Social Question

Dutchess_III's avatar

Are barefeet dirtier than shoes?

Asked by Dutchess_III (26710 points ) June 27th, 2012

Why can’t we walk into a restaurant or grocery store barefooted?

Hmmm. I was thinking….You know, if we step in dog poo with our barefeet, we know it and wipe it off. If we have our shoes on, we don’t know until until sometime later when we smell it.

You probably wouldn’t stop on a cock roach with your barefeet, but you would with your shoes on….

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

82 Answers

josie's avatar

The issue is not dirt. The issue is presentation. Some restaurants simply do not want to attract the barefoot crowd. And if I was eating in such a restaurant, I would not want to see bare feet. Grocery stores do not want the liability when you step on broken glass after somebody tossed a ketchup bottle or something.
Having said that, I go barefoot in the summer whenever practical.

SuperMouse's avatar

I always figured that if one was to step on something and hurt their little tootsies on the restaurant or grocery store property the owners of the establishment/property would be liable. Now that I think of it, most shoes have more traction than bare feet so there is probably less risk of a slip and fall accident when one has footwear on.

creative1's avatar

I agree with @SuperMouse but wanted to add what if something made of glass broke, I know at home that you have to clean and clean to get all the little shards picked up and just think of the liability that the store or restaurant owner would have if you stepped on a shard of glass because the employee didn’t pick up every last bit.

JLeslie's avatar

I’m with @SuperMouse You can hurt your tootsies. It also is about presentation for some establishments as @josie pointed out.

As to the specific question at the top. Shoes are dirtier and germier in the house. It is best to remove your shoes and walk in the house barefoot or in house shoes.

SuperMouse's avatar

@JLeslie I totally agree with you on the shoes in the house thing! I admit it, when I watch my husband roll through the house I try my hardest not to think of where those wheels have been!

Dutchess_III's avatar

I disagree with the “more traction,” part. Tennis shoes have more traction, but high heels and flats don’t. They’re worse for “traction” than barefeet.

Since I’m not one to sue over stupid assed shit, that other didn’t occur to me. But gee, there are a thousand ways to get ‘hurt’ at a store! A display could fall on you. It would take a LOT to hurt my feet. I’ve gotten pieces of glass in them. Pull it out, and it’s done.

As for “display,” I agree. Except I wouldn’t think that would be a particular issue at McDonalds or Taco Tico, places like that. Where they don’t even have glass out on the floor.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Shoes are dirtier and germier everywhere. Not just in the house.

SuperMouse's avatar

@Dutchess_III as long as we all wear shoes, there are 999 ways to get hurt in a store!

Trillian's avatar

Gross. Bare feet are dirty feet. They belong at home. Or the beach or park, I guess would be ok. My oldest daughter would call them “grocery store feet”. I wear shoes in public, and remove them when I get home. If you come to my house, I will ask you to remove your shoes at the door.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Why @Trillian? Why would you ask them to be removed in the house if they are dirtier than shoes?

flo's avatar

Do you find people spit while out walking? They spit every few blocks as a habit. Why do they do that? Just for that reason alone, (and there is the broken glass etc.) I have no interest in walking barefeet anywhere unless I lost a bet or something. But the restaurants etc., I guess is for liability.

Trillian's avatar

One would hope that people had clean feet when they put their shoes on. Feet become dirty when one goes barefoot. One understands that there probably are people who go barefoot, get their feet dirty, and then don shoes or sandals. I don’t know any of them.
People get their shoes dirty, and I don’t care to have that dirt tracked through my house.
If you feel differently, you are more than welcome to.

flo's avatar

To answer the Q, Shoes are dirtier than feet because people are not as careful not to step on stuff as when they are barefeet.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Trillian No, I don’t feel differently. I’m just wondering why people feel it’s ok to trail dirt and whatever is on the bottom of people’s shoes into restaurants and grocery stores and stuff. See @flo‘s answer above.

Dutchess_III's avatar

And…actually…why would you assume people had “clean feet” when they put their shoes on, @Trillian? Barefoot through a house we’re stepping on dirt, dust, dog stuff, cat stuff, food stuff that fell on the floor, bathrooms…houses are no cleaner than the great outdoors. They may be surface-cleaner, but that’s just an illusion.

flo's avatar

I have seen people get into bed after they have been walking barefeet all over the house, with their dirty feet, or put their shoes on clean surfaces to tie their laces on, I have seen people put their dirty shoes into their bags/purses along with supposedly clean stuff. Amazing stuff.

