Stopping Tattoos From Sticking to Clothes and Bedsheets

  • Written By Dan Hunter on February 09, 2022
    Last Updated: February 9, 2022

A new tattoo will likely bleed and seep small amounts of ink for the first couple of days of its life. Both of these scenarios can lead to you sticking to your clothes or bedding if you don’t wear or prepare correctly.

While you’re awake you can see if your new tat is seeping or touching your clothing and take immediate steps to prevent it. However, people are, for the most part, blissfully unconscious of pain or mild discomforts while a tattoo slowly sticks and dries against a foreign object.

We look at what you can do to ensure your sheets and clothing stay clean and your new artwork heals quickly and without issue.

Correct Aftercare

Along with providing you with a busy laundry day, the wrong aftercare of your new tattoo can expose it to irritations and dangers. Bedtime is a particularly important time for a new, healing tattoo.

For the first week after your tattoo, it’s advisable, throughout the day, to wear loose, non-clinging old clothes that won’t rub, and will have minimal contact with the inking. 

For the first night or two, your artist might recommend you re-wrap the tattoo with a wrap like Saniderm, that’s breathable, anti-bacterial, hypoallergenic, and waterproof, specifically for tattoo healing. This will stop the tattoo from sticking to your sheets. 

The most crucial time in the tattoo healing process is within the first five days, these are the days when a new tattoo is at the highest risk for infection. So you may be advised to cover it up while sleeping for this period to protect it.

After this, it’s usually advisable to let the tattoo stay exposed to the air overnight.

Sleep is the time the body can best undergo repair and detoxification. Sleeping well can also be a determining factor in how the tattoo heals. 

A lack of good-quality sleep has been related to poor health and prolonged recuperation. Avoid alcohol and any screentime for an hour before bed. Some pre-bed relaxing exercises or soothing music to send you off may help too.

Cleaning Regime

Although the typical issue is simply sticking to bedsheets, it’s what’s on those bedsheets that matters most during the healing process. Your new tattoo’s worst enemy is your bed!

Follow your artist’s aftercare guidelines to the letter. Regular cleaning and moisturizing of a new tattoo are essential, so it’s important you don’t slack on this for the full duration of the healing process

Your personal hygiene may be top-notch and cleaning and moisturizing regime spot-on, but most people don’t wash their bed sheets and pillows near-often enough. 

This provides the perfect environment for dead skin cells to multiply and bed infestations to breed, causing potential infections to begin in your new artwork.

So, a new tattoo can heal badly or more slowly simply due to the way you prepare your bed. 

If you don’t do so already, you should aim to shake off your bedding daily before vacuuming, and change your bedding weekly while the healing process is ongoing.


It’s a no-no to have your pet sleep next to you while your tattoo heals. Animal hair and dander can cause cellulitis or other infections for a new tattoo.

Cellulitis is a skin infection that occurs when bacteria spreads through the skin to deeper tissues and it typically needs extra care and medication to ensure that the tattoo heals properly.  If you see any tattoo rashes or signs of infections, you should get them treated immediately by a physician.

A heavily scabbed tattoo which looks to be infected

Best Bed Routine

A “belt and braces” approach is to use dark bedding for the first week after being tattooed. If it stains, then it’s more likely to come clean, or be less noticeable after it’s been washed. 

It’s not always feasible to do the best for your tattoo while you’re sleeping. It will depend on where it is and how big it is, but you should always follow the artist’s recommendations for covering the tattoo for the first few days. Then, If possible:

  • Make sure you sleep on the side of your body that isn’t tattooed. 
  • Keep the tattooed body part raised above the heart to prevent pressure on the new tattoo.
  • Use a pillow as a prop for raising a leg or stopping a roll.
  • Wear a protective piece of loose, breathable clothing to create a barrier between your new tattoo and infectious bed elements. 

Tattoos usually heal within two to three weeks, so take these extra precautions while you sleep during that time to protect your inking.


A new tattoo is likely to seep ink or bleed in the first few days. To avoid stains on daytime clothes, wear loose, non-clinging old garments that won’t rub. 

Make sure bedding is clean and changed regularly throughout the healing period to avoid infections. 

Follow your tattooist’s bedtime cover-up instructions for the first few days, then wear loose clothing and use pillows where possible to prevent lying on your tattoo.

Relax before bed to get the best sleep you can and don’t sleep with pets as their fur and dander can cause infection.