What do Tattoo Artists Use to Wipe the Ink Off?

Shmulik Dorinbaum
Tatto — Stock Editorial Photography

Table of Contents

What do tattoo artists use to wipe the ink off? I ask myself this question too, but let’s find the answer in the next paragraphs.

The tattooing process can be quite messy, with some extra ink spilling over. Your tattoo artist will need to wipe off the spilled ink to prevent contamination or infection. If left for long, it may damage your skin or the tattoo.

Tattoo artist with mask on face at work

During tattooing, hygiene and attention are paramount. The tattoo should be neatly curved and super clean, and this can only be achieved if there aren’t any distractions from ink spillovers. So how do estheticians wipe off extra ink from the tattoo area?

This article will find out what tattoo experts use to wipe off the excess ink, leaving your tattoo neat and infection-free.

Keep scrolling for more details.

What Tattoo Artists Prefer When Wiping Ink Off 

Before and after getting tattooed, your tattoo artist must ensure the tattoo area is clean. This will make applying the stencil and tattooing easy.

White and Black Pump Bottle

Most tattoo artists prefer using green soap to wipe the ink off the skin. Other alternatives include hydrogen peroxide, sterilized water, and a mixture of alcohol and carrier oil.

Let’s explore green soap and see why it’s in almost every tattoo studio you walk into.

Why Green Soap?

Green soap is a vegetable oil-based, water-soluble, fragrance-free, and environmentally friendly soap with antibacterial properties. It is medically approved for use in tattoo and piercing studios, medical facilities, and related facilities that need the skin well sanitized and moisturized when performing certain procedures.

Green soap can be used in soap form or as liquid, which you can dilute with water and use as a solution in a spray bottle. It is soothing to the skin as it contains oils that moisturize it. The soap is hypoallergenic too.

Green soap’s real color is yellow with a green tint – probably because of its ingredients. It is made with vegetable oil (glycerin), ethyl alcohol, coconut oil, and other variations. This composition makes it effective in sanitizing and moisturizing the skin.

The soap prevents skin itchiness, scaliness, dryness, swelling, infection redness, raised tattoo bumps, and other issues that may come up after your tattoo procedures.

Overall, the green soap helps to reduce any side effects related to your tattoo procedure. In addition, this soap contains soothing properties from natural oils. The oils promote skin healing by nourishing it and making it soft after the aggressive tattooing procedure.

The esthetician dilutes the green soap in water before spraying it onto your skin to use the green soap. They’ll then dab your skin to rid it of the extra ink.

Uses of Green Soap

Besides wiping the ink off your skin, tattoo artists use green soap to prepare your skin for tattooing. It helps clean and sanitize the skin to prevent cross-contamination and your risks of getting infected.

The soap removes excessive ink off your skin during color change. It also cools down your skin to prevent irritation and pain.

Most times, estheticians will shave the tattoo area before tattooing. They use green soap to sanitize the area to prevent bacteria buildup and ingrown hairs. No hairs will be left after cleaning, and the skin will stay hydrated and nourished as it waits to meet the needle.

Estheticians use a green soap solution to clean finished tattoos. Once they’re done tattooing, they remove residual ink or blood from the skin with green soap before wrapping the tattooed area.

What Other Options Do I Have Besides Green Soap?

Female tattoo master during work in studio

While green soap is hypoallergenic with all the natural ingredients, not everyone will be comfortable using it. Some people show allergic reactions after using it. 

If you notice an allergic reaction to any of the green soap’s ingredients or can’t find it in your area, we have alternatives that may help to keep your skin clean and sanitized during your tattoo procedure.

So what do tattoo artists use to wipe the ink off, other than green soap? Let’s check out a few green soap alternatives to consider.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is a popular product people use to disinfect the skin and wipe off excess ink during tattooing. However, it is a skin-lightening agent, and you should be very careful with it. It can either lighten your tattoo or remove it completely.

A Mixture of Alcohol and Carrier Oil

This mixture is a great option for sanitizing your skin before the procedure or removing excessive ink from the tattooed area. But remember, alcohol can be damaging to your tattoo. It can dry your skin significantly too. Make sure it’s used in the smallest amounts, especially if your skin is sensitive.

Sterilized Water

Sterilized water is the best alternative for people who are allergic to green soap, alcohol/carrier oil mixture, or other products. Unless you are also allergic to water (some people are, actually), this is the most preferred. 

We emphasize sterilized water because bottled or tap water can be counterproductive. You don’t want to risk getting a serious bacterial infection.

Point to Note

Although plenty of green soap alternatives are out there, you need to ensure that whatever you choose will not affect your tattoo or skin. Always notify your esthetician about your green soap allergy. Informing them will give them time to get the best alternative sanitizer and excessive ink remover.

If you can’t use any of the options we’ve mentioned here, work with your esthetician to find the right one for you. 

What Shouldn’t Be Used to Wipe Excess Tattoo Ink Off Your Skin

Excess tattoo ink and ink stains need careful removal techniques. With the right product, the entire procedure will turn out perfect. 

There are things a tattoo artist mustn’t do or use when wiping the ink off. These include overly rubbing on the tattooed area and strong alcohol and fragrance-based soaps. Rubbing the tattooed area can cause allergic reactions and skin infections. 

Also, avoid strong and harsh products on your skin, whether the esthetician is using them or yourself. Any alcohol-based components or strong dyes can cause skin irritation.

Tattoo Aftercare Tip

Female Portrait Tattoo

Just as you want your skin well taken care of before and during your tattoo procedure, it’s also vital to keep caring for it afterward. At this point, your skin is in the healing process. The better care you give it, the quicker and healthier it will heal.

Treat your tattoo as an open wound (which it is exactly) by using saline solution and antibacterial soap to wipe it clean. To moisturize the skin, use lotion or ointment. Talk to your tattoo artist about the most suitable ointment or lotion for your tattoo. 

Allow the tattooed area some breathing space by uncovering it for a while. Don’t let it rub on your clothes.

Final Thoughts

You cannot use any detergent, sanitizer, or solution when tattooing. Some products can affect your tattoo or skin. Green soap is gentle to your skin; it’s powerful enough to remove stubborn ink.

This soap also contributes to skin hydration and your healing process. Ensure you aren’t allergic to any of its ingredients. It could cause skin inflammation. Let your tattoo artist use a suitable alternative instead.

Shmulik Dorinbaum

Shmulik Dorinbaum

A musician, a father, a former cancer person, not a tattoo artist, but a tattooed person indeed.