Name one thing that always goes with you wherever you go. Actually, that’s probably a bit of a trick question and could apply to a range of difference things, but the response we’re looking for here is your shoes. Whether you are in the office, in the gym, going walking, in the restroom, or perhaps scaling Mount Everest, you are probably wearing something on your feet.

Apart from in the cold winter months, the majority of us rarely think much about the distinction between indoor and outdoor shoes. The majority of the year, we return home and keep wearing our shoes whilst indoors. However, in certain cultures, with Japanese being the most notable, wearing shoes in the house is heavily frowned upon. Now, there is mounting scientific evidence that this practice of removing footwear indoors may have far greater advantages than just appeasing a Japanese host.

Most people only consider removing their ankle boots indoors when they are covered in dirt, mud and all other types of filthy matter. Researchers at the University of Arizona exposed some horrifying truths. There are nearly 421,000 distinct germs present on the bottoms of 96 percent of shoes. Ultimately, your shoes are a petri dish that you walk on. Examples of the type of bacteria found include Serratia ficaria (which causes respiratory disease), Klebsiella pneumoniae (which causes urinary tract infections), and a considerable amount of E. coli – and it’s no pleasure. It can cause serious digestive difficulties and, in extreme cases, can even cause potentially deadly kidney damage.

How do you end up with E. coli on the bottom of your sneakers, you ask? Well, look no further than bathroom floors. Unfortunately, even the most immaculate public bathrooms are home to faecal matter. Not to mention footpaths, roads and any outdoor areas – faecal matter is everywhere. The floors of public bathrooms have approximately two million bacteria per square inch, while the average toilet seat comes in at 50 per square inch. You ought to be far more worried about the floor than the toilet seat.

Not only did researchers find bacteria on the bottom of shoes, they discovered that the bacteria gets tracked over long distances from your shoes to then possibly contaminate your own personal space. The transfer of germs from shoe soles to house floors can be anywhere from 95 to 99 percent. Other studies have found that other toxins such as yard chemicals, coal tar from asphalt streets, and gas and other substances in rainwater can all be tracked into your house via your shoes also. Although the probability of illness from those is relatively small, it could possibly develop over time with prolonged exposure.

So, are we all supposed to live in a world filled with plastic booties for our sneakers? Thankfully, no. Machine washing your sneakers with detergent regularly should help drastically reduce germs. Cleaning your house floors and carpet is also recommended (especially steam cleaning). If that seems like a small hassle, the easiest solution would be to ditch your shoes at the door when you come home and get yourself some nice fluffy shoes to wear inside– they’re much comfier anyway.

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