Cultures around the world have many varied customs relating to hygiene. In India, most of Africa and the middle east where hand to mouth eating is common, there are etiquettes relating to how to eat. There are various hand washing customs and generally the right hand is reserved for eating, the left is not used. Some places even use only the right thumb, index and middle fingers. In many Asian countries surgical masks are worn to prevent the spread of disease, and if you are sick and don’t wear a mask it is considered rude. Another practice that is more deeply ingrained in most of the aforementioned cultures than it is in our own is removing shoes before entering a home. In Australia, many homes have a shoes off policy, but many do not. It is viewed simply as a matter of preference. In many cultures (see map below) it is considered rude and unhygienic to wear outdoor shoes indoors. Here in Australia, the majority opt for the convenience of keeping shoes on, especially as guests. Whilst this is a personal choice, there are some great reasons to consider adopting a shoes off policy inside your home.
Reason #1: What You Bring With You
Firstly, the obvious, when you walk inside from outside, everything (“everything” including but not limited to: dirt, harmful bacteria, pesticides, toxic coal tar & fecal matter) on the soles of your shoes is given a chance to transfer onto your floorboards, tiles and carpet. With the latter, this is especially problematic as carpet fibers are extremely porous (they may as well be a sponge) and so impurities can easily get caught, but they are difficult to remove. This leads to your carpets getting dirtier quicker and promotes the growth of other carpet nasties.
Reason #2: Wear & Tear
Secondly, by not wearing shoes inside, you will increase the lifespan of your floors by reducing wear and tear. This will reduce how often you may need to have your carpets professionally cleaned (or even how often you have to vacuum them!) and it will push out the repair or replacement costs on these expensive assets to your home.
Reason #3: Take the Load Off Your Feet
Thirdly, your feet benefit from having a break from shoes. “Shoes are casts that immobilize the feet and change the way we stand, walk and run,” says Dr. Daniel Howell, biology professor and anatomy co-ordinator at Liberty University. “Those changes have slow- acting but decidedly negative effects on the body. Shoes are also a major cause of knee arthritis and hip and back pain.” Much like the effects of dirty carpets themselves, the effects of wearing shoes too much and not allowing your feet a breather are gradual. “It is like lead,” says Jackie Damboragian, a health coach working in NYC at Dr. Frank Lipman’s integrative medicine practice, “you wouldn’t want to have long-term exposure.”
So, if you decide to implement a shoes off policy at your home, how should you go about it? How can you make sure that your family as well as guests aren’t made to feel uncomfortable? Here’s 4 quick tips:
- Ensure that there is a nice space either outside your door or in the entrance to your home where people can store their shoes and, ideally, have the option of sitting.
- If bare feet make you uncomfortable (or if it’s cold – which it is in Ballarat for about 9 months of the year!) then consider having indoor slippers as a front door staple for your family and maybe a few pairs for guests.
- Let people know in advance. For example, if you are having friends over for dinner, send them a text to say “Hey, really looking forward to tonight! Just a heads up, we don’t wear shoes inside, so make sure your socks don’t have holes in them!” So now they know, they can decide what will make them most comfortable. If it’s informal, tell them to BYO slippers!
- Find a sign that you like. There are many that site specific reasons for removing shoes, such as “Since little fingers touch our floor, please remove your shoes at the door” and “Friends and family always welcome – but the dirt on your shoes is not!” These can be great as they do the talking for you and, in the instance where someone might have a problem with removing their shoes, it has softly stated your reason for asking.
Now, whether you prefer to wear shoes inside or not, shoes should definitely not be worn on freshly cleaned carpet before it has had time to dry (you can walk on it, just wear slippers or socks) because whilst the carpet is wet, it will actively absorb any impurities found on shoes as they step on it. If you think that your carpets could do with a freshen up, click here to arrange your free to-the-dollar quote and your home will be feeling healthier in no time.