Home / navel cleaning / How to Clean Your Belly Button: Black Stuff, Smelly, Itchy, Infection, Odor, Piercing, Stuck, Remove Dirt

How to Clean Your Belly Button: Black Stuff, Smelly, Itchy, Infection, Odor, Piercing, Stuck, Remove Dirt

How to clean your belly button and get rid of dirty, smelly, black stuff in it can be done using the steps listed below. When left uncleaned, you may end up with an infected, swollen, crusty or itchy belly button due to skin fungal and bacterial infections.

Belly button Home care and treatment is a subject that we rarely discuss yet it is very important. . The belly button is hidden in the belly and many people including adults tend to ignore cleaning it.

What is the dirt, black stuff in the belly button, where does it come from? The average belly button is a home for more than 60 different types of bacteria apart from lotions, dirt sweat and even soap. It has been confused with the possibility of presence of cancer of the skin as explained by dermatologist Alexandria V. Booth on women’s health.

Belly button infections are very common problems that can affect different at any age including infants. The infection can be of two types; that is bacterial or yeast infections. This is because the belly button is dark, dump which is very favorable for the breeding of yeast and bacteria. Deposition of sweat and dirt can facilitate bacterial growth and infection.

Causes of dirt, black stuff smelly and itchy belly button

Before we take a look at how to clean your belly button, lets first understand the causes of infections and itchy belly button.

1. Bacreria

The common colonies of bacteria that find a home in the belly button are like the staphylococcus epidermidis and micrococcus luteus.

  • An examination of the specimen from the region can help to determine the exact reason of the black stuff. The examining doctor is able to carry out the best culture method to pin point this out. Symptoms may include itchy belly button.

Some of the bacteria colonizing the belly button are very beneficial in the long run though. It only becomes problematic when they increase in number and becomes a menace.

  • You should however take care when using antibacterial soap as it may interfere with the colonies and in turn cause more harm than intended good.

2. Navel stones

Navel stones are also likely to be present in the incidence that you have dirt accumulation under your belly button. They are also known as omphaloiths or omboiliths.

  • They are masses made up of sebum and keratin deposition that oxidizes into solid, black accretion. They occur in people who neglect their cleaning or they are unable to clean themselves regularly.

The stones do not usually cause problems unless they become infected or inflamed and may go unnoticed for many years. There are other possible causes of the belly button black stuff:

  • A wound bruise around or within the belly button
  • Simple build-up of sweat and belly button dirt

You can also know that the belly button is infected. They become crusted, inflamed or having an itchy belly button.

Symptoms of dirty infected belly button

The common symptoms of a belly button infection or allergic reaction to piercing include:

  1. Red itchy skin around the navel
  2. Foul smells
  3. Swelling
  4. Yellow green or black colored discharge
  5. Persistent pain especially around the piercing
  6. Blistering around the navel or piercing

Other factors that may predispose you to belly button dirt infection could be associated with surgery of the belly button, belly buttons piercing, diabetes of the sebaceous cysts, exposure to very harmful ultraviolet sun rays and also obesity.

  • Due to the uncertainties associated with the causes, it is always good that you consult your doctor immediately you notice something funny and suspicious around your belly button. The medical physician will be able to advice you appropriately.

How to clean your belly button the right way at home

There is a lot of care that you have to put when you get down to clean your belly button. First of all, never use hard objects to do this.

  • The part of the body is very sensitive and therefore, always look for cotton buds. Clean it softly in order to avoid getting hurt.

