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Shoes Transmit Disease, Leave Them by the Door

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


  1. Ewwwww…shoes in the house. I never understand how people can do that, gross gross gross.

  2. And now they reason to leave them by the door!

  3. i’ve also read that removing shoes can eliminate about 80% of dirt in the house! who loves house cleaning? i don’t :)

    • I’ve been full-time motorhoming for 14 years. We’ve always removed our shoes when coming in. Keeps our carpets much cleaner, and now I have the best reason of all not to wear shoes in the house–germy shoe soles.

  4. We have had a “no shoes in the house” rule for years, and I swear all my visitors and family members thought we were crazy. I think I need to forward this post to all of them so they can understand why we do it. And leaving them at the door really saves on having to have the carpet cleaned since there’s no tracking of mud, dirt (or E. Coli). Just the thought of E. Coli being tracked into my daughter’s bed at naptime would be enough to make me a convert.

    • my in laws give me the hardest time, often times “forgetting” to remove their shoes only to comment later how they forgot! Their grandchildren play on the carpet they walk on. I wish I could send them this too.

  5. Yes, the report was an eye opener for me. We usually go sans shoes, but the thought of those germs in his crib made me shudder. Feel free to forward the post!

  6. I’ve always had the no shoes in the house rule. Think of what you step in and can carry into your home. Fecal matter, spit, oil. Now, imagine your children laying around on the floor/carpet. It’s disgusting. I keep a small basket by my garage door with socks or footies for my guests to put on.

  7. We take off shoes at the door. Visitors notice the shoes at the door and generally follow the cue. We have trays set at the door to set shoes on. I have been wanting to have slippers there for guests. Now I have a reason to do more shopping! I will think of it as stimulating the economy!

  8. I love the idea of a rack by the door. We line ours up and it can get a little messy.
    Slippers are a great idea!

  9. Beverly M. says:

    I agree 100%. My family is Italian and we grew up removing our shoes when coming into our home and going to others. When I met my husband I his step-children I started them on removing their shoes when they come into the house since it was a newly build one. I also ask the childrens friends and my in-laws to do the same. At first I felt uncomfortable since they were not use to it and at times for new visitors I still feel uncomfortable but we now have 5 month old twins and they will be crawling soon and I do not want the dirt from the outside to get into their mouths. When my husbands ex stops by to drop off/pickup my step-kids, she is so rude and does not remove them, I just don’t understand some people. Also my husband does admit that the carpets and floors stay looking newer. I do like the idea of a box of socks by the door. I had an Asian co-worker bring me back some slippers from Taiwan for the same purpose which I keep in the closet by the front door but Men may feel awkward putting them on. How do you feel about asking ALL your guests to remove their shoes when your having a party? I’m still nervous about doing that.

    • My dad’s coworker who had a no shoe rule in their home would have a sock hop themed party so it wasn’t weird that everyone took off their shoes.

    • For a party, I’d let my guests do whatever makes them feel comfortable, and afterward simply clean the floors well. Certain friends (that you want to keep) might feel awkward and not want to come back to your home. Others would normally feel fine taking off their shoes just for you, but not when meeting people at a party. They very well might want to show off a nice pair!

  10. Totally agree. Take those shoes off!

    I have an whole blog about this. You might want to take a look.

  11. This must be a regional thing. We take our shoes off. I’ve never had a guest leave his or shoes on, so I’ve never had to ask. If you live anywhere that they salt and sand the street, you take your shoes/boots off in the house. The habit stays through summer. I actually find it weird when people tell me not to bother removing my shoes in their house.

  12. Here in Norway, taking off your shoes when you go into someone’s house is standard practice – I was very surprised the first time I went to the US and discovered that they didn’t do that! I’m glad to know science is on my side 😉

  13. We have a shoe rack by the front door. The kids just automatically kick of their shoes and place them in thier shoe baskets when they come in. Slippers for guests? Not very sanitary…unless you plan on designating a pair for every guest who comes over. I know I wouldn’t want my bare feet to touch the inside of used slippers. Our floors are clean…we walk barefoot.

    • Kellie T says:

      I’d rather use a pair of used slippers, myself. I have a condition called Morton’s Neuroma whereby I am not supposed to walk barefoot on hard surfaces ever. If the slippers have a couple of days to dry out between guests, they will not transmit athlete’s foot fungus.

    • Lett your guests take their “footies” home with them. They don’t cost all that much anyway but I agree, there should be clean ones for every guest.

  14. Yes, I’m not sure why we in the States are less comfortable with removing our shoes. That’s great to learn its standard practice in Norway.
    And I agree Bombaygirl, it would gross me out a bit to put on someone’s slippers.

    • It’s actually standard practice in all Nordic countries, including Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Estonia, not just Norway. And no, we don’t offer slippers, everyone wears socks or walks barefoot in the summer. However, this only applies in private homes, in public spaces and workplaces you usually wear shoes indoors, except for childcare facilities and elementary schools, where it is typical to leave your shoes outside the classroom. The practice has probably emerged due to weather conditions, rather than health, although it has its benefits. When there’s snow, ice, slush, sleet, mud and whatnot outdoors for 6-8 months of the year, you don’t want to carry all that into the house. Plus, heavy winterboots are not the most comfortable type of footwear to wear indoors, which is why even in workplaces many bring a lighter pair of shoes to be worn during the day. If you have a very formal party at your house, it is allowed to wear shoes, but guests usually change into their party shoes at the door so as not to carry dirt inside, especially in the winter. If it’s a typical house party among friends, you don’t wear shoes.

