If you’re one of those people that leaves your shoes on in the house — I have some bad news for you. It looks like you’re tracking in all kinds of nasty things from the outside world. Germs, molds and all sorts of nasty allergens are making themselves at home in your home, and all thanks to those pesky shoes.
Now, plenty of people wear their shoes indoors, so never fear. It’s not the end of the world. A lot of experts agree, though, that if you want to have a cleaner, healthier indoors — you need to lose the shoes.
“I would recommend taking them off at the door — particularly if you have small children or infants crawling around,” says Dr. Nidhi Ghildayal, infectious disease specialist and PhD from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. “Bacteria found on shoes can cause sicknesses of varying severity, and those dealing with allergies can find they are exacerbated by mold unknowingly tracked in.”
Check out the creepiest things that are crawling into your home. You might just start leaving your shoes at the door…
The 7 Shocking Facts About Leaving Your Shoes on in the Home
1. Let’s get the fecal matter out of the way, shall we?
You’ve heard about it at McDonald’s, you’ve heard about in the movie theater cups. If you’re wearing your shoes in the house, you’re tracking in a lot of fecal matter.
Even if you didn’t step directly in poop (or even tromp through a public bathroom a la Britney Spears) you’re still tracking fecal matter into your home in traces. According to Caleb Backe, a health and wellness expert at Maple Holistics, more than 96% of shoe soles contain fecal matter.
“Despite the fact that this is beyond unpleasant, it can also be a health concern for anybody with a weakened immune system,” Backe says. Kids and pets can come in contact with these particles while moving on the floor and it can be a definite risk for illness.
2. Bacteria can live on your floors.
When you don’t take your shoes off, you’re tracking all kinds of germs into your home. The numbers might be even more surprising than you think too.
According to Backe at Maple Holistics, the transfer rate of bacteria from shoe to floor is about 90 to 99 percent. Yeah…you read that right. Nearly all of the bacteria on the bottom of your shoes is transferred to your floors, be they carpet, hardwood or vinyl. Yuck!
3. Mold and allergies are not a good combo.
Mold is usually found outside the home (ideally) in areas where there’s a lot of moisture and nature. However, when you walk through those things and then track them into your home — they linger. Carpet areas are especially prone to attracting the pesky particles and the more they add up the worse your allergies will get.
Dirty carpets can equal itchy noses, runny eyes and unexplained sneezing episodes that can really interrupt your day. Symptoms like these can be allergic reactions to allergens that have built up in the area. By kicking off your shoes at the door (and making sure to vacuum regularly), you can limit these kinds of build ups and limit your allergic reactions.
4. Uh-oh, e. coli!
Not all strains of e. coli are disruptive to humans, but some are especially virulent and can knock you over. Taking off your shoes at the door can help limit the amount of e. coli you track into your home.
“The fewer the infectious biologics you introduce to your carpets, the fewer infections you can catch,” Irwin Stromeyer, owner of Sterile Space Infection Defense, LLC.”Now consider the fact that a single cell of E. coli bacteria can multiply to over 2,000,000 cells of E. coli bacteria in just seven hours. Basically, the fewer infectious organisms you expose yourself or your family to, the healthier they will be.”
5. Do want to get sick? ‘Cause this is how you get sick.
Okay, usually the dirt and germs tracked in on your shoes doesn’t make you sick — but it could contribute.
If you’re someone who immunocompromised, germs like the ones tracked in on shoes could really cause complications for you. If you’re older, the same thing goes. Not all germs cause sickness, but they’re always something to keep in the back of your mind as a consideration.
6. All those pesky chemicals.
Germs and gunk aren’t the only things you could be tracking into your home — you could be tracking in dangerous chemicals too.
If you’ve been in the park recently, chances are you’ve tracked poisonous pesticides into your home. “Grass and dirt are frequently treated with pesticides, and although a sign stating treatment has occurred is required, people can still step either on, or nearby and then track these chemicals into the home,” Dr. Tania Elliott, board-certified Allergist/Immunologist at NYU Langone Health told Bustle Magazine. “Then there runs the risk of contamination of your food and home surfaces, which is particularly risky if you have infant crawlers in the home.”
You can also track in dangerous chemicals if you work in an industrial environment. Things like paints, oils and metals can really cause problem for any children or pets you have crawling around the floor.
7. Sidewalk sludge.
Think about the last time you walked down the sidewalk. Did you stop to take a look at just what you were walking over all those blocks? All that grime and gunk from city streets can get tracked right into your home if you don’t take your shoes off at the door.
Things like spit, animal fecal matter, herbicides, dirt and all other manner of germs are found on the average public sidewalk. All of these things make their way onto your hardwood and carpets each time you walk through the house.
Putting it all together…
So what can you do? Take your shoes off when you enter the house and try not to wear them in common areas where there’s a lot of passing through. If you’re like me and have to have your feet covered, give slippers or extra thick socks a try for extra coziness. Whatever you do, remember to clean your home regularly and vacuum carpets. When our homes are clean our lives are healthy. So kick off those shoes and make yourself at home…a clean home!