1. Here are a few basic steps on how to clean your belly button at home;

  1. wash the belly button with water then apply little body wash or soap
  2. Use your finger tip to rub the small belly button
  3. Rub in both directions clockwise and anticlockwise
  4. Dig it for about 1-2 minutes then rinse with water

2. You can also consider the following procedure on how to clean your belly button;

  1. Before you go the shower, apply some olive oil or coconut oil on the belly button
  2. leave it to interact for about 15 minutes then using your clean finger
  3. go ahead and clean your belly button
  4. The purpose of the oil is to soak the dirt and hence easy to remove
  5. Rinse with a lot of water
  6. although you can also use cotton bud to clean the naval

3. The other option on how to clean your belly button would be to use rubbing alcohol.

Below is how to do this at home;

dip a cotton bud in rubbing alcohol and then apply to the naval.

If the area is very dirty, change the bud and then repeat the process until it clears out.

According wikihow, “there is a different way of doing it. The website outlines from the preparation and how you finally get to remove the dirt accumulation. It is therefore at your discretion to check out what works for you best”

The first thing to do is to get the supplies that you want to use ready.

  1. A few cotton swabs
  2. Water
  3. baby oil
  4. hydrogen peroxide
  5. rubbing alcohol and another type of astringent at your disposal like the witch hazel

The next thing to do is

  1. Rub the head of the cotton swab into whichever cleaning solution that you want to use
  2. Begin gently, slowly and carefully poking around your belly button
  3. Gently work your way around the belly button, but be careful not to rub inside the navel too hard.
  4. You should carry on till you feel that you have done away with every dirt
  5. That done, you can discard the old swabs then repeat the entire process if at all you feel that your navel is still dirty
  6. When you are finally done, take a clean swab then clean out any remaining cleaning solution still present in the navel
  7. Ensure that you get enough of the water, baby oil, hydrogen peroxide or the rubbing alcohol.
  8. If your belly button is completely dry, use some Neosporin and work your way around the navel
  9. Do it in slow circular pattern then get right in the middle before removing the cream totally by the use of a cotton swab.

How to clean your belly button when infected

In the cases where the belly button have been infected, then there are several home remedies that you could employ and then at the end of the day get the results.

These are very simple remedies that are found and can be done at homes. The discussion below alludes to the same:

1. The first and the most available is warm salt water

The heat from the warm water will help to increase blood flow to the infected area, while salt will help to absorb the moisture inside the belly button to help in the healing process. The following procedure would be key:

  1. Add 1 tablespoon of salt to one cup of warm water and then mix it until the salt dissolves.
  2. Dip a cotton ball in this solution and then use it to clean the infected area as you carefully pat it dry
  3. Apply an over the counter water based antibacterial cream
  4. Repeat the process once or twice a day till the infection goes away

2. Alternatively, you could white vinegar

This helps to prevent discharge in case it occurs. The acidic nature of the vinegar will fight the infection and even prevent it from spreading to a further extend to cause more harm.

The procedure below would be very crucial

  1. Mix one part of the white vinegar with two parts of warm water
  2. Soak the cotton swab in the solution and then apply to the affected area
  3. Leave it for about 15 minutes
  4. Rinse it off with warm water then pat the area dry
  5. Repeat the procedure 2 to 3 times daily till the infection is completely gone

3. To add on the above, tea tree oil would be very nice as well

This is an essential oil that has antifungal, antibacterial and antiseptic properties. To conduct the healing process, just follow the following very simple procedure:

  1. Mix 4 to 5 drops of tea tree oil in 1 teaspoon of olive oil or even coconut oil
  2. Using cotton ball, apply it on the affected area
  3. Leave it on for about 10 minutes then wipe it off with a piece of tissue
  4. Follow up the treatment for 2 to 3 times daily till your belly button looks very healthy

4. A warm compress as simple as it is can be very important to deal with this

This is especially very important if the infection hurts you. The heat generated from the warm compress if very crucial in easing the pain as it aids in healing. The procedure is pretty simple as follows:

  1. Dip a washcloth in warm water and then wring out the excess water
  2. Place the warm cloth on the belly button for a few minutes
  3. Repeat the process for several times a day to ease the pain. A warm shower could also help alleviate the pain and discomfort.

