bare feet

Q. My daughter’s husband and two sons are barefoot guys. They walk all around the house and outside in the gardens in their bare feet. When they come in they put their feet on upholstered furniture, sometimes even on pillows where they are going to put their faces.

They also have a cat that has the run of the house. I am concerned about germs. Am I being too picky?

A. We think you are being prudent. We recently interviewed Charles Gerba, PhD, the “guru of germs.” Dr. Gerba is a professor of microbiology at the University of Arizona. He has studied bathrooms, kitchen sinks, computer keyboards and now shoes.

Dr. Gerba has found that shoes are frequently contaminated with bacteria that could cause disease. If shoes can track fecal bacteria into the house, so can bare feet. Your daughter’s guys should rinse their feet when they come inside to avoid spreading germs on couches and pillows. The rest of us may want to follow the Japanese custom of leaving shoes at the door.

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  1. SAM

    Being a germaphobe is one thing, but you should think of the whole picture. Asking everyone to leave their shoes at the door, o.k., I get that, but when the whole family runs in and out, all over the neighborhood in bare feet then back into the house, they are just negating the effort. Beyond the rudeness of requesting everyone remove their shoes (make is optional). In addition to what is brought in on shoes, the shoeless also spread foot fungus, formerly contained by their shoes, nail fungus or other disgusting maladies they probably would rather not share.
    I feel you are removing your shoes at your own risk. You don’t know what illnesses others have that are contaminating your floors. Is this better than doing a little cleaning if it bothers you that much. If your children never come in contact with germs they will not build up immunity to germs. Same as with vaccinations. Just wait until they get into school or out in the real world. Lighten up!

  2. Mitch

    I’ve been a barefooter since I was a kid (40+ years), and I mean barefoot nearly 24/7 everywhere. Been sick maybe 3 times. Shopping cart handles provide a much more active environment for germ distribution than darn near anything else. What touches your face (germ entry points) more…your hands or someone’s feet??

  3. RNS

    I have a question to ask, and i’d like anyone’s honest opinion.
    Someone comes over to my home…
    the person sits, proceeds to slip off their shoe, then folds their leg over, in a manner that allows them to freely massage their foot/feet and in between their toes.
    then they put their hands on the furniture, and god forbid, get into the kitchen, without washing their hands, where they proceed to contaminate everything.
    what should i do? I have actually stuck up a sign, saying to please wash their hands and not do interfere with their feet or place their feet on the furniture. which i think is less embarrassing than actually telling someone to wash their hands etc.
    i welcome all and any opinions please


    The “Nasty” comes from bacteria and viruses which causes illness. More junk on your face, hands and cell phones than a persons feet walking around bare foot. Dirt and mud are not clean, but nothing compared to restrooms and kitchens which can look spotless, but be crawling with harmful microbes. I have lived in Hawaii with a care free attitude about shoes. 5 years in the USMC and i have had more problems with my feet than ever. Yeah, wash your feet before coming in the house, but also wipe down your phones, key boards, countertops too.

  5. LGF

    I ALSO am never sick, but I am very clean. I work in a dental office, and having studied microbiology, you get pretty “weirded” out. Just think, you’re out in public, go to a nasty restroom, and then bring those same shoes in your house with other people’s urine on them. GROSS!

  6. Cindy B.

    I too am a barefoot person in summer. I ABSOLUTELY NEVER take precautions such as washing my feet (unless they’re muddy), or using any kind of antibacterial products… I kiss my animals copiously (other people’s too), rarely wash my hands, pick up something right off the floor and eat it, etc. Have done so all my life and am ABSOLUTELY NEVER SICK. I’m sure it’s because my immune system is so well-practiced at fighting germs. On the other hand, I don’t trust chemicals (in consumer products, foods, etc.) at all and try to be as natural as possible. I’ve always trusted biology more than chemistry, and I think I’m on the right track with that. By the way, I’m a 60 yo female who looks 40, a super hiker and extreme skier.

  7. gh

    I too had an experience like that. It was even worse, though, as it was my son in law. He would even roll my grandbabies toys around with his nasty feet…..

  8. Sara W.

    I have been going barefoot all of my life, and I’m now 50, so I don’t think I’m going to stop. And (horror of horrors!!) my purse now is sitting on our kitchen table. I really believe that people who are not exposed to some germs are the people that get sick all the time, and they also get much sicker than some of us “regular folks.”

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