Leave shoes outside

Science says leave your shoes out

What are some of the stuffs that we can see on bottom of our shoes? Bird dropping, dog poop, rotten debris with harmful bacteria and other germs, chewing gum, spit, blood, mucous, soda spill, spoiled food materials, dead insects – all disgusting things to name a few !!!

In India and many countries, people leave shoes either outside the door or will leave it at the entrance in a specific place or in shoe closet. It is a normal practice that people follow without thinking much.  In many Western countries wearing shoes inside home (indoor) is a common practice. Some people take it offensive when we say please leave your shoe outside. Recently Even Charles, from University of Arizona, a microbiologist  conducted a study regarding this subject and his results will sure make us all think twice before wearing and walking in with footwear indoor.

The report was released by CIRI a nonprofit cleaning industry group in collaboration the shoe company Rockport. For this study ten people wore brand new shoes for two weeks before shoes were tested for samples of bacteria. When tested, the outside of shoes harbored 421,000 units of bacteria compared with 2,887 on side the shoe. What is scary is, fecal bacteria that appeared on 96% of the shoes.

What it means? Here we are not talking about dirt, we are referring to harmful germs present in the public places, traffic, sidewalks, public toilets, roads etc. The presence of fecal bacteria indicates that person meets fecal material (through shoes) frequently and fecal matter originates from the floors in public restrooms or with contact of animal fecal matters outdoors according to Gerba.

Another scary revelation is, the transfer rate bacteria from shoes to clean tiles in the study was between 90 to 99%. The bacteria found on the footwear included Escherichia coli or commonly known as E. coli that causes stomach infection and diarrhea. It is a source of UTI too. The other bacteria included Klebsiella pneumonia or pneumonia causing bacteria and Serratia ficaria that causes respiratory tract infections. Goal of this study was to verify microbes’ levels on footwear and its effectiveness of machine washable shoes in reducing the microbes on both inside and outside the shoe surface. Another investigation of the project to see the role of shoes in moving bacteria from contaminated floor to other surfaces.  

Earlier studies from University of Houston showed that about 40% of shoes that we wear will carry Clostridium difficile, the spores of which are not easy to treat. It will be present not just on shoe soles, also on toilets and floor surfaces. This bacteria is highly resistant to most antibiotics! It attacks linings in the intestine and causes colitis.

Why we should consider not wearing shoe inside house?

  1. In houses with young infants and toddlers might pick up food from floor and end up sick. Children under age 2 are more vulnerable to microbes and germs that we carry inside the house. On an average 80 times an hour a child will put its hands in the mouth!
  2. People who have weaker immune system might catch allergy easily
  3. Microbes can transfer easily to food causing illness
  4. Not everyone looks at the bottom of shoe or wipe it before entering the house – they may carry disgusting things under the shoe that goes on the carpet and clean floor. You will be surprised to know the list of germs you might be carrying in your shoe.
  5. Scientists claim that shoes are dirtier than a toilet seat. Toilets seats carry about 1000 germs and shoes way more than that.

One of the strong reason Indian houses leave shoes outside is, every Hindu home mostly will have temple inside where they worship God. As a cultural practice people does not want to carry dirty shoes inside and want to keep temple clean.

Ways to implement “no shoes inside” rule at home-

  1. Place a shoe rack close to door where you can accessible easily.
  2. Remove shoes as soon as you enter the door. Make it a habit.
  3. Keep foot sprays near shoe rack, in case your guests want to use it when they enter your home in barefoot.
  4. Keep a towel to wipe your feet in case you need it
  5. Keep separate sandals/slippers to wear inside the house.
  6. Keep a pretty frame near door that says remove your shoes and most people oblige it.
  7. Keep your carpet and floor clean – this will make people to remove their shoes

What are the pros and cons of removing shoes?


Safe places to crawl for babies and toddlers:  Removing shoes keeps floor much cleaner and germs won’t share playing, crawling space with babies.

Health : Families overall health will be good. There won’t be health issues such as UTI, flu, pneumonia, meningitis or diarrhea. Children might bring allergies and sickness from school. At least you know that your house floor is not causing issue!

Clean floors: One can notice dramatic difference in the way floor looks. There won’t be soiled marks, shoe impression, visible dirt on the floor. You don’t need to put too much effort to clean the floor.


Asking guests to remove shoe: Some people might prefer wearing shoe inside. Either you display a board or tell politely the reason why they must remove shoe. Or offer them extra sandals that you might have at home. 

Conveniences: Some inconvenience can happen. You might forget something to take from home after wearing shoe. Decide which option is better at that time.

When compared to pros, cons of not wearing shoes is much less. Do you want bacterial guests home that ruins your family’s health? For family’s health sake practice removing shoe while entering the house.






Image credit: Crawling baby Photo by Rene Asmussen from Pexels (Free for commercial use), Red shoe photo by: Photo by Zain Ali from Pexels (Free for commercial use)

Author: Sumana Rao | Posted on: July 24, 2019

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