How to clean your belly button: 10 steps (with pictures)

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How to clean your belly button: 10 steps (with pictures)
How to clean your belly button: 10 steps (with pictures)

It's easy to forget about your belly button, but you need to clean it just like any other part of your body. Fortunately, all you need is a little soap and water to take care of it! If your belly button smells bad even after cleaning it regularly, it could be a sign of an infection. With proper medical treatment, you will be able to get rid of the source of the odor and have a belly button that smells nice and fresh.


Method 1 of 2: Develop good cleaning habits

Clean Your Belly Button Step 1
Clean Your Belly Button Step 1

Step 1. Wash your belly button in the shower

Showering or bathing is the best time to wash your belly button. Make an effort to include it in your cleaning habits.

You may need to clean it more often if you sweat a lot (for example after exercising or if it is very hot)

Clean Your Belly Button Step 2
Clean Your Belly Button Step 2

Step 2. Use soap and water to clean it

You don't need any special product to clean it. Hot water and soap will do just fine! Apply some soap and water to your fingers or a washcloth and gently rub your belly button to get rid of dirt and lint. When you're done, rinse off the soap well.

  • Usually, whatever soap or product you use for the rest of your body is enough to clean your belly button. Use a mild, fragrance-free soap if scented soaps irritate you or dry out your skin.
  • You can also use salt water to gently cleanse your belly button. Mix a teaspoon of table salt in a cup of lukewarm water and dip your washcloth in it. Carefully squeeze the water into your navel, then rinse with clean water.
  • Salt water kills germs and loosens dirt, and it may dry out or irritate your skin less than soap.


if you have a belly button piercing, you need to take extra care to keep it clean. Use saline solution to clean the area around the piercing two or three times a day or as often as the piercer or your doctor has recommended. Navel piercings can take longer to heal, which is why you are likely going to have to continue for several months, if not a whole year.

Clean Your Belly Button Step 3
Clean Your Belly Button Step 3

Step 3. Clean a deep belly button

Dirt and lint can easily collect inside a tucked-in belly button and it can be hard to get them out! In this case, you can use a washcloth or cotton swab to thoroughly clean the inside. Soak it with soap and water before running it through, and be sure to rinse it well after you're done.

Do not rub too hard, you may irritate the delicate skin inside and around

Clean Your Belly Button Step 4
Clean Your Belly Button Step 4

Step 4. Wipe it off when you are done

It is important that you keep it dry to prevent the growth of bacteria and yeast infection. Once you are done washing it, use a clean, dry towel to wipe it inside and around. If you have time, you can let it air dry for a few minutes before getting dressed.

You can prevent moisture build-up in your belly button by dressing in loose clothing that allows air to pass through when it's hot or when you start to sweat

Clean Your Belly Button Step 5
Clean Your Belly Button Step 5

Step 5. Avoid oils, creams and lotions on the belly button

Do not use creams or lotions on your belly button unless recommended by your doctor. This could trap moisture inside and create a favorable environment for unwanted bacteria or fungus.

You could safely moisturize your belly button with a little baby oil or a light moisturizing solution if you have a belly button that comes out rather than tucked in. Stop using any moisturizer if you notice bad smells, itching, irritation, or other signs of infection

Method 2 of 2: Manage lingering odors

Clean Your Belly Button Step 6
Clean Your Belly Button Step 6

Step 1. Look for signs of infections

Dirt and sweat are the most common culprits of bad navel odors. In most cases, you just need to wash it with soap and water to get rid of it. If that doesn't fix it, you may have an infection. Observe the presence of the following symptoms:

  • you have red, dry skin;
  • tenderness or inflammation in or around the navel;
  • itches;
  • yellow or green fluids or pus flowing from the belly button;
  • fever or a general feeling of sickness or tiredness.


infections are more common in the case of navel piercing. If you have one, you should look for symptoms like increased pain or tenderness, inflammation, redness, warmth around the piercing, or pus.

Clean Your Belly Button Step 7
Clean Your Belly Button Step 7

Step 2. See a doctor in case of symptoms of an infection

If you think you are suffering from an infection, make an appointment with your doctor immediately. They can assess the type of infection you have and tell you how to treat it.

  • The appropriate treatment will be different if the infection is caused by bacteria, fungus, or yeast. Do not try to guess the type of infection yourself, as you can make the situation worse by giving yourself the wrong treatment.
  • Your doctor may take a sample from your belly button to test it. This will help them determine the cause of your infection.
Clean Your Belly Button Step 8
Clean Your Belly Button Step 8

Step 3. Use topical medicine to fight the infection

If you have an infection in your belly button, you will need to use an antibiotic or antifungal ointment or powder for a while to make it go away. Your doctor may prescribe a drug or ask you to buy one without a prescription. Treatment for the infection should get rid of bad smells and secretions. Follow other recommendations from your doctor, for example the following.

  • Resist the urge to scratch your infected belly button.
  • Change and wash your sheets and clothes regularly to avoid re-infection.
  • Avoid sharing your bath towels with others.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing that will keep your belly button cool and dry.
  • Clean it daily with a salt water solution.
Clean Your Belly Button Step 9
Clean Your Belly Button Step 9

Step 4. Have the doctor puncture the cyst if you have one

Sometimes a cyst can form in the navel and it can cause inflammation, pain, and smelly discharge. If you have an infected cyst in your belly button, your doctor will likely pierce it in their office. They will also prescribe antibiotics to be taken by mouth or skin to clear the infection. Follow its instructions to help the cyst heal properly.

  • Ask your doctor for detailed instructions on how to clean and care for your cyst at home. Your doctor may recommend that you put a warm, dry compress on it three to four times a day. If he puts a bandage on you, you will need to change it at least once a day until he tells you not to use it anymore.
  • If he has filled the cyst with gauze, you will have to return to his office after two days to have it removed. Wash the wound with warm water once a day until it heals (usually within five days).
  • If the cyst re-forms, you may need to have surgery to remove it completely. In the case of deep cysts such as urachal cysts, the surgeon will likely make a small incision and remove the cyst using precise, camera-guided instruments.
  • You will probably need to stay in the hospital for two to three days after the procedure and you should be able to resume normal activities after two weeks.
Clean Your Belly Button Step 10
Clean Your Belly Button Step 10

Step 5. Have navel stones removed if necessary

If you have a deep belly button and don't clean it often, dirt and oils can build up on it. Eventually, these materials will form a hard mass called an omphalolith or navel stone. If this happens to you, you need to make an appointment with your doctor. He could use pliers to pull it out smoothly.

  • In many cases, belly button stones do not cause symptoms. However, they can sometimes cause pain and infection.
  • You can prevent it from happening by washing your belly button regularly with soap and water.


  • If you tend to see dirt build up in your belly button, you can reduce the amount by wearing new clothes or shaving off the hair that grows near your belly button.
  • Newborns need special care for their belly button, especially after the rest of the umbilical cord has fallen off. If you have a baby, talk to your pediatrician about the best way to clean and care for their belly button.


  • If you think your belly button piercing is infected, make an appointment with your doctor right away to receive proper treatment.
  • Never try to clean your belly button with a sharp object like tweezers or a metal manicure tool, as you could injure yourself. Always use your fingers, a clean towel, or a cotton swab.

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