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Aim for a shoeless Christmas to keep bugs out of your home

Health
 Aim for a shoeless Christmas to keep bugs out of your homes (Photo: iStock)

The Christmas mood is already in the air. Some will have their houses full to the brim with family and friends. If you mostly entertain indoors, you will have to consider making your house shoeless. That means everybody showing up takes off their shoes before they enter your house. This isn’t a strange practice; it’s already ingrained in many cultures. At face value, leaving shoes outside the house maintains a certain level of cleanliness. But as it turns out, it is also a pretty healthy habit.

Scientific studies already confirm that shoes carry all sorts of micro-organisms. That in itself shouldn’t be surprising, you step on all manner of crap as the day evolves. And some of that crap sticks onto the undersides of your shoes and becomes a habitat for bugs to thrive in. Lab studies have consistently demonstrated overwhelming numbers of disease-causing organisms from the soles of all manner of shoes. Sometimes the organisms identified have surpassed those found in dirty bathrooms! You now know that allowing everyone, and anyone to enter your house with their shoes on isn’t such an appealing idea. Doesn’t matter that the shoes aren’t obviously soiled, they will still harbour microscopic organisms within them.

Any organisms deposited on your floor surfaces, or carpets, will have the potential to cause harm in the long run. The actual risk of anyone in your family becoming unwell is still pretty low. But children, the elderly and those with poor immunity could do well without unnecessary exposure to bugs that can be avoided.

So, keep all those indoor house parties shoeless. Politely ask your guests to leave their shoes outside. Those with torn and smelly socks may hesitate, but don’t give them a choice. Wiping already clean shoes on a mat will not do either, it only gets rid of surface debris but the real organisms stay put. Using an antiseptic on the underside of the shoes may work, but that’s such a chore with many guests visiting that it’s just better to enter the house barefoot. Just make sure none of your guests’ expensive shoes go missing by the time the party is over.

But even beyond Christmas house parties, don’t get overly worried if any shoes find their way into your house. Simply keeping the house clean is a good pre-emptive measure. Get your house thoroughly cleaned every so often. Take particular attention to carpeted surfaces and all corners that tend to accumulate dust over time. Keep windows and doors open as much as possible to maintain good aeration. Remember to observe the shoeless rule as well, you might bring in more bugs in a week than all your visitors combined on a single partying Christmas day.

Dr Alfred Murage is a Consultant Gynecologist and Fertility Specialist. [email protected]

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