The 6 Best Soaps To Clean Tattoos

Keep your new ink clean and infection-free.

by C Mandler
Originally Published: 
Best Soaps For Tattooos

I got my first tattoo when I was 18, and since then, I've gotten six more, each with its own personal significance. Though each one has a different meaning, the aftercare process has remained the same. Whether you're getting a big piece from a renowned shop or a stick n' poke from your friend, your tattoo needs to be properly cleaned and cared for if you want it to remain vibrant and healthy. That's why, with the help of one of my favorite tattooers, Joseph Bryce, I've put together this list of the best soaps to clean your tattoos — plus, some key tattoo aftercare tips.

Something to keep in mind when it comes to caring for tattoos is that "everyone is different," according to Bryce. "The soap is just to keep it clean. Tattoos are technically wounds," he explains. Bryce says that in order to keep your tattoo free of infection, you should be washing it twice a day and keep it clean and dry in between washes (meaning as free as possible from sweat and oils).

How To Wash Tattoos Properly

First, you’ll want to wait a full 24 hours before washing your new tattoo. Once you’re ready to remove your bandage, very gently wash your tattoo with warm (not hot) water and antimicrobial soap. Carefully pat it dry afterward — never rub a new tattoo — then apply a thin layer of your preferred aftercare ointment. Repeat this process twice a day throughout the healing phase.

When it comes to tattoo aftercare, Bryce also recommends "just listening to your body ... if you have a brand that works well [for] you, just look for their unscented, antibacterial product." And he doesn't just mean soap that's specifically made for the face and body. Sometimes, the best tattoo aftercare cleansers are hand soaps that you'd generally find in any bathroom!

Additionally, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, it's important to keep your new tattoo protected from the sun using sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 or higher. Also, don't forget to regularly moisturize your fresh ink with one of the best tattoo aftercare lotions.

Shop The Best Soaps To Clean Tattoos

In a hurry? These are the best soaps to clean tattoos on Amazon:

  1. The All-Around Best Tattoo Soap: Dial Gold Antibacterial Liquid Soap
  2. The Best Tattoo Soap For Sensitive Skin: Neutrogena Transparent Bar Soap
  3. The Best Tattoo Soap For Dry Skin: H2Ocean Blue Green Foam Soap
  4. The Best All-Natural Tattoo Soap: Dr. Bronner's Pure-Castile Unscented Baby Soap
  5. The Best Deep Cleansing Soap: Tattoo Goo Deep Cleansing Soap
  6. The Best Dial Bar Soap For New Tattoos: Dial White Antibacterial Soap

Read on to find the best soap for your new ink.


The All-Around Best Tattoo Soap

Across the board, "Dial Gold is the classic go-to," says Bryce. Every single piercer or tattooer I've ever met has recommended this bathroom staple as the all-around best tattoo cleanser. It's inexpensive and ultimately, one of the most effective soaps on the market for making sure your tattoo stays clean and free of infection. Something to keep in mind for folks with more sensitive skin is that while this soap is pretty much the holy grail of tattoo cleansers, it's also not fragrance-free. If you're prone to irritation from scented products, it might be best to steer clear of this fan favorite and opt for something completely unscented. This pump bottle and refill pack should last you through several tattoos.

Editor’s Praise: I’m from a heavily-tattooed family, and I have a bunch of full-color tattoos — Dial is the only soap that touches my skin during aftercare. Believe what the experts say, this really is the best!” - Carina Finn

Antibacterial: Yes | Fragrance-Free: No | Moisturizing: Yes


The Best Tattoo Soap For Sensitive Skin

For anything other than Dial, Bryce recommends opting for something fragrance-free — and this Neutrogena bar soap really fits the bill. It's amazing for sensitive skin because it's free of nearly all potential irritants like fragrances, dyes, detergents, and hardeners. The formula is hypoallergenic and made with the humectant glycerin, which means it'll help your newly-tattooed skin retain moisture. Your new work of art won't just look hydrated in between washes, but it'll actually feel comfortable and clean throughout the healing process.

A Helpful Review: “I love love love using this to wash and clean my tattoos. It’s super gentle with my skin and doesn’t have a scent at all so it’s perfect.”

