Are You Bring in Germs When You Wear Shoes In the House?

The internet is full of arguments between people who take off their shoes when entering a house, and those who don't. In some cultures, it's just expected and everyone does it. Those people are appalled that others don't change their footwear at the doorway. Customs vary even within the United States, but at least here, we aren't shocked at the existence of ways we don't follow. Personally, I believe that hospitality trumps cleanliness (I don't have carpets), and you can wear what footwear you want in my house. I will warn my immigrant neighbors that their socks will get dirty.

But what about germs? Some folks will justify a cultural norm by citing the microbes brought into the house on the soles of shoes. You might want to shed your shoes if you came home from a high-risk viral research lab, as Dr. Jack Gilbert, an expert in microbes warns, which he has done. Gilbert says the risk of microbes from the bottom of one's shoes is minimal, even if you track in animal poop. People shed about 30 million bacterial cells every hour, whether they are wearing shoes or not. And that's normal. Microbes are much more likely to be spread by dirty hands, which is why public health agencies are always urging us to wash our hands, but not our shoes or our floors.

Still, you should follow the custom of the home you are entering. It's the polite thing to do. And even in a home where people wear shoes, you might want to check your shoes before tracking in the aforementioned animal poop. -via Digg ā€‹

(Image credit: Benjamin Ragheb

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