Trillian's avatar

@Dutchess_III I’m sorry if anything in the fact that I gave you the courtesy of an explanation led you to believe that how I feel about something was up for debate. And I said hope, not assume. I keep my feet clean and well pedicured. I have an aversion to bare, ditry feet for personal reasons. None of the things you mention are on the floor of my house. My house is certainly cleaner than outdoors, but I don’t… you know what, just forget it. As I said earlier, you are entitled to feel how you want. I didn’t realize you asked a question so you could challenge how I felt. I’m not about to pick apart my preferences.

Kardamom's avatar

In addition to the unsightiness of dirty feet and the safety issues of people stepping on glass or getting run over by a shopping cart, or slipping and falling, I don’t think that the bottoms of shoes carry warts or athletes foot fungus. And I would hope that most people’s shoes don’t have blood from open sores on them. And even though the insides of most people’s shoes probably smell pretty bad, the outsides of them are not quite as offensive. People’s stinky feet are simply disgusting. Plus the sight of dirty, disgusting feet is wholly unappetizing.

deni's avatar

I would sprint to a restaurant that let you in barefoot!

Kardamom's avatar

@deni You might have your million dollar idea right there. You should open the Stinky Feet Cafe. I think a lot of people would actually like that : )

I’m afraid I would not be able to eat there

deni's avatar

@Kardamom People here in Boulder would LOVE IT. MAYBE THE FLOOR COULD BE RICH SOIL, OR HEALTHY SOFT GRASS! That’d be incredible.

Kardamom's avatar

@deni Under those circumstances, with the grass or the dirt, I think even I could be persuaded to go there : )

ucme's avatar

If you’re out with friends enjoying a meal in a posh restaurant, will those not wearing shoes be expected to foot the bill?

LuckyGuy's avatar

People wearing shoes don’t spread plantar warts.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Kardamom Feet don’t stink unless they’ve been trapped in stinky shoes! Who….in the world has “open sores” on their feet?

@deni Tickly sand would be good too!

JLeslie's avatar

If you are barefooted outside it is pretty much the same as wearing your shoes outside when you walk in the house you are bringing in the outside, on the ground, germs. They have done studies of bacteria levels in people’s homes and people who are barefoot inside the house have much fewer germs on the floor than those who wear their outside shoes inside. I speak about people’s homes, because in stores and restaurants we wear shoes. The study was done inside houses.

deni's avatar

Oh it would be bliss. Now I wish it existed. SANDDDDD especially oo.

Kardamom's avatar

@Dutchess_III Seriously? Who has open sores on their feet? People with diabetes, aids, psoriasis, edema, bug bites, people with dry cracked skin, ripped open blisters etc.

And yes, people’s feet do stink, when they sweat or when they walk around on dirty floors. Whether or not they are inside of shoes.

flo's avatar

@Dutchess_III why aren’t you afraid of catching infection from whatever would be out there on the sidewalks (the dog poop… and nastier stuff) that may not necessarily visible? You don’t necessarily have to feel it if you happen to have a broken skin, right?

Dutchess_III's avatar

I’m just not, @flo. And I don’t just walk on sidewalks, either. There are a lot of things I’m just not afraid of, especially the most recent screaming about “germs are everywhere!” Most of it is high imagination paranoia.

Why aren’t you afraid to buy fruits and vegetables from the store that some person with open sores on their hands may have handled? Or a box of cereal? Or anything else in the store?

flo's avatar

I am @Dutchess_III :) I wash them with hot water, remove the skin, before eating them. No possible way am I chomping away the grapes for eg. while shopping. But I’m trying to imagine the chances of someone with open sores on their hands. It doesn’t seem very high.

flo's avatar

It is also not high on feet, either, but none of but none those things on the ground would be found on the hands I guess.

jonsblond's avatar

I was going to say the same as @Kardamom. Shoes don’t spread athletes foot and toenail fungus, but bare feet do. Why do you think colleges suggest students in the dorms wear some type of flip flop in the showers? To not spread fungus!

Dutchess_III's avatar

@jonsblond I too would feel yucky walking in standing water in a place like that, and I would wear flip flops if I had them…but that’s just logic. Bacteria, fungus and mold thrive in environment like that. But…you’re still getting all that crap on the bottom of your flip flops, and tracking them back to your dorm, or whatever. Convenience stores, grocery stores and restaurants don’t have standing water in their public areas like a shower does.

@flo But they could touch some things that you couldn’t wash. Like the outside of packaging. I also wash my veggies and fruits, but it’s just a rinse to get the inevitable dust off. Other than that, I’m not worried about it.

flo's avatar

@Dutchess_IIIBut they could touch some things that you couldn’t wash” thank you for mentioning it again. Yes there could be e-colli on those boxes too, but the likelihood. would be very very low. And there’s making a habit of opening packages and then, clean our hands.
A lot of stores seem to just put the box of packaged products on the shelf, and then remove the top part of the box, leaving all the boxes untouched. But that may be a time saving measure I think customers take the nearest box, and that’s it, nothing to compare, generally anyway.