Antibacterial: No | Fragrance-Free: Yes | Moisturizing: Yes


The Best Tattoo Soap For Dry Skin

If you're someone who's really into body modification, you've likely heard of H2Ocean. They're the number-one brand on the market for tattoo aftercare and make an incredible range of water-based products, all of which are vegan and gentle for the healing of delicate wounds and punctures. Their Blue/Green foam soap is free of any potential irritants — parabens, fragrance, etc. — but the best part is that it's loaded with aloe vera, which is intensely moisturizing, making it particularly good for dry skin types. In addition to keeping your new tat disinfected, it'll keep it healthy and hydrated, plus help prevent new scabs from forming.

A Helpful Review: “I’ve always used soft soap antibacterial soap for my tattoos. But I find it harsh and does have fragrance in it. So I switched over to this a few tattoos ago and this soap is the best. Not only does it clean the skin and is antibacterial. But my it does not dry out my skin like normal soap. I highly suggest this. I won’t ever switch back. This is by far the best.”

Antibacterial: Yes | Fragrance-Free: Yes | Moisturizing: Yes


The Best All-Natural Tattoo Soap

Dr. Bronner's products are vegan, all-natural, and cruelty-free, and their formulas help me with everything from BO to hormonal acne, so why should tattoos be any exception? Following Bryce's advice to opt for the unscented, I picked Dr. Bronner's baby soap — the most gentle of all their formulas — as the best all-natural tattoo soap pick. Coconut, hemp, jojoba, and olive oils make sure that even though this soap is super effective, it won't dry out your new tattoo. And, because the formula is so concentrated, you only need to dilute a few drops with water to get the rich lather you need to fully clean your skin.

A Helpful Review: “I use this stuff for washing my fresh tattoos, glad that they have an unscented version. A small bottle of this is 3-4$ at Target so this is a steal.”

Antibacterial: No | Fragrance-Free: Yes | Moisturizing: Yes


The Best Deep Cleansing Soap

If you want a soap that’s gentle enough for new tattoos but still offers a deep clean, this cleansing soap from Tattoo Goo is a solid choice. The unscented formula contains two active ingredients that set it apart from other basic tattoo soaps. The first is Sodium Lauryl Sacrosinate, a naturally-derived amino acid that helps make soap foamy. The second is Chloroxylenol, an antimicrobial that helps keep your new tattoo clean without damaging it.

A Helpful Review: “As someone with extremely sensitive skin and eczema, I struggle to find products that are suitable. I had just gotten an upper-arm tattoo and decided to purchase Tattoo Goo soap. It's absolutely wonderful on my skin. What is the difference between Tattoo Goo and other antimicrobial soaps? Tattoo Goo is specifically created for tattoos! With this soap, not only does it clean my tattoo but it also helps hydrate it. Skin hydration is extremely important for a healing tattoo. The product does contain olive oil and is fragrance free. It's exactly what your healing tattoo needs! I would definitely recommend this.”

Antibacterial: Yes | Fragrance-Free: Yes | Moisturizing: Yes


The Best Dial Bar Soap For New Tattoos

For those who want the thorough, gentle cleansing power and antibacterial qualities of Dial, but don’t love the way classic Dial Gold smells, try this three-pack of Dial White bars. They work just as well as the original formula for tattoo aftercare, but with a milder scent. “Purchased and used for tattoo care and aftercare,” wrote one Amazon shopper, “This soap has a very pleasant smell as well as a creamy, thick, and smooth lather. I would highly recommend this brand and type of soap for anyone with a brand new tattoo or just for general everyday use.”

Some reviewers also say this formula is a bit more moisturizing than Dial Gold, though note that you’ll still want to apply ointment after washing, no matter how moisturizing your soap is. Another benefit of the Dial White formula is that it won’t stain if you accidentally get some on your clothing.

A Helpful Review: “Great soap for after getting a tattoo.”

Antibacterial: Yes | Fragrance-Free: No | Moisturizing: Yes

Expert: Joseph Bryce, Brooklyn-based tattoo artist.

Study referenced: Rostron, A., Cox-Davenport, R., & Shepherd, R. (2015, July). Aftercare Should Not be an Afterthought: Current Tattoo Aftercare Methods. Retrieved from

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