5. The magic plant Aloe Vera is also very good with this kind of infection

it has anti-inflammatory and soothing properties that help ease the pain and facilitate quick healing. This will also stop and get rid of Itchy belly button. Follow the procedure below for how to clean your belly button and get desirable results:

  1. Cut open an aloe leaf and then extract the gel
  2. Apply the gel on the belly button then allow it to dry on its own
  3. Clean the area with wet tissue and pat dry with a soft towel
  4. Repeat the process several times a day till the infection goes away
  5. Turmeric could also provide an amicable solution

It helps to keep the infections at bay as it is antiseptic and antibiotic agent. It can be used both to cure and prevent infections simultaneously. For how to clean your belly button using turmeric, Follow the procedure below for optimum results:

  1. Prepare a paste with a little turmeric powder and water.
  2. Apply the paste on the affected area and then leave it on till it dries.
  3. Wipe it off with a piece of tissue and keep the area dry
  4. Do the above procedure two to three times a day to curb pain and hinder infection from spreading
  5. You could also mix the turmeric with a little honey in a glass of hot milk. Drink the mixture daily before going to bed to promote internal healing.

7. Indian Lilac

How to clean your belly button using Indian lilac is also very instrumental in dealing with belly button infections. It has anti-fungal and antibacterial properties. It is also called the neem. It also has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. The procedure to do this is quite simple as follows:

  1. Make a paste of few neem leaves and then apply into the infected area. You could add some turmeric powder to enhance the effects.
  2. Leave it for about 20 minutes then rinse it off with warm water, pat dry thoroughly. Do this twice daily for several days
  3. Similarly, you could also add a few drops of neem oil to 1 teaspoon of olive oil or any other carrier oil and apply on the affected area for quick healing.

8. calendula herb

Finally, when looking at how to clean your belly button, you could also use calendula herb. It contains hydrating anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties that help to sooth the itching irritation from infected belly buttons. To do this, the procedure is as follows:

  • Crush 2 to 3 calendula flowers or leaves then extract the juice. Apply the juice topically to the affected area. Do this 2 or 3 times daily for a few days.
  • In case fresh calendula is not available, you could also use calendula lotion or ointment. Apply it on the affected area as directed.

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How to clean your belly button piercing

In case you have a pierced belly, always have oil for cleaning. This is a very natural way to get rid of the navel dirt in this case. What you have to do is apply oil and then dig with the help of a cotton bud. After that, rinse with soap water.

Wash the piercings once or twice daily.

  1. The best and the easiest way to do this is during the shower. Cup you hand over the piercing and then allow clean warm water to run over it for one or two minutes. Limit the amount of soap or other cleaner getting in the piercing as they may lead to infection and drying of the skin around the piercing.
  2. Take a gentle basic liquid soap with no dyes then squirt a drop into the palm of your hand. Lather it up and apply the lather to the piercing and the suing, which prevents infection and promotes healing.
  3. You could also make a sea salt soak. Sea water and warm water solution can also be very useful in this situation. Apply the sea salt and then warm the water on the pierced belly for a few minutes. Rub with a dry cotton bud and then rinse with water. Dry with a paper towel or dry cotton bud.
  4. Ensure you don’t use iodized table salt, epsom salt or kosher salt as these may irritate the piercing. You could however buy the ready-made saline solution from the stores that supply it.

You could also clean any crusting belly button piercing using a cotton swab. During the healing process of the piercing, it secretes a white fluid.

It is part of the healing process and it is healthy and normal. The fluid may build up and cause crusting around the piercing. The crust can however be removed.

  1. Dip a cotton wool swab in some water and use it to gently rub away any crusting from the piercing. Never pick the crusting off with your fingers as it can lead to infection.
  2. If the crust around the piercing is left to build up, it can harden around the ring and then tear the wound when the ring moves. This can be very painful and delay the healing.

