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Are your shoes your Achilles’ heel?

Are your shoes your Achilles’ heel?

Thursday, July 22, 2021


Almost everyone loves getting a new pair of shoes, taking them out of the box and trying them on with your favorite outfit. Then you show them off by wearing them to dinner, shopping, the gym or work. You come home … and please take them off before going inside!  

Do you know how dirty your shoes are? After reading this, you will probably wish you didn’t know. According to a study by Dr. Charles Gerba, microbiologist and professor at the University of Arizona and The Rockport Company, your shoes are covered in bacteria. How much bacteria? About 421,000 units on the outside and almost 3,000 on the inside. Yuck. 

Even worse, some of the bacteria are Escherichia coli, a nasty substance that causes intestinal and urinary tract infections, meningitis and diarrheal. Plus, there are other pain and illness inflicting bacteria on your shoes.  

The study found up to 96% of shoes in the study contain coliforms. What are coliforms? Oh, just bacteria found in human and animal waste.  

Are you ready for more depressing news? Bacteria transfers from shoes to clean tile floors between 90% to 99%. 

Think about your household floors. Your young children crawl on them. We lay on them to play board games with kids. You picked that cookie up and ate it while you comforted yourself with the five-second rule, which by the way, is not legit. Eating the cookie from the floor is eating a cookie contaminated with excrement. Need some mouth wash?   

So, what should you do? Floors, especially hardwood, tiled or linoleum, can be slick in socks.  

“To avoid bringing excess germs into your home, you should never wear your shoes inside. Leave them at the door, preferably on the outside of the door, if possible. Then keep a pair of slippers to wear inside by the door that never, ever go outside,” said Anastasia Gevas, D.O., Genesis Primary Care. 

Be cautious because shoes pick up bacteria on the inside that can be transferred when you change shoes. However, changing shoes will significantly decrease the amount of contamination those beautiful expensive shoes you love have been bringing into your home.  


Genesis HealthCare System’s Health and Wellness content conveniently provides accurate and helpful information. Your health history and current health may impact suggestions provided through our Health and Wellness content. Although we hope this information is helpful, it is not a substitute for your doctor's medical advice. Before making any significant changes, please consult your doctor.