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7 Reasons To Think Japanese And Remove Your Shoes At The Door (#1 – OMG!)
Many Americans find the Japanese custom of removing their shoes before they enter the house charming – as long as they don’t have to do it!
There are many reasons why people don’t want to take off their shoes at the door. They might be afraid of someone seeing those holey socks, knee-high stockings with runs in the toes, or less-than-perfectly-manicured toenails. Perhaps removing your shoes at the front door just seems entirely too personal.
We aren’t knocking shoes here. Shoes are really wonderful. There must be some appeal to footwear, since humans have been wearing some type of shoe for more than 40,000 years! Shoes serve a really valuable purpose because, the truth is, we don’t live on a carpeted planet. Shoes keep our feet warm, they protect our toes, and let’s face it, shoes are also downright cute.
Whatever the reason, you should squelch your inhibitions and begin this practice as soon as possible. The University of Houston conducted a study which found that 40 percent of shoes were carrying ugly bacteria, such as clostridium difficile, which is a spore that does not go away easily.
There are plenty of other reasons to take up this healthy practice. Keep reading and find out why you should be thinking more like the Japanese and ditching your shoes at the door.
1. Unbelievable Amounts of Bacteria
Let’s just go right for the YUCK. Your shoes pick up all kinds of bacteria when you are outside, which you then quickly spread inside your home. The University of Arizona spent some time collecting the microbes and germs from a variety of shoes. Scientists found more than 421,000 types of bacteria on the bottom of shoes, including pneumonia, E. coli, meningitis, and diarrheal diseases, as well as Serratia ficaria, which causes infections in wounds and the respiratory tract. If you think that germs just aren’t that big a deal as long as you don’t touch them, consider that your shoes are also picking up (and then dropping off inside your home) bird poop, dog poop, urine from various species (including humans), and saliva from who only knows. These reasons alone should concern you enough to leave your shoes at the door but, if you need even more convincing, keep reading.
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2. Toxic Chemicals
No, we are not through with the yucky stuff. Environmental Science and Technology published a study done by the EPA which found that those insecticides and herbicides you try so hard to avoid on your food end up being brought into your house on the soles of your shoes. In fact, scientists found that one herbicide in particular, called 2.4-D, could live on the bottom of your shoes for as long as 7 days. Exposure to this herbicide causes relatively minor problems, such as stomach upset and skin rashes, but these are the side effects of only one type of herbicide. Imagine walking across someone’s lawn or your local park and discovering later that they used RoundUp on that grass? By the way, this study also found that 98 percent of the lead dust that was found in homes was tracked inside by the occupant’s shoes.
3. Plain Old Dirt
In addition to the nasty bacteria and ugly toxins your shoes are bringing inside the house, you are also bringing in a whole bunch of plain old dirt. When we say “dirt” we are also taking about grass clippings, squished bugs, dust, chewing gum, twigs, leaves, and just about anything else you can imagine walking on. This means more cleaning for you, which means more cleaning products used, which means more of your valuable time spent cleaning stuff in your house that could be completely avoided by simply leaving your shoes at the door.
4. Wear and Tear
Let’s not forget that the more dirt and grit you bring inside your home, the more wear and tear and dirt and junk you leave on your hardwood floors and carpets. This means your shoes are grinding in the dirt and junk on them, grinding the finish off your tile or hardwood floors, even scratching them considerably. You also are literally cutting the fibers of your carpets and rugs every time you walk across them by grinding the dirt into the fibers, slowly cutting them. So, kicking your shoes off when you reach the door means you will save money by not having to replace your floors so quickly, and it saves landfill space by not filling it up with damaged flooring.
5. Carpets are Magnets
If your home is carpeted, or mostly carpeted, you should really take note that when you wear your shoes on your carpet you are literally dumping toxins and germs deep inside the fibers. When was the last time you had your carpets cleaned? Vacuuming will remove much of the dirt, but it really won’t do anything about the bacteria and toxins mentioned above that will live there for weeks. If you have small children or pets, you are exposing them to these toxins. Children, especially, are at risk, because their immune systems and central nervous systems are still developing, which means that chemicals, toxins, and bacteria can affect them. Every time your children play on the floor, they are potentially being exposed to any one of a number of pathogens.
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6. Think Health and Comfort
No matter how comfortable your shoes might be to you, your feet will be happier when you change your shoes for slippers, socks, or just plain old bare feet for a few hours each night. If you have a foot problem where you need the support of shoes, there are places that sell house slippers that have the necessary support. Your feet will be able to get some fresh air, your toes will be free to wiggle about, and removing your shoes will become a signal to your body to relax. Studies have shown that children who go barefoot on a regular basis not only have fewer cases of flat feet, but they have stronger feet and a much lower chance of developing deformities of the feet. Going barefoot or wearing slippers is a great chance for your feet to get some much needed exercise.
7. If You Live in an Apartment Complex
For those of you who live in a multi-story apartment or condominium complex, the neighbors below you will be so grateful to not hear that constant clop clop clop or tic tic tic of your shoes on the ceiling above them. Imagine how nice it would be if the neighbors who live above you were to be more like the Japanese and give everyone a break from the noise pollution of shoes.
It really is easier than you might think, even if you don’t much care for going barefoot. House slippers will make it feel as if you still have on shoes. Be sure that you save those for indoor wear only! You can also wear slipper socks, moccasins, or plain old socks if you suffer from cold feet. Put a shoe rack or a pair of baskets by the entryway. One is to be used for outdoor shoes, the other only for inside shoes or house slippers.
Let’s not forget about guests. Although you might feel comfortable kicking off your shoes, you might feel very uncomfortable asking your guests to do so. This is easily solved by keeping some inexpensive house slippers for the occasional guest. For regular friends or other regular visitors, such as your mother-in-law or your best friend, ask them to bring a regular pair of slippers that they can leave at your home, or consider buying them a pair as a gift and have their name embroidered on them so they aren’t worn by others.