To make the cleaning more effective apply some lavender oil. It promotes healing and reduces swelling and tenderness around the piercing. To do this:

  1. Thoroughly wash your hands with antibacterial soap then apply some drops of the oil to a clean cotton bud and then rub gently around the piercing.
  2. Gently remove rotate the ring or move the barbell up and down to ensure the oil reaches inside the piercing. Use a tissue to wipe any excess oil from the skin

It is good to know what avoid when you have a piercing. The following activities should be avoided to a greater extent:

  1. Do not over clean the piercing. Over cleaning may strip off the natural oil from the skin thus making the piercing become dry and irritated.
  2. Avoid using rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. These substances may dry out the skin and lead to some irritation in the long run. They also prevent the growth of healthy new cells within the piercing which slows the healing process.
  3. Do not use bacitracin or other antibacterial ointments. They keep the wound moist and therefore cut off the oxygen supply to the piercing and hence delay healing process.
  4. Always avoid the movement of the ring inside the piercing. Twisting and touching the ring increases the possibility of bacterial infection attack to the wound. This is a practice that should therefore be limited to a great extent.

A care tip is that always ensure you dry your navel carefully after taking a shower. Too much water and moisture encourages the growth and survival of very dangerous bacteria.

  • You should be careful as well not to bring any disruptions because this area is also a home for many microorganisms.

Also, keep in mind that you don’t have to clean your belly button on a daily basis. As long as when bathing, you make sure that you use effective soap in and around the belly button piercing, then you should not be worried much. The area unlike other body areas like the teeth do not require much supervision.

Navel stone

This is a keratin and sebum containing stone like mass that is found in the umbilicus. The development of these masses are associated with poor hygiene and may involve chronic keratin and sebum accumulation in the umbilicus which oxidizes into solid, black accretion.

It never a bother not unless the mass becomes infected with bacteria or yeast.

  • The mass presents with a black stone like nodule embedded within the umbilicus. There are some reports that suggest that the mass appears raspberry-like in shape and even color.

It is generally asymptomatic and may go away unnoticed for very many years until the inflammation, infection, abscesses or ulcerations take place.

  • The treatment option available for this condition is just the removal of the mass. It is done via dilation of the umbilicus under the local periumbilical anesthesia and then follows excretion.

This comes in when the situation is out of hand and necessitates the treatment. The mass is also described medically using other names like omphalolith or omphalith, omphalokeratolith or umbolith.

What happens if you don’t clean your belly button?

If you don’t learn how to clean your belly button, The end result of no washing at all or not washing your belly button properly leads to dirt accumulation. Thee end result is that there is a predisposition to infections by bacteria and yeast within the normal flora of the body. The washing does not have to be on a daily basis but you need to know how to clean your belly button and this could be as often as you can.


  • It is factual that there are more than 65 types of microorganisms that live in the belly button of an average person. In fact, it accumulates even soap and dirt, debris, sweat and even dead cells.

Both men and women are at the risk of developing yeast and bacterial infection at the belly button. Babies are likely to develop the infection if the mother has it at the time of delivery.

  • The cleanliness of the belly button to completely disinfect it may involve the use of a cotton swab dipped in some alcohol. Be careful to use just a small amount alcohol. Too much alcohol may dry the dirt. Therefore, use just a few drops of the alcohol as they will serve appropriately.

Skin piercing of your belly button should be avoided as much as you can. This is because, your skin is likely to reject the metal used or a ring that you might put.

  • In the long run, infections may occur. It is good that you consult with your dermatologist for the best practice. Too many piercings may pose a challenge to conduct frequent cleaning.

Here is a video on how to clean your belly button;

References and Sources

  1. www.the-dermatologist.com/content/what-black-umbilical-nodule
  2. m.wikihow.com/Clean-Navel-Piercings
  3. www.boldsky.com/beauty/body-care/2011/clean-belly-button-naval-101011.html
  4. www.lifemartini.com/easy-ways-to-clean-the-belly-button/

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