tattoo stencil what to use to clean

Do Tattoo Stencils Wash Off? What To Use For Removal?

You have just received a new tattoo, and you have seen the tattoo artist use a stencil on you for your tattoo. Once the tattoo is complete and you leave the studio, you see that the artist forgot to clean the stencil off for you, and the tattoo stencil is still visible; now what? Can the stencil be washed off?

Tattoo stencils can be washed off of your skin using antibacterial soap and warm water. It may take a few days before the stencil is completely gone. If you get tattoos on a regular basis and you do not want to wait, then you may consider investing in a stencil removing spray.

Why do tattoo artists use tattoo stencils in the first place, and how do you remove them off your skin?  What are the stencils made of, and is there a way to make them fade faster, or can you remove the stencil off completely by washing it?

Can Tattoo Stencils Be Removed?

The tattoo stencil ink which is left on your skin after your tattoo has been completed can be an annoyance, especially when you want to show off your new tattoo. Thankfully, there is good news, these tattoo stencils do come off eventually. Depending on the type of ink the tattoo stencil is made from and your skin type, it may take varying amounts of time or different products to get rid of the stencil.

There are many products on the internet marketed as tattoo stencil removers, but unless you get tattoos on a regular basis, it is not necessary to go out and buy an expensive product. You can follow the aftercare advice from your tattoo artist, and the stencil will completely wash off after a few days.

There is no particular cause for concern if the stencil lines take a while to fade, as the stencil does not get in the way of the healing process of your new tattoo.

What To Use To Remove Tattoo Stencils

Tattoo stencils are Aniline dyes, which are water-soluble. The wax stearate (Wax Covering on the tracing paper) that is used to combine the dyes into hectograph paper is soluble in alcohol. So, what should you use to wash the stencil off of your skin?

The best way to get the stencil lines off your skin is to just use soap and warm water. Follow the aftercare advice from your tattoo artist, which usually involves washing your tattoo with warm water and soap. This will get rid of the stencil lines after a few washes.

You can use antibacterial soap for this, and one of the popular soaps is called Green Soap. You can find this on the internet, or you can go to any of your local supermarkets and buy an antibacterial soap from there.

Alternatively, if you are an avid tattoo collector and are looking for a fast and effective way to get rid of the stencil lines to be able to show off your ink, you might want to invest in a tattoo stencil removing spray. These sprays can wipe off the stencil lines in just a few rubs.

There are many different options out there. Make sure you do your research, and you pick one that has natural ingredients so as to not harm your new tattoo or the skin around it.

If you are brave enough and tough enough, you can use some Dettol liquid that has been very diluted in water to help wash away the tattoo stencil lines; however, this may sting quite a lot, especially on a new tattoo. This may interfere a bit with the healing process of your new tattoo. This method is not highly recommended, but if you really want to try anything to remove the stencil lines, then this method may help.

Please do not scrub your new tattoo with anything, such as a fingernail brush or cloth, as this could really damage your new tattoo and can affect the healing process, as well as leading to your tattoo scaring your skin. Plus, it will be painful. It is not a good idea, under any circumstances, to use any household cleaning products such as bleach on your new tattoo, as this will do more damage to your skin than just removing the tattoo stencil lines.

How Do Tattoo Stencils Work?

Once you have the tattoo design that you require, the tattoo artist will then trace the design onto paper called transfer paper, or they will use a pen that uses stencil fluid to trace your design straight onto tracing paper. This type of stencil ink allows the design to be placed directly onto the skin from the paper with the aid of a lotion or stencil application spray.

This paper is now called a stencil and can be used a few times to duplicate the design on different parts of the body. Some tattoo studios have a thermal printer that allows the design to be copied or resized directly onto the transfer paper with stencil ink, thereby saving the artist time as he does not have to trace the design by hand onto the transfer paper.

Before the tattoo artist transfers the design from the paper to your skin, the artist will thoroughly clean the surface of your skin with antibacterial soap. If necessary, the artist will also shave the area with a disposable razor to make sure the stencil can be applied smoothly.

Once the area is clean and smooth, the tattoo artist will apply the stencil to the area of skin that is about to be tattooed. The client and the tattoo artist then both closely examine the stencil on the skin to make sure the tattoo is placed correctly. The tattoo stencil may require a few applications to get it right. Once the placement is right, the artist can start tattooing.

How Long Does Tattoo Stencil Ink Last?

The amount of time that tattoo stencil ink lasts on your skin can vary depending on the type and color of the ink used in the stencil. Some stencil colors, such as red, may take a bit longer to fade. Usually, the stencil ink can last anywhere from a few days to a week on your skin. The stencil ink does not damage your tattoo or skin in any way, so there is no need to rush the process of the ink fading by trying to use a product to remove it.

Why Do Tattoo Artists Use Stencils?

Tattoo artists use tattoo stencils for a number of different reasons. The tattoo stencil is the guide for the tattoo artist to use for the outline of the tattoo design. The tattoo artist will usually keep the original design close at hand to use as a reference during the tattooing process to make sure they are not making any mistakes.

Tattoo stencils are also a time saver as when a stencil is used, a larger portion of the tattoo session can be used to color the tattoo and give it as much detail as possible as opposed to spending a lot of time on the outlines of the design.

The use of tattoo stencils is also beneficial to the customer as it can save the customer time thinking about what type of tattoo design they want. The tattoo artist usually has a few tattoo design stencils available already in a tattoo stencil catalog for the customer to choose from. These general tattoo designs can be used as-is or can be used to give the customer some inspiration when designing their own unique tattoo.

If you are looking for inspiration, check out my portfolio – you can find my works and projects here – on Instagram.


Even though the tattoo stencil lines can be a bit annoying once the tattoo is complete, it is a great help for the tattoo artists to make sure they are not making any mistakes with your tattoo and that they are creating your tattoo exactly the way you want it.

The stencil lines will fade after a few washes and will not damage the healing process of your tattoo in any way. There are products out there that can speed up the process of the stencil lines fading, but they are not necessary for the process. Focus on taking care of your new tattoo, follow what your tattoo artist tells you to do, and the stencil lines will fade in a few days.

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