It has confounded scientists and laymen alike since mankind put on their first shirt. Up until 2001, there has been no scientific research on “navel fluff” as it is called more scientifically. A surprising fact considering how many practical uses it has and the high price it achieves on the market!

In 2001 Dr. Karl Kruszelnicki, a University of Sydney researcher and radio host, decided to get to the bottom of the mystery and conducted a study. He came to the following conclusions:

  1. It mostly consists of loose clothes fibers mixed with dead skin and body parts. Sounds delicious!
  2. The fibers move more upwards from underwear than downwards from shirts. We can thank our body hair for that.
  3. Women have less lint than men mainly because they are less hairy. The biggest lint problem have hairy middle-aged men, some of whom can produce specimens the size of golf balls. I’ve seen one with my own eyes in the gym the other day.

Karl Kruszelnicki received an Ig Nobel Prize in 2002, an award for research that “first makes you laugh, and then makes you think.” The world record holder for most belly button lint collected is Graham Barker from Perth, Australia. Check out his cool lint collection.

In 2009 another scientist took a closer look at this phenomenon. Georg Steinhauser of the Vienna University of Technology is primarily an atomic chemist. However, in 2009, he published the results of four years of research on belly button lint in the journal Medical Hypotheses.

By studying a total of 503 pieces of lint from his own belly button — and asking friends about their navel fluff production patterns — he came to a simple conclusion. Stomach hair is responsible for producing belly button lint.

“The scaly structure of hair firstly enhances the abrasion of minuscule fibers from the shirt and secondly directs the lint into one direction — the navel — where it accumulates,” he wrote. “The hairs’ scales act like a kind of ‘barbed hooks.'”

There is no data on how much belly lint is produced every day, but considering how many fat hairy men there are in the world, it has to be tons of it every day. Tons of valuable raw material that no one has found a use for. I suggest cooking delicious belly lint soup, knitting a sweater or these cozy penis warmers.