Let’s face it, most people know not to go swimming in a public pool or rolling around in the mud with a new tattoo.
However, knowing proper tattoo aftercare, in regards to things like washing?
Now, that’s a different story! Countless people with good intentions, get it wrong.
Outside of avoiding external contamination and bacterial sources, aftercare mistakes are made in the three major places: Bandages, washing and moisturizing. Luckily, the process of mastering those three is incredibly easy once you know how to handle them.
In this guide below you’ll find everything you need to know about how often to wash a new tattoo. If you’re still looking for more advice at the end, don’t worry. I’m going to include another gigantic guide below that I’m sure you’ll enjoy!
Let’s get started with the first step.
Removing your bandage, the right way.
Bandages or plastic wrap; chances are your tattoo artist used one of the two before sending you out the door. Before washing your new flesh wound you’re going to have to remove it.
Unfortunately, one of the biggest mistakes in aftercare people make is peeling off their bandage without considering the amount of time that has passed. Often it’s removed far too soon by those want to clean their new ink right away, or far too late by those who completely forget about it.
In reality, you must wait a minimum of four to five hours before removing your initial bandage. Note the word, minimum here because it’s rather important. The truth is, 8 hours is right around the sweet spot. Of course, if you can keep it on for longer, as your results will be better.
Regardless if you choose to remove your bandage within 4, 8 or even 12 hours, you must always remove it within 24 hours. Don’t leave it too long and forget about it!
How often should you wash a new tattoo?
The moment you remove your bandage you must follow this schedule:
Wash your new tattoo every couple of hours for 3 days. That means: Wash, dry and apply ointment.
Remember to use hot water (the hotter the better), and yes, I know that can be rather uncomfortable. Glide over your flesh wound with your (squeaky clean) finger tips and soapy water. Personally, I like soaps like Dial and Hibiclens, but other brands will work just fine as long as their fragrance free.
The key is to loosen up any dried lymph and coagulated blood. Remember, you’re not scrubbing like a mad man here; any type of towel, washcloth or sponge are to be absolutely avoided.
When you finish washing, pat your skin dry with a new paper towel or clean, fresh out of the laundry, soft wash cloth. Remember, your old bathroom towels are teeming with bacteria!
To complete the process, apply ointment like Aquaphor, Bepanthen, Vitamin A/D, or Tattoo Goo.
After the first 3 days, switch to washing two to three times per day. Stop using ointment and switch to lotion/moisturizer.
See the Top 9 Best Lotion For Tattoos here.
Go with fragrance free options from Lubriderm, Curel, Vaseline Intensive Care, Cetaphil and so on. Apply it in tiny dabs as needed, however, avoid over doing it.
Continue using lotion/moisturizer for approx. 25 days.
During that timeframe your skin will start peeling. Relax, this is normal, and that includes colorful bits of skin flaking off too. Toward the end of the process you’ll notice your new tattoo has taken on a waxy, shiny tone.
At this point, apply lotion/moisturizer only as needed.
Why? Because your body no longer has a flesh wound. The abrasion has healed. However, when I say healed, I don’t mean fully healed! It can take at least six weeks for a new tattoo to fully heal.
New to tattoo aftercare?
Trust me, you could really benefit from reading the definitive tattoo aftercare and healing process guide.
In it, I cover things in a more specific manner with far more detail. Of course, you can always take a look at my list of the top 50 new tattoo care tips too.