I've always had to take my shoes off at home. I never questioned it until I started having friends over. They'd ask me why we took our shoes off, and I'd always say, "We just do it because my mom says so." (I mean, it was true.) Another time, a friend of mine remarked, "So this is why your floors are so clean. You can basically eat off of it." I certainly wouldn't, but I suppose walking around in socks or barefeet is why our floors were so clean. And now, scientists are saying that everyone should take their shoes off when entering your house — but it's not because my mom said so.
Bacteria lives on your shoes.
According to science, there's more to it than just clean floors. In fact, wearing shoes in the house increases the risk of tracking in bacteria from the outdoors. Researchers from the University of Arizona reported "an average of 421,000 bacteria on the outside of shoes, with nine different strains of bacteria." They include E coli, "Klebsiella pneumoniae, which can cause urinary tract infections; and Serratia ficaria, which can cause respiratory infections."
These bacteria can be found on our shoes because we walk through areas that are considered breeding grounds: public restrooms, waste, stagnant water, and animal droppings. Walking through organic debris actually helps the bacteria live on your shoe, which means there are bacterial colonies on them right now.
According to NPR, researchers discovered over 77,000 distinct types of bacteria and viruses in public restrooms, and Staphylococcus were the most dominant culture from the samples taken. Meaning, don't do this:
Seriously, don't ever do that unless you want to get MRSA or something.
But there are also other things.
You can track in toxins from fertilizers and whatever has been sprayed to kill insects and rodents on your lawn / public lawns. That's hazardous to your health! Let's not forget the dirty-ass water that you've accidentally stepped in — all that gasoline and chemicals from cars and god-knows-what will be on your floor. A study from Baylor University found that chemicals could embed themselves onto dust particles, in turn entering your respiratory system.
So what do I do?
It's simple. Take your shoes off when you enter your house. And don't eat food off the floor even if you think it's clean. Or do what scientists tell you to do: wash your shoes with detergent in the washing machine. (This is why we believe scientists don't know fashion.)
Of course, there is a downside to not wearing shoes around the house: everyone can smell your stinky feet. But that's a different story. (h/t rare.us)