I grew up in a shoes-off household, which meant that as soon as anyone stepped into my home, they had to remove their shoes and leave them at the front door. Throughout my childhood, I noticed that none of my friends removed their shoes while in their homes, but then again, none of whom were Asian. In stark contrast, I noticed that the habit of removing shoes, sandals, and boots was always followed by my mom’s Asian friends, as well as by my relatives (also Asian) in Hawaii. I soon noticed that the floors in my friends’ homes didn’t feel nearly as clean on my bare feet as the ones in my own apartment, since they didn’t practice the same ritual my Japanese-American mother and I did. What I ended up doing in my friends’ homes was either keep my shoes on, or I would keep my socks on if I was wearing any when I visited them. To be honest, I always felt that it was so much cleaner to be in the habit of removing shoes once entering a residence, and this is something I continue to practice to this day. Since I am also the person who usually cleans the floors, rugs and carpets in my house, I have become a stickler for ensuring that no one enters in shoes which have traversed sidewalks, driveways, lawns which are teeming with all kinds of nasty gunk.
These days, I even go so far as to ask service technicians who enter my home to either remove their work boots, or to wear shoe covers, if they intend to conduct work inside the house. Before you accuse me of being extreme in my desire to keep my abode clean, keep in mind that back in July of 2021, a central air service technician tracked so much dirt and oil into my bedroom that it took me two sessions to remove all the stains from my bedroom carpet. Shortly after that, I ordered disposable shoe covers and have them right at the foyer for convenience.
Even with the shoes-off policy in my home, I still notice dust and dirt on my floors, and since I have pets, there is also the issue of shedding hair which accumulates. The last thing I want is to worry about when I clean the floors every week is chemicals, dog feces, and various microbes being introduced to my house via outdoor footwear. A study conducted by the University of Arizona discovered that 96% of soles of shoes were found to harbor fecal matter, which is picked up from the floors of public restrooms, as well as bird droppings and dog feces from asphalt, concrete, grass and soil. When you wear your shoes inside your house, you are spreading all of that bacteria, most notably E. coli, over all of your floors. Not only do you have to worry about germs, you also need to be aware of how many chemicals we track into our homes with our shoes, from gasoline which we pick up while pumping gas at a gas station, to carcinogenic chemicals which are used on lawns, and the list goes on.
Why not improve your indoor environment with a simple step and implement a no-shoes policy when you are inside your house? You’ll be rewarded with a cleaner home and will decrease your exposure to potentially harmful substances.