Think back to the last time you visited a friend’s house. You walk up to the door and press the RING/doorbell or knock on the door. You hear dogs barking and some last minute rustling inside. The hosts open the door with a warm greeting and pleasantries. You begin removing your shoes to enter their home. Your host states, “Oh, don’t worry about taking off your shoes. It’s fine”. Now you’re faced with a split second decision that the wrong choice may go as far as insulting the homeowner. You don’t REALLY want to remove your shoes. Was the host genuine in their suggestion or do they really want you to take off your shoes? What is the magnitude of this test of cultural and ethical dilemma?
So when/where did this quandary begin? In religions originating in the Indian subcontinent and in the Middle East, it is customary to remove one’s shoes when entering a house of worship. In the Bible, God commanded Moses to remove his sandals before approaching Him on Mount Sinai. Many countries like Germany, Switzerland, Scandinavian countries, Turkey, Japan, Korea etc. accepted cultural standards to take off shoes when entering someone’s home. In these countries it is considered a major faux pas to walk through a house with shoes on. While this tradition may have started to help prevent visitors from tracking visible mud or dirt onto floors and rugs, there’s also plenty of scientific research to support the practice in order to keep invisible germs away. An environmental chemist group called, DustSafe, has been studying household filth for several years. DustSafe claims that about one third of the filth in your home comes in on your shoes including harmful bacteria, microorganisms, toxins from asphalt, heavy metals, and chemicals from lawn and garden sprays. A study by the University of Arizona found an average of 421,000 units of bacteria on the outside of a shoe and 2,887 on the inside. Researchers at the University of Houston found that about 40% of shoes were carrying the nasty “C.diff” bacterium, which stands for Clostridium difficile. These spores are not at all easy to treat and found spread around other household areas such as toilets, tops and surfaces, and wherever floor dust was found. These spores can live on dry surfaces for a long time. More recently, in a study published in Emerging Infectious Diseases, researchers found that approximately half of the health care workers in ICUs at a Wuhan, China, hospital had the coronavirus on their shoes. Sorry, not sorry hypochondriacs. As the adage states, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Whether it be cultural, religious, health reasons… or just a sign of respect, remove your shoes. As a REALTOR®, my ‘work shoes’ don’t even have laces. Slip-ons are so much easier to manage during a house tour. If you currently have your home listed or plan to list your house in the future, ask your REALTOR® for an agency-branded PLEASE REMOVE SHOES sign at the entrance of your home. Provide disposable shoe coverings at the door as well. At home, consider wearing slippers, socks or as the season allows, go barefoot.
Until next week, Love where you Live. And if you don’t… contact your local REALTOR®.
Brian Haufe, 2022 MBOR President