One of the most important things to keep in mind when you first get a new tattoo is the washing process. Washing your tattoo is crucial as it prevents unwanted bacteria and pathogens from invading your skin's protective barrier.
Among all the questions we get about the washing process of a new tattoo, there's one that stands out from the rest:
How often should you wash your new tattoo? Generally, it is recommended that you wash your tattoo around 2-3 times a day until it is completely healed, which can take several months.
Since there is a lot of ambiguity surrounding the frequency and process of washing your new tattoo, we have decided to go more in-depth to help you understand when, how, and how much you need to clean your tattoo.
How Long Should You Wait to Wash Your Tattoo?
We suggest that you wait at least 5 hours after your tattoo's application to wash it.
It is critical that you begin with clean hands and a gentle and anti-microbial tattoo soap as this part of your body is especially sensitive.
- Washing your tattoo too soon
Although, if you decide to wash your tattoo too soon this could cause serious damage to your new ink, which will mean all the money and patience you have used would go down the drain.
- Not washing your tattoo at all
However, if you decide to not wash your tattoo at all, this can have an even more adverse impact, as you will openly be inviting bacteria to cause havoc upon your skin.
Can You Wash Your Tattoo Too Much?
Yes, it is definitely possible to overwash your tattoo. We know that you are just trying to keep your tattoo "extra-clean", but be careful because this can backfire in the long run.
Washing your tattoo every morning and night (and maybe the evening) will be adequate in preventing your tattoo from harvesting bacteria.
If you overwash your tattoo, this can lead to you accidentally washing away your body's beneficial bacteria, which will then prevent your tattoo from healing properly.
Washing a Tattoo: DO'S and DON'TS
There are several processes you should and should not follow when it comes to washing your tattoo appropriately.
- DON'T wash your tattoo with a scented cleanser
Washing your tattoo with a scented cleanser can cause a considerable amount of irritation to your skin while causing the color of your tattoo to fade at a faster rate.
+ DO wash your tattoo with an antimicrobial/antibacterial cleanser
Washing your tattoo using an antimicrobial or antibacterial soap will, of course, prevent the growth of nasty bacteria or fungi around your tattoo.
- DON'T use hot water to wash your tattoo
Using hot water to wash your new tattoo will allow the pores on your skin to open, which will make your tattoo more at risk for not only bacterial infection but ink leakage as well.
+ DO use lukewarm water to wash your tattoo
When you wash your tattoo with warm water instead of hot, it is still effective enough in washing off additional blood and plasma, yet, it is not hot enough to completely open your pores.
However, it would be a good idea to finish off with cold water to ensure that your pores are closed.
Read also: Clean your new tattoo properly in 7 steps.
- DON'T use a loofah/sponge to wash your tattoo
Using a sponge or loofah might seem like a good idea at first, as it will help scrub off additional bacteria, but this does the exact opposite. Washcloths like these harbor bacteria, consequently making your tattoo susceptible to infection.
+ DO wash your tattoo with your hands
Washing your tattoo with your hands is the best option as you can gently cleanse your tattoo effectively while ensuring that nothing is scratching your tattoo.
- DON'T use dirty hands to wash your tattoo
It is important to remember that a tattoo is similar to an open wound, which means it is extremely susceptible to infection.
If you decide to wash your tattoo with dirty hands or even dirty fingernails, this can easily lead to a bacterial infection.
Therefore, it would also be best to wash your hands with a bar of antibacterial or antimicrobial soap, this is especially essential for the first-wash.
+ DO wash your hands before washing your tattoo
Before washing your new tattoo, you need to make sure you wash your hands thoroughly while even making sure your fingernails do not harbor any dirt.
- DON'T soak your tattoo underwater
Submerging a new tattoo in water will not only result in it smudging and fading away, but this means the area around your tattoo will be susceptible to scarring, as the peeling skin around the area will begin to get stretchy and soft and eventually come off.
Read also: How Long After a Tattoo Can You Swim?
+ DO apply a light amount of water to your tattoo
Instead of putting your tattoo directly underneath the pipe, cup your hands and slowly pour water on to your tattoo. Afterward, you can use the soap and mildly run your hands in a circular motion on the area.
- DON'T wipe your tattoo dry
It is essential that you do not wipe or scrub your tattoo dry. Similar to using a loofah or a sponge, this can rub away peeling skin and scabs, which will cause irritation and a longer healing time.
+ DO gently pat your tattoo dry
Instead of wiping, you should dab your wounded area until it is dry.
Although, it is fine to let it air dry if you want to be extra cautious. However, when drying your tattoo be careful when using a towel, as these can also harbor bacteria.
Thus, the best option is to go with something that is clean and disposable, like a paper towel.
Washing a tattoo is similar to disinfecting a scab or a blister.
It is important that you keep it clean, while also being aware of methods that work against the healing of your tattoo.
It is just as critical to moisturize consistently to bolster the health of your wounded skin.
We hope you found this article helpful in preparing you to care for your tattoo. Now, most of all, enjoy your brand new ink!