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How Often to Wash a New Tattoo? A Complete Guide

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Getting a tattoo is an exciting and meaningful experience, but it also comes with a responsibility to properly care for your new ink. One important aspect of aftercare is knowing how often to wash your new tattoo. In this complete guide, we will answer all your questions regarding washing a new tattoo to ensure optimal healing and longevity of your body art.

When Can I Wash My Tattoo?

Immediately after getting a tattoo, your artist will likely apply a bandage or wrap to protect the fresh tattoo and prevent any dirt or bacteria from entering the wound. Follow their instructions regarding how long to keep the wrap on, as different artists may have different recommendations. Once you remove the wrap, it’s time to start washing your tattoo.

In general, it is recommended to wash your new tattoo within five hours of its completion. Try not to go longer than 24 hours without cleaning it if possible. Keeping your tattoo clean is crucial during the healing process to prevent infections and ensure proper healing.

How Often Should I Wash My Tattoo?

During the initial healing stage, it’s important to wash your tattoo a couple of times a day, ideally in the morning and evening. The complete healing cycle of a tattoo can take anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks, depending on its location and size. As long as your tattoo has scabs or pieces of peeling skin, it is still healing and requires regular washing to keep it clean and hydrated.

Best Practices for Washing Your Tattoo

A person is washing their tattooed hands in a sink.

When it’s time to wash your tattoo, follow these best practices to ensure proper care and hygiene:

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly before touching your tattoo to avoid introducing any bacteria.
  2. Use clean, preferably antibacterial soap to cleanse your tattoo gently. Avoid using a cloth or loofah, as bacteria can cling to fabric and potentially cause an infection.
  3. Rinse your tattoo with lukewarm water and lather a small amount of soap on your fingertips. Gently clean the tattooed area, moving in circular motions.
  4. Ensure you rinse off all traces of soap from your tattoo, as residual soap can cause irritation and drying.
  5. If time allows, let your tattoo air-dry. If you’re in a hurry, gently pat it dry with a clean cloth or paper towel.
  6. Moisturize your tattoo after washing to prevent excessive dryness. Choose a fragrance-free, tattoo-specific lotion and apply a thin layer to keep your skin hydrated. Ensure the area is completely dry before applying the lotion.

When Can I Stop Washing My New Tattoo?

You should continue washing your tattoo until it is fully healed. It is considered fully healed when all scabs have fallen off, and the skin has regenerated and closed up. This process generally takes between 2 to 4 weeks. At this point, you can stop washing your tattoo with soap, as it will be protected by its own layers of skin.

Does Washing a Tattoo Fade It?

A tattooed person from the back showering.

Washing your tattoo properly does not fade it. On the contrary, regular and gentle washing helps prevent infections and ensures a clean healing process. Avoid using harsh soaps or scrubbing vigorously, as these can lead to irritation or fading of the tattoo.

How Often Should I Lotion My Tattoo?

Moisturizing your tattoo is an essential part of aftercare. It helps keep your skin hydrated, promotes healing, and preserves the vibrancy of your tattoo. Apply a thin layer of fragrance-free lotion after each wash or whenever your tattoo feels dry. Avoid over-moisturizing, as this can clog pores and hinder the healing process.

How Do I Know My Tattoo Is Healed?

You will know your tattoo is healed when all scabs have naturally fallen off, and the skin appears smooth and vibrant. The tattooed area may still feel slightly sensitive, but there should be no signs of open wounds or oozing. If you have any concerns about the healing process, consult your tattoo artist or a medical professional.


To summarize the key findings from this complete guide on how often to wash a new tattoo:

  • Wash your new tattoo within five hours of completion and continue washing it a couple of times a day until fully healed.
  • Use clean hands and gentle, antibacterial soap to wash your tattoo.
  • Rinse thoroughly and ensure all soap is removed.
  • Let your tattoo air-dry or gently pat it dry with a clean cloth.
  • Apply fragrance-free lotion after each wash to keep your tattoo moisturized.
  • Wash your tattoo until it is fully healed, typically within 2 to 4 weeks.
  • Proper washing does not fade tattoos; it helps prevent infections and promotes healing.

Remember, each tattoo and individual healing process may vary. It’s essential to follow your tattoo artist’s specific aftercare instructions and monitor your tattoo’s progress closely to ensure a beautiful, long-lasting piece of body art.

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Chris Harrison Tattoo Artist

Chris Harrison

Bridgend Tattoo Studio

Bridgend, South Wales, UK

Sneaky-Mitch, tattooist at Gold Room Tattoo, Leeds, UK


Gold Room Tattoo

Leeds, UK

Tito Inkid

L’Atelier Sans Nom

Armentières, France

Lianne Moule

Immortal Ink
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Julian ‘Corpsepainter’ Siebert

Corpse Painter Tattoo
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Empire Ink
Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

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