We all have that friend who makes you take your shoes off in their home. It’s annoying, but there’s a good reason behind it. Wearing shoes in the house can track bacteria onto the carpet, as well as toxins and E. coli.
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Throughout the day, we step on things like bird droppings, dog waste and public bathroom floors, which are sources of E. coli. You also step on leaves and debris, which all feed the bacteria on your shoes. Even cautious people end up stepping on these items, as they can’t always keep an eye on what’s exactly in front of them, and sometimes the visible evidence of these items has been removed, but the bacteria remains. Chemicals that you use on your lawn could also get from your shoes to your carpet. Rainwater on the ground may also carry petrol from cars.
E. coli can lead to diarrhea, intestinal problems, and even meningitis, but that’s just 1 type of bacteria contracted from shoes. There are on average 421,000 different types of bacteria on shoes. And those bacteria transfer from your shoes into your home at a rate of 90 to 99 percent. Multiple studies have proved this statistic. And it gets worse…
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A new study just identified a harmful bacteria that is found on over 25% of people’s shoes. This 2017 examination states that Clostridium difficile, an infection that causes life threatening inflammation of the colon that was previously thought to be caught from a healthcare setting, is actually much more prevalent in day to day locations. The C. difficile bacteria in the study was caught on shoes from parks, chain stores, fast food restaurants and commercial stores. Of 2538 samples taken, only 448 came from hospitals. This bacteria was also found in the study participants’ homes, it having transferred there via their shoes.
However, preventing C. difficile from spreading is as easy as taking your shoes off before entering your main living area. This is much more effective than say wiping your shoes on a mat and walking into a main living area with your shoes on. This is because, while mats are great for removing visible dirt from shoes, they are perhaps the best places for bacteria to breed. When you wipe your shoes on a mat, most of the time you’re just picking up even more bacteria than you already started with.
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Obviously, many household occupants do not choose to remove their shoes before entering the home. While in adults this practice can make you ill, it is rarely fatal. However, one kind of household that should always prevent its occupants from wearing shoes is one with children or elderly residents. Child and elderly immune systems are significantly weaker than healthy adult ones, and an infection from bacteria transferred via the shoes can be incredibly dangerous for them.
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As well as taking shoes off as soon as you enter your home, you should also wash your hands. Some good preventative steps are also to wash your shoes in a washing machine on cold, with detergent. Alternatively, you can apply disinfectant on your shoes.
So next time your friend asks you take off your shoes, just do it. And then wash your hands for good measure.
Header Image Source: Arizona University