Here's What You Need to Know If You Wear Shoes in Your House

| JAN 17, 2016 | 1:59 AM

You might be bringing trouble to your own doorstep by the soles of your shoes, some studies have suggested. Then there are other experts who say there's nothing to worry about. So, whom should you believe?

The website for the nationally-syndicated radio show “The Clark Howard Show” recently shared a study which showed why kicking off those kicks before coming in the door might be a good idea:

A study done by the University of Arizona found an average of 421,000 different bacteria on shoes. Coliforms, a bacterial indicator of the level of sanitation of foods and water (and universally present in feces), were detected on the bottoms of 96% of shoes.

The study also found E. coli on 27% of the shoes, among other nasty bacteria.

Kelly Reynolds, Ph.D., a 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.”

HAMBURG, GERMANY - JUNE 02: A lab technician holds a bacteria culture that shows a positive infection of enterohemorrhagic E. coli, also known as the EHEC bacteria, from a patient at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf on June 2, 2011 in Hamburg, Germany. German health authorities are continung to grapple with the current outbreak of EHEC and claim that initial suspicions of cucumbers from Spain as being the source are unfounded, though they warn against consuming raw vegetables. The University Medical Center has the highest number of patients infected with EHEC as well as 102 patients who have come down with hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), a complication that can lead to kidney failure, convulsions and epileptic seizures and is caused by EHEC. Authorites are reporting at least 2,000 cases of EHEC infection nationwide and at least 470 cases of HUS. Across Europe at least 17 people have died from the outbreak. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
E. coli. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

But Dr. Winkler G. Weinberg, chief of infectious diseases at Kaiser Permanente in Atlanta, Ga., and author of No Germs Allowed: How to Avoid Infectious Diseases at Home and on the Road says that unless someone's planning on eating directly off the bottom of your footwear, everything's fine, reports. “I’m unaware of anyone acquiring an E. coli infection from a contaminated shoe.” he said.

In fact, Weinberg pointed out that there's a place that most people don't like to think about containing far more germs than what's under our feet:

“Your body has more microbial cells than human cells,” he says. “You’re more germ than you are you. I really don’t think there’s any value to these studies where people culture to see how many bacteria there are in any given location. It’s not predictive of human health or transmission of infection.”

IJLift shared an example of a contaminant containing botulism which might have recently been brought into the home of a baby who became critically ill. Four-month-old Sadie's construction worker father could have brought home spores on his shoes or clothing. Baby Botulism temporarily caused Sadie to suffer from paralysis, but she's recovering.

If you decide that you do want to go the 'no shoes in the house' route, here are some tips:

  • Store the shoes which have been removed away from carpet or other living areas. This site suggests keeping shoes outside. Another idea would be in a muckroom or laundry room.
  • When inviting guests to a party, an Apartment Therapy readers suggests being gracious and upfront about what's expected. Try working “no shoes” into the party theme!
  • Put up a striking or humorous sign like this one (or you can find others here):

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While there's no chance we be able to avoid all germs, it's nice to be able to know some of the things that we can do to stay in better health.