      In countries with a drier and milder climate, I can understand walking indoors with your shoes on – though I would not have any rugs or carpeting if I did that. What I personally have trouble understanding is when people lift their feet on the coffee table (like in the picture) or the couch or on any other piece of furniture, while wearing the same shoes they wear outdoors. Bacteria is one thing, but the amount of dirt you walk on/ with those shoes…

      • This is EXACTLY how it is in Canada too. I would never dream of wearing my shoes in the house nor anyone elses place. In the winter its an obvious choice but even in the summer – why would you want to track in the sand, dirt and grass? And I agree with the above poster,,,how do you snuggle up on the couch with a pair of shoes on?

  15. victoria says:

    We have a shoe rack by the door.When we arrive home its shoes off and slippers on for the whole family.I cant imagine us wearing shoes (or socks for that matter)in the house.I think providing guest slippers is going a bit too far.I grew up in canada so taking off your shoes at the door is simply second nature.

  16. ewallace says:

    Seriously?! “Deadly” E. coli?! You do realize that a good percentage of your gut bacteria is E. coli, yes? That you could not live with out it? I’m all for leaving shoes at the door on the grounds that they carry dust and crud all over the floors. But on the grounds of safety? Not so much. Bonus point: all you parents who sanitize the heck out of everything, enjoy making your kids even more ill when they start school with NO immune system.

    • There are healthy bacteria in your stomach that helps with digestion, but you do not have E. Coli. You will be sick if you get that in your system. There are studies that stomach cancer could be fuelled by this bacteria. If you’d like your children to have that to be immune to, that’s your choice, but not one I want my family to go though.

      • Someone needs to head back to biology class. E. Coli cells are definitely in your body:


        “E. coli normally colonizes an infant’s gastrointestinal tract within 40 hours of birth, arriving with food or water or with the individuals handling the child. In the bowel, it adheres to the mucus of the large intestine. It is the primary facultative anaerobe of the human gastrointestinal tract.”

        Additionally, there is no significant research linking E. Coli to stomach cancer. You’re thinking of H. Pylori.

        • Right, because wikipedia is a super reliable resource. Sounds like someone should head back to English class.

          • Someone On The Line says:

            Well, since you won’t take Wikipedia’s word for it, how about the CDCs?

            “Most E. coli are harmless and actually are an important part of a healthy human intestinal tract.”


            (this is actually cited reference #3 of 88 used in the Wikipedia article above to prove its authenticity)

          • Just Stop Talking says:

            >>>>Right, because wikipedia is a super reliable resource. Sounds like someone should head back to English class.<<<<

            You know that Wikipedia cites actual SOURCES that you can follow links to, to verify the information, right dumbass?

    • agree fully with you…kids need natural bacteria to strengthen their immunity to the world …that’s why we are getting an allergy epidemic in modern kids. clean carpets is fine but kids need to get mucky. sorry !!

    • Thank you! I know someone who makes their kids take multiple vitamins and eat organic everything and wash everything down all the time and they are all ALWAYS sick.. I’m talking strep 5 times so far this year, the flu, constant colds.. they are never completely “well”.
      Plus, they said stepping in animal feces, so what? Are we supposed to remove the dogs paws before they may enter the house as well?

    • D. J. Guest says:

      I was waiting for somebody to bring this up. Entirely right.

    • Jacob Shadows says:

      Glad someone else knows not to believe everything they read on the internet.

  17. I do have a question or three.

    If I came to your house, would I find a nice clean pair of slippers that hadn’t been worn by other toe-jam infected guests? Have you seen athlete’s foot growing on a petri dish? Yum!

    Will they be in my size (women’s 12), and will they meet the requirements of the American Diabetic Association for patients with diabetes? I wouldn’t want to get a splinter or scratch, not feel it due to nerve damage, and then have my foot–and/or leg– amputated just so your baby doesn’t eat a microorganism.

    Do you also put your purse/diaper bag down on the kitchen/bathroom counter when you come into the house? Have you seen the diseases that can grow on the bottom of a woman’s purse (not to mention a diaper bag)? Germs spread to the counter–to your hands–and then to your precious “gifted” future Harvard graduate. I’m not kidding.

    I have a better idea. Why not simply avoid walking on your floors at all? They’ll last forever that way. Longer than your friendships. Whatever happened to making guests feel comfortable and welcome? You’re telling them at the door that they aren’t acceptable because *you had a baby*. Get off your high horse, honey. Even roaches have kids.

    • you are a fool who will get sick

    • Nathalie says:

      My welcome mat at the door says “Please Remove your Shoes”. I have sanitized flip flops (various sizes for men & women) for those who are freaks about removing them. But that is rare.

      My floors stay cleaner. Period. I am the one that cleans them. Even my 5 year old son removes his shoes.

      I do not want the shoes that you just trekked across the gas station parking lot into the public bathroom & back again & then stopped by to visit me. Gross!

      Glad we aren’t friends because you wouldn’t be invited over.

