Many countries and cultures around the world observe the practice of removing their shoes before entering the house. But even though America is a melting pot filled with thousands of traditions, that one isn’t quite universal.
Sure, there are some houses where it’s expected that you remove your shoes before entering. But for every pair of sneakers carefully lined up in the front entry, there’s a mom in a hurry who forgot to ditch her flip flops before heading for the kitchen. Maybe the rule is in place, but it’s not always enforced.
It’s time to take a stand on the “no shoes” rule once and for all. Ahead, discover why wearing shoes in the house is a really bad idea — and how it could even make you sick.
Your shoes carry outside contaminants into your home
It seems obvious, but maybe you’ve never thought about it before. Everything your shoes touch in a day gets dragged into your house when you come home. Yes, even that little bit of dog poop you didn’t notice.
A study at the University of Arizona found that the transfer rate of bacteria from shoes to uncontaminated tiles was anywhere from 90% to 99%.
Next: Wiping your feet isn’t enough.
Wiping your feet only partially solves the problem
Sure, you’re probably thinking that wiping your feet before you come in may solve this problem. But that’s not necessarily the case.
Decontaminating dirty shoes is tricky because the rubber soles are porous and grooved. You can probably kick loose a lot of the surface dirt with a vigorous wipe down. But when it comes to those invisible germs that can make you sick, it’s much less likely that you’ll be able to shake them.
Next: This is the most common bacteria hiding on your shoes.
The most common bacteria have some gross side effects
A study by the University of Houston found there’s a 26.4% chance your shoes are carrying infectious bacteria Clostridium difficile, also known as C. diff.
This is often found in food products and human or dog feces and causes problems, including diarrhea, dehydration, colon inflammation, abdominal cramps, and nausea that can last for days, weeks, or even months.
Next: You could die a from C. diff infection.
Kids and seniors are most susceptible to infection
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found of the nearly half a million Americans who contracted C. diff infections in 2014, 29,000 died within 30 days of exposure. As with most infections, seniors and young children — plus anyone with compromised immune systems — were most likely to die from getting sick.
Next: There are lots of other contaminants, too.
C. diff isn’t the only germ that can make you sick
Some people think the more germs you’re exposed to, the less likely you are to get sick. To some extent that’s correct. But still, you wouldn’t think of leaving a public bathroom without washing your hands, would you?
Wearing shoes in the house is essentially the same as rubbing a public bathroom all over your floors. Besides C. diff, multiple studies found evidence of listeria, E. Coli, and other potentially harmful contaminants just from your shoes.
Next: There’s a simple solution for eliminating the bacteria.
Removing your shoes is easy
It seems like a no-brainer to switch your routine and start implementing a no-shoes rule in your house. Hate the feel of bare feet on your floor? Keep a pair of comfy slippers right by the door. When you come in and remove your outside shoes, slide right into your slippers.
Next: This is a bonus for mandatory shoe removal.
The ‘no shoes’ rule will also keep your floors clean
Reducing germs in your home is only part of the reason to ditch shoes in the house. When family members and visitors remove their shoes, they’ll wind up tracking in less dust and dirt, meaning less vacuuming and mopping after they leave. It’s a win for everyone!
Next: Cleaning tricks from Grandma that you should still use today
Use vinegar to clean windows
Why waste money on stinky blue window cleaner when you can make your own using items you have lying around the house? For a streak-free, chemical-free, and naturally antibacterial shine, combine equal parts hot water with distilled white vinegar in a spray bottle, and get going on those windows and mirrors. For a lovely scent, you can even add a few drops of your favorite essential oil (lemon smells like clean, as Grandma would say).
And skip the paper towels, too. A streak-free shine can be achieved by drying your windows with newspaper or a reusable cloth.
Next: How to fight stains naturally
Combat clothing stains naturally
Stains happen, but you don’t need expensive stain removers to fix the problem. In fact, savvy grandmas know most stains can be removed with some common household products you probably have lying around.
Here are some stain-specific natural remedies:
- Blood, chocolate, or coffee stains: Soak overnight in ¼ cup borax and 2 cups cold water. Wash as usual the next day.
- Grease: Apply a paste made of cornstarch and water, and allow to dry before brushing away the powder and grease.
- Red wine: Sprinkle the stain with salt, and let it sit for several hours. When it’s dry, brush away the salt and wash, or dab immediately with soda water.
- Grass: Soak the stained garment in a 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide, then wash.
- Ink on a white shirt: Wet fabric with cold water, and apply a paste of cream of tartar and lemon juice for one hour before washing.
- Scorch marks: Rub the area with a cut raw onion. After the onion juice has been absorbed, soak the stain in water for a few hours.
Next: Restore pots and pans with bread crust
Restore pots and pans with bread crust
It might sound like magic — and it kind of is. If Grandma’s pan became crusted up with burnt-on bits, she simply added baking soda and warm water and then used the crusts of her bread as a scrubber. This works on all kinds of pots and pans and on utensils, too. For stubborn spots, try soaking pots and pans in baking soda and water overnight to loosen up the stubborn debris.
Next: A surprising way to clean counters with a type of fruit
Clean the counters with grapefruit
Chemical-laced sprays have no place in Grandma’s kitchen. For a sweetly scented and sparkling countertop, simply follow in her footsteps by wiping down the surface with a grapefruit sliced in half. Follow that by sprinkling with salt and rinsing with very hot water. Then, wipe down with a sponge or microfiber cloth.
Next: The simple trick to not getting overwhelmed
Clean a little bit every day
Chances are Grandma had a daily cleaning schedule she stuck to — and you should, too. Even if you don’t have a lot of time to devote to your cleaning tasks, breaking down chores for the week and staying on top of things makes cleaning easier and less time-consuming. After all, who wants to spend their hard-earned days off playing catch-up on housework? Some daily tasks to tackle that will make a big impact: bed-making, dishes, sweeping, and vacuuming.
Next: You don’t need towels if you use these instead.
Use tea towels instead of paper towels
Paper towels are wasteful, and Grandma doesn’t approve of wasting anything. Linen tea towels might seem charmingly retro, but beyond that they’re actually quite useful and have been making a real comeback.
Use them in place of paper towels to wipe down countertops, dishes, glasses, and appliances. When you’re done, throw them right in the washer and dryer. They look really cute, too, and come in tons of different patterns and styles to match any type of kitchen.
Next: Here’s what to do with your dingy lines.
Tea dye your dingy linens
Instead of throwing away stained sheets or towels and starting over, the bygone generation made do with what it had. If you have any stained linens, you can tea-stain them for a uniform look that’s also wonderfully chic.
To do this trick, add four or five black tea bags to a bucket of hot water, and let it steep for at least 10 minutes. Remove the tea bags, and add your soiled sheets, swishing them around to absorb all the water. Let it sit for as long as you like. (The longer they stay in, the darker they’ll get.) Let them dry, and then wash in cold water to set.
Next: Try this product for just about everything.
Try some borax for just about everything
Instead of purchasing a special cleaner for each space in your house, try one multi-purpose cleaner that’s been around basically forever. Borax is endlessly versatile and can be used to clean tile, porcelain, sinks, faucets, and even grease-spattered kitchen cabinets. It also works well as a pre-treatment for stains and can be added to your laundry as a booster.
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