Dangers Of Tattooing At Home

Is getting a tattoo at someone’s house the best way to go?

  • Yes it is cheap, usually less than half the price of the local tattoo studio.
  • But my friend has a professional ” Tattoo Kit” and tattoo guns, brand new from China, bought on Ebay.
  • He/She has professional needles, tattoo ink and his house/kitchen looks clean.
  • He/She has got what it takes to be the next biggest tattoo artist!  All of this is Right?


  • First of all it is not a “gun” it is a machine and a Professional Tattoo Artist is usually offended to hear it be called a gun. Guns are used to hurt & kill people.
  • Secondly, these scratchers/amateur tattooists tend to “forget” one key element of safe, sanitary tattooing, avoiding Cross Contamination!

What is Cross Contamination?

By definition, it is the spreading of infectious germs, bacteria and/or disease by carrying them from an infected area to a non-infected area. These germs, bacteria and diseases can make you very sick and even kill you! Scenarios include serious skin infections, or contracting HIV, Hepatitis B & Hepatitis C.

When someone gets tattooed everything in the general area becomes contaminated. The ink is contaminated, the tattoo machine is contaminated, the needle is contaminated, the tube is contaminated, the gloves are contaminated, the working surface and sometimes even the air around you is contaminated. The work station is a hazard area, the client is a hazard, all of the equipment are hazards to your health…

This is why professional tattoo shops are more expensive! Tattoo studios spend a lot of money on proper sterilizing equipment, proper sterile needles, proper sterile cleaning agents, etc.

Just because your local at home tattoo artist wears gloves, it does not mean he/she is tattooing safe!

Common Cross Contamination mistakes made by amateur tattooists:

  • While tattooing you, he/she opens the ink bottle to get more ink without changing gloves or covered with a plastic barrier! Well guess what? He/She did the same to the person before you, who is infected with HIV! Now he just touched the same bottle that he touched last time and is now possibly infecting you with HIV. This is Cross Contamination.
  •  After tattooing he/she throws the used needles in the trash, the trash man picks up the trash bag and gets a needle stick from a contaminated needle. The customer who that needle was used on was Hepatitis C positive and now he’s been exposed to Hep C! This is Cross Contamination!
  • None of the equipment is covered with a protective plastic barrier, the power supply is not covered, the clip cord is exposed, the spray bottle is not bagged, and he has been touching all of those things before you in the same manner with the previous customer. This is Cross Contamination.
  • Handling and adjusting the lamp without changing gloves, leaving the work area and not changing gloves, Using a marking pen on open skin, these are all considered a high cross contamination risks.

What you will find at a Professional Tattoo Studio

  • Professional Tattoo Artists put their used needles in a sharps container (the same thing hospitals use for contaminated needles) which are then picked up by proper waste management and are properly disposed of leaving no risk to the general public.
  • Professional Tattoo Artists spend many month, years to learn and keep up with all the new information about industry related blood born diseases and proper sterilization methods.
  • Professional Tattoo studios also have to follow strict health guidelines, laws and rules by the their local Health Department, requiring the studio has sanitary working areas, separate cleaning rooms and toilets.
  • Professional Tattoo studios have ultrasonic cleaning, thermal package sealer’s and sterilization (autoclaves) machines which costs thousands of dollars.
  • Professional Tattoo studios are also required to send in monthly spore tests to guarantee that their sterilizer/autoclave is properly functioning and actually completing a full sterilization cycle.
  • Professional Tattoo studios have multiple cleaning products, surface disinfectants and chemicals to use on all of the instruments, furniture, floors and hands.

All of the above costs the professional studio a lot of money… Now start to calculate the costs of sterile needles, tested & safe tattoo inks, sterilization packaging, disposable gloves, electric, rent, phone, paper towels, etc…

Your at home tattoo artist does not have the above costs and does not care about your health or safety!

Amateur tattoo artists also lack the proper training regarding disease control, handling of equipment, cross contamination prevention, and the skills to ensure your tattoo was done in a sanitary and safe environment. It is not smart or safe to get tattooed at someone’s house, period. Never get tattooed in someone’s kitchen as it is the most bacteria filled room in the whole house after the bathroom. The abundance of food bacteria and mold spores is staggering and most home tattooists use this room because they think it has a cleanable floor and table.

You will see most home tattooists using disposable, plastic tubes which hold the needle and carry the ink. Why? Well it’s because they do not own an autoclave, or expensive stainless steel tubes. An autoclave is a device that is used to sterilize equipment and a decent one can cost $5000 upwards. Our sterilization unit cost over CHF 8000- & our ultrasonic cleaning machines cost CHF 500- & CHF 4000- respectively.

Always view the portfolio containing pictures of the tattoo artist’s work. If he/she doesn’t have one then you should leave. If there are no pictures of healed tattoos, then you have another reason to leave. The reason why there are no healed tattoo pictures is because tattoos generally look really good when they’re first done. It takes about a 1-2 weeks before they appear damaged and/or faded. If there aren’t any healed pictures it is probably because none of their tattoos have looked good after healing.

Today, anyone can buy tattoo equipment on the internet and become a “tattoo artist” overnight.

There are cheap tattoo kits, tattoo machines, colors, needles from China, Thailand and beyond to be found on the internet costing very little money. There is also very expensive tattoo equipment which are used by seasoned professionals.
Remember..this is your body and you need to make the right decision regarding hygiene & safety, because getting tattooed at someone’s home can cause you to get sick, give you a disease, complicate existing health problems or even kill you!

Besides the health risk factors that amateur tattoo artists offer, most have no artistic abilities or technical knowledge to produce a nice tattoo.

Getting tattooed is a spiritual thing that will change your mind as well as your body for the rest of your life. Putting your life in someone else’s hands that may or may not care about what they are getting ready to do to you, is foolish and dangerous.

As the old saying goes “You get what you pay for!”

Good, safe tattooing is not cheap and cheap tattooing is not safe or good!

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