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“Remove your shoes or scrub my floors.”
That is what the sign on my front door reads, and I mean it!
In many countries around the word, it is customary to remove your shoes before entering a home. It only makes sense. Do you have any idea what gets tracked into your home by way of your shoes? Think of the places where you walk outside your home: parks, asphalt, sports fields, work sites, public restrooms, and gas stations. Let’s examine what might attach to your footwear in any of these places.
Parks: weed killer and other toxic chemicals, animal urine and feces, discarded cigarettes, maybe even human urine and spit, dirt, rotting food, gum.
Roads and parking lots: coal tar used in asphalt, motor oil drips and other toxic chemicals from vehicles.
Sports fields: spit, maybe even some with chewing tobacco mixed in, dust, dirt, small rocks, weed killer, and other toxic chemicals.
Work sites: chemicals, dust, dirt, small rocks, urine, spit, discarded cigarettes, tar, various types of fuel, vehicle fluids, paint.
Public restrooms: urine and fecal matter, cleaning chemicals, harmful filth tracked from other peoples’ shoes.
Gas stations: gasoline, diesel, motor oil, human spit, toxic vehicle fluids.
Most of the listed items contain cancer causing chemicals and ingredients, some contain disease and harmful bacteria, while others are just disgusting.
There have been numerous studies on the spreading of many germs, diseases and bacteria found on shoes. One in particular is from the University of Houston and authored by M. Jahangir Alam, Ph.D. which states: “As Clostridium difficile spores are resistant to many household cleaning products, the potential for community household contamination is high. The purpose of this study was to assess the prevalence of toxigenic C. difficile from environmental sources from a large urban area. […] A total of 127 environmental samples were collected from shoe […] Shoe bottom swab samples had the highest percent of positive samples […] a high rate of environmental contamination of C. difficile was observed from community households from a large urban area.” (1)
“Clostridium difficile (klos-TRID-e-um dif-uh-SEEL), often called C. difficile or C. diff, is a bacterium that can cause symptoms ranging from diarrhea to life-threatening inflammation of the colon.” (2)
Approximately 421,000 different types of bacteria can be found on shoes, according to a 2008 study by the University of Arizona, some of which include deadly E Coli, klebsiella pneumoniae and Serratia ficaria. (3) This is particularly dangerous if you have children. Children love to play, roll around, and spend a lot of time on the floor. Their toys are also on the floor, then the contaminants from your shoes get on the floor then transfers to their toys and then their hands. Then it is quickly transferred into their little bodies.
What about the “5 second rule?” Food falls on the floor, but if you pick it up right away, is still safe to eat? Better think that one through a little more. Whatever is on your shoes is on your floors and on your food even within five seconds.
Aside from being disgusting and a major health concern, wearing shoes in your home can be quite damaging to your floors over time. If you have hardwood, laminate, or vinyl flooring shoes can scuff, scratch, and dent the flooring. If you have carpet, all that germy nastiness and dirt from your shoes becomes ground into the carpet and won’t want to come out.
How about if you live in an apartment or multi-level home? Shoes make extra noise on the floor, which could disturb neighbors, or even just family members on lower floors.
If everyone removes their shoes before entering your home and then promptly stores the footwear in a shoe rack, think of how much less clutter will be strewn throughout the house. No more frantic searches for “the other shoe” when it’s time to go out somewhere. No more chewed up shoes if you happen to have a puppy.
The best reason of all to never wear your shoes in the house, think of how wonderful your feet feel when you finally take your shoes off at the end of the day. Glorious! Build stronger muscles and arches by walking around more in just your sock, slippered, or bare feet. Feet were not meant to be crammed inside shoes all day.
Keep your home, yourself, your family, and your feet healthy. Avoid wearing shoes in your home and insist others removes theirs as well.