How to clean your belly button the right way to prevent infection

Seriously, an article about how to clean your belly button? Well, yeah. You would think cleaning your belly button was pretty straight forward, but given how few people think to do it at all, it’s worth taking a closer look at.

It’s helpful to start by looking at the belly button itself. According to dermatologists, a belly button typically stores more than 60 types of bacteria, which ultimately can lead to odor or infection. The bitty tight ones risk being the smelliest, while the bigger, fuzzy ones attract lint.

When we talk about body odor, sweat doesn’t technically smell—it is actually the natural bacteria on the skin that smells when your skin gets wet with perspiration. And so it makes a lot of sense that belly buttons are at risk of reeking, too, especially those cute little tight ones.

Belly buttons can develop growths of bacterial infection, or pack in masses of dirt that have to be professionally removed. They can even get yeast infections. As long as you’re not digging around your belly button, you might be none the wiser. But if you have a bed buddy giving your belly kisses, you don’t want his nose to pick up whatever’s lurking in your navel.

Even there isn’t someone covering your belly in smooches, you still want to take your hygiene seriously. Follow these simply steps to clean your belly button the right way.
1) Some of us are cotton swab fanatics for ear cleaning, much though this application has been discouraged in recent years. Technically, the ears clean themselves out automatically, although wax build-up can be downright uncomfortable. Others use swabs for their daily make-up corrections, but let me tell you: the best thing you can use a cotton swab for is to clean out your belly button.

With the petite cotton tips, you’ve got the one tool you need to clean out your navel and prevent infection and other nastiness. Think of all the times you’ve remembered to wash behind your ears, or scrubbed the bottom of your feet in a nice, long bath – you will never be squeaky clean, however, until you start cleaning your belly button out regularly.

2) When it comes to a cleaning product, it’s really up to you. If you have never washed your navel before, you might want to give it a good inaugural wash with astringent or rubbing alcohol. If you have sensitive skin, be sure that whatever you use is a known product that you have already used elsewhere.

If you do choose to use soap (perhaps in the shower, once you have established your fabulous new belly button hygiene routine), be careful that you rinse it out thoroughly. Leaving soap scum in your belly button can actually make things worse and invite infection.

3) Okay, so you’ve dabbed your swab in astringent. Insert the tip carefully into your navel, sweeping around the sides (the best you can, depending on how tight your button-hole is). Be sure not to rub too hard or dig too deep, especially if you’re using rubbing alcohol.

Giving your navel a good, sanitizing sweep can be strangely gratifying. Don’t hesitate to get in there for round two if you think you need it. And for anyone whose navel is especially tight, or has tiny folds of skin along the rim, be sure to get every millimeter.  Residual bacteria can spread if you miss a spot.

4) Whatever you use to wash it, be sure your belly button gets dried thoroughly. Don’t rest at patting your belly off with a towel – get right back in there with a clean, dry swab and gently dry it down.

If you aren’t especially careful to dry your navel well, that damp, tiny and dark little place will be an open stomping ground to the very bacteria (and smells, and infections) you are trying to avoid. Be equally careful when inserting the drying swab in your belly button, but all the same be sure to get every bit of moisture.

If you have a navel piercing, and didn’t already have an established cleaning process in place, now is your time to whip into shape on your navel hygiene. Cleaning just the site of the piercing isn’t enough. Be thorough to protect from infection of your navel and of your piercing.

Once you have a routine in place, you can rest assured that a belly button yeast infection won’t be what gets you. It’s practically a given that you will be one of the most expert belly button cleaners right away, because shamefully few people think to do it.

Belly buttons are funny little things, while at the same time a surprisingly intimate physical feature. Imagine your belly without it! As long as you have a routine to keep it healthy, you can receive those belly smooches with peace of mind and rock those crop tops without a second thought.