Somewhere in the world there is someone using the bathroom and will leave without washing their hands. They will do their “business,” perform what ever cleaning they do (or don’t do) and walk right out of the bathroom into the big-wide-world touching stuff that you will eventually touch. Likewise, they will likely step in place with their shoes that you will come along and step in too…and then you’ll walk those shoes in the house.
Why do they say, “Wash your hands?” Let’s be honest; it’s not for the one-with-dirty-hand’s health, right? It’s for everyone else’s health. Think about it for a bit. Who has the cleanest “stuff” in the world: you do. As a nurse, I have a saying, “I wash my hands AFTER I go to the bathroom for YOU; I wash my hands BEFORE I go to the bathroom for ME!” We know that the person who walks out with their Pee-Pee or Poo-Poo hands will use the Redbox, grab the buggy handle or fondle the pile of avocados for the one with the perfect ripeness. Inevitably, we will follow behind with our freshly washed hands and grab one of those pre-fondled avocado and take it home. We’ll wash that avocado off with a bit of water. And, with a knife, we’ll cut through the textured skin that harbored all the potty-cooties from that unwashed hand that pre-fondled your particular avocado. That knife will cut into that textured skin and smear what ever bacteria that use to be in the “nether regions” of that stranger in the bathroom right into the green flesh of your avocado. Basically, some of the bacteria that use to reside on a stranger’s anatomy that usually is covered by a pair of Fruit of the Looms is now on the green, soft flesh of our avocado. Guess where that bacteria will go next?
Will we get sick? Ahhh, maybe not. Our bodies are pretty tough creations. Most of us have an immune system that is second-to-none. But, given a bit of stress by weather, work issues or a kid showing up with a bad report card, our immune system may just let us down.
So, we wash our hands and we wash our food. What else do we do to keep from getting sick? What I am going to mention now should seem like a no-brainer but, to many Americans, is almost unheard of? Let’s go back to the public bathroom and to the avocado-fondler who didn’t wash his hands. Let’s go back to the urinal in which he stood in front. Now, look down…no, not there (gross)…farther down to the floor (GROSS-ER!). What’s all over the floor in front of the urinal? You know what I am talking about…drippage. Some still wet and some has long since been dried (which leaves a sticky concentrate of the very stuff we DO NOT want to step in). When you walk up to the urinal (or sit down on the potty for you with different “parts”), what are you stepping in? What did you step in when you got out of the car and walked from the parking lot to the public bathroom? Here’s 21 reasons why not to wear your shoes in the house:
- Poop (bird poop is still poop and so is the poop that a guy stepped in somewhere else and is now trekking all over the parking lot and into the business).
- Urine (don’t think for one second someone somewhere has not peed in a parking lot…or maybe a dog just happened by the buggy carriage you just pushed your shopping cart back into).
- Spit (Usually the phlegmy, thick and sticky kind too).
- Diaper residue from a dirty kid that was changed before (or after) entering the building.
- Leftover drinks that were poured out (that some stranger’s mouth was drinking from).
- Dead (or live) bugs.
- Toxins leaching from the black top.
- Particles of food partially eaten and dumped out.
- Butts of cigarettes (that someone’s mouth has been on).
- Melted (or not) candy or other treats (usually spat out of someone’s mouth).
- Blood from nose bleeds, oral issues that are bleeding and then spat out, old band-aids and the like.
- Fertilizers (those business parking lot trees don’t get that pretty from the nutrients that the asphalt provides).
- Oil from cars.
- Antifreeze from cars.
- Paint from the parking lot markings.
- And 1000’s of other particles from 1000’s of other shoes and whatever they were tracked through from 1000’s of different places.
Even if you “watch where you step” the residue from any of these “stepables” are painted all over any parking lot of any public building or marketplace. The bottom of your shoes are simply a sponge with deep fissures of texture that gather up 1000’s of pathogens from the time you leave your home to the time you return to your home. Truth be known: The guy that didn’t wash his hands after using the bathroom is the least of your concerns if you wear your shoes in your house.
A University of Houston research project found that 40 percent of doorsteps samples were contaminated with Clostridium Difficile Bacteria. Where did that come from? Clostridium Difficile Bacteria, or C. Diff, is found in poop plain and simple. If you ever contract a C. Diff infection, that means that somehow, somewhere, you got some Poo-Poo in your mouth.
It is said that public restrooms have about 2 million bacteria per square inch. In contrast, the average toilet seat has only 50 bacteria per square inch. Why is the toilet seat so much cleaner than the floor? It’s all about perception (the very reason most people wear their shoes in their houses). We “perceive” that the surface sat upon by a stranger’s derrière is dirtier than the floor. Attendants will apply cleaner to the toilets in a higher concentration than the weak solution the floors are mopped with. Bacteria and viruses NEED moisture to survive. When the mop is wettened and the floor is bathed, the bacteria have just what they need to thrive. Truth be known, the mop is MUCH dirtier than the floor and the floor actually becomes dirtier than it was before it was mopped.
A University of Arizona study found that there was an average of over 400,000 different bacteria on shoes. Coliforms were detected on the bottoms of 96% of shoes. Do you know where coliforms are found? Coliforms are universally present in large numbers in the feces of warm-blooded animals. Yes, coliforms are found in doo-doo. If coliforms are on your shoes, then you’ve got doo-doo on your shoe….pure and simple. You may not see it…but it’s there.
The same study found that E. coli was detected on 27% of the shoes, along with seven other kinds of bacteria, including Klebsiella pneumoniae (urine) and Serratia ficaria (sputum).
Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist and professor at the University of Arizona said, “The common occurrence (96%) of coliform and E. coli bacteria on the outside of the shoes indicates frequent contact with fecal material, which most likely originates from floors in public restrooms or contact with animal fecal material outdoors. Our study also indicated that bacteria can be tracked by shoes over a long distance into your home or personal space after the shoes were contaminated with bacteria.”
A study done by the Battelle Memorial institute found that toxins from treating your lawn can easily be tracked into the house.
A study from Baylor University found that people who live near asphalt roads sealed with coal tar have an increased risk of cancer from toxins, and these toxins can be tracked in by your shoes.
The guy that did is “business” in the bathroom and did not wash his hands is a concern but only a mild concern when compared to what could potentially be tracked through a clean home by not taking shoes off. After all, I can wash my hands and food well to ensure my hands and food are clean for me. But how do I clean my house from what my shoes have sampled from the entire world? I enjoy my shoes, they keep my feet safe from the cooties of the world. But if I wear my shoes in the house and then take them off and proceed to walk about my home barefoot, what was the point? The same cooties my shoes protected me from are being spread all about my clean home if I wear those shoes in my home.
Wash your hands…and take off your shoes when you get home! Relax for crying out loud! And, if you forgot something on the counter across the living room from your front door and even if you are late for work, spend the 2 minutes to take off your shoes or leave what you forgot on the counter. Either the germs on your floor or the item you forgot will be waiting for you when you get home; you decide.
Don’t wear shoes in the house.
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