This is why you should never wear shoes inside the house.

Do you remove your shoes at the door? If you don’t, you could be bringing all sorts of nastiness into your home. In fact, according to a recent study conducted by the University of Arizona, shoes contain an average of 421,000 different bacteria.

Escherichia coli, known to cause intestinal and urinary tract infections, meningitis, and diarrheal disease; Klebsiella pneumonia, a common source of wound and bloodstream infections, as well as pneumonia; and Serratia ficaria, a rare cause of infections in the respiratory tract and wounds, were among the bacteria found on the shoes.

Another study conducted by the University of Houston discovered that 39% of shoes contained the bacteria C. diff (Clostridium difficile), an antibiotic-resistant strain that frequently causes complications in hospital patients.

A large portion of the bacteria comes from fecal material that we walk on. Bird droppings, dog waste, and human waste from public restrooms are examples of this.

“The common occurrence (96 percent) of coliform and E. coli bacteria on the outside of the shoes indicates frequent contact with fecal material, which most likely originates from floors in public restrooms or contact with animal fecal material outdoors,” said Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist and professor at the University of Arizona. “Our research also found that bacteria can be tracked by shoes for a long distance into your home or personal space after they have been contaminated with bacteria.”

Bacteria isn’t the only thing your shoes can bring into the house. Pesticides and other chemicals and toxins, such as coal tar from asphalt roads and gasoline from rainwater, can also enter the home. Although the risk of contracting illnesses from these toxins is low, they can accumulate over time with prolonged exposure. Children and pets are especially vulnerable because they crawl and walk closer to the floor’s surface.

There are ways to keep potentially harmful germs and chemicals out of your home. According to a study conducted by the University of Arizona, washing shoes with detergent in a washing machine could reduce bacteria by 90% or more. Disinfecting your floors and carpets also reduces bacteria exposure. But, by far, the best and simplest solution is to remove your shoes at the door! And if you walk barefoot outside, I recommend a foot wash as soon as you get inside.

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