Individuals who have ever stepped foot inside an Asian household probably know that shoes are not allowed.
Shoes are typically removed before entering homes for hygienic reasons — the amount of dirt and bacteria found on them are shockingly disgusting.
Approximately 421,000 different types of bacteria can be found on shoes, according to a 2008 study by the University of Arizona. Of the shoes examined in the study, 96% of them were found to have coliforms, a bacterial indicator of the level of sanitation of foods and water that is also universally found in feces of humans and warm-blooded animals.
In addition, 27% of the shoes were found to have E. coli along with seven different kinds of bacterias. Among them are Klebsiella pneumoniae, a bacteria that causes urinary tract infections, and Serratia ficaria, a bacteria that causes respiratory infections.
Study author Charles Gerba, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona, explained:
“The common occurrence (96%) of coliform and E. coli bacteria on the outside of the shoes indicates frequent contact with fecal material, which most likely originates from floors in public restrooms or contact with animal fecal material outdoors. Our study also indicated that bacteria can be tracked by shoes over a long distance into your home or personal space after the shoes were contaminated with bacteria.”
Bringing shoes into the house leads to a 90-99% chance of transfer of bacteria from dirty shoes to uncontaminated home floors.
If that doesn’t gross you out then this might: public restroom floors have an estimated 2 million bacteria per square inch. However, an average toilet seat has about 50 per square inch.
Kelly Reynolds, microbiologist and professor at the University of Arizona, said:
“We walk through things like bird droppings, dog waste and germs on public restroom floors, all of which are sources for E. coli.
“Think about rain water in the street. It can have gasoline in it and chemicals, and those get on your shoes and can be brought into your home.”
Though with toxins and chemicals, repeat exposure during a lifetime will lead to health related illness.
If that doesn’t convince people to take off their shoes before going inside their house then perhaps washing shoes regularly with detergent will help. The University of Arizona study found that cleaning shoes in the washing machine will kill the presence of bacteria by at least 90%. Floors and carpets should also be disinfected with carpet cleaners such as a steam cleaner.
The best way though, is to keep those shoes out of the house!