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Do you ever think about how dirty the bottoms of your shoes are? It probably wouldn't surprise you to learn that they're pretty filthy. But how many of you actually take your shoes off before walking around the house?
In a study conducted by the Department of Soil, Water and Environment at the University of Arizona, 27 percent of the shoes researchers cultured were infected with E. coli bacteria, a dangerous disease that affects the digestive tract and, in the worst cases, can be deadly.
If you wear your shoes into your house, you could potentially be tracking E. coli and a host of other germs in along with you.
Here are some more reasons why it's best to leave your shoes at the door.
The soles of your shoes are dirtier than a public toilet
That same University of Arizona study reported that "the average number of bacteria found was 421,000 CFU/cm sq on the outside of the shoe." In an interview with Good Morning America, Johnathan Sexton, a research assistant at the University of Arizona, said, "Toilet seats generally have 1,000 bacteria or less . . . there's a lot more bacteria here (on these shoes)."
Of course, public restrooms are cleaned periodically. When was the last time you cleaned the bottom of your shoes?
More than 90 percent of those germs can transfer from your shoe to the carpet
Sure, you might wipe your shoes when you come in at the door, but that's not going to make much of a dent in the hundreds of thousands of bacterial organisms plastered on your soles. Once you step onto the carpet, the bacteria stick to whatever fibers are present at an impressive transfer rate of 90 to 99 percent, according to the University of Arizona study.
Children run a higher risk of germ exposure
Once those germs are in your carpet, children are at a high risk of exposure because of their proximity to the ground and their tendency to put their hands and whatever else they find lying around in their mouths. Sexton estimated children under two put their hands in their mouths about 80 times per hour. That's bad news if you've recently worn your shoes inside where your children like to play.
Dirt wears carpet out more quickly
There are other issues to consider with wearing shoes on carpet. Carpets that are kept clean last the longest, so if you're frequently tracking in mud, rain or other contaminants, plan on replacing your carpet more often.
Everydayhealth.com pointed out, "Dust, dirt, dander, bacteria, mold and mildew (especially if the carpeting has water damage or is frequently damp) can settle in and get buried down deep, making it difficult to get them out." The presence of these contaminants in your household can also have negative long-term effects on everyone's health.
Some dirt doesn't vacuum
Even the most fastidious house cleaner can't get all the dirt out once it's been tracked in on the bottoms of shoes. A 1996 study published in the Journal of Environmental Science & Technology found that certain weed killers could still be found in carpet dust up to a year after they'd first been used.
The EPA has also warned that "Lead dust can also be tracked into the home from soil outside that is contaminated by deteriorated exterior lead-based paint and other lead sources, such as industrial pollution and past use of leaded gasoline."
The last thing you want is to bring these substances into your home, the place where you're supposed to be safe from external hazards.
If you're worried about the state of your carpet, it might be a good idea to start fresh with new carpet and a new determination not to wear shoes in the house.