But you’re not advocating going out of our way to be risk takers are you? Because it only takes one time, @Dutchess_III

Dutchess_III's avatar

@flo I don’t consider it any significant risk.

flo's avatar

Okay @Dutchess_III. You must really love it.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I do. I love, LOVE the feel of grass under my feet, the feel of a gravel road after it’s rained, then dried out. My feet tell me where I’m going. That’s what they’re designed to do—be the front guard for whatever you’re getting yourself in to. Evolution didn’t assume we would be wearing shoes, so feet can become really tough.

Earthgirl's avatar

Well, @Dutchess_III , I didn’t know you were so trendy, lol. This is not the only article I found about students going barefoot. I guess it has progressed from flip flop revolution to absolute barefeet. It’s kind of funny. Add to this the phenomena of barefoot runners. I agree with you that there is nothing better than the feel of grass between my toes in the spring! I don’t think I’d want to carry it over into the street though. I think it has more to do with the idea of presentability than hygiene, really. It is some kind of mark of “civilization” and as many have said, it is practical and prevents injury. One time in high school I walked barefoot in the halls after school hours and ended up getting a painful plantar’s wart. That didn’t stop me from walking barefoot all summer long in my suburban neighborhood. I used to be proud of my toughened up feet. At first the heat of the road and the stones would hurt the soles of my feet but after a couple weeks I was fine. It was sort of a feeling of freedom to go barefoot. I think that’s what I liked about it. Don’t forget that shirts are required also, not just shoes. That’s why I think it’s not hygiene but presentability that’s in question.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Shirts are required too? No wonder they threw me out of Montana Mikes on Friday night!

The 60’s was the time for reinstatement of bare feet. The “Hippies” and all. The 70’s too. In the 30’s and 40’s my mother, pure bare feet tramped around the countryside in the Kent Valley, in Washington State. My husband’s dad told us that in the 30’s he tramped all around the Pittsburgh, Kansas countryside…barefooted. It isn’t a phenomenon. The “phenomenon” is parents freaking out over their kids going barefooted.

jonsblond's avatar

I love walking around barefoot in the yard or in the house. I grew up in Vegas and I would run to my best friend’s house down the street during the summer with no shoes on. Imagine how hot the streets and the sidewalks were on a 115F degree day! My feet are tough thanks to my childhood activities. I just have no desire to go to a restaurant or go shopping barefoot. Not because I want to present myself well, I’m just more comfortable in shoes when I’m out running errands. I’m not one to make a fuss over shoes or what they look like. I’m all about comfort. It’s been at least a decade, or longer, since I’ve worn heels. (see. I first put heals not heels. I don’t even know how to spell it the right way! lol)

If my kids want to run around outside or at the park barefoot I let them. I do agree with you @Dutchess_III. Many parents are too worried about their kids stepping on something in the yard or at the park. That’s a bit too much imo.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@jonsblond You ever make it clear across town on a 100+ degree day? You learn to stay in the shadows or in the grass, if you can. When crossing a parking lot you gotta stay on the white parking lines. And boy…if you have to make a dash for it across the black asphalt you RUN!!! It’ll burn the livin’ crap out of the soles of your feet!

Ever run out into the snow barefooted to see what it feels like? :)

I don’t have any desire to go to a restaurant barefooted either….well, maybe some of them. Some dinky dive with the BEST tacos in town! But…they’d have a stroke.

flo's avatar

After reading @Earthgirl post I looked at this video, re. Plantar’s Wart and no thank you, I’ll stick to my shoes thank you.

Dutchess_III's avatar

You don’t get planters warts from dry ground. You get them from damp, shared places like showers and swimming pools.

I had them once as a kid. Mine didn’t hurt at all, and compound W did the trick, although it took a while.

flo's avatar

This is from @Earthgirl “One time in high school I walked barefoot in the halls after school hours and ended up getting a painful plantar’s wart.” Maybe @Earthgirl can fill us in.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Now how in the world could you have known when and where you got it, @Earthgirl? It takes at least two weeks, probably longer, for the warts to appear. You had probably picked the virus up a month earlier, somewhere else, like the pool, or the showers in the locker room.

