I like to consider myself a gracious hostess, always welcoming friends and family to my home. However, most visitors know that upon entering my house, I ask that they remove their shoes. I have even gone as far as hanging a sign on my front door on a rainy day, reminding them to take off their shoes. I even have several pairs of inexpensive slippers or slipper socks on hand for those who don’t want to walk around in their socks. This way, frequent visitors will have them on hand when they return.
Or, take a tip from home guru Martha Stewart, who gives guests a hint by leaving her own shoes lined up near a basket of slippers at her front door. And, who would argue with Stewart?
While the practice of removing shoes upon entering the home may not be a practice in the U.S., it is common in countries such as Japan, and even in our own state of Hawaii. So, don’t feel shy about asking guests. You are not only helping to keep your home clean, but preventing the spread of bacteria from shoes that can cause health issues.
Ravel, a U.K.-based women’s footwear retailer recently commissioned a study examining the cleanliness of footwear. The study put 10 pairs of flats and heels to the test to see just how clean they were. The following results will likely have you leaving your shoes outside your front door.
The soles of shoes carry more bacteria and fungi than the uppers. However, whether a shoe is heeled or flat makes little difference to the microorganisms found on the bottom.
Appearances can be deceptive. While white shoes will show the most visible dirt, black shoes harbored more bacteria. Leather is the better material over suede for keeping clean and carries less variety of bacteria. However, there is little difference between whether patent or matte leather harbors more bacteria or fungi.
Shoes worn on nights out attract more bacteria and fungi on the sole than those worn to the office, which showed more bacteria on the upper.
Much of the bacteria found on the shoes tested can cause blisters and sores, and in some cases, can cause food poisoning or toxic shock syndrome. This bacterium is commonly found on the skin and household items. Of the bacteria found on the uppers and soles of the tested shoes, the bacteria causing illnesses, staphylococcus, was present in nine out of 10 of them.
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