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Scented Soap on a Tattoo: How Bad Can It Be?

person with black tattoos on arms

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If you’ve accidentally used scented soap on your fresh tattoo, don’t worry! It’s not as harmful as you might’ve heard. The most important thing about soap for a healing tattoo is that it cleans it. Keeping your tattoo clean while it’s healing is very important – so don’t miss cleanings just because you don’t have an ideal soap. With a healing tattoo, your skin is full of micro cuts, so above all else, you need to make sure to keep it clean and avoid infection.

Why is Fragranced Soap Bad For Tattoos?

Fragrant soap is generally not recommended for tattoos because it might cause irritation. Even if you’ve never experienced irritation from scented soap, your new tattoo might cause a different reaction. In general, you want to avoid anything that might cause any irritation while you’re healing your tattoo because it could delay the healing process or even cause visual issues. For that reason, scented soaps tend to be considered “bad” for healing tattoos.

Do You Have to Use Antibacterial Soap on a Tattoo?

If you have an aversion to antibacterial soaps (or you simply can’t find a decent one) they aren’t absolutely necessary. Antibacterial soaps are recommended because they are better than other types of soaps at getting rid of minor infections. If you got your tattoo at a trustworthy parlor and you’re decent at taking care of your tattoo, you really won’t have to worry about infections. If you do start showing signs of infection, visit your doctor and they will tell you the best way to clear it up and keep your tattoo clean.

Can You Use Dawn Dish Soap on a Tattoo?

Maybe because of all of the commercials with the cute ducklings, but for some reason using dawn dish soap on healing tattoos is growing in popularity. While technically you can use dawn dish soap on your tattoos, there are definitely much better ways to clean your body. Dish soap is made for dishes (and grease/oil – that’s the point of the commercials, by the way) and your body is not a dish. You want to clean your skin with a soap that will clean in a safe and mild manner. If for some reason dawn dish soap is the only soap you keep in your home, it’ll be fine. But if that’s the case, you probably have bigger issues to deal with.

What is the Best Kind of Soap to Use on a Tattoo?

The ideal soap for a healing tattoo is an antibacterial unscented soap. But neither of those things are total deal breakers: soap is soap and what matters is your tattoo gets cleaned. A lot of artists will recommend the antibacterial liquid dial soap because it’s available everywhere. If you want to be extra careful, you can find a type made for people with sensitive skin. These are the least likely to cause any irritation on your tattoo. Just make sure not to use a soap that is too drying for you because that will only increase your itchy feelings on your healing tattoo.


It’s common for people getting their first tattoo to stress about every tiny detail. The soap you use is really not as important as you may have been lead to believe. Just make sure your tattoo gets healed. Unscented, antibacterial soap is the best, but you won’t die or have your tattoo rubbed off just because you used an unideal soap. Scented soap can cause irritation in a small amount of people and antibacterial soap is the most effective at eliminating minor infections.