We all know someone who makes every single person remove their shoes at the door from residents of the home to distant friends of friends just coming in for a second for the first time. Turns out this zest for cleanliness is more than justified as wearing shoes in the house can track in some pretty disgusting house guests.
Walking out and about in the world outside our homes during the day brings us to some pretty dirty places we don’t realize. Even the most cautious of people end up stepping in some pretty gross places like public restroom floors, rainy streets carrying runoff from roads, city sidewalks with bird poo, etc. Though these areas don’t seem to be teeming with germs and yuck they are. Some of these places are carrying some pretty nasty microorganisms including E. coli.
“E coli can lead to some very unpleasant illness such as diarrhea, intestinal problems, or even meningitis. This is just one type of bacteria being carried in on the soles of shoes, on average the sole of a typical shoe just walking about on a normal day has as many as 421,000 different types of bacteria hanging out. Multiple studies of shoes carrying bacteria into your home and transferring it to the floor have shown the transfer rate from sole to home is between 90 and 99 percent.”
If the presence of E. Coli isn’t jarring enough to have you set up a shoe removal station on your front porch, how about the presence of Clostridium difficile? This bacteria has the potential to cause life-threatening inflammation of the colon. A new study conducted in 2017 found that over 25% of the shoes tested were carrying this harmful bugger. Once thought to only be picked up from medical facilities the study found the presences of Clostridium difficile on shoes from parks, chain stores, fast food locations, and other retail stores. Only 448 of 2538 samples carrying the bacteria came from hospitals. Of course, the homes of participants with the dangerous bacteria on their shoes also tested positive.
Just Take Them Off
Preventing the spread of these bacteria through the home is as simple as taking off shoes as soon as you come in the door. Some people believe that simply wiping shoes on a mat is enough. While mats are amazing for removing dirt from shoes they are not much of a defense against bacteria. In many cases, the mat is a breeding ground for bacteria leaving shoes with more than they started with.
If you do currently wear your shoes in the home do not fear life-threatening sickness, it is very rare. It can up your chances of becoming ill exponentially and also up your chances of catching seasonal illness because your immune system is busy fighting off other things. However, if you do have someone in your home with a compromised immune system removing shoes can be crucial.
After removing shoes at the door, it is a good idea to wash your hands right after you remove them. To be extra careful of bacterial spread apply some disinfectant to shoes.
The next time you debate removing those shoes at the door, remember the gross things that are living on the soles and take off your shoes. Then go wash those hands with plenty of soap and water.