University of Arizona study reveals just how germy our shoes are

Published: Jan. 4, 2017 at 5:25 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- Many of our mothers make us take our shoes off before coming in the house, but it may have more to do with our health than with keeping her carpets clean.

Mary Crabb is a mother of two. After a long day at work, she says one of the last things she thinks about is taking her shoes off when she walks through the front door.

"My kids wear their shoes in the house, I wear my shoes in the house, it's whatever," she says.

Crabb is not alone. A new study from the University of Arizona may have many of us re-thinking our house rules. The study shows bacteria lives for days inside and outside our shoes. Researchers say they found more than 421,000 units of bacteria on one shoe. Bacteria that can cause urinary tract infections, meningitis and pneumonia.

"It could be any combination of what we've walked in...whether that's been animal droppings or what's been on bathroom floors or restaurant floors," says Infection Preventionist Teresa Bastin. "Now you're moving what's outside, inside."

Although Crabb says she usually doesn't require people to take off their shoes before coming into her home, she's rethinking that rule.

"Definitely take a look, especially if you have children," she says.

The study tells us washing the shoes with detergent can clean them up to 99%. Bastin says carpets hold more bacteria than hardwood floors so she suggests we use a steam cleaner, and wash our hands right after taking our shoes off to avoid getting sick.