The 6 Best Soaps To Clean Tattoos

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Best Soaps For Tattooos
By C Mandler
Originally Published: 

I got my first tattoo when I was 18, and since then, I've gotten six more, each with their 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 keeping it clean and dry in between washes (meaning as free as possible from sweat and oils).

How to wash tattoos safely

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 an antimicrobial soap. Carefully pat it dry afterwards — 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 with 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 well-protected from the sun using a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 or more. Also, don't forget to regularly moisture your fresh ink with one of the best tattoo aftercare lotions.

Read on to find out more cleaning and caring for new tattoos.


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, like the option below.

"Dial is the standard for keeping bacteria and germs at bay. I use it every day and it does not dry out my skin," one Amazon reviewer commented. Another wrote, "This hand soap has all the right qualities: not excessively scented, rinses clean, no lotion feel, and economical to use."

Editor’s Note: “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


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 popular humectant glycerin, which means it'll help your newly-tattooed skin retain moisture. Your brand new work of art won't just look hydrated in between washes, but it'll actually feel comfortable and clean throughout the healing process. I recommend this Amazon pack because it's far cheaper to buy bar soap in bulk than to pick up a single from your local drugstore, so you won't just be saving your new tattoo, but your time and money, too!

"I love love love using this to wash and clean my tattoos,” commented one reviewer, “It’s super gentle with my skin and doesn’t have a scent at all so it’s perfect."


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.

“Easy to use, does not sting, burn, very gentle to the sensitive tissue. This thing was a lifesaver for me after my tattoo,” noted one fan on Amazon, “Also, it meets TSA requirements! That alone is worth the 5 star rating as I literally went on a plane to Disneyland a week after having my tattoo.”


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.

"I ordered this to clean a fresh tattoo and I was extremely happy with it,” raved one fan on Amazon, “When I got my first tattoo I used the original gold dial soap, but I can’t stand the smell of that so I was really happy to find this alternative. My tattoo looks great and this kept it squeaky clean.”


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. It’s worth noting that this formula is not truly unscented, but some people do swear by it. “This stuff is absolute must for new tattoos!” gushed one Amazon shopper, “I've used it on all of my tattoos and they heal really well. It might seem like a really small bottle, but you really don't need to use all that much so the price is absolutely worth it.”


The Best Dial Bar Soap

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.

Experts: Joseph Bryce, Brooklyn-based tattoo artist.

Studies 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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