How to Unstick Clothing From Tattoo

by Jess Jones ; Updated September 28, 2017

Do not simply pull on clothes stuck on your tattoo, as this can cause loss of color.

tattoo image by FXTW from

Tattoos are an art form that have become fiercely popular in recent years. The image, placement and care of tattoos is of ultimate importance to avoid being stuck with less than attractive artwork that you can't simply sell at a yard sale once you get tired of looking at it. Many factors contribute to the discoloration and fading of your ink, including failure to apply ointment, excessive exposure to sunlight and not keeping the tattoo covered for the recommended amount of time. During the healing process, tattoos ooze ink and plasma, which makes them sticky. Clothes sticking to your tattoo is a concern, especially while you sleep. Pulling on clothes to remove them once they are stuck can remove scabs and ink, which effect the appearance of your tattoo.

Submerge the stuck garment in warm water and let soak for a few minutes. If your tattoo covers a large area or is on a hard-to-reach part of your body (such as your back), take a warm shower with the garment on and let the water saturate the garment and your tattoo.

Loosen the wet garment by gently pulling on it. If the garment is difficult to loosen or causes discomfort, re-soak the garment with warm water and try to loosen it again.

Rinse the tattoo and then wash with a mild soap recommended by your tattoo artist.

Apply the ointment suggested by your tattoo artist.


  • To avoid clothes sticking to your tattoo in the first place, apply ointment just before you get dressed or go to bed.

    For the first few days, keep the tattoo covered for short periods (per your tattoo artist's instruction) to avoid the tattoo oozing onto your clothes.

    Wear old clothes over your tattoo, since the oozing can cause stains.

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About the Author

Jess Jones has been a freelance writer since 2005. She has been a featured contributing writer for "Curve Magazine" and she teaches English composition at a small college in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She received her Master of Arts in English language and literature in 2002.