    • I agree with you Michelle. In the messy weather we remove our shoes at the door, otherwise no. Grandparents lived well into their 90″s, Parents are in their 80’s. All my kids are healthy adults who don’t seem to catch every cold and flu going around. We all seem healthier than most. None of my kids have allergies or are Autistic and neither are there kids so far. The people are so paranoid, glad I don’t live in fear like many, I just enjoy my life and the people in it.

    • Then you wont be welcome in my house. Simple as that. No, I dont put the diaper bag on the counter because im not a dirty pig. Some people’s purses can be that dirty but not people that don’t set theirs in the floor. It was never acceptable in my house before the baby.I have the right to be comfortable in my own house without rude nasty people messing it up. I’ve always shown respect for anyone’s house I have entered and expect the same in return.

    • I agree. I tell people including 11 grandchildren, and my farmer husband to please leave their shoes on when they come into my home. I don’t want their smelly feet or socks on my floors. Just saying. I rarely get sick. It is a pain in the rear end to have to sit down and untie my shoes in other peoples homes and they rarely provide places to do so at the front door. Get over it people. Just wait a few months and science will change it’s mind

    • So you must not have a problem licking the floor of a public bathroom then? Cause that’s pretty much what you are allowing your crawling baby to do when you transport that crap onto the floors of your home….

      • random listener says:

        So, you don’t have a bathroom in your own house, then? And you don’t fart? There’s fecal matter in the house already. There’s bacteria as well. And as others have mentioned, if one has pets, then there’s already a worse problem than the shoes. And unless that child is in the house 24/7, they already have far more bacteria from the other kids at school / daycare who have parents who don’t take off their shoes, or daycare folks / teachers who also don’t take off their shoes.

        People panic when they read stories like these, and it’s unnecessary. Humans have evolved to handle the pathogens around them, and a healthy immune system (one which is routinely exposed to said bacteria) is the result. There is such a thing as going too far to “protect” one’s self.

        And honestly, if one can’t socialize with others because they won’t remove an article of clothing upon entering your home, then I sincerely wonder how they’re able to function in polite society – people are going to be rude, they’re going to be inconvenient, and they’re going to sometimes keep their shoes on – or not, whether you want them to or not. If minor things like that mean you can’t deal with them civilly, then how do you deal with serious issues?

  18. Attention, you $#@&* morons. You are accomplishing NOTHING by removing your shoes before enter the house other than to easing wear and tear on your carpet. Remember when they used to encapsulate bone marrow transplant recipients in plastic tents for the duration of the procedure (ala “the boy in the plastic bubble”)? Well, they don’t even do THAT anymore. They found that EIGHTY EIGHT PERCENT of the germs that could POSSIBLY (not even certainly) cause ANY threat exist on the hands. I had a bone marrow transplant rendering my immune system completely worthless. My body’s defense system was NOTHING compared to that of ANY child (even a sick one) in your home. Visitors were allowed to enter my hospital room, hug, kiss, spend the night (even in the same bed) as long as they weren’t displaying any signs of illness (cough, sneeze) and provided that THEY WASHED THEIR HANDS. That’s all. And remember, I was EXTREMELY vulnerable to any foreign antibody, and that was a LIFE-THREATENING situation. So spare me all your incessant alarmist, diaper-sniffing, over-reactive and profoundly unnecessary response to a thoroughly unlikely threat. The chances of your child being injured in a car accident are PROFOUNDLY greater than becoming ill due to some shmutz on the bottom of your neighbor’s shoe — even dog poop. Our bodies are remarkably resilient. Let them do their job and knock off all this alarmist crap.

    • Angry, much? That’s not good for your health, either.

      • Saying someone is angry is a passive aggressive way to diminish them and shut them up. The ultimate Ad Hominem attack. He has a point, and the women who are freaking out about the shoes and their kids have a point. Fact is, you can invite whomever you wish to come to your home. you can politely request ( with an equally polite explanation) for shoe removal. Your guest can do so and enjoy your hospitality or not. I realize parents care deeply about kids/germs etc and IF you want to make that line in the sand which in my opinion is rude you sure can. Then it is their choice to stay and be insulted or leave and insult you. HOWEVER if everyone would back away from the cliff there is another option. MY POINT is that if this is your standard maybe it wouldn’t kill you to pick up the phone and when you invite someone new to your home for a meal, drinks,etc ..the same way you asky: “Do you have any food allergies?” You also mention: “BTW we have a no shoe in the house policy. I usually have a basket of clean socks by the door but feel free to keep your socks on or walk barefoot…as we do”. IF SOMEONE is elderly or diabetic. “BTW we have a no shoe in the house policy. I usually have a basket of clean socks by the door but I know you need to be very careful. We’d love to have you, is there a special brand of slippers that are safe and comfortable for you to wear.?” YES I do make these calls because I do want my guests to be happy and for them to be comfortable. What I do NOT do is sandbag anyone at my door where they feel obliged because of manners and then resentful/insulted etc. This is part of making people comfortable, find out their needs and also pass on your home info. aka “Oh you’re allergic to cats? I have a cat, should I board her for the day or are you ok if she is kept in another room” etc..All of this is not brain surgery..merely simple guest/host manners.

