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This Cleaning Expert Never Stores Shoes In The Closet — Here's Why

Image by Ali Lanenga / Stocksy
March 29, 2019
Spring cleaning season is upon us! In the coming weeks, mbg will be sharing some of the easiest, most effective tips and tricks we've heard for nixing germs at home. (Check out what we've run so far here.) Today, we're tackling the closet.
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When mbg caught up with Candice Batista for a recent article on spring cleaning, one thing the clean living expert said really stuck out: "Never bring shoes into your closet."

What? It seemed counterintuitive. That's where shoes go. But when Batista explained her reasoning for exiling shoes from their rightful shelves, it started to make more sense.

Why you should be taking your shoes off outside your home.

We all know someone (or maybe you are that someone) who operates a strictly shoeless home. Shoes carry the outdoors in and definitely contribute to dirt and grime buildup in our spaces. Instead of taking your shoes off when you walk in and then storing them in your closet, Batista recommends banning them from the inside of your home altogether.

For reasoning, she points to studies like a 2016 one out of the University of Arizona, which found the average shoe sole contained 421,000 different kinds of bacteria—90 percent of which was transferred to clean floors right away.

While there's already a lot of bacteria in your home (and that's not a bad thing, by the way), some of the grime on shoes can be particularly nasty. Batista references Coliforms1, an indicator of disease often found in feces, as well as E. coli2, as examples of things we could be unwittingly tracking in.

While science has yet to prove that the germs on our shoes can directly make us sick (and the research that has been done on the topic has been on specific categories of people, like dog owners and athletes), Batista lives in the "better safe than sorry" camp and says we're better off annexing dirty soles—especially from small spaces with limited airflow like closets. She also says that leaving your shoes in the closet may lead to more dust mites—teeny-tiny critters that feed off dirty fabric and furniture in nearly every home and may trigger allergies.

Moral of the story: Designate an area to drop shoes outside of your home or apartment if possible, or invest in a shoe rack to leave in your entryway. And if you do want to store shoes during their off-seasons, do your closet a favor and be sure to give them a good clean first. While you're at it, here's a quick refresh for the rest of your closet:

  1. Start by vacuuming the floors.
  2. Then, remove all of your clothing (this is a good opportunity for a quick Kondo, too).
  3. Wipe down the shelves with a microfiber cloth that's been lightly sprayed with water.
  4. Refold clothes and put them back in a way that makes them easy to see and access. If that means investing in a few clear storage boxes, so be it!
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Emma Loewe
Emma Loewe
mbg Sustainability + Health Director

Emma Loewe is the Sustainability Health Director at mindbodygreen and the author of Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us. She is also the co-author of The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care, which she wrote alongside Lindsay Kellner.

Emma received her B.A. in Environmental Science & Policy with a specialty in environmental communications from Duke University. In addition to penning over 1,000 mbg articles on topics from the water crisis in California to the rise of urban beekeeping, her work has appeared on Grist, Bloomberg News, Bustle, and Forbes. She's spoken about the intersection of self-care and sustainability on podcasts and live events alongside environmental thought leaders like Marci Zaroff, Gay Browne, and Summer Rayne Oakes.