In 2016, a study by researchers at the University of Arizona set the germophobic world on fire with a report that said the average shoe sole is covered with 421,000 bacteria and that 90 percent of those bacteria transfer directly to a clean tile floor on first contact. A 2017 study on shoe bacteria by the University of Houston showed that more than 26 percent of shoes examined test positive for C. diff, a bacteria that causes a potentially deadly super diarrhea. That’s more than triple the amount typically found in kitchens and bathrooms.
While these study statistics make it sound like all shoes are harbingers of death, they don’t tell the whole story. Everyone needs to calm down and put their shoes back on, according to Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at the John Hopkins Center for Health Security and an expert on infectious diseases.
“Just taking off your shoes isn’t really going to substantially diminish that microbial load you have in your house—nor would you want it to—because a lot of times, 99 percent of the microorganisms on the planet don’t do any harm,” Adalja says. “I find that the general public is often hung up on this concern of keeping everything as sterile as possible, not realizing that the floors in your house are [already] teeming with microorganisms [such as] bacteria and viruses.”
- Do you always take off your shoes before entering the house and have guests do so as well? Is it for health reasons or just that you don’t like dirt on your carpet? Does it annoy you as a guest if someone has you remove your shoes?