    • I agree, Andy. Although I won’t call these people morons. I just think society is becoming super freaked out that microorganisms exist and, because most people are fear-based, don’t understand the ability of the human body to protect and heal itself. It is a mass hysteria that needs to be eradicated. Chill people. Your children, as children have always done, are building their immune systems over time with small exposures to all kinds of bacteria and microorganisms. If we are to shroud our children from the world, you would actually be keeping them from building up their tolerance for it. I, too, had a compromised immune system after my diagnosis and treatment for advanced staged cancer. Immediately after the treatment was over, I went back to teaching in an elementary school. I was a little worried since I would be exposed to anything and everything but my immune system slowly rebuilt its tolerance, thanks to the support of a healthy diet and supplements, and I lived through the first mild illness in one piece. Also, if a body can recover from the kind of crap doctors put into mine, it can deal with nature’s microorganisms. Really, you do more harm fretting over your children than in just letting them be children.

  19. way to go Andy!!!!! Hyper-active over-protective parents that over-react to germs are VERY likely the same kind of parents who over-indulge their kids in other ways leading to generations of helpless kids.

    • I think that going to this extreme is crazy! I agree that hand washing is the key and if it comes down to it medically, we do need to have a good immune system that can fight a typical illness you will certainly catch outside the home. The only thing one gets out of this is a little less mess, but you still have to do the floors anyway! People that have poop or any other very nasty substance would take those kinds of shoes off without a sign on the door if they grew up with any type of manners. I think it should be a choice and not something forced. Maybe a sign that said your family doesn’t wear their shoes in your home and guest are welcome to do the same if they feel comfortable or if their shoes are dirty. Most people would then check their shoes and would have the courtesy to remove them if they were dirty. You will not die from shoes being worn in your home, but your relationship with Family and Friends may suffer. It’s a personal choice, but I want people that come into my home to feel comfortable and welcome!

      • I agree life is full of germs and you have an immune system for a reason. People in messy houses are less likely to get allergies and have immune problems for a reason. I hate all these articles that say oh these germs are so horrible. We live with them everyday. That’s life. People should spend their time worrying about any other thing but this. Unless say you have cancer or are compromised. For the general public this is stupid.

  20. thank you i am printing this to show my husband, he doesnt believe me when it comes to dirty shoes. And when he wears them in my freshly cleaned bathroom I could just scream! Maybe this tid bit will get him to leave the shoes by the door where they belong.

  21. I know there are many bacteria in old shoes ,so I often give them a sunshine.

  22. I also leave a shoe rack right in front of the door… If they don’t take the shoes off I just ask them politely but it can be awkward sometimes.

  23. You never really think of how many germs you pick up when you are out and about and where they end up. Thanks for the article.

  24. You need to get over it folks! Too much time spent about germs and cleanliness issues will make you anxious and neurotic. As long as you wash your hands on a reasonbale regular basis and don;t actually suck on or pick your shoes you’ll be fine – really!

  25. Since 1997 I have been removing my shoes just inside the front door and actually keep them in a shoe box, though my wife just keeps her shoes on a a plastic mat by the door. I ask 99 percent of the people who come to my home to remove their shoes and they stare at me like I have two heads.

    when they question me why, I tell them number one: the bottom of their shoes have gathered germs and bacteria every time they have gone outside. And, probably, their entire shoes have collected these numerous invisible microbes that are harmful to our health. They should clean their shoes like I do with anti-bacterial wipes on the bottom and the sides and on top of the shoes.

    My shoes are nearly two years old but are in great shape and very clean. By cleaning them every night when I come in and putting them away in a box box till the next day, I do my best to keep the germs out of my home and keep my wood floors and carpets as clean as I can. I have to yell at my wife whenever she forgets to take her shoes off and starts walking around the kitchen and living room.

    When you have painters or plumbers or maids at your home, you should ask them to either remove their shoes or wear these disposable hospital scrub slippers that you can buy very cheaply on the internet, like 100 pair for around 2o bucks. They are made of a soft paper-like material, are blue in color and can fit up to size ten.

    But some people don’t ind just kicking their shoes off. What’s the fuss. I take my shoes off in other peoples’ homes to set an example, even if they don’t normally do that in their own homes. I try to explain the potential for germ infestation if you walk around all the rooms of your home with shoes whose bottoms are most certainly dirty. When they get their rugs, carpets, wood and tile floors dirty and have to vaccumn and shampoo and mop them all the time, they should remember what I told them, remove your shoes in your home.

    Wearing your dirty shoes in your home is like picking up a million hitchhiking germs and bacteria and microbes that you cannot see with the naked eye. Put them under a microscope and you have a horror show. One day I hired vent duct cleaners to vaccumn out all the filthy dust in the heating and air conditioning vent ducts in the walls of my home. You wouldn’t believe what they were sucking out of my walls from that ductwork. I have a forced air system which is the worse. Especially in the winter when I have the heat on. It is not just heat coming from the duct vents but also bacteria and millions of unseen dust particles that make my allergies worse.

    Inside the ductwork of your home’s vents (if you have forced air) are layers upon layers upons layers of dust. When you put the heat or AC on, a lot of that dust is blowing out of your vents as well and it is not healthy for you. It is slowly killing us. We are inhaling it. It gets in our system, our bloodstream, our lungs, our eyes, our mouths. Maybe it’s good to spray some Lysol or some other kind of antibacterial killing spray in the air in your home’s rooms a few times a week to help kill the germs coming out of your vents.

