Your shoes go with you every time you step out of the house. Whether it’s a short walk around the neighborhood, a trip to the mall or a hike through the woods, they’re always there.
What you probably don’t notice though, is that they keep a piece of every location they travel to. In fact, bacteria are always hitching a ride on your sneakers and boots.
And when you step into your home, those bacteria begin to spread everywhere inside your house, especially if you don’t remove them at the door.
If you don’t think this is a big deal, try to remember every public restroom you’ve ever visited. Floor tests have revealed that public restrooms house about 2 million bacteria per square inch. This is about 200 times higher than a sanitary surface (1).
San Diego State University’s study of these public spaces found that fecal bacteria dominated over any other bacteria. On toilet seats and soap dispensers as well as every other surface, about 45 percent of the bacteria there were of fecal origin.
Among these bacteria was Staphylococcus (the pathogen responsible for Staph infections) which is commonly found in feces.
Although in most cases the bacteria only causes a minor skin irritation, infections can be serious, or even deadly, if the bacteria gets into the bloodstream, joints, bones, lungs or the heart.
And one version of S. aureus bacteria that is resistant to common antibiotics — MRSA — can be very dangerous. (source)
In addition, according to a recent study at the University of Houston on the cleanliness of American homes, almost 40% of the examined shoe soles were contaminated with the bacteria C.diff (Clostridium difficile) which represents a public health threat and which is resistant to various antibiotics (2).
The study found that 41% of the 127 household surfaces examined also carried the bacteria.
According to Web MD, C. difficile can cause bacteria overgrow, in which the bacteria release toxins that attack the lining of the intestines, causing a condition called Clostridium difficile colitis.
A C. difficile infection can range from mild to life-threatening. Symptoms of mild cases include watery diarrhea, three or more times a day for several days, with abdominal pain or tenderness.
Nearly half a million people are infected with C. diff per year, and while it’s most notorious for infecting hospital patients, about 35 percent of cases start elsewhere, including at home (3).
So next time you enter your home, remove your shoes and slip on a comfy pair of slippers instead. And remember, this can be particularly dangerous for kids who love playing on the floor!