Do you wear shoes in the house or remove them at the door before entering? In some cultures it is customary to leave your shoes at the door. I was curious to find out if the benefits of enacting a no-shoes-in-the-house policy outweighed the inconvenience, so I did some research. Turns out there can be some pretty scary things hiding on the soles of shoes. This left me wondering why I ever wore shoes in the house to begin with.
I found a University of Arizona study that performed random testing of shoes and discovered nine different bacteria types which possessed the potential to cause serious infections. Scientists cited the floors of public restrooms and animal droppings as likely origins. The researchers wanted to know if the bacteria found on shoes would transfer to the tile floors in a house. More than 90 percent of the time it did. That was a tile floor. Imagine the transfer rate for carpet. Shoe sole test results were “dirtier than a toilet seat,” said Jonathan Sexton, a research assistant at the University of Arizona. “Toilet seats generally have 1,000 bacteria or less, and these are in the millions so there’s a lot more bacteria here.”
And that is just bacteria. Imagine the other undesirables being tracked into our homes like chemical pesticides, lawn fertilizers, fungi, viruses, carcinogens and even lead according to the EPA. Small children under the age of two are even more susceptible because they often play on the floor and tend to put everything in their mouths. “That means that your child can possibly be exposed to every single bacteria that you picked up on your shoe […] all the bacteria from the park, the store, everywhere you went that day,” Sexton said. My next order of business was to go home and clean my floors.
Soon after, we started removing our shoes at the door and carrying them to the closet. As an added benefit, I’ve noticed that I do not need to clean the floor as often. Now, my family didn’t rebut the new policy, but asking our guests to follow suit is another matter. One option was to provide comfy slippers or clean socks for guests to wear in lieu of their shoes. I want guests to feel comfortable so I decided to not mention the no-shoes policy unless I know they practice it themselves. Instead, I added a little sign politely requesting that guests remove their shoes and I set an example by not wearing them in the house. This is just one more small step everyone can take towards creating safe havens in our homes.