    But don’t add to your misery by wearing shoes in the home. Those duct vent cleaners that came to my house got mud all over my rugs and wood floors because it had rained that day and we didn’t ask them to remove their shoes. We should have. It is not too much to ask of people. And if they don’t want to do so, get other workers to come to your home who will remove their shoes. You’ll have a cleaner, more healthy home.

    • Bet your wife really likes it when you “yell at her.” You may not have a healthy marriage, but at least your floors are clean.

    • You “ask” people outside your family to please remove their shoes before they come in, but have to “yell at your wife”?? I can imagine living with you is about as much fun as living with Felix on the “Odd Couple”.

    • It might just be easier to never leave your house than to have to wipe all those germs off.

  26. I like to know about Foot and Nail Deceases
    Prevention of spreading these deceases in community
    Barefoot will speedup the spread of deceases like Fungus, Warts etc.
    Wearing shoes in community will prevent spreading such deceases to others around.

  27. in malaysia we never wear shoes at home simply because it’s our culture and religion. but after i have a baby it makes me wonder how some people can wear shoes inside the house and let their baby crawl on the floor. baby loves to suck their fingers and by crawling on the floor, they’ll surely pick up all the dirts and germs. it’s a matter of changing the habits or culture of people around you. also one thing i notice about other people’s habit is that they will not rinse their plates after soaking them inside dish cleaner soap. they just dry them up and use the plate aftter that. just wonder if you put soup in the bowl then you will dissolve all that dried cleaner and eat them. simply gross.

  28. Joyce Paden says:

    I’m a healthcare worker and in working in a lab all day where blood, urine, sputum, and feces had the potential to spill on the floors and counters, I made the habit to remove my shoes due to the risk of taking pathogens like Hep A or B, HIV etc. home to my family. Like it or not, hospitals and clinics do get blood and or body fluids on their floors especially in and around the ER. I think any parent who tries to be the best parent they can be should receive kudos for attempting to keep their children healthy and safe. It is your responsibility actually. The problem here actually lies with arrogant, ignorant folk who send their snotty nosed, vomiting, abdominal cramping , viral infected kids to the daycare and give it to other children and cause responsible parents who make the effort to have good hygiene to have to take off work to care for our own otherwise healthy kids. It is one thing to be obsessed but I totally recommend being hygienic. Preventative health is the key to lifelong good health. My three (now in their twenties) children have never been hospitalized nor had to take so much as a single antibiotic because they were taught good hygiene and they continue that practice with my grandchildren. So, I guess we’re not so stupid, eh? Proof’s in the pudding so to speak! No need to send me comments because I will never sway from proven results! Have a great day all :-)

  29. Wow.. I didn’t realize just how many people wear there shoes in their house, I was raised to take them off at the door. Yes the germs on shoes, I don’t want tracked in my house but I also don’t want dirt marks, oil , sand, little rocks, salt etc. tracked onto my carpets, I have better things to do then steam clean my carpets all the time.

  30. Aaron Thompson says:

    Good information….however, shoes should bw left outside the door. Also….Dads are just as concerned as Moms. Kind of sexist only to mention mothers and not fathers. This father cares about cleanliness just as much as my wife, if not more so.

  31. For cleanliness sake this makes sense, but for sanitary reasons, I’m not convinced. I grew up wearing my shoes in the house, and my whole family does it now. Guess what? We don’t get sick anymore than everyone who has a no shoe rule. We did no shoes for a while, but my 4 young kids are in and out all day long and putting their shoes on takes forever. They would end up running outside barefoot or in flip flops which is just as bad, if not worse because you’re risking serious injury to your feet. Plus, some people (such as myself) need to wear shoes every waking minute because of foot problems. I do miss my cleaner floor days, but I love that it’s easier for my kids to play outside.

  32. خالد مصطفى قناة / فانكوفر ـ كنــدا says:

    Islamic & Oriental People are Known Culture by removing their shoo at the front door, and walk inside with a their Socks, In the western countries, some people feels being insulted or being bothered , if they were asked to remove their shoo at the front door. It’s a matter of cultural difference. Thanks for the Info.

    • Jabou Janha says:

      Most of the world’s cultures (especially African, Asian and Middle Eastern) practice shoe removal at entrances to the house, so there must be something to it.. I am a veterinarian and I can tell you one of the ways disease is spread on farms is through footwear. Many farms in the US now practice what we call biosecurity to decrease the risks of disease introduction and spread. One of the biosecurity practices is either a change of footwear or covering footwear with disposable boots before entry into animal pens, coops etc. It works especially for catastrophic zoonotic diseases such as avian influenza. I agree that some people can be germaphobes but shoes can spread disease, at least on farms they can.

  33. I live in New York and I choose to take off my shoes because it’s just more comfortable for me to walk around in socks and it’s a release after a long day at work. I just wish more people felt the same.

