have dry or sensitive skin. Since the newly tattooed skin is essentially an open wound, using harsh soaps on that skin may cause a burning sensation, leading to inflammation.

During this period, it is also recommended to avoid the swimming pool, direct sun exposure, and tight clothing to protect the healing tattoo and reduce the risk of infection.

Once your tattoo artist gives you the go ahead to wash your tattoo, you may have some questions on how to go about it. Learn more about keeping your tattoo clean in the sections below.

1. How Do You Clean A New Tattoo For The First Time?

  • First, ensure your hands are squeaky clean. Wash them with an antibacterial soap before you touch the tattooed area. Dirty hands are not the ideal companion for proper healing.
  • After getting a tattoo, remove the bandage as instructed by your tattoo artist, usually after 24 hours. Do not pull out the bandage roughly.
  • Then, gently rinse the tattoo with lukewarm water to remove any excess blood or ink.
  • Finally, pat the area dry with a clean dry paper towel (1). And let it air-dry for a bit if the tattooed skin is still a bit damp. This is the first step in taking care of your new tattoo.
protip_icon Trivia
To clear a common misconception, black and dark green tattoo ink pigments are easier to clear than lighter colors like yellow or purple due to different dye responses to light wavelengths.

2. How To Wash A Tattoo

  • When you do start washing your new ink, remember to be gentle.
  • Choose a mild, fragrance-free soap to avoid irritating the skin.
  • Use your hands to gently apply the soap and clean the tattooed area. Do not scrub your tattooed skin.
  • Rinse your skin well with lukewarm water and pat it dry with a clean paper towel.

Don’t rush the process; tattoo wash must be done carefully to ensure your new art heals well and looks great for longer. Apply a thin layer of a moisturizer or antibacterial ointment recommended by your tattooist after you are done washing the new tattoo.

3. Can You Wash The Tattoo With Just Water?

You can rinse your tattoo with just warm water, especially if you have sensitive or dry skin. However, washing your new tattoo with a mild soap is critical to the healing process, serving not just as a hygiene practice but also as a safeguard for your new piece of art.

When you get a tattoo, the needle pierces your skin and creates an open wound that needs proper care. This wound is vulnerable to many external irritants, such as dirt, dust, and residual tattoo ink, during the healing process. If not cleaned properly, these contaminants may lead to various adverse reactions. Bacteria can easily thrive in unclean environments, causing infections that may result in redness, swelling, and discomfort. If bacteria gets trapped under the skin, it could even lead to acne breakouts, that further complicate the healing process. Therefore, it is crucial to take proper care of your tattoo, keep it clean, and follow the aftercare instructions provided by your tattoo artist.

It is important to keep your new tattoo clean to avoid any complications. Excess tattoo ink may ooze out during the initial days and contribute to scab formation. If not cleaned away properly, scabs may pull ink from the tattoo as they fall off, causing damage to the overall appearance. Rinsing with water alone is not enough to combat these risks, as it cannot effectively remove all impurities or disinfect the area. Therefore, washing your tattoo with a gentle, fragrance-free antibacterial soap is essential to dissolve and wash away unwanted substances without causing additional irritation. This process also aids the removal of traces of blood and plasma that can seep from the fresh wound, reducing the chance of heavy scabbing. This careful cleansing ensures that the wound remains clear of harmful elements and promotes optimal healing, resulting in a beautifully healed tattoo.

Furthermore, proper cleansing preserves the integrity of your tattoo’s design, ensuring that its colors and lines heal sharply and maintain their vibrancy, keeping your ink looking top-notch for years to come.

Now, we have learned that washing with mild soap is a crucial part of the tattoo aftercare process. Next, it is essential to know how long you wash your tattoo. This is dealt with in the next section. Scroll down to read more.

How Long Should You Wash The Tattoo For?

A woman washing her tattoo
Image: Shutterstock

You don’t need to turn your tattoo washing into a lengthy affair. Typically, a quick 30-second to one-minute wash will do the trick. Be brief but thorough to keep the tattoo clean and reduce the risk of irritation.

However, you should wash your tattoo at least twice everyday. Regular washing helps to alleviate the discomfort associated with fresh tattoos, such as soreness and itching, making the overall healing experience more bearable.

If you have sensitive or dry skin, you should consult a dermatologist or your tattoo artist to know how often you should clean your tattoo. Cleaning your tattoo too often, if you have these two skin types, may lead to dryness and other skin issues.

After washing, keep the tattoo uncovered to let it breathe unless your artist instructs otherwise. Proper aftercare is the secret to a vibrant and healthy tattoo. Keep things simple, and your tattoo will heal just fine.

protip_icon Fun Fact
A “holiday” is the term for a part of a tattoo where the color has lifted during healing, or the artist missed a spot.

So, washing your tattoo for a quick minute is all it takes and that is easy to incorporate into your daily routine. Next, you need to know how often the tattoo should be washed. Check out the section below to learn more.

How Often Should You Wash A New Tattoo?

When can I wash my tattoo
Image: Shutterstock

If you are wondering how often you should wash a new tattoo a day, the answer is usually two times per day. Once in the morning and once at night should do the trick to keep your tattoo clean and prevent infection. Washing more than this might irritate your skin, and less could risk infection. If there is persistent redness or signs of infection contact your tattoo artist or healthcare professional immediately.

Meenakshi, a blogger, shared how important washing the new tattoo carefully is. She writes, “ And you have to keep washing it, which hurts even more. This morning in the shower, I accidentally faced my body full into the blast of those water jets and I nearly passed out with the pain (i).” Be gentle with the washing technique to avoid inflammation and redness.

