The Japanese are well-known for leaving their shoes at the door. In fact, it’s the norm in most Asian countries as well as throughout Scandinavia, yet in Europe and the U.S., other than Hawaii, most people keep their shoes on when they enter their home or someone else’s.
We really need to work on changing that, as shoes can bring a host of nasty things into your home, causing all sorts of problems. The next time you step inside, think about these reminders as to why those shoes need to come off.
Herbicides and Pesticides are Tracked In
When you’re outside, your shoes collect all sorts of substances, including herbicides and pesticides that can lead to health issues. A government-funded study published in Environmental Science & Technology found that weed killers, pesticides, herbicides and the like applied to one’s lawn or garden can be tracked into homes by people up to a week after treatment. Rooms with carpeted floors, as compared to bare floor areas by the researchers, generally had a higher level of tracked-in 2,4-D, the journal reported
Homes with bare floor entryways tended to have the highest levels of the chemical in carpeted living rooms and bedrooms. In homes that had carpeted entryways, levels were higher there than in other parts of the house. That exposure can result in minor skin rashes or gastrointestinal upset, and the risk is much greater for infants and toddlers who often crawl or lie on the floor. The expert noted that the bottom line was that tracking in these potentially harmful compounds can be easily limited simply by consistently remove outdoor shoes at the door.
Researchers at the University of Houston discovered that roughly 40% of shoes they tested carried “C.diff” bacterium or Clostridium difficile, nasty spores that can cause symptoms that range from diarrhea to fatal infection and are difficult to treat. The bacteria was found not only on the soles of shoes, but throughout the household, in floor dust, surfaces, toilets, and countertops. If one develops an infection caused by C.diff, it’s very hard to treat as it’s resistant to the majority of antibiotics, which can cause it to proliferate. It attacks intestinal linings which leads to colitis – and, those bacteria can survive for days or even weeks on your shoes.
In another study from the University of Arizona, researchers assessed the quantity of bacteria and found over 420,000 different units that included nine different strains that can cause an infection in the lungs, eyes, and stomach, including E.coli, which makes up about a third of all bacteria. While most are relatively harmless, there are some nasty ones too that can lead to severe intestinal problems, causing diarrhea and vomiting, and in rare cases, meningitis. The experts also discovered Klebsiella pneumoniae bacteria, which is known to cause urinary infections as well as significant damage to the lungs, leading to pneumonia. This bacteria has a high fatality rate at 50%, and in those who are suffering from alcoholism, it’s as high as 100%.
Keeping Things Clean
It’s not just for health reasons that you and everyone in your household should remove their shoes. While bacteria on your sneakers is invisible to the naked eye, things like dust, dirt and other debris are not, and those are all easily carried on your shoes. While it may not be toxic, it can quickly make your home dirty after time out on the trail, at the park, or even just walking city streets. By leaving your shoes at the door, your house will be much cleaner and healthier.
Preventing Damaged Floors
The soles of shoes are often abrasive or contain sharp edges that can cause damage to your floors. By not wearing shoes in the house it will be easier to maintain your floors and keep them lasting longer due to reduced wear and tear, and it limits the continuous need to vacuum and shampoo carpets. Not only will your house be cleaner and healthier, you’re likely to save money too.
Being a Better Neighbor
If you live in an apartment or another multi-home complex, your neighbors will be happier if you leave those shoes at the door, whether your home is carpeted or has hardwood floors. That’s because wearing socks or slippers keeps the sounds of feet shuffling across the floor to a minimum.
Making an Easier Transition From Work to Home
The Japanese have often noted that one of the reasons, in addition to health and cleanliness for removing shoes before entering a home, is it signals a transition from busyness to relaxation. You slip out of your shoes you’ve been wearing all day, and into cozy socks or soft slippers, as part of a relaxing ritual that allows your mind to let go of the cares of the day and the outside world.
While it may seem like an insignificant thing to do, incorporating habits like this into your day helps you to feel more calm, slowing down and become more connected to your body as well as the environment. It basically signals your psyche that you’re now entering a sacred space, and it creates an energy of sanctity. It makes your home a healthy sanctuary, where you can easily unwind and relax your mind.
Ways To Change Your Old Habit
If you’ve been in the habit of wearing your shoes at home and allowing your guests to do the same, you can make the transition easier in a number of ways, including providing an appealing, practical spot for everyone to leave their outdoor shoes. A wide range of attractive options are available these days, whether you want a beautiful, handcrafted piece made of solid mahogany to keep indoors in your entryway, or something outside on your porch. Or, you could always keep it simple by using any type of basket or a cheap shoe rack. Either way, that will make it easier for everyone to remember to do it before eventually, it becomes an ingrained habit.
You may also want to inform your guests about your shoes-off preference in a kind, gentle way that adds to the look of your home’s entrance. A simple engraved stone that says, “Please, kindly remove your shoes,” or a sign with a similar statement is a great way to accomplish that and keep all of that nasty debris out of your home.