  34. Mike Ingber says:

    I think the title of this article is misleading. Shoes carry bacteria, they don’t necessarily “transmit” disease. Bacteria are everywhere– on floors, countertops, door handles, even on our own skin. This study doesn’t really prove anything we didn’t already know

  35. As a biology major at a large school, who works with things like this everyday in class and research: you ‘germ freaks’ are doing no justice to either you or your children. No one is dying from shoes in the house. Does this Professor (master in his field) ever quote to take your shoes off? They never said it was detrimental to your health to have shoes on. I believe if you were to ask any biologist s/he would say it is a ludacrious idea to think this sort of behavior would have a negative effect on one’s health. I have multiple professors of biology I personally know who would laugh at this article, and persue the germs on their shoes that much more. GERM are GOOD for you! Hygiene and germaphobia are two completely different things.

    • Some germs are good for you, not all. Polio for instance, a virus easily spread through the fecal/oral route, isn’t something I would encourage others to seek out. I’m sure we can come up with a whole list of bacteria, viruses, and diseases we would rather not be exposed to.

      Also people letting children eat directly off of restaurant tables with the argument that the germs present are healthy….. I’m more concerned with the chemicals that were used on the washcloth to clean the table before we were seated. I was a waitress, the solution we used to dip our rags in said to use gloves when handling…. not to mention the bucket of water/solution we used wasn’t changed until the end of the night… it was near black in color. No thank you! I’ll let my children get their dose of bacteria through fermented foods and eating dirt in the backyard. :)

  36. Oh my god, oh my god! 90% of shoes have bacteria! 27% are deadly! No wonder 27% of American children have been dying every year of E. Coli infections. I’m so glad we found the source so that now we can all live long healthy lives.

  37. We have no rules about shoes. They are all over the house. The kids drop a piece of candy on the floor then eat it – gasp. We are rarely sick. We usually get 1 or 2 of the colds going around per year. No allergies, no ear infections, no hospitalizations. Their immune systems just rock because I keep them working.

  38. Just a quick edit if you read your comments — E. coli is NOT a virus, it is a bacterium (both viruses and bacteria can be pathogens, agents of disease)

  39. Great idea, also you can get some cheap slippers / house shoes at Walgreens, CVS, WalMart, Target etc for around $4 or just keep a clean pair or two of socks by the door and a bench to remove/store the shoe bacteria magnets!.

  40. Fact Sheet: E. Coli
    Acute and Communicable Disease Staff
    What is Escherichia coli O157:H7?
    How common are E. coli O157:H7 infections?
    What are the symptoms of E. coli O157:H7 infection?
    What are the complications of E. coli O157:H7?
    How is an E. coli O157:H7 infection diagnosed?
    How is the illness treated?
    How is E. coli O157:H7 spread?
    Are infected persons contagious?
    What can I do to prevent E. coli O157:H7 infection?
    What is Escherichia coli O157:H7?
    Escherichia coli ( E. coli) O157:H7 is a cause of diarrhea (frequent and watery bowel movements). E. coli O157:H7 is one of many of kinds of the bacterium Escherichia coli. Although most types of E. coli are harmless and live in the intestines (guts) of healthy humans and animals, the O157:H7 type produces a powerful toxin that can cause severe illness.

    E. coli O157:H7 was first recognized as a cause of illness in 1982, during an outbreak of bloody diarrhea; that outbreak was traced to undercooked hamburgers.

    How common are E. coli 157:H7 infections?
    No one knows with any certainty. By one estimate,10,000 to 20,000 infections occur in the United States each year.

    What are the symptoms of E. coli O157:H7 infection?
    Infections can be very mild (even asymptomatic) or very severe, even fatal. E. coli O157:H7 typically causes diarrhea, often bloody, and often with vomiting or severe stomach cramps. Fever is usually very mild or nonexistent. Illness typically lasts two to ten days.

    What are the complications of E. Coli O157:H7 infection?
    In some persons, mostly young children, the infection can also cause hemolytic uremic syndrome, a kind of kidney failure. About 2% to 7% of reported infections lead to this problem. In the United States, hemolytic uremic syndrome is the principle cause of acute kidney failure in children, and most cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome are caused by E. coli O157:H7.

    How is an E. coli O157:H7 infection diagnosed?
    E. coli O157:H7 infection is diagnosed by stool culture (testing the bowel movement).

    How is the illness treated?
    Unfortunately, there is no one treatment that has been found to be effective against E. coli O157:H7, and it is possible that some antibiotics may increase the risk of problems. Anti-diarrheal agents, such as loperamide (Imodium®), should also be avoided. Some patients become dehydrated and may need IV fluids.

    Hemolytic uremic syndrome is a life-threatening condition usually treated in an intensive care unit. Blood transfusions and kidney dialysis are often required. Even with intensive care, the death rate for hemolytic uremic syndrome is 3% to 5%. Some survivors may have permanent kidney and other problems.

    How is E. coli O157:H7 spread?
    E. coli O157:H7 is spread by eating undercooked meat (usually hamburger), drinking unpasteurized (raw) milk or juice, by swallowing polluted water (drinking water, pool water, rivers, lakes), or by eating hard-to-clean raw vegetables (like sprouts or lettuce) contaminated with the bacteria. It can also be spread from an infected person to another when hand washing is let.

    The bacteria are common in herds of healthy cattle and have been found in deer, sheep, goats, and other animals. Meat or milk infected with animal waste can lead to disease, unless the bacteria are killed by cooking. Meat can become contaminated while being butchered. The bacteria may also be passed from the animal’s waste to a nearby water source.

