Science Says Keeping Shoes Inside Your Home May Negatively Impact Your Air Quality and Expose You to Harmful Pathogens

shoes and boots outside on home doorstep

shoes and boots outside on home doorstep

LeoPatrizi / Getty Images

Although you likely clean your shoes off before wearing them inside your home, recently published research reveals that it’s best to not even bring them inside at all. Two chemists—Mark Patrick Taylor, chief environmental scientist with the Environmental Protection Agency and Gabriel Filippelli, chancellor’s professor of earth sciences and executive director at Indiana University Environmental Resilience Institute—have spent the past decade examining the indoor environment and the contaminants people are exposed to in their own homes. They found that wearing your shoes inside may disrupt the air quality in your home.

The scientist’s examination of the indoor environment was conducted through their DustSafe program which helps to educate people on the contaminants in their home by submitting vacuum dust samples. While most researchers focus on the outdoor environment and its impact on public health, Taylor and Filippelli are interested in indoor air quality. “The matter building up inside your home includes not just dust and dirt from people and pets shedding hair and skin,” they wrote in an article published in The Conversation. “About a third of it is from outside, either blown in or tramped in on those offensive shoe bottoms.

Related: Is It Rude to Ask Guests to Take Off Their Shoes When Entering Your Home?

According to their research, some of the microorganisms present on shoes and floors are drug-resistant pathogens that are difficult to treat. Additionally, when you wear your shoes inside you may also be tracking cancer-causing toxins from asphalt road residue and lawn chemicals into your home. A primary focus of their work involves assessing the levels of potentially toxic metals inside homes across 35 different countries. The contaminants are odorless and colorless, meaning there’s no way to determine if they’ve been brought into your home by your shoes.

Where do these toxic metals come from, though? There is a strong connection between the lead inside your home and the soil in your yard. The chemists believe that it’s blown in from your property, on the paws of your pets, as well as on your shoes. To limit your exposure to harmful pathogens, it’s recommended to leave your shoes outside. If you like having some type of foot support indoors, Taylor and Filippelli recommend purchasing house shoes that are only worn indoors.