Taking your shoes off before entering the house is an established habit in Asian and Middle Eastern culture. In Japan shoes are also taken off upon entering restaurants, gyms, schools and other public places. Although to some of us it may seem like a somewhat strange custom, over the years numerous experts have researched this important practice, highlighting many good reasons why it should be adopted everywhere.
Jonathan Sexton, environmental microbiologist at the University of Arizona pointed out that each shoe on average hosts tens of thousands of bacteria per square inch. Wherever we go, we collect them at every step. Past studies have shown that faecal bacteria, especially E. coli, are found under almost all shoes (96%) and can cause severe diarrhea, urinary tract infections, even meningitis.
Other studies have found another unwanted guest: Staphylococcus aureus: the basis of skin, blood and heart infections.
Charles P. Gerba, a professor and microbiologist at the University of Arizona, studied how many and which kinds of bacteria linger on the bottom of shoes.
Here’s a list of benefits of taking your shoes off before entering the house:
It may seem obvious, but under the soles of the shoes we find bacteria and viruses in impressive quantities.
It is undoubtedly less tiring to clean a floor which is not walked on with shoes.
Use of less aggressive detergents and environmental protection
Avoiding entering the house with shoes can help lower the use of aggressive floor cleaners, thus safeguarding the environment.
Less wear for carpets and wood floors
Walking into a house with shoes on inevitably causes wood floors, rugs, carpets, sofas and stepsto wear faster.
Less noise for your neighbours
Walking around in the house with shoes means more noise for your downstairs neihbour – be kind!
Relaxation for your feet and your mind
Your feet will thank you when you take your shoes off, letting them breathe and relax. It helps with blood circulation the mind reads this as a liberating act; a way to leave worries outside and dedicate yourself to family, leisure and rest.
Here are some countries where takign your shoes off is customary
Northern Europe: it is considered unsanitary to leave shoes inside the house but evening shoes or those worn for short visits are accepted.
Austria and Germany: there’s a custom of carrying slippers that the Germans call “hausschuhe”
Belgium: they have a saying that goes, “Floors are made for walking, not for eating”.
United Kingdom and Ireland: shoes are only removed if it is snowing outside or the floor is not made of wood
Balkan peninsula: the house is entered with slippers
India: shoes are removed before entering religious buildings, to leave negative energies behind.
Pakistan: leaving your shoes behind is an important tradition.
Vietnam: guests leave their shoes on a specific step outside the home
Hawaii: Japanese immigrants have inherited the custom of taking their shoes off before entering the house.