    Are infected persons contagious?
    Bacteria in bowel movements of infected persons can be passed from one person to another if hand washing is poor. This is most common among toddlers who are not potty-trained. After a person gets over the illness, they can continue to shed (get rid of) the bacteria through their bowel movements for several more weeks or even months. Some people who shed this bacteria may not have had any symptoms of illness, so hand washing is always important even when someone is not sick.

    What can I do to prevent E. coli O157:H7 infection?
    People can prevent many E. coli O157:H7 infections by thoroughly cooking meat, avoiding unpasteurized (raw) milk, and washing their hands carefully. Because the bacteria live in the guts of healthy cattle, deer and other animals, preventive measures on cattle farms and during meat processing are also being looked into.
    Common ways to avoid getting E. coli O157:H7 infections are as follows:

    Cook all meat thoroughly. Because ground beef can turn brown before disease-causing bacteria are killed, use a digital instant-read meat thermometer to ensure thorough cooking. Ground beef should be cooked until a thermometer reads at least 160°F. Be sure to insert the thermometer into several different parts of the patty, including the thickest part. To reduce the risk of illness without using a thermometer, do not eat ground beef patties that are still pink in the middle. If you get an undercooked hamburger or other ground beef product in a restaurant, send it back for further cooking. Make sure you get a new bun and a clean plate, too.
    Treat game meat (for example, venison) with the same care used for store-bought meat.
    Keep harmful bacteria out of your kitchen. Keep raw meat separate from ready-to-eat foods. Wash hands, counters, and utensils with hot soapy water after they touch raw meat. Never place cooked meat on the unwashed plate that held raw meat. Wash meat thermometers between testing of patties. Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly, especially those that will not be cooked.
    Drink only pasteurized milk, juice, and cider. Commercial juice with an extended shelf life sold at room temperature (juice in cardboard boxes, vacuum-sealed juice in glass containers, for example) has been pasteurized, although this is generally not shown on the label. Concentrated juices are also heated enough to kill bacteria.
    Don’t eat sprouts. Alfalfa, clover, and other kinds of uncooked sprouts are well-recognized potential sources for this and similar bacteria.
    Don’t drink water from rivers or streams, unless it has been treated.
    Avoid swallowing lake or pool water while swimming. Don’t let small children go into public swimming areas.
    To reduce the risk of spreading infection, wash your hands carefully with soap and water after:

    changing diapers,
    handling meat.

    If you have bloody diarrhea it is a good idea to contact your doctor or health clinic for information on where you can get tested. If you can’t afford a doctor and/or are not currently on a health plan or insurance, call 1-800-SAFENET (723-3638) for information on low-cost clinics near you.

    Issued by: The Oregon Health Services
    Date: Published 11/98; Revised 12/99, 3/01. Return to top

  41. Please the world is full of germs. This is what we have an immune system for. people. Stop freaking out. You all have MRSA in your nose. Just live your life. Let your kids play in dirt. You know that people with the cleanest homes have the most allergies? Enough of this nonsense your bodies are made to take care of you.

  42. I don’t buy it. Yes, I don’t doubt that such things get on shoes. But, there have been study after study that say that we’re damaging our children by keeping the “germ free.” In our attempts to control all germs, we’re encouraging the development of allergies and asthma.

    Moreover, feet have a lot of bacteria too. They sweat inside shoes. People have athletes foot and toe fungus. And, our feet exude oils which get all over the carpet and then attract and hold germs and dirt.

    I think it is rude (and I mean that) to expect guests to take off their shoes in one’s house. That is what a floor is for. We’ve always worn shoes in the house, and I’ve reared up three healthy kids. They survived the dirt and the germs. They were also allowed to play outside…with the dirt and the germs.

  43. Turkish Muslims always leave their shoes outside the door to keep the house very clean. We are taught this ettiquette by the time we are two years old.

  44. Oh my gosh! Germs on the bottom of our shoes! Even from public restrooms? This research is astounding. Who would have thought?? It’s hard to imagine that as humans we still exist after thousands of years of walking around our homes in shoes. I personally think that we should all wear disposable shoes – that would solve the problem. Now excuse me while I go buckle up my 12 year old in her booster car seat.

  45. Linda Spinato Gildersleeve says:

    I’ve been wearing shoes all of my life … I was told that it’s better to wear shoes than to walk barefooted or with thin unsupportive shoes etc. Some people can’t go barefooted. I for one would feel very uncomfortable if someone asked me to take my shoes off before entering their house. If that were the case I would have to leave with all due respect to the homeowner.

    • You are right. I wear orthotics and cannot simply remove my shoes. The pain and further damage (especially) on hard floors isn’t worth it. I would love to leave my dirty shoes at the door. I wish people wouldn’t embarrass me.

  46. Germs. No Germs. Healthy. Unhealthy. The argument was won when I discovered taking shoes off at the door means that I don’t have to have my carpets cleaned every three weeks anymore. Anything that helps me keep the carpets clean is fine by me! Now if I could only get the cat to stop shedding, I’ll be all set.

  47. If I take my shoes off at your house and the bottom of my socks are black by the end of the visit , I won’t be be happy.