Anyway, they’re harmless and easily treated.

jonsblond's avatar

@Dutchess_III But if you could avoid plantar’s warts wouldn’t you? Warts aren’t fun even if they are harmless.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I’m just not worried about it, @jonsblond. Not worried about “germs” on the bathroom door handle, not worried about public toilets, not worried about public soap dispensing machines, not worried about bowling alley shoes, not worried about getting worms in my eye, not worried about sanitizing my fruits and vegetables. I rinse them. Good enough for me.

I’d rather run freeeee than worry about silly stuff like warts that aren’t going to hurt you anyway. I’d tell you something cool-gross about them puppies that I had when I was a kid, but that famous Snopes link above is enough gross for now!

flo's avatar

How about bed bugs? Would you pick up furniture from the curb, for example? Now that I hear there is so much problem with bed bugs, I’ve been thinking what I can use on it before taking it in? Does anyone happen to know a “do it yourself” way?

Dutchess_III's avatar

What kind of furniture? Bed bugs infest mattressy-type furniture, like mattresses and couches, not wood chairs and tables. If I found a matressy type piece of furniture on the curb that I couldn’t pass up, and I was really worried about bed bugs I’d first air it out for two days, then remove the covers, if possible, and run them through a hot dryer. I’d spray the mattresses with some pesticide. And let it air out another two days.

But that’s just me guessing. I’m sure they have all kinds of bed-bug stuff on the market that you could treat second hand furniture with. I just like the airing out part to get rid of old smells.

Also, steam cleaning them would probably do the trick.

Most of my furniture, including mattresses, are second hand.

I had an encounter with bed bugs once. At a Hampton Inn in Manhattan, Kansas. Nasty, itchy, harmless critters. But I didn’t bring any home I guess.

flo's avatar

No mattress or couch kind of thing, I was thinking anything other than those kinds of items. Thanks for the tip.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, bed bugs don’t hang out in wood or hard surfaces. And yes. I’ve picked furniture up off of the curbside! :)

flo's avatar

They hide in baseboards, and other places as well, although their favorite are mattresses.
Anyway you’re sure you’re not tempting fate @Dutchess_III?

Dutchess_III's avatar

I tempt fate a thousand times worse every time I get behind the wheel of my car. Just not going to sweat the small stuff.

flo's avatar

I started being paranoid because of someone in my family not being worried. She would never concern herself with doorknobs etc. She washes her hands and recontaminate her hands with the doorknobs, and then we go to the foodstores and she would handle and squeeze the produce. Call me paranoid.

Dutchess_III's avatar

LOLL!! Well, how in the hell does someone not “recontaminate” their hands on a door knob?? We have to open doors somehow! Should we use our feet?

flo's avatar

@Dutchess_III No, no feet, we use the paper towels that we dried our hands with. What do you see the paranoid people do? you’re just pulling my legs, aren’t you?

Dutchess_III's avatar

I have never seen anyone open a door with a paper towel covering their hands. Never. I saw it in a movie once, though. The Aviator. A biography about Howard Huges.
How do you open a door that leads IN to the bathroom, or into a bedroom or in to a house?

JLeslie's avatar

@flo Doorknobs at home? I have never heard of such a thing. At home we are touchng things all the time. The handles on the sinks, most people turn them off before drying their hands, and to turn them on we touched it with a just went to the bathroom hand. Anyway, I almost never have to open a door at home, doors are mostly left open, except doors leading to the outside.

The better rule is don’t touch your face, because germs get in our hands.

Most grocery stores in the suburbs have hand wipes when you first walk in the grocery store.

The cans and packaged goods get touched by multiple hands at the store. I hope the people who stock the produce wash their hands first. But, I have very low confidence the check out people keep their hands clean.

flo's avatar

@JLeslie “Doorknobs at home?” I didn’t refer to door knobs at home in my post, because I wasn’t thinking of the home. I was referring to doorknobs in public places.

People keep the areas they own much better that the public places. Someone who spits on the sidewalk out in public would not do that in his/her property for example.
The handles on the sinks, most people turn them off before drying their hands, and to turn them on we touched it with a just went to the bathroom hand” But you washed your hands though, right?

Dutchess_III's avatar

But they weren’t washed when you turned the water on! So then, when you turned them off, you were touching the GERMS that you put on there when you turned the water on! I couldn’t live in a world where I was terrified of such things. It would drive me nuts. I prefer to assume people don’t pee and poop all over their hands.

flo's avatar

@JLeslie I was thinking we go to the mall let’s say, use the public washrooms there, and then go to the supermarket.

Anyway “I prefer to assume people don’t pee and poop all over their hands”. LOL! so funny.
But @Dutchess_III the water gets turned on with the unused hand or the back of the hand if it is one of those nice and easy up and down kind of faucets.

And the thing is it it like riding a bike or driving etc., it becomes automatic.

