We're going to guess that pretty much every time you leave the house, you put on a pair of shoes. But when you come back home, do you keep your shoes on or do you go barefoot?
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There's not a ton of data on the topic, but according to a 2018 survey by YouGov, 87% of Americans take off their shoes at home at least some of the time. On the other hand, 31% always do, 26% do most of the time, 18% do sometimes, and 12% rarely do.
While there's nothing necessarily wrong with going barefoot in your own house, you might want to re-think your lack of at-home footwear.
"Walking around barefoot puts you at risk for exposure to general dirt and debris, germs, fungi, viruses, molds, and yeasts. These exposures can put you at risk for infections of the skin, soft tissues, and toenails," Patrick McEneaney, D.P.M., of Northern Illinois Foot and Ankle Specialists, tells Hunker. "These can then be easily spread to family members."
Now, it's true that your own floors are likely cleaner than what you'd find in public spaces, but that's largely dependent on your home routines. For instance, if you don't remove your outdoor shoes right as you enter your house, and you walk around with them on, you're potentially bringing in all sorts of contaminants to your home.
"Everything you've walked on during the day while wearing shoes has now been transferred to your home floors. That includes all the possible biologics you may have gotten on the bottom of your shoes," Irwin Stromeyer, owner of disinfectant company Sterile Space Infection Defense, LLC, tells Hunker. "When you walk around the house barefoot, you get a significant amount of that biological contamination on your feet. When you're sitting on the couch or a bed and scratch the bottom of your feet and then touch your eyes, nose, or mouth, you've now introduced those microbes into your system by cross-contamination infection."
Of course, you can mitigate the spread of such contaminants by requiring that shoes be removed upon entering your home and disinfecting your floors regularly. You might also want to consider donning a pair of house shoes or slippers — ones that are exclusively worn indoors — not only for cleanliness purposes, but also for your physical health.
"Walking barefoot leaves your feet unprotected and susceptible to injury. A shard or pin can cause severe pain or bruising if it comes under your foot," physiotherapist Armin Ghayyur, owner of Easy Allied Health, tells Hunker. And if you have kids or pets, you never know when something potentially painful might end up on the floor — as many parents know, stepping on a Lego is an extremely unpleasant experience.
While walking barefoot at home can be alright if you do deep cleans regularly, we're starting to love the idea of a good pair of house shoes!