Why is there all this lint in my belly button?
January 20, 2004 12:43 PM   Subscribe

Can anyone explain the dynamics of belly-button lint?

During the winter, I typically wear a cotton T-shirt under my clothes. By the end of the day, I have a good-sized ball of lint in my belly-button. I'm supposing that my chest hair pulls fiber throughout the day and channels it down to my belly-button.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
i'm amazed, every day, at the amount that i get. Scares my wife to death.

i've secretly begun collecting it in a jar. But, i don't know exactly how it works...though, some days the color of the lint doesn't match the colors i'm wearing.....and that is a whole other realm of strangeness.
posted by th3ph17 at 12:52 PM on January 20, 2004


for some weird reason i have the idea at the back of my mind that it's connected with whether you wash clothes in a top loader (which damages the clothes more, i understand) or a front loader (gentler) washing machine.

but i have a top loader at the flat where i live when i'm working on shift, and a front loader back at home when i'm off-shift, and in neither place do i suffer from lint (moderate amount of chest hair, if that's a useful data point).
posted by andrew cooke at 1:05 PM on January 20, 2004


some days the color of the lint doesn't match the colors i'm wearing.

IANABBLE* but:
You may well have small, loose fibers on your clothing which has rubbed off from other clothing in the drier. Those fibers are more likely to find their way to your belly button than those that are still "attached" to the article you're wearing. </total guess>

*I Am Not A Belly Button Lint Expert
posted by jpoulos at 1:16 PM on January 20, 2004


I would be suprised if a person without chest hair experienced belly-button lint. If, indeed, the hairs collect and channel the fibers down south, why is it they get so compacted into the belly-button? At the end of the day, I have to dig the collection out with my fingers. If I let my daily collecting lapse, do you suppose the collection would keep growing? Is there a limit to the size of a belly-button lint ball? Sorry for so many questions, but this could hold important keys to life.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 1:17 PM on January 20, 2004


Also: I have very little chest hair and very little lint.
posted by jpoulos at 1:18 PM on January 20, 2004


Ask Cecil. Though, admittedly, this time he's a little shy on detail.

Data point: I have about a half-dozen chest hairs, and no lint.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:23 PM on January 20, 2004


Whatever you do, don't be this guy.
posted by werty at 1:23 PM on January 20, 2004


The hubby and I have figured the amount of lint present was proportionately related to the amount of happy trail hair present around the belly button combined with the amount of sweat one produces during the day.

This comes from the highly scientific results that he collects tons of it and I don't.
posted by rhapsodie at 1:23 PM on January 20, 2004


Thanks, fff. The moisture issue makes sense. All day, I will think about these little cotton fibers, making their way down my chest hairs and being pulled in to the moisture of my belly-button, only to be plucked out at the end of the day. It's like a little ecosystem on my body. Sigh.
On preview, mine would still directly go into the trash, or perhaps a nearby plant if I'm too lazy.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 1:28 PM on January 20, 2004


My theory: The belly button hole is abrasive. All day long your clothes rub across this concavity, and the edges, such and soft as they are, take a little bit of fiber with them. The belly button, being a depression, can retain this debris. Most of the rest of your body, not having these depressions (though the toes do), cannot collect the debris but passes it on. If you have a paunch, you will have more lint, because you have a bigger and deeper depression, and also more surface area of skin rubbing against your clothing. If you have a hairy belly, then there's even more friction.
posted by Mo Nickels at 1:43 PM on January 20, 2004


it's no fun getting cracker crumbs out of there.
posted by quonsar at 3:02 PM on January 20, 2004


The Great Belly Button Lint Survey.
posted by Jimbob at 3:07 PM on January 20, 2004




FWIW...does anyone else seem to notice that men aren't too bothered by BBL, but women are absolutely, positively grossed out by it? Even the mere MENTION of it -- say, at the dinner table -- is enough to make the Missus gag.
posted by davidmsc at 5:54 PM on January 20, 2004


Even less chest hair than five fresh fish, and zero lint. It must be the hairs. Thinking about it, I have some hair on my feet/toes, and sometimes get inbetween-the-toes lint from my cotton socks.
posted by carter at 8:17 PM on January 20, 2004


"Your typical generator of bellybutton lint or fluff is a slightly overweight, middle-aged male with a hairy abdomen,"

well damn. fucking accurate science guy.

davidmsc....truly. my wife read my first post and turned to me and said, "you put it in a jar? please tell me you are joking."

so i lied.
posted by th3ph17 at 7:12 AM on January 21, 2004


The hubby and I have figured the amount of lint present was proportionately related to the amount of happy trail hair present around the belly button combined with the amount of sweat one produces during the day.

SHAVE YOUR BELLYBUTTON!

...and quit sweating so much.
posted by Shane at 7:45 AM on January 21, 2004


I'm with the more hair, more lint brigade here.

My personal experience with belly button lint is that as i've started to gradually acquire more chest hair during my 20s, so i've also started to get belly button hair.

Which, until i read this thread, i was starting to worry about and all. I just figured i was getting old or something. scary.
posted by triv at 10:03 AM on January 21, 2004


Triv's right. Having become pubescent at 11, I expected that it was all over with the hair-sprouting-from-hitherto-dormantly-follicled-locations shennanigans. But it isn't of course. As my smooth chest becomes hirsute and, distressingly, so does my stomach, my tummy button accumlates light blue/ grey lint. So i think it's the abundance of body hair theory (which explains why most women outside some niche gentleman's interest web sites have the same problem).

Nevertheless, I am still puzzled as to it's source; I own no blue/ grey clothing.
posted by Pericles at 11:17 AM on January 21, 2004


beyond 40 or so, you have back hair, nose hair and ear hair to look forward to.
posted by quonsar at 11:31 AM on January 21, 2004


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