There’s a reason why doctors and medical professionals change out of their shoes and wipe them down when they get home. According to a new report from the CDC, illness-causing bacteria and infectious diseases could live on your footwear.
The new study, which tracked doctors on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic in Wuhan, China, found that half of the samples taken from the soles of the ICU medical staff tested positive for COVID-19. That’s led researchers to believe that the coronavirus could survive on floors, and the soles of people’s shoes “might function as carriers.”
Fortunately, there are a few simple steps we can take to deep clean and disinfect our shoes.
If you wear shoes at home, the easiest way to prevent the tracking of germs and bacteria is to change into a pair of indoor shoes (I.e. slippers or loafers) as soon as you enter the door. If you want to keep your shoes on, consider throwing on a shoe cover.
If you’re a shoes-off type of household, you’ll want to keep your shoes in a separate space (I.e. on a mat by the entrance) and you’ll want to wipe down and disinfect your shoes after you’ve removed them. It goes without saying that you should wash your hands immediately after too.
To do your part to prevent the spreading of viruses and bacteria, here are seven things you can pick up online to keep your shoes clean, odor-free and germ-free.
The first thing you should be doing when you get home is wiping down your shoes. These disposable wipes come in a convenient pop-up package; pull one from the pack and use it to remove dust and dirt, while deodorizing your sneakers. The wipes are great for shining shoes and removing scuff marks too. It won’t completely disinfect your shoes, but the wipes will at least remove surface germs and contaminants. Get 60 wipes per pack; this comes as a set of two.
Shoe Wipes below sold out? Try these ones, which have a textured surface for an even deeper clean.
Household disinfectant sprays like Lysol or Clorox are meant for kitchens and bathrooms — not your footwear. To keep your shoes germ and odor-free, you’ll want to pick up a spray like this one, which is actually designed for your boots, sneakers and sandals. The spray promises to eliminate common bacteria while inhibiting the growth of mold and mildew.
Think of these sticky mats like a lint roller, but for your shoes. Before you step into the house, roll the soles and sides of your shoes on this mat, and the non-toxic adhesive will remove any dust, hair, pollen and other debris from the surface. CleanPro says the mat can effectively pick up even air-borne contaminants and up to 95% of particles at the 0.3 micron range.
When the sheet is soiled, simply peel it off and start a new layer, just like you would with a lint roller or poster pad. This mat measures 24 x 36 inches though larger sizes are available as well.
It’s one thing to wipe your feet on a doormat before you enter the house, but consider picking up a sanitizing shoe mat to ensure a deeper clean.
This rubber-based mat is used in warehouses and food production facilities to keep shoes and floors sterile. The mat is half-inch deep with raised edges, allowing you to add a disinfecting solution (like this one here) to its trough. Flexible rubber scrapers dislodge any surface dirt and debris from your soles, while the disinfectant gets to work as soon as you step on the mat. Wearwell says shoes should stay on the mat for at least one minute for full decontamination.
Once your shoes have made their way inside, pop in one of these sanitizer lights, which harnesses the power of UVC light to kill up to 99.9% of germs. This SteriShoe Ultraviolet Shoe Sanitizer is recommended by the American Podiatric Medical Association for its ability to kill bacteria related to shoe odor, athletes foot, toenail fungus, warts and other microorganisms.
If you’ve been traveling or have heavy duty footwear to clean (think cleats, boots, skates), you’ll want to consider a sanitizing machine like this one, from StinkBOSS.
Sprays and wipes may not be enough for heavily-soiled shoes. This device circulates ozone molecules through the pores of your footwear to sweep up odor-causing bacteria and clean your shoes inside and out. It can also use heat to kill germs as well. StinkBOSS says the heat and ozone combo can kill up to 99% of harmful bacteria without the damaging effects of chemicals or solvents. And, it’s all done in as little as 30 minutes inside the machine. What we like: you can also use the device to deodorize and dry out soggy helmets, bags and sports equipment as well.
If you need to deep clean your shoes, pick up a handy kit like this one, which includes a deodorizing spray, cleaning brush and detergent.
For a quick and simple job, pick one of these shoe cleaners, which are similar to what you’d see at a professional shoeshine stand. The “Scrusher” is made from a sturdy steel frame with three brushes to remove everything from snow and sand to surface stains. The bottom bristles are made of stiff nylon to clean the soles of your shoes, while the softer side bristles clean the upper part of the shoe without damaging the leather. Before anyone enters the house, make sure they run their shoes through this device.