Now that you have learned how often you must wash your tattoo, learn what soap to use to keep the healing tattoo clean in the next section. Scroll down to read.

What Soap Should I Use To Wash My Tattoo?

Soap to use to wash a new tattoo
Image: Shutterstock

The best bet is to use a gentle, fragrance-free, antibacterial soap (2). Harsh or abrasive soaps with fragrances or heavy dyes can cause allergic reactions to the already irritated skin on the fresh tattoo and interfere with the healing process. You can also use natural or herbal soaps instead of regular soaps, but it is always better to consult your tattoo artist before using those. Stick with a simple and mild soap during the healing time to keep your new tattoo as clean and clear as the day you got it.

protip_icon Did You Know?
It usually takes 2-3 weeks for the outer layer of skin to heal after getting a tattoo, while the layer underneath may take up to 6 months to fully recover.

Ultimately, for every tattoo the wash process is simple: wash with a mild, antibacterial soap and lukewarm water two times per day for under a minute. This is a basic practice that you can include in your routine. But if you want to get back to your normal wash routine and wondering when you can do that, check out the section below.

When Can I Stop Washing My Tattoo With Antibacterial Soap?

How to wash tattoo after taking off the wrap
Image: IStock

Are you wondering if you can switch back to your regular soap after getting a tattoo? You can stop using an antibacterial soap after your tattoo has completely healed, usually around two to four weeks. You can return to your normal shower routine once your skin has closed up and the risk of infection has greatly decreased. Check if your skin has fully healed, meaning there are no more tattoo scabs or peeling. Once you reach this stage, you can go back to your normal shower routine. Just continue to keep your skin clean, moisturized, and sun protected, and you will be all set with a well-healed tattoo (3).

Leila, a blogger, shared her first brush with the tattoo process. She writes, “And then it started peeling… and as much as I tried to keep it moisturized, it still peeled. It itched a little bit but not that much. Since I’m still home during the day with my kids, I was able to air dry the tattoo after washing and I could moisturize throughout the day easily (ii).”

Good aftercare translates to a tattoo that stands the test of time—bold, clear, and infection-free. Using an antibacterial soap on your new tattoo aids its recovery process and prevents infections. You can switch back to your regular soap once your tattooed skin is fully healed, usually within two to four weeks or once there are no scabs or sensitive areas. Look after your tattoo well initially, and it will look good for a long time. Treat those initial weeks as a critical period for your tattoo’s longevity, and when in doubt, consult your tattoo artist or a dermatologist. Now that you’re armed with knowledge and best practices, you can enjoy your ink and the peace of mind that comes with proper care.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you wash your tattoo when it’s peeling?

Yes, you should still wash your tattoo even when it is peeling. During the peeling phase that usually occurs a few days to a week after getting a tattoo, it is important to maintain proper hygiene to prevent infection and promote healing.

When to stop washing tattoos twice a day?

Wash a new tattoo 2-3 times a day for the first week. Continue this routine until the tattoo is fully healed (usually 2-3 weeks). After that, wash it once a day or as needed.

How often should I wash my tattoo when it’s peeling?

It is recommended to wash the tattooed area gently 2-3 times a day until the surface of the tattoo is fully healed. This typically takes a minimum of two to three weeks. After washing the tattoo during this period, a thin coat of tattoo aftercare product should be gently applied.

How to wash a peeling tattoo?

To clean a peeling tattoo, use clean hands to pour lukewarm water on the area. Pour a small amount of unscented, gentle foaming cleanser into your hands, rub them together, and gently clean the area. Rinse with lukewarm water and pat dry. Apply a fine layer of unscented balm. Avoid scrubbing, picking, or using harsh soaps, which can damage the peeling skin and affect healing.

Can I wash my tattoo with Dawn?

No. It is recommended to wash your tattoo with mild, unscented, hypoallergenic soap and lukewarm water. Using a harsh soap like Dawn may be too abrasive for a new tattoo.

Key Takeaways

  • Begin washing with soap 24-48 hours post-tattoo to prevent infection and maintain ink quality.
  • Use mild, fragrance-free soap to avoid irritation and ensure gentle cleansing.
  • Washing your tattoo should be brief; 30 seconds to a minute is sufficient.
  • Wash a new tattoo twice daily until fully healed for optimal results.
  • Transition back to regular soap after the tattoo fully heals, typically in 2-4 weeks.
how long after a tattoo can you wash it with soap

Image: Stable Diffusion/StyleCraze Design Team

Learn about essential cleaning and tattoo hygiene tips from this informative video. Watch this before your next tattoo appointment and be ready for the proper aftercare that your beautiful tattoo requires. Scroll down to watch it.

Personal Experience: Sources

References

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. An Analysis Of The Content And Recommendations Of 700 American Tattoo Aftercare Instructions
    https://karger.com/drm/article-abstract/239/6/988/861717/An-Analysis-of-the-Content-and-Recommendations-of?redirectedFrom=PDF
  2. Aftercare Should Not Be An Afterthought Current Tattoo Aftercare Methods
    https://journals.lww.com/jdnaonline/FullText/2015/07000/Aftercare_Should_Not_be_an_Afterthought__Current.2.aspx
  3. Exploratory Evaluation Of Tolerability, Performance, And Cosmetic Acceptance Of Dexpanthenol-Containing Dermo-Cosmetic Wash And Sun-Care Products For Tattoo Aftercare
    https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/hsr2.635
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Aparna Harry

Aparna HarryBeauty & Lifestyle Writer

Aparna Harry is a beauty and lifestyle content writer with over three years of experience in writing for different genres. She has a master’s degree in English Literature from The English And Foreign Languages University and a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Mysore. Her background in teaching in high schools coupled with her passion for storytelling has...read full bio

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