By the way to add to my last post, imagine if people littered on their own property the way they do out in public. They never do that. For some reason they feel entitled….

Dutchess_III's avatar

I’m just not worried about any of it.

flo's avatar

@Dutchess_III Trust me I’m not trying to get you paranoid.

Dutchess_III's avatar

You can’t get me paranoid! I’m not a paranoid-type person. I’m logical.

JLeslie's avatar

@flo Ok, thanks for clarifying. I try not to touch door knobs in public places either. In fact, I am annoyed that most if not all public restrooms that have doors don’t have doors that swing out, so as you leave the bathroom you can just push on the door.

If you grab a paper towel and turn off the water with the towel all good. Jus like people who turn the door knob with the paper towel. But, most people worry about the door knob and not the sink.

People can be disgusting in public. Bathrooms can be the worst. Litter on the street sickens me. And, spitting, totally gross. Where I grew up it was illegal to spit on the street, maybe in some places it is legal? Or, people don’t care about the law if there is one.

flo's avatar

@Dutchess_III yes.

@JLeslie I don’t think I’ve come across one of the swing out ones. I love the washrooms that don’t even have doors. If I need privacy, which is rare, I would use the toilet.

And re. the faucets, (I think you’re referring to the faucets in your post) I love the ones with the heat sensors, no faucets to touch at all.

Dutchess_III's avatar

But what about the AIR under the sensors!! It has Other People’s pee and poop germs floating in it! Not to mention their cholera and diphtheria germs! I’m not trying to make you paranoid, @flo. :)

flo's avatar

@Dutchess_III I don’t know what science says about that:)

Should we not wash our hands at all then if we go by the reasoning that we don’t pee and poop in our hands?

Dutchess_III's avatar

Of course we should wash our hands a couple times a day. Logic and common sense tell you that. We should wipe our kitchen cabinets down, and clean our cutting boards and toilets and clean our floors. We should be reasonably clean. Dirty places have more bacteria, though, than viruses. Infections can get pretty nasty.

JLeslie's avatar

@flo Every public bathroom you have been to always opens in towards the bathroom?

flo's avatar

@JLeslie I can’t say for sure, but I think so. And a lot of the times it is those round knobs which I don’t prefer.

@Dutchess_III I don’t know what to add. I could drop dead of a car accident tomorrow.

JLeslie's avatar

@flo In America I find that statistically impossible.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Why do you say that @JLeslie?

JLeslie's avatar

@Dutchess_III Because, probably about half the bathroom doors open out. I really am not sure the percentage, but it isn’t that rare.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Oh! I thought you were talking about dying in a car wreck!

flo's avatar

@JLeslie I also thought you were referring to the car accident thing, which came to me because I couldn’t add anymore to the conversation about the germs thing.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I’ve been thinking deeply about this bathroom door question, and drinking beer for to help me think, and I THINK @JLeslie is right. Most doors open IN to a room, whether it be a bathroom or a bedroom. In older places the doors might open out. But I believe it’s standard building practice today to have doors leading into a room open in to that room. I shall research further.

JLeslie's avatar

@Dutchess_III Let me know how the research goes. I would say, as I think about it, that most often they open into the bathroom, because I am constantly annoyed in restaurants by this very thing. If it is a single bathroom it doesn’t matter much either way, because the door will have a knob. If it is a bathroom with multiple stalls, then the door might have a handle in one side to pull, and the other side is a simple push.

Earthgirl's avatar

Checking back on this question now I see there is some debate about how plantar warts are caused and whether or not they are painful. I looked for real information vs. my anecdotal info and found this
I was very surprised to find that you could get plantar warts from walking on grass! Believe me, this will not keep me from walking barefoot in the grass, no way! But still, I would be cautious walking on carpet in hotels and other puplic places where the traffic is high and therefore the risk of infection is high. Just remember that, as the article states, “The human papilloma virus (HPV) is the culprit that causes plantar warts and thrives in grass, on any warm moist surface.”
I obviously cannot prove that my plantar’s wart came from walking on carpet but I looked for a reason and that was synonymous with my running around in school with barefeet. I didn’t normally do this so when I read that it can cause warts because the moisture trapped under the carpets when they are wet cleaned creates mold that harbors HPV I believed it. Hey, what can I say? It makes me think twice about hotel carpet. What you don’t see can get you!

JLeslie's avatar

@Earthgirl A good defense is to not let your feet stay wet long and to protect them from cuts and scrapes. Another reason for shoes is to prevent having open wounds that allow for infections to take hold.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I’m not worried about it. I had them once as a kid. They didn’t hurt me, and I’ve never had them again.

Answer this question

Login

or

Join

to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
or
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther