The Basics of Washing Your New Tattoo


Once you walk out of a tattoo shop with a brand new sleeve or half-back piece, your artist is no longer responsible for how it’ll look in the long run. A reliable technician will relay detailed aftercare information that begins as soon as you sit up off your seat. 

With the proper mindset and dedication, you can don a well-healed and crisp-looking piece for years to come. The correct washing routine is what separates a stunning tattoo from one that is uneven, distorted, and plain pitiful. 

Thorough Washing Will Prevent Infection

Remember, a tattoo is virtually an open wound. After all, a whirring, motorized needle is penetrating your skin at thousands of rotations per minute—up to 6,000 if your artist uses more than one needle. 

As the needle pulls out of your skin, the ink penetrates the top layer and sinks into your dermis. Within the first few hours of your session, the immune cells in your integumentary system activate. During this time, preventing infection is of utmost importance. 

Though the human immune system is naturally adept, you can quickly stop foreign bodies from entering your wound by washing the area. 

How Often to Wash Your Tattoo

Generally, you’ll want to wash your tattoo within the first five hours of application. As much as possible, don’t go over 24 hours without cleaning the area. Each artist will likely stand by their washing regimen—always carefully consider what they advise. 

Wash and moisturize your tattoo at least twice a day, in the morning and evening. Depending on design and placement, a new tattoo can take anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks to fully heal. As a rule of thumb, wash and moisturize your tattoo regularly until it finishes flaking off. 

Best Practices for Washing Your Tattoo

The first thing you want to do after removing your tattoo wrap or bandage is to wash it. As with any skin abrasion, the area will likely be covered in cellular slime—so don’t panic! This slime is blood plasma and will eventually scab over the area to keep contaminants from penetrating the skin. 

Don’t worry if a little bit of ink seeps out of your tattoo—that’s also normal. Clear away as much ink and weeping plasma as possible to prevent severe scarring and potential fading. 

While Washing

Always thoroughly clean your hands before you wash your tattoo with antibacterial soap. Then, use the same soap to wash your piece, being gentle but thorough. Avoid using a cloth or loofah and pat dry the area with a paper towel.

After Washing

Treat your tattoo the way you would approach your skincare routine. After all, it is skin. Remember, dry skin will heal slower than moisturized skin, so you’ll want to lather the area with a fragrance-free lotion to prevent waterlogged scabs and bubbling. 


The number one problem tattoo enthusiasts seem to encounter isn’t a regretful design—it’s infection. While you can easily take antibiotics to nip the problem in the bud, you’re better off preventing the infection from occurring at all. 

For a piece you’ll want to care for, visit our award-winning tattoo artists at Lucky Deville Tattoo Co. We treat our applications the way we would hanging or sculpted art—with utmost care and commitment.