Why You Shouldn’t Wear Shoes in The House
There is a pretty big divide between groups of people who wear their shoes in the house and those who don’t. This philosophical separation usually is rationalized some way…”well the dog tracks in dirt so why not?” or “we want to protect the new hardwood floor”.
Whichever side you fall on, you may be curious to know if there is anything objective we can say about this debate. Turns out there is, and generally speaking unless there is some sort of emergency it is probably best not to wear your shoes inside.
There are some scientific studies who suggest that it’s a bad idea — and brace yourself, the reasons are pretty gross. Below we’ll dig into the details and let you know definitively why you shouldn’t wear your walking shoes in the house.
Why it is probably best to take your shoes off
Though some bacteria is good for a healthy immune system, if you’ve ever gotten a stomach bug, you’ll know that not all kinds of bacteria are “good”. Researchers at the University of Arizona have determined that an average pair of shoes can have upwards of 421,000 different types of bacteria on them. In addition to this shocking finding, coliforms, a bacterial indicator of the degree of sanitation of foods and water (and always present in feces), were detected on the bottoms more than 90% of shoes studied.
If this weren’t enough, the infamous e.coli bacteria was found on an estimated 27% of shoes. This is only naming a few, there was a laundry list of other germs and bugs.
Another thing worth considering is the surfaces that your feet come in contact with. The floor of the public restroom, the carcinogenic running track, the chemically treated lawn…you don’t want to be tracking residue from any of these places around your home. This is, of course, not mentioning the most obvious detraction too: you’ll get dirt and/or mud everywhere!
In terms of bacteria, toxins, and dirt you really want to pay attention if you’re the parent to small children. Kids are always rolling around on the floor and sticking their hands in their mouths. The surface they spend a lot of time coming into contact with (your floor) can have real health implications for them.
Some other reasons to take your shoes off
- If you care about protecting the floor surfaces of your home as well as your health you’ll definitely want to slip your shoes off and wear a pair of slippers. Over time a hardwood floor or a carpet is bound to get damaged — wearing shoes simply expedites this process. Small particles of grit, in particular, tend to come off your shoes and will provide a substance to grind down the carpet.
- In terms of foot health not taking your shoes off indoors also appears to have some consequences. The human foot was not designed to constantly be supported or constricted by shoes (no matter how nice or well fitting). Walking barefoot helps your arches and let’s be honest, it just feels good too.
- If you live in an apartment complex you probably want to be mindful and respectful of neighbors. Clopping around in boots inside your apartment is more than likely going to cause a noise disturbance for those living around you. So, keep relations good with the neighbors and leave the boots at the door.
- If you have pets, wearing and leaving your shoes strewn around the house significantly ups the chances that your shoes will end up a chew toy at some point. If this is a problem in your household, start stashing them out of sight as soon as you get inside the door.
- Human beings are all about ritual and sometimes small actions can have profound effects. If you come home from work and don’t change clothes or take off your work shoes it can be difficult to switch out of work mode. Take a moment to sit down have a breath and remove your shoes or heels can be a good time to pause and relax. Make it a part of your daily routine and see if it makes a difference for you.
At this point, it should be pretty obvious that the simplest thing you can do is simply not wear your shoes in the house. But there’s more. In the same University of Arizona study cited above, researchers found that washing shoes with detergent in the washing machine reduced the incidence of bacteria by 90%.
In addition to washing your shoes, you should also clean your floors and carpets using a disinfecting carpet cleaner — this is a great step to take if you want to fight the buildup of bacteria.
At the end of the day, we feel that Asian culture has really nailed it when it comes to at-home shoe etiquette. Wearing your shoes into someone’s house in most Asian countries is a serious affront to them and considered extremely disrespectful. If you consider that sleeping on floor mats is a common practice there, it only makes sense. Who wants to have the dirtiness of the street tracked into their bed? No one obviously.
Even if your example is not as extreme as sleeping on the floor in Asia it’s likely in your best interest to take a quick second and remove your shoes.