Harmful Bacteria Are Lurking on the Bottom of Your Shoes (Like, Right Now)
We do everything we can to protect ourselves from harmful bacteria — so why doesn’t that include taking our shoes off indoors?
Back when “Sex and the City” was a thing, there was only one moment in time when I sincerely wanted to kick Carrie Bradshaw in the box. That moment was when she went all “Romper Room” about having to take her shoes off while attending a baby shower.
Removing your shoes is one of those hot button issues everyone has a scary-passionate opinion about (you know, like the Kardashians). Oodles of cultures don’t wear shoes indoors, and it’s confusing why our health-tracking, hand-sanitizing, no-loss-of-suction-vacuuming culture isn’t one of them.
We’re more germ-obsessed than ever before: Someone sneezes around us and we treat them like they have the plague, yet take offense when a party host doesn’t want us tracking the toxins and harmful bacteria on our kicks throughout their home. Go figure.
But no matter where you stand on the issue, there’s one thing we can all agree on: Getting sick sucks. And according to a recent study, there’s one bacterium in particular that’s likely hitching a ride on your soles right this second.
Researchers from the University of Houston found that 40 percent of doorsteps were contaminated with C. difficile, a nasty little bacterium that can give you watery diarrhea (among other things), and in some cases lead to life-threatening colon inflammation.
Unfortunately, this is way common: A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine says about half a million people are infected with C. diff. Every. Year. While most cases appear in hospital patients, about 35 percent of cases start elsewhere—like the bottom of your shoes. In fact, U of H researchers found 39 percent of shoe soles were contaminated with C. diff.
“Shoes are contaminated from diverse sources, and we are regularly contaminating our doorsteps by shoes,” study author M. Jahangir Alam, Ph.D., told Men’s Health. One icky way C. diff can end up on your shoes is through animal poop—even bird poop can carry the spores, says Alam. Once on a surface they can live there for months, just waiting to be ingested.
Luckily, prevention is simple: Avoid tracking the spores into your home by taking your shoes off at the door. You’ll be rewarded for this slight inconvenience by not being forced to bond with your toilet on an intimate level.
And the next time you visit someone with a strict “no shoes” policy, look at the bigger (and less shallow) picture before you pull a Carrie. Yes, the shoes go with your outfit. And yes, without them you’ll be as tall as a smurf. But wouldn’t you rather look a little frumpy for a few hours than risk carrying infectious bacteria into your friend’s home that could potentially make her ass explode? To each their own, I guess.
How do you feel about wearing shoes around the house?
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Dirty shoes image via Shutterstock
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