It turns out that taking your shoes off when you come inside doesn’t just keep the carpets cleaner. It’s also healthier:
Among samples collected in homes, 26.4% of shoe soles tested positive for C. Diff, about three times the number found on the surfaces of bathrooms and kitchens.
And that’s just one bacterium. In an earlier investigation, Dr. Garey examined past studies to learn if “shoe soles are a vector for infectious pathogens.” The answer was a resounding yes.
Among the studies: Austrian researchers found at least 40% of shoes carried Listeria monocytogenes in 2015. And a 2014 German study found that over a quarter of boots used on farms carried E.coli.
“Essentially, when you wear your shoes in a house, you are bringing in everything you stepped in during the day,” says Jonathan Sexton, a laboratory manager at the Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health at the University of Arizona.
Wiping your feet, however vigorously, on a welcome mat, provides only limited help, he says. “It will remove some of the dirt, but you have to think of the person who wiped their feet before. You might be picking stuff they left behind.”
Some homeowners may worry that guests in socks or bare feet might also represent a health risk. That’s possible, Dr. Sexton says, but the inside of a shoe has far less bacteria than the outside.
Both researchers agree that the risk is muted. “Shoes in the house are not something to freak out about,” Dr. Sexton says.