Taking off Your Shoes to Leave Bacteria and Dirt at the Door


Leaving shoes by the door before entering the house seems like common sense. Throughout the day, you’re going around. You go to the train station or stand by the bus stop. You walk down sidewalks, parks, and other common areas. On the unluckiest days, you might even step on ugly things.

Think about the bacteria, dirt, clumps of sand, and other microorganisms stuck under your shoes. You wouldn’t want them on your bedroom floor or the carpet in your living room. Even then, this practice is not particularly common in Western countries. However, it is the norm in some Asian countries. When you watch Asian TV shows and movies, celebrities walk into the house barefoot or on their socks.

People don’t impose this rule at home for a variety of reasons. One, they might be worried about seeming rude when they ask a visitor to take off their shoes. Two, it’s a little inconvenient. Three, footwear can be a mess outside of the door. There could be many other personal reasons, but here are a few points that may change your mind:

1. The soles of your shoes carry stubborn bacteria.

A study by the University of Arizona found that the soles of shoes carry 421,000 units of various bacteria. These include E. Coli, which can be the culprit for digestive and intestinal problems. Another one is Klebsiella pneumoniae that attacks the lungs and has a death rate of 50%. Possibly, the worst that shoe soles can bring home is Clostridium difficile—a bacterium so stubborn that most antibiotics can’t fight.

2. Too much dirt

dirt road

The outdoors is filled with dust, especially the concrete that you walk on. Bringing your shoes in the house means you bring dirt with you, too, and that may have implications on health. It can compromise indoor air quality and cause eye irritation, coughing, and sneezing. Those with respiratory problems, such as asthma and emphysema, may suffer worse effects. Dust is also an allergen, so it can cause itching and trigger allergic rhinitis.

3. Constant cleaning

Because dirt is more welcome inside the house, there will be more demand for cleaning. As a result, frequent cleaning causes more wear and tear in belongings. For example, the carpet may need constant vacuuming and spot cleaning, which could be subject to earlier replacement. Similar to this, rugs and hardwood floors may not last as long as they are projected. It’s also important to note that cleaning agents are packs with chemicals that are harmful to surfaces.

All these effects cost not only money but also time, effort, and good health. A simple act of leaving shoes at the door can help avoid these problems. If you’re worried about seeming rude, you can explain to your guests the reasons behind your request. If you think footwear could scatter, try placing a shoe rack right beside the door. This way, family members and guests can put their shoes on it for a more organized look. It will also keep the footwear from being taken away, and it will safely keep them from any factors that could destroy them.

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