Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist and professor at the University of Arizona, joined forces with shoemaker Rockport to study what types of microorganisms are transported by footwear. Ten people were given a brand new pair of shoes to use for two weeks before having them tested for bacteria.
After two weeks, more than 420,000 units of bacteria were found on the outside of the test shoes. Of that bacteria, 27% were deadly E. Coli. Also detected was Klebsiella pneumonia, which can cause pneumonia and wound and bloodstream infections and Serratia ficaria, which can lead to infection of the respiratory tract.
“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 Gerba. “Our study also indicated that bacteria can be tracked by shoes over a long distance into your home or personal space after the shoes were contaminated with bacteria.”
Even more disturbing to moms of little ones – 90 to 99% of bacteria found on the exterior of the shoes was transmitted to hard tile and carpet.
Any germs picked up by bare feet, knees and hands will then be transported to the crib at naptime.
To help keep these germs at bay, simply remove your shoes and leave them by the door when you get home. Frequent vacuuming and mopping will also help. The study also found simply washing the shoes eliminated more than 90% of germs.
If you aren’t comfortable asking your babysitter or guest to walk around in their bare feet or socks, there are many cute house slippers on the market (and several organic versions) that won’t leave anyone feeling awkward.
Photo credit: Creative Commons License, A.K. Photography on Flickr