Shoes or No Shoes, Everyone’s Got Problems

Why do the Japanese take their shoes off at the door and wear slippers so often? Because they’re not stupid.

A recent study looked into what kind of microorganisms end up on shoes after two weeks of regular wear. The results? 420,000 units of bacteria, including E. Coli at 27%, as well as Klebsiella pneumonia and Serratia ficaria, both of which can lead to serious infections.

The findings indicate that shoes frequently contact fecal matter, probably in bathrooms and yards, and that shoes not only contact it, but transport it to tile, carpet, and often hands and mouths. Bad, bad news for parents with crawling kids.

But the study also found that some easy precautions really do work: simply removing the shoes when arriving at home, like the Japanese, makes a huge difference.

But what about for people with no shoes?

Numerous non-profits in poor communities report that their number one health fear for their children is worms. All of those horrid diseases on all of our shoes right now they walk through daily. And so the lack of proper shoes can lead to serious illness, malnutrition and even death.

Wiphan (which is a shortened form of “Widows and Orphans”) in Zambia has a yearly drive to provide leather shoes with rubber soles to all of the kids involved with their organization. A pair only costs $14 and will keep a child safe from worms for one year, so that she can walk to class or play with friends in safety, just like the Japanese eat close to the floor without fear.

So take off your shoes for your own health and put them back on for your own health, and be glad you have the opportunity to do both.

Join in!
Do you wear shoes at home? If so, do these findings change your point of view?

Further resources:

Read more about the study from a parent’s perspective here.

Find the perfect pair of slippers for you and your family to wear at home and, if you’re like me, for your dog to carry around, here.

7 Responses to “Shoes or No Shoes, Everyone’s Got Problems”
  1. Claire says:

    I usually take off my shoes and put on slippers, but I still walk from outside into my bedroom to do it. Hmm. Also, I tend to feel lazy if I don’t put on “real” shoes so I often wear my real shoes when I’m home during the day. I think I’ll resist that now, for sure.

  2. Evan says:

    Mmmm, certainly need to stop reading this blog during lunch 🙂 I wear my shoes around my house until I get to the carpet usually. And I’m not sure this is gonna change that much. We have hundreds of thousands of bacteria everywhere, not the least of which being on our hands, which is right near my mouth while I eat, and I stay relatively healthy. My immune system’s job is to pick up all those nasties and take care of business…I don’t want to have to deal with them unless I start getting sick too often. Now if it’s wet and rainy or I stepped in some dog’s old meal than I’ll happily take those kicks off.

    • Joanna says:

      Yes – well,it’s comments like these that explain why the Japanese live longer.

      But to be candid, I haven’t changed my shoe habits at all, even after looking at the study, and after really appreciating the barefoot rule while I was in Japan. So I’m probably the most hopeless case of all. I am like Claire. I have to have shoes on to avoid feeling lazy.

  3. Darrell says:

    Well, I have again waited to comment until I had time to ponder on it. Evan is right. We are covered in bacteria all the time and we more than likely encounter stuff constantly that is worse than dog poop. If I step in dog poop which is fairly likely at my house well then I just wash it off and keep on going. I don’t obsess over it. I might change shoes until I have a chance to wash the poop off though. You could always disinfect your shoes in the microwave unless you are afraid of waves are something. Microwaves will kill the poop out of bacteria. The best disinfectant for shoes is Lysol because it kills everything bad and saves everything good. Just spray them with Lysol and be sure to use a lot. Don’t stop spraying until stuff stops crawling. Anyway I will keep my shoes even if everone else doesn’t. I like them that much. Goodbye for now.

  4. elizabeth says:

    I’m Asian-American and I always grew up with the rule of no shoes in the house. For me, the home is the sanctuary, and leaving shoes at the door is not just about germs, but also about leaving stress and the social confines of the outside world behind. For those who work at home, I see how this presents a problem. We have a dog, as you know 🙂 now, and I still want to keep the no shoes policy in place. I wonder if I can get Storm to wear and take off shoes outside?

  5. tk says:

    What shoes are good for working in wet conditions?
    In the summer I do landscaping cutting grass, and we start early.

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