Reduce home toxins by 60% (and you’ll never guess how easy it is!)

Reduce home toxins by 60% (and you’ll never guess how easy it is!)

Ready to reduce home toxins by 60%? Yeah, I thought so. And you’ll love how simple the solution is. Ready for it? I’m going to tell you right here in the first paragraph: Take your shoes off.

That’s it! Reduce home toxins that easily. Seems to good to be true, right? But it is. The truth is that research has shown that 85% of the soil and contaminants inside your home can be found within 10 to 12 feet of the exterior doors. Think about all the places your feet go throughout a day. The grocery store. The gas station. The park. Now think about how many other feet are also trekking around those places. Feet that have been who-knows-where.

What’s coming in?

Want to reduce home toxins by 60% Did you know there is a simple solution to do it? One that has a whole bunch of other benefits? Read more!

Research has shown that there may be a whole lot more coming into your house than you might be aware of. Things like insect fragments, lead dust, pesticides, pollen, dust mites, animal dander, hair, human skin flakes, fungal spores or cigarette ash. In other words, a lot of gross and a lot of home toxins. In fact, a recent study indicates that cockroach exoskeletons and droppings found in household dust can trigger asthma.

Fact: Around 30 to 40 percent of the contaminants inside your home are brought in from outdoors.

This can be especially problematic for children who are crawling and sitting on the floor a lot who are exposed to home toxins even more.

Reduce home toxins: Take your shoes off.

In a recent warning about lead exposure, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) specifically recommends taking your shoes off when you come inside. According to a report called the Door Mat Study, lead-contaminated soil from the outside causes almost all the lead dust inside homes, and it notes that removing shoes at the door cuts lead dust by 60 percent.

Even  better: This study also explains that this simple act of taking off your shoes may reduce exposure to lawn and garden pesticides, wood smoke, industrial toxins, mutagens, dust mites, and other allergens, too.

Other barefoot benefits

Growing up, we always took our shoes off in our house (although it was because my mom had five kids and cleaning fetish). In college, as a modern dance major, I had to take my shoes off before entering the studio every day. I soon grew to love being free from restrictive shoes. Going barefoot (or even wearing socks) allows your feet to move through its whole range of motion. It’s better for your feet, posture, and health. (And then there’s the whole earthing thing, too!)

Oh yeah, removing your shoes will also:

  • Decrease time cleaning. (The professional cleaning industry estimates that we track 85% of the dirt in our homes in from the outside on our shoes or paws of pets. )
  • Reduce wear and tear on flooring, especially carpets.

So there you go! A super simple way way to reduce home toxins by 60% while providing all sorts of other benefits, too. Plus, I love my little shoe bench. In my book that’s a SUPER WIN!

Are you concerned about home toxins? Do you take your shoes off? 


Roberts, J.W. & Ott, W.R. (2007). Exposure to Pollutants from House Dust. In Ott, W.R., Steinemann, A.C. & Wallace,  L.A. (Eds.) Exposure Analysis, 319–345. New York: Taylor & Francis.



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About the author

Hi! I'm and I’m passionate about healthy living: feeling nourished, having energy, getting good sleep, and feeling strong. I believe healthy living does not have to be complicated or stressful. I’m a Registered Somatic Movement Therapist (RSMT) and a Certified Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analyst (CLMA). I’m also an avid researcher and love to read about nutrition, the body, and toxic-free living. Learn more.

View all articles by Robin Konie


  1. Aleesha

    Hi! I subscribe to (and love) your RSS feed and am all for taking shoes off in the house, however my solution is combated by my two cats and dog that come indoors each day… Would you have any suggestions to reduce the amount of toxins that THEY might be bringing into the house?
    Aleesha :-)

    1. Post author

      That’s a great question, Aleesha. The study did mention that having two doormats (one outside and one just inside the door) can also greatly reduce toxins. Although, I’m not sure how effective it would be for pets who probably won’t stop and actually “wipe their feet.” I wonder if there is some sort of “pet mat” out there. If I see something, I’ll let you know. :)

      1. Jesse

        I dont know that it would work for cats, but we simply force our dog to stand at the door and wait for us to wipe his feet when he comes in. Its labor intensive for us but since its always wet here it keeps the house much cleaner.

        To help with the process we shower him with affection and praise so that getting his feet wiped has become something he almost looks forward to!

        1. Sharolyn

          I do that too with my dog. She has pollen allergies so wiping her feet keeps my floors cleaner and keeps her from licking her feet till they are raw.

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  3. Rebecca

    Unfortunately I can’t do this. I wear special orthotics in my shoes and need to wear them all the time when I am awake (of course not when I am showering or sleeping), to get the most benefit. Otherwise, I am in a lot of pain.

    I don’t get sick much, and detox my body regularly with my Purify Your Body detox foot pads, so I think I will be ok.

      1. Reena

        My mom has issues with her feet as well. She has a separate pair of shoes for things she does outside the home and another pair that she only wears indoors so she can continue wearing her orthotics. When she comes over to visit, she brings her indoor shoes with her so she can live by our “no shoes in the house” rule. I hope this will be helpful.

