When you finally arrive home at the end of a long, hard day, sometimes you just can’t seem to muster the energy to take your shoes off right away.
While this may indicate that you’re slightly lazy at times, the other implications of continuing to wear your shoes indoors could be far more serious.
Doing so could also be putting your health at risk, as you’re exposing your home to hordes of bacteria.
Previous research conducted by Dr Charles Gerba, a microbiologist and professor at the University of Arizona, discovered that the average shoe contains 421,000 units of bacteria on the outside and 2,887 on the interior.
Dr Gerba and his team detected a variety of harmful bacteria, including Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumonia and Serratia ficaria, all of which can lead to dangerous infections.
We come into contact with far more bacteria than we realise on a daily basis, especially as we walk upon a variety of surfaces.
“Microbes exist all around us and will become attached to surfaces they come in contact with,” Michael Loughlin, principal lecturer at the school of science and technology at Nottingham Trent University explained to The Independent.
Loughlin doesn’t believe that there’s any cause to be concerned about the bacteria spread from wearing shoes indoors, unless you’ve had the misfortune of walking through animal faeces.
“The bacteria found on shoes will have come from what we walk through, so really clean your shoes if you have walked through faecal matter (dogs and other mammals) as they may contain bacteria that could harm us,” he said.
“It is all about managing risk. And the risk posed by bacteria on the soles of shoes is very low.”
While Dr Gerba’s study found that a pair of new shoes worn for two weeks could accumulate 440,000 units of bacteria, the researchers also concluded that making the effort to clean your shoes can make a monumental difference.
Cleaning shoes with detergent reportedly eliminated the existing faecal bacteria and reduced the amount of overall bacteria on the shoes by at least 90 per cent.
While simply cleaning your shoes could be the answer to all of your bacteria fears, it’s important to note the amount of harmful bacteria that could exist on your shoes should you choose to forego the cleaning process.
Over a two-year period from 2013 to 2015, a group of researchers including Kevin WGarey of the college of pharmacy at the University of Houston tested for the prevalence of a bacterium called Clostridium difficile across 2,500 samples collected around Houston.
26.4 per cent of the shoe soles among the samples tested positively for C. Diff.
“Essentially, when you wear your shoes in a house, you are bringing in everything you stepped in during the day,” Jonathan Sexton, a laboratory manager at the University of Arizona told The Wall Street Journal.
So, if your shoes are looking particularly dirty and especially if you happened to walk through animal excrement, make sure you clean your shoes as soon as possible before wearing them indoors.
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