Leave Your Shoes Outside

You probably clean your shoes if you step in something muddy or disgusting. (Please pick up after your dog!) But when you get home, do you always de-shoe at the door?

People spend up to 90% of their time indoors, so the question of whether or not to wear shoes in the house is not a trivial one.The policy focus is typically on the outdoor environment for soil, air quality and environmental public health risks. However, there is growing regulatory interest in the question of indoor air quality.The matter building up inside your home includes not just dust and dirt from people and pets shedding hair and skin.About a third of it is from outside, either blown in or tramped in on those offensive shoe bottoms.Some of the microorganisms present on shoes and floors are drug-resistant pathogens, including hospital-associated infectious agents (germs) that are difficult to treat.Add in cancer-causing toxins from asphalt road residue and endocrine-disrupting lawn chemicals, and you might view the filth on your shoes in a new light.

On balance, home slippers win

So are there disadvantages to having a shoe-free household?

Beyond the occasional stubbed toe, from an environmental health standpoint there aren't many downsides to having a shoe-free house. Leaving your shoes at the entry mat also leaves potentially harmful pathogens there as well.

We all know prevention is far better than treatment, and taking shoes off at the door is a basic and easy prevention activity for many of us. Need shoes for foot support? Easy -- just have some disposable or home slippers that never get worn outside.

There remains the issue of the "sterile house syndrome," which refers to increased rates of allergies among children. Some argue it's related to overly sterile households.
Indeed, some dirt is probably beneficial as studies have indicated it helps develop your immune system and reduce allergy risk.

But there are better and less gross ways to do that than walking around inside with your filthy shoes on. Get outside, go for a hike, enjoy the great outdoors.

Just don't bring the muckier parts of it inside to build up and contaminate our homes.

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