It is a common practice in countries like canada, India, Syria, Turkey, Singapore, korea and Scandinavian countries to remove foowear outside before entering home. Where as it is opposite in countries like Australia, the UK, Spain, Paris, Amsterdam where families never bother to insist on leaving shoes at the door.
But according to Science, if foot wears are welcomed inside then, you also welcome the unwanted nasty guests too and those are harmful bacteria’s and dirt. This unhygienic practice is particularly concerned when you have toddlers rolling around the floor.
Whom do you welcome along with shoes?
Shoe soles acts as a vectors for harmful diseases. To evaluate this, a systematic study was performed to assess the prevalence of infectious pathogens on shoe soles and decontamination techniques. It was identified that shoe soles are a vector for infectious pathogens like Methicillin‐resistant Staphylococcus aureus, Clostridium difficile and multidrug‐resistant Gram‐negative species among other pathogens.
These pathogens are not easy to handle and are difficult to treat. In 2017 University of Houston conducted the study which showed more than 26 percent of the soles of shoes worn in homes contained Clostridium difficile, or C. diff, a common health care-associated infection that can be deadly. The study also found out that this C.diff was not restricted on shoe soles (about 40% of the total examined), but also contaminated other household areas such as toilets, tops and surfaces, and wherever floor dust was found. These spores are not easily susceptible and live on dry surfaces for a long time.
Clostridium difficile, is resistant to most of antibiotics and hence it takes time for patient to recover from infection. When the bacterium affects the lining of intestines it results into colitis, which is more difficult to treat.
There is also dust, dirt, bird droppings, dog poop, leafy debris and other unwanted matter to be considered along with these nasty microbes. The leafy stuff acts as a breeding ground for most of the microbes.
“That means potentially harmful bacteria can survive on your shoes for days or even weeks.”
-Dr. Reynolds, microbiologist, University of Arizona
Experiments conducted to check the presence of guests along with shoe-soles
Samples were collected and University of Arizona decided to assess the quantity of bacteria and they were not surprised to find a total of 421,000 different units. Which later was categorized into 9 different strains. These strains are the culprits for the infection of eyes, lungs and stomach. Two of these have to be named so that you can reach for your slippers the moment you get home.
The first one is known as E.coli (a pathogenic organism) and it makes up about a third of all bacteria so it is a heavyweight. E.coli strains are mostly harmless, thank goodness, but the nasty ones are not. They often cause severe stomach and intestinal problems leading to vomiting and diarrhea. Now, you might think the risk of contacting the E.coli bacteria from your shoes is minimal. But let me ask you a question: How many times did you visit the restrooms at work today?
Another type of bacteria the researchers found was the Klebsiella pneumoniae which is known to cause severe damage to the lungs and lead to pneumonia. The death rate from this bacteria is high at 50% and can reach 100% when people are suffering from alcoholism.
How will you keep your home and surrounding healthy?
Removing shoes at home has its own benefits, for which you don’t have to clean the house very often in a day. And if you are not comfortable bare foot you can switch to slippers or socks at home. To do this, keep a shoe rack near the doors, so that as soon as you get home, you can switch to your home slippers. We Indians prefer barefoot walking at home, which is in our culture also along with this you will be stimulating your foot pressure points which provides a relaxing sensation.
If you do this your home will be much healthier and cleaner, and toddlers will find he home as safe zone to play on floors.
But perhaps Al Franken put it best:
“It’s easier to put on slippers than to carpet the whole world.”