If there’s anything lockdown’s taught us it’s that a little goes a long way. From consistent and correct handwashing to social distancing, each of us can do something.
As infections rise in SA, tips that enable us to do more – without taking much time – are really useful. Every bit of researched information helps.
It seems that even our shoes can be hosts for disease. Studies from as far back as 2008 show that brand-new shoes can accumulate up to 440 000 bacteria on their soles in two weeks.
Remember being told as a kid to leave your muddy shoes at the door before entering your home? It was a wise idea. In countries like Israel, the practice of leaving shoes outside the door – especially during the rainy winter season – is an excellent way of eliminating germs picked up on the streets.
A recent study reported on by the US Centres for Disease Control found a 100% positivity rate of COVID-19 on the pharmacy floor of a Wuhan hospital (where only medical staff were permitted), as well as 50% positivity on the soles of ICU staff’s shoes. These revelations led researchers to conclude that shoes are proving to be primary carriers of the virus. With over 2,5 million people infected globally at the time of writing, shoe hygiene could make a big difference. Another study found that when bacteria enter your home via shoes, 90% of it finds its way onto carpets, tiles and cupboard floors, as well as clean surfaces like coffee tables and kitchen counters.
Here are ways to prevent Covid-19 from hitching a ride on your shoes once you’ve come home from anywhere:
1. Leave your shoes on a shoe rack in a special place near the front door, away from the main areas of your home
As Nike would say, just do it. It prevents the virus from passing a certain point in your home. Make sure other members of the families – including kids – also learn to leave their shoes in this space.
2. Keep your shoes dry
Moist environments are a hotbed for virus and bacteria growth, so keeping them dry is a good way to prevent them from becoming vectors for transferral. A sunny, dry place is a great short-term solution if the weather’s fine. You could also keep a hairdryer near the front door if it’s a wet day. Although none of us are running around in the rain these days, a workout in your backyard or living room can result in damp shoes that not only smell bad, but are happy hunting grounds for unwanted microbial guests. Another good idea is to invest in a tin of Mycota (or any similar powder) and get into the habit of shaking some lightly into closed shoes whenever you take them off. It prevents fungal infections like athlete’s foot, as well as bad odours, and helps block the growth of other microbes.
Also make a point of washing trainers, tackies and any other canvas shoes regularly, either by hand or in your washing machine, and leaving them outside to dry fully.
3. Dirty socks belong in the laundry basket, not your shoes
Leaving dirty socks in shoes is not only an ugly (and smelly habit), but distinctly unhygienic. Socks collect sweat and are ideal breeding places for viruses and bacteria (including infections like athlete’s foot) to grow.
4. Take care
Shoecare is a matter of public and personal safety and something you can do easily.
Amidst the uncertainty of how the virus spreads, where we’re most vulnerable to it and what steps we can take to prevent getting it, proactive shoecare is a reliable way of keeping your home microbe-free.