  48. 1) If I enter your house in bare feet, can you guarantee you, your family, and your guest do not have something nasty that could be shared?
    2) Are your wood, laminate, or tile heated?
    3) Are you sure my white socks won’t turn black by the end of my visit?
    4) I have a condition where I have difficulty walking without support, the only time I don’t wear shoes is in the tub and in bed. Will you provide slippers with arch and ankle support? Or may I bring my own slippers? Oh wait they would have “outside” dirt too?

    I’d rather not visit, thanks anyway.

    • Georgie Girl says:

      Well said, R. I agree with you. I used to be a home carer for disabled and elderly people and we were instructed never to take our shoes off in our clients’ homes. We might have worked in three or four houses a day, where there could be nails, pins, tacks, or other sharp objects embedded in the carpet, so it was too risky to clean the house in bare feet or just socks.

  49. Kathy Quick says:

    This is an important topic. However, it is a disservice to imply that only “moms” are responsible for – or worse, that only moms care about – children’s well being. You said, “Even more disturbing to moms of little ones.” Yes, it is true that the “default parent” is often a woman, but it is not always so, it’s not great that it is, and a lot of families are working hard – and successfully- to change this. Writing like this only perpetuates this problem. I call on you to ask yourself, every time you say “mom,” what work you are doing by using that instead of “parent,” and question whether it is reflective of the real phenomenon you are describing AND whether it is is helping to create the world you want to be part of. And, by the way, yes, I am a mother and a parent.

  50. What if you have stink foot?

  51. Anita Stilley says:

    Please send a copy of this article to my email address. I need to convince my husband who is not on Facebook. Thank you.

  52. ELIZABETH sTARRS says:

    For the record, it is rude to ask a guest to remove their shoes or any article of clothing. If they offer, good for you.
    You can clean your floors if you are so worried!
    No, i don’t want your slippers either– this offer does not take away from the awkwardness nor rudeness.

    • You’re an inconsiderate idiot. If you go to someones house, you generally abide by their rules.
      Taking off shoes in houses is often done in asia as a sign of respect too. You obv don’t respect the person enough to do it.

    • Elizabeth, You probably think it’s okay to light up in another person’s “smoke free” home as well? Because I know people who are highly offended when asked to smoke outside.

      Waga, I have to agree… the lack of respect in America nowadays is appalling.

  53. Use those shoe covers that the doctors and nurses useay the hospital! No one will feel uncomfortable removing their shoes!

  54. I used to wearing shoes at home now wht i do,i bought house slippers,well i can recommend zuzu newyork
    In etsy ,even my feet warm even much feel clean and confi ,

  55. balmedout says:

    I can count on one hand the number of homes where removing shoes is not expected here in Ontario Canada. It can be a nuisance but you do it out of respect for other peoples homes and customs.

  56. What if you have a dog? Or can I correctly assume that everyone commenting on this article doesn’t have any germy pets? Just curious….

  57. Calliope says:

    I walk my dogs 3 to 4 times a day. I can take my shoes off, but it would be quite difficult to clean the paws of my pups after every walk. The germs I help stay out by taking out my shoes are brought right back in by my pups.


  1. […] 6. Leave your shoes at the door. This cuts down on dust-bound pollutants in the home [and germs]. […]

  2. […] (and/or adult) guests to bring all of their mismatched socks over for an annual sock hop. Have a basket by the front door where guests can throw their singles in. After everyone arrives, blindfold your guests and have […]

  3. […] Now if we have a party and lots of people are over, we do not enforce the rule. So I am not that crazy, yet! But after everyone leaves, no matter what time, I have to get them clean. I will vacuum and use my Haan steam floor cleaner! Love it!! I can not sleep knowing what my floors look like. And it is easier to do while the kids are sleeping. Shoe germ info: Common contaminant on the bottom of your shoes- E. Coli. Yup you are bringing in fecal matter from nature’s friends and from the bathroom in your kids school, from the restaurant or really any public bathroom. 90-99% of this bacteria is tracked through your home, onto your floors. This is where the kids play and get it on their hands, knees, socks, feet and all over the crib/bed at nap time. And you know those kids are in your bed doing something or other and leaving you some fecal matter too! Lovely! You can read some more here- ecochildsplay. […]

  4. […] Now that I have a baby, I am even more careful about not wearing shoes in the house than my mom!  I was just having a discussion online about how gross it is to bring all of the germs and nasties from outside into your house on your shoes, when I found this article: Shoes Transmit Disease, Leave Them By the Door. […]

  5. […] Read more about the study from a parent’s perspective here. […]

  6. […] that same University of Arizona study, 96% of the sampled shoes tested positive for coliform and E. coli bacteria, which can only mean […]

  7. […] toxins at the door, reducing our families’ exposure to toxins like lead, pesticides and even microorganisms like E. Coli that may be tracked in – […]

  8. […] Do you wear shoes in your home? An article from Eco’s Child’s Play explains how shoes transmit diseases, maybe you should give it a read? You can find it here. […]

  9. […] toxins at the door, reducing our families’ exposure to toxins like lead, pesticides and even microorganisms like E. Coli that may be tracked in – […]

  10. […] toxins at the door, reducing our families’ exposure to toxins like lead, pesticides and even microorganisms like E. Coli that may be tracked in – eeewww! Remove those […]

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