Writing in the journal Medical Hypotheses, he said the scaly structure of the hair enhances the 'abrasion of minuscule fibres from the shirt' and directs the lint towards the belly button.
"The hair's scales act like a kind of barbed hooks," he said. "Abdominal hair often seems to grow in concentric circles around the navel."
The researcher, from Vienna University of Technology also asked friends, family and workmates about their own belly button fluff.
Dr Steinhauser established that shaving one's belly will result in a fluff-free navel - but only until the hairs grow back.
Other suggestions for keeping the navel fluff-free include wearing old clothes, as they tend to shed less lint than newer garments, which can lose up to one thousandth of their weight to the belly button over the course of a year.
A body piercing can also be used, with belly button rings particularly effective at sweeping away fibres before they lodge.