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How Contaminated Shoe's Soles Are

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

GMA's full story can be found here

Back on January 29th, I did a post regarding taking your shoes off in the house, intending to share 7 calming reasons why while you consider your home a sanctuary. Good Morning America recently did a study for an entirely different reason, testing the shoe's capability of bringing in bacteria and its ability to spread it all over your carpets. The results were shocking.

Good Morning America decided to test the bottoms of eight different people's shoes, as well as two dogs' paws, for bacteria. One New Jersey mom they interviewed, Michelle Ciocon, told GMA she doesn't "really think that much about" taking shoes off upon entering her home. Her shoes, after being tested, contained the most bacteria of all — 66 million organisms.

Even though GMA's researchers contributed the depth of the contamination of Ciocon's shoes to her having "probably just stepped directly in something," the results troubled Ciocon. "I'm concerned," she said. "I'm going to make sure everyone takes their shoes off from now on. As soon as they get to that door, their shoes are going to be off."

As per GMA's report, researchers at the University of Arizona found nine different species of bacteria on people's shoes in a recent study. These types of bacteria can cause infections in our stomachs, eyes and lungs. This study also found bacteria live longer on our shoes than in other places. As we walk, we constantly pick up new debris that feeds the growth of more bacteria. It also appeared that it didn't matter whether the floor was tile, wood or carpet, although carpet seemed to harbor more bacteria. More than 90 percent of the time, researchers found bacteria would transfer from shoes to tile floors. Carpet was even more than that.

GMA's test results were found to be "dirtier than a toilet seat," said Jonathan Sexton, a research assistant at the University of Arizona's College of Public Health. "Toilet seats generally have 1,000 bacteria or less, and these are in the millions so there's a lot more bacteria here." That's pretty gross. Considering women all over the US have taken to squatting while using public restrooms to avoid germs, no one has been made fully aware of how much more monumentally dirty our own home's floors are because of our shoes.

Even worse, according to their research, children under age 2 are the most vulnerable to the germs we track into the house, because they play on the floor and put their hands in their mouths an average of 80 times an hour. With that level of bacteria on the floor, that's downright scary.

"That means that your child can possibly be exposed to every single bacteria that you picked up on your shoe [...] all the bacteria from the park, the store, everywhere you went that day," Sexton said to GMA.

Out of 10 tests GMA ran, nine of them contained coliform, a type of bacteria that comes mostly from human and animal waste. Scientists blame the floors of public restrooms and bird and dog droppings.

Experts say the easiest way to ensure that you don't track the germs on your shoe soles into your home is to leave your shoes at the door or carry them a nearby closet. Then you should wash your hands immediately after handling your shoes.

Researchers also found washing shoes in the washing machine on the cold cycle, with detergent, killed the bacteria. So for some shoes that might be an option. You can also wipe them with a disinfectant.

GMA also dealt with how to handle asking guests to remove their footwear upon entering your home, asking etiquette consultants how to handle these situations. One consultant suggested having a clean pair of slippers or socks available for them to wear instead. If you are entertaining in your home and someone refuses to take off their shoes or you don't know them well enough to ask them to do so, she suggested it might just be easier to do a big cleanup the next day, which you have to be prepared for when entertaining anyway. Another consultant pointed out that some people would rather not remove their shoes who may have a foot odor problem or ladies might be fearful of removing their shoes if they haven't had time for a pedicure. Circumstances like this would only make your guests feel self conscious and uncomfortable. Keeping in mind that part of entertaining in your home is cleaning up afterwards, should you choose not to ask guests to remove their shoes, be prepared for a massive floor cleaning extravaganze the next morning, as these might be reasons to not ask your guests to remove their shoes.

Personally, I like the sock or slipper idea, and if people feel awkward, I will make them aware of this study. It is, after all, my home, and your home we're talking about here.

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  1. Blogger viv | October 8, 2008 at 10:34 AM |  

    wow. thanks for sharing this.

  2. Blogger I Sehgal Bengal Tiger | February 15, 2009 at 10:27 AM |  

    i dont like ur blog

  3. Blogger Darrin | April 27, 2009 at 10:35 PM |  

    UGH! We never wear our shoes in the house. Grosses me out just thinking about it!

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