Scientists Explain Reasons To Take Shoes Off Outside Home

July 18th, 2019

Certain cultures around the world have long held a tradition of removing one’s shoes before entering a home or place of worship. This practice is especially prevalent in Asian countries, where it’s considered a sign not only of respect, but of cleanliness, too.

It certainly makes sense from a hygienic perspective to ban dirty shoes from our home, but now science is telling us the real reason why we should never let boots, heels, and flip-flops ever step foot inside the house.

This is one dirty little secret you’ll really want to pay attention to!

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Flickr/Tenis Amante Source: Flickr/Tenis Amante

This is where we tend to slip up.

In countries like Japan and China, it’s common courtesy to leave your everyday footwear outside, and wear a comfy pair of slippers indoors. It’s a simple, clean, and elegant practice.

Unfortunately, most of us Westerners have a bad habit of treating our footwear like an indoor-outdoor cat that’s allowed to go anywhere it pleases. And just like that cat, our shoes will eventually bring something inside that will make us go “ewwww!”

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Flickr Source: Flickr

Germy germ germs!

Disney had it right – it actually is a small world after all. Unfortunately, not everything in this world is as cute and friendly as a plushy cartoon character.

There are some pretty sneaky bad guys out there that can make our life miserable, but half the time we tend to forget they even exist because they’re invisible to the naked eye.

Out of sight, out of mind, right? If only it worked that way.

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Flickr/Loozrboy Source: Flickr/Loozrboy

C. diff, anyone?

While our sneakers and boots may save our feet from getting roughed up by the elements, they can also pose an unintended danger to our health.

We all know that the bottom of our shoes are a magnet for things like mud, dirt, gum, and the inevitable pile of doggy doo, but guess what other organisms they tend to attract?

Researchers at the University of Houston discovered that approximately 40% of shoes carry Clostridium difficile, a bacteria that’s resistant to most antibiotics and notoriously hard to treat.

C. diff, whose spores are passed from feces to the surfaces we touch, can cause symptoms like abdominal pain, diarrhea, and lead to a life-threatening inflammation of the colon.

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Flickr/NIAID Source: Flickr/NIAID

Your toilet seat is cleaner.

University of Arizona microbiologist Charles P. Gerber wanted to know just how many microscopic critters were living on the outside of our shoes, so he did what any scientists would do and conducted a study.

His infamous 2008 research came up with an astronomical number – there’s an average of 421,000 units of icky, poopy things hitchhiking a ride on our fancy footwear.

And that’s just what was measured per square inch! A bigger shoe size could mean double the trouble!

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Flickr/Nasse Schuhe Source: Flickr/Nasse Schuhe

Even Gerber was a little queasy about his findings. He told the Baltimore Sun:

“I’m starting to make myself paranoid. It seems like we step in a lot more poop than I thought.”

The always popular E.coli, a fecal-loving bacteria that always makes headline news, was one of the usual suspects in Gerber’s study. But, the lesser-known Klebsiella pneumoniae, which can cause lung damage and lead to pneumonia, was also very plentiful.

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Flickr Source: Flickr

Start a shoe shrine by the front door.

If the old saying “godliness is next to cleanliness” is starting to hit home, then do like the Japanese do, and make a little shoe shrine at the entrance to your home. The Japanese call this space a “Genkan,” which functions as a shoe-changing station.

To duplicate that setup, just place a shoe rack or large basket near the door to remind everyone that bare naked feet are always welcome, and even expected, of all visitors to your home.

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Flickr/Charlotte Marilett Source: Flickr/Charlotte Marilett

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Source: Lifehack