In many cultures, wearing the same shoes in the home that are worn out of doors is frowned upon. Of course, in some places where you both sit and sleep on pillows or mats on the floor, removing shoes seems logical and even mannerly. But in our fast-paced get in and out the door lifestyle is there a good reason to ask family members and guests to remove their shoes?
What science says
It seems that removing shoes upon entering the home is a hygienic practice. University of Houston researchers discovered that the shoes of about forty percent of those tested carried the Clostridium difficile bacterium spores. These spores live on dry surfaces for long periods and are challenging to treat with antibiotics. So, you could traipse around with potentially harmful spores on your shoes for days.
Another study by the University of Arizona showed that an average pair of shoes contained nine different strains of bacterium including the dangerous E. coli that causes intestinal upset, vomiting, and diarrhea. Additionally, Klebsiella pneumoniae, which can cause pneumonia and severe lung damage showed up on many shoes. Infections from this bacterium cause death in 50 percent of the general population and a much higher percentage in those suffering from alcoholism.
In addition to the bacterium, shoes tested contained other nasty stuff like bird and animal feces, dead insects, vehicle oil and myriad other gunk that has the potential to cause illness or allergic reactions in many people, especially immune-compromised young children and the elderly.
What to do instead
Set up a shoe station in your home. If you have a mudroom, this is the perfect place. Provide each family member with a place to store their shoes on a rack or in a basket and keep handy a pair of slippers to put on. Keep a shoe rack and guest slippers in various sizes near the front door or in the coat closet so that you can furnish them to visitors to your home.
Some advantages of removing shoes at the door are less cleaning outdoor debris from the carpets and floors, fewer fears of your toddler picking up and placing in their mouth something dragged in from outdoors on someone’s shoe.If you live in a multi-story building, your downstairs neighbors will rejoice at how quiet your slippers are on the floor above their heads.
If you’re showing your home for sale, let your agent know to request that guests remove their shoes and where to find temporary slippers while they view your home.