Do you wear shoes on in the house after being outdoor? If so, we have some information that may make you rethink that decision entirely.
A lot of people walk in the front door and never remove their shoes, but several studies now show that that decision is a bad idea because of the bacteria and toxins you might be bringing into the home on your shoes.
The University of Arizona conducted a study and found an average of 421,000 different bacteria on shoes. The bacterial indicator Coliforms, which is present in feces, were detected on the bottoms of 96% of shoes. E. coli was found on 27% of the shoes and bacteria that can cause urinary tract infections (Klebsiella pneumonia) and respiratory infections (Serratia ficaria) were also found.
Kelly Reynolds, Ph.D., a microbiologist and professor at the University of Arizona, explained to Rare: “We walk through things like bird droppings, dog waste and germs on public restroom floors, all of which are sources for E coli.”
How much of that gross stuff on your shoes is potentially contaminating your home’s floors though? Researchers discovered the transfer of bacteria from shoes to floors fell in a range of 90% to 90%.
That’s a pretty solid argument for kicking your shoes off after you shut the door behind you.
Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist and professor at the University of Arizona further noted: “The common occurrence (96%) of coliform and E. coli bacteria on the outside of the shoes indicates frequent contact with fecal material, which most likely originates from floors in public restrooms or contact with animal fecal material outdoors. Our study also indicated that bacteria can be tracked by shoes over a long distance into your home or personal space after the shoes were contaminated with bacteria.”
Further, Rare reports, “A University of Houston study found that 39% of shoes contained bacteria C. diff (Clostridium difficile), which is a public health threat resistant to a number of antibiotics. This bacteria can cause multiple health conditions, including diarrhea.”
If that wasn’t all disturbing enough, there are also the toxins used to treat your lawn that can be tracked in your home on shoes. A study from Baylor University also found that toxins from asphalt roads sealed with coal tar can be brought in on your shoes.
Dr. Reynolds explained: “Think about rain water in the street. It can have gasoline in it and chemicals, and those get on your shoes and can be brought into your home.”
While leaving your shoes at the door is probably the most efficient way to prevent the transfer of bacteria or toxins in your home, the University of Arizona study researchers did find that “washing shoes with detergent in the washing machine reduced the presence of bacteria by 90% or more.” Floors can also be disinfected with a steam cleaner.
Many people commented on a House Beautiful UK Facebook post about the recommendation to take shoes off when entering a home, with one person noting: “Its common sense. Shoes were invented to protect our feet from dirt, etc. and you don’t bring that dirt, etc. into the house. You remove the shoes. It’s all common sense.”
Others disputed how having pets complicates matters, with one commenter noting: “With two cats and a dog I feel like this is a particularly pointless thing to get stressed about. I haven’t died yet. Now not wearing shoes to stop having to clear the floors and carpets so much – reasonable although still a pretty pointless exercise with pets.”