You need to clean your belly button—here’s your guide to the how and why

The innies and outies of it all


By Redzhanna Jazmin

You need to clean your belly button—here’s your guide to the how and why

Ah, the belly button—nestled between the folds of your abdomen, it’s quite the enigmatic entity. What secrets does this unassuming little hollow keep? The answer… may shock you.

Specifically, if you’re not doing your due diligence in keeping your navel clean, you may eventually uncover some unwanted surprises. From lingering odours to potential infections, it’s time to stop neglecting your belly button.

Ahead, we’re walking you through the innies and outies of belly button hygiene—it may not be the guide you asked for, but it’s the guide you’re getting:


Why do you need to clean your navel?

We may be pointing out the obvious here, but your belly button is gross. The navel is a particularly warm and moist area of the body, and its shape (especially for those with ‘innies’) makes it prime real estate for dirt, sweat, oils and other gross things. Over time, if left uncleaned, said grime can accumulate, creating an environment in which bacteria and fungi can thrive. The result? Unpleasant stinks, potential skin irritation or—worst case scenario—skin infections.

If you’ve ever had a bacterial or yeast infection, you’ll know that it’s the last thing you could ever want in your navel. So, if you want to keep your crop tops on and avoid redness, itching, discharge, odours and discomfort in your belly button, all you have to do is keep it clean.

Of course, there are cases where it’s even more pertinent to keep your navel clean—specifically, for those with pierced belly buttons. If you’ve recently gotten your belly pierced, you’re probably aware that there is now a gaping wound in your navel. Considering that this area is already pretty gross, you can probably understand why cleaning the area is so important. If your belly wasn’t prone to infections before, it definitely is now, and the stakes are higher—skin infections are the least of your problems when cellulitis (read: a common but nasty bacterial skin infection) and abscesses are on the table.


Why do you need to clean your belly button
Photo by Sasha Maslova


So, how do you clean your belly button properly?

Good news! Cleaning your navel is a pretty easy process and doesn’t take much more than soap and water. All you have to do is lather up when you’re in the shower—easily done while you’re tackling the rest of your body—and using either your finger, a cotton swab, or a clean washcloth, thoroughly cleanse your navel.

There’s no need to be rough here, and in fact, being too harsh may actually push dirt and debris further into your belly button. So, instead, use firm yet gentle pressure to clean the folds and crevices of your belly button before rinsing thoroughly.

Then, once you’re out of the shower, make sure you’re patting the area dry. You’ll want to ensure that there is no moisture left in your navel as this can also lead to bacteria and fungal growth which would result in the same issues arising.

In this case, it’s best to follow your piercer’s advice—saline solution soaks and the regular removal of the buildup that forms from the piercing with a specialised piercing cleanser. Not only will this help keep infections at bay, but it’ll also help to stave off any unpleasant odours and speed up the healing process. Of course, even if your piercing is already healed, you’ll want to keep on top of your cleaning rota as the risks are still there—albeit not as acute.


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