Why Do Tattoo Artists Wrap Their Machines? [4 Reasons]

If you’ve had a tattoo, you’ve probably noticed tattoo artists wrap their machines before they start working on your body. It can look like a curious practice, but it has a purpose.

Tattoo artists wrap their machines to provide themselves with an improved grip and cushioning while they work on you. As a result, this can also help prevent long-term degenerative conditions that come from being a tattoo artist.

The tape can be made from various materials, and it is one of the most crucial tools an artist uses while tattooing.

Key Takeaways:

  • Tattoo artist wraps their machines to keep them clean and free of debris, which can cause infections.
  • Wrapping machines help the artist maintain a strong grip and prevent fatigue.
  • This also helps to keep the ink flowing smoothly and results in better tattoos.

What is Grip Tape?

Grip tape, also known as tattoo grip tape or tattooing grip, is a type of adhesive tape used by tattoo artists to provide themselves with a better grip on the tattoo machines.

This is necessary for various reasons, such as to help reduce fatigue and strain due to prolonged use throughout tattoo sessions.

Why Do Tattoo Artists Wrap Their Machines with Grip Tape?

Wrapping the machine with tattoo grip tape serves several purposes.

1. Comfort

First, it helps tattoo artists maintain a secure and comfortable grip on their tattoo machines. This can help reduce strain and fatigue on the artist’s hands, as well as improve accuracy and control when doing intricate detailing work.

2. Keep Machine Clean

Second, wrapping a tattoo machine in tattoo grip tape helps to keep the machine clean and free of debris.

This can help prevent infection when tattooing, as well as ensure that tattoo ink flows smoothly for a better tattoo result.

3. Cushions Artists’ Hands

Third, tattoo grip tape provides cushioning for the artist’s hands while working on a tattoo. This is especially beneficial for those tattooing for long periods of time, as it helps reduce the risk of developing degenerative conditions due to repetitive motions.

4. Smoother Tattooing

Finally, tattoo grip tape can reduce vibration from the tattoo machine, allowing for a smoother tattooing experience. It makes it a bit easier to start tattooing and provides an extra layer of protection.

Check out this video for tape tricks for cartridges and tattoo machines:

What are the Different Types of Grip Tape?

Tattoo grip tape is typically made from various materials, such as cloth, rubber, plastic, or foam.

These materials differ in terms of their durability and ability to provide cushioning for the tattoo artist’s hands.


Cloth tattoo grip tape provides superior support for the index finger and comfort and cushioning while tattooing. However, it can become soiled and worn out more quickly than other materials.


Rubber tattoo grip tape is more durable and can last longer, but it generally provides less cushioning for the artist and the client’s skin than cloth tape.


Plastic tattoo grip tape is the most durable option, and it provides better control and a good grip for tattoo artists due to its stiffness. However, it can be uncomfortable if used too often.


Foam tattoo grip tape tends to be the most comfortable option during the tattooing process, as it is lightweight and provides excellent cushioning for tattoo artists.

CHECK: Best Fruit to Practice Tattooing On

Can Plastic Wrap be Used?

Yes, tattoo artists can use plastic wrap as an alternative to tattoo grip tape. However, this is not recommended because it does not provide the same protection against debris or cushioning for the artist’s hands.

Pro Tip: Saran wrap can be used in a tattoo shop but is not as durable or effective at providing grip and cushioning when using the tattoo gun.

Additionally, plastic wrap is not an effective way of preventing cross-contamination, and it doesn’t do a better job than the existing tube grip [1].

Any reputable member of the tattoo industry will use one of the previously mentioned methods.

Disposable vs Autoclavable Grips

Tattoo grips also come in disposable and autoclavable varieties. Disposable tattoo grip tape is meant to be used once and then thrown away.

At the same time, autoclavable tattoo grips are made of a more durable material that can be sterilized using an autoclave.

While disposable grips are generally cheaper, they may not provide the same level of comfort and cushioning as autoclavable tattoo grips.

What are the Benefits of Reusable Autoclavable Grips?

Reusable autoclavable tattoo grips provide several benefits that disposable tattoo grip tape does not.

First, they are more durable and can last much longer than disposable grips. This allows tattoo artists to save money in the long run and reduce waste.

Second, autoclavable tattoo grips provide superior comfort and cushioning while tattooing, which helps tattoo artists avoid strain and fatigue.

Third, autoclavable tattoo grips can be easily sterilized using an autoclave for improved hygiene and reduced risk of infection when tattooing.

CHECK: Learn How to Tattoo for Beginners (Guide)

What are the Benefits of Disposable Grips?

Though disposable tattoo grips are not as durable or comfortable as autoclavable tattoo grips, they can be a better option in certain scenarios.

First, disposable tattoo grip tape is usually cheaper than autoclavable tattoo grips, making them an ideal option for those on a budget or who do not tattoo regularly.

Second, the disposable tattoo grip tape is easier to transport and store due to its lightweight design. This makes them perfect for those who travel frequently or tattoo out of multiple studios.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Many Times Should I Wrap My Coil?

The number of times you should wrap your tattoo machine depends on the size and shape of the tattoo grip tape and how it feels when tattooing.
Typically, tattoo artists use between two to three wraps for smaller tattoo grips or four to five for larger tattoo grips.

What Direction Should I Wrap the Coil in?

When wrapping tattoo grips, it’s important to start at the tapered end and work your way up toward the top of the grip.
This ensures that the tattoo machine is properly wrapped and secure for tattooing [2].

How Often Should I Change My Grip Tape?

It’s recommended that tattoo artists change their tattoo grip tape after every session so that your customers experience a clean and safe environment.

What Is A Clip Cord?

A clip cord is a wire that connects the tattoo machine to the tattoo foot pedal and power supply. It’s important to use quality clip cords in order to ensure safe tattooing.


Tattoo grip tape is an essential tool for tattoo artists, as it helps provide comfort and security while tattooing.

Various types of tattoo grips are available, from disposable to autoclavable varieties, each providing its own set of benefits for tattooing.

It’s important for tattooists to take the time to wrap their tattoo machine correctly, as this helps to ensure that the tattoo ink flows smoothly and results in better tattoos.

It also helps to keep tattoo machines clean and free of debris which can potentially cause infections.

Additionally, tattoo grip tape can provide extra cushioning and reduce fatigue on tattoo artists’ hands, helping them remain comfortable while tattooing.

tattoo machine wrapped with rubber


1. How To Clean And Sterilise Your Tattoo Machine [Internet]. Barber DTS. Available from: https://www.barberdts.com/uk/advice-hub/how-to-clean-and-sterilise-your-tattoo-machine/

2. How to Wrap Tattoo Coils for Tattoo Machines [Internet]. Best blog. [cited 2023 Jan 25]. Available from: https://getbetterlife.typepad.com/blog/2011/06/how-to-wrap-tattoo-coils-for-tattoo-machines.html

About Edith Russo

Edith is a self-made entrepreneur with a keen business sense that others admire and a total “can-do” attitude. She’s always coming up with new ideas to anticipate her readers’ needs and help solve all their toughest beauty and skincare problems. READ HER LATEST ARTICLES. FOLLOW HER on Linkedin and Twitter. Learn more about her HERE.

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