Smarter Living

February 27, 2014

Living Space: For a cleaner house, remove your shoes

Asian tradition gains traction in US.

If you could do one simple thing to have a cleaner house, carpets that look like new, and less bacteria in your home, would you do it? All you have to do it remove your shoes before coming into the house.

Growing custom

More and more Americans are making a habit of kicking off their shoes at the door. This is common practice in Hawaii as a way to keep sand out of the house, and widely popular in Asia. As Asian decorating and customs grab hold here, more and more homeowners now ban wearing shoes in the house.

The practice makes good sense. After you tromp around city streets, buses and trains, public restrooms, stores, stairwells and countless corridors each day, your shoes collect bacteria and debris, which you then track inside. The dirt and germs get trapped in carpets.

EPA findings

If you still doubt that wearing shoes in the house carries hazards, consider these findings from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

In 1991, the EPA conducted a study of doormats to measure the amount of lead dust in homes. In homes where a doormat was added at the entrance and shoes were banned indoors, the incidence of lead dust and other chemicals in the home fell about 60 percent, the results showed. Not only that, but in homes where shoes are removed, there was also a reduction in allergens and bacteria being tracked into the house.

What’s more, dirty shoes soil carpets. Over time, heavily trafficked areas can become so saturated with dirt that they develop dark “lanes.” Small stains can also spread over time.

Floor cleaning

In addition to banning shoes in the house, have your carpets steam cleaned once or twice a year, and avoid carpet cleaners that use soap. Even some professional carpet services use soap-based cleaners. These products attract more dirt and actually make carpets dirtier faster. Choose carpet cleaning products recommended by the Carpet and Rug Institute (

Be sure to vacuum once or twice a week, and use a vacuum with a HEPA filter or bag to trap lead dust and other chemicals or allergens. Place good quality doormats at every entrance to help trap dirt and debris.

By making some simple changes you can have a cleaner home – and even cleaner socks!

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