        1. Post author

          Yes, that’s definitely a great option. Although I prefer bare feet whenever possible. It’s better for your feet and posture. 😉

          1. Heather

            Hi Robin! :) Thanks for the info about yucky toxins. I’ve been using natural cleaning methods in my house for forever now (basically simple/super cheap baking soda and vinegar, and even just water dissolves a lot of the initial stuff), but this is really intelligent. When I got to go to Japan, everyone there takes their shoes off, even in a lot of stores & buildings, especially in the winter with everyone tracking in dirty slush all day. (How much more sense does that make than following after everyone with a mop…?) like the “dispensary” (smaller hospital, like a clinic). They had slipper-esque shoes in a lovely shoe holder at the front which were cleaned after each use, and you would put your (dirty/presumably contaminated) shoes in the little box, then come get them again when you’re heading out.
            They also had this great little room with negative pressure and a very effective filtration system for those who would desire to inhale carcinogenic material; keeping it contained from the rest of us, as well as the environmental air overall. It doesn’t just disappear, it’s still there, so this seems like a much better response to our bad decisions…lol.
            Love your thoughts about being shoe-free…I totally love going barefoot, too! :) Have you found any good shoes with the barefoot concept? I love my Vibrams, and have Filas, too, but don’t always want sprawled toes (especially in an office/business setting).
            Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Love how you write :)

          2. Post author
            Robin Konie

            Thanks, Heather! I have a pair of minimal workout shoes that I use when I need, too. Still would love to try vibrams. :)

    1. Julia

      I have to wear my orthotics all the time, too, but I can transfer them to my ‘house shoes’ – I’m going to get a new pair or wash them off well.

      I have friends from Turkey who think Americans are dirty because they wear shoes in their homes – guess they are right!

    2. Jennifer J

      I am in Rebecca’s situation. Not only do I wear orthotics, but I am diabetic, and my feet need to be protected. But this will make me think about maybe having inside and outside shoes, better mats, or maybe trying to somehow clean my shoes when I come in.

    3. Maureen

      Rebecca, can you change into inside shoes? This way your outside shoes don’t bring anything into your house?

    1. Post author

      Same here. We’ve always taken our shoes off because it’s so much easier to clean (and just feels nice), but I love to know that I’m also reducing toxins. :)

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  5. Bee on thyme

    Great post! I bought disposable slip on shoe covers for repairmen and people that cannot remove their shoes. I keep them by the front door and have not had anyone turn down a request to put on shoe covers. However, the covers are snug on men shoes over size 11.

    1. Heather

      You can try the hair covers we use in the operating room :) They’re soft fabric with stretchy elastic around the entire border, and on bulky shoes/boots they work even better than the ones that are supposed to be designed for shoes. We used to use them when I was doing my basic training & advanced individual (job) training with the army. They worked really well; you could slip them on quickly, even over our bulky combat boots, and they kept the mud out of our barracks & kept the (very shiny) floors clean that we had to spend so much work on polishing & buffing… :) We had to work on them so meticulously that even at 18, we were staring worriedly back at the floor we’d just walked over, to make sure we hadn’t marred the shiny surface…ha ha. Good luck :)

  6. Zephyr Hill

    Sigh! My problem is a husband who REFUSES to wear slippers (or even slip-on shoes) because his father ended his life depressed, wearing pajamas and slippers. I can’t tell you how many times I have followed his muddy tracks to where he is and pointed out what he’s tracking in. I guess since we live pretty far out in the country, the toxins are mostly nice fresh manure and mud, but it does create a lot of dust in the house–and I have allergies and asthma. I’m going to tell him about this and see if he’d be willing to keep one pair of indoor shoes to change into before he leaves the mudroom. Our grandkids spend a lot of time on the floor when they’re here, and I hate to think of what they’re sitting in!

    Thanks for sharing this helpful tip!

    1. Post author

      A pair of house shoes that stay in the house would work perfectly. Good luck! I know it’s hard when the people you live with aren’t always on board with everything. 😉

  7. Jodi

    Oh my…..thank you! I grew up in Hawaii and everyone does this. I now live on the east coast and while I understand why ppl wear their shoes all over the house here I still think its nasty and dirty. Thank you!

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  9. Ata'h

    Where i come from,it’s strongly restricted to enter one’s house with your shoes on,
    anyway i think you’ve made a great job posting this ,

  10. Nika

    I am sorry, but this is something sooooo normal. Normal people across the world do this “super new healthy task” all their lifetime, in Azia, in Europe (here in Slovak republic – and people from USA think, we live like animals in jungle, that makes me ROFL after reading this)

    1. Post author

      Not sure why you are sorry, Nika. I totally agree! We’ve been a shoe-free home since I was a little kid. It’s so normal to me. And I’m amazed at how many people think we’re strange for it… but like you said, it’s normal for most the world. :)

  11. Bethany

    I have stopped walking my dog (we have a fenced yard) because when we do she is walking through everyone’s pesticide filled lawns and then bringing it back to our house.

  12. Allison Jordan

    When my husband and I lived in Hungary it was customary to take of your shoes and leave them in the mud room. It was also customary to have lots of slippers for everyone. It kept the floors clean and felt so warm and cozy! I love your shoe bench, btw!! :)

  13. Terry Jeanette

    Oh wow, You are RIGHT!!!! One problem I have…plantar fasciitis. That’s from all those years of dancing barefoot. I grew up running around barefoot all the time (grew up in Florida going to the beach and pool), so I am a barefoot lover. Now that I have foot problems, I live in my Birkies. I guess I just need to get a pair of my shoes and clean them off real well and set them by the door so I can switch shoes upon coming in. I also need to get everyone else to do the same…. Thank you!

    1. lynn y

      I too grew up in Florida wearing flip flops and going barefoot. Now that I have PF too, I bought a pair of crocs that I only wear in the house because going barefoot is very painful. I miss my flips..but this has helped a lot 😉

    1. Post author

      I’ve gotten in the habit of wiping my feet off with a wet cloth as soon as I get inside. Seems to help. :)

  14. Kit

    The outside world is such a dangerous, unhealthy place, why do we even bother going out in it? STAY INSIDE, where it’s safe. But if you must go out into that toxic atmosphere, by all means take your shoes off upon returning to your healthy house that you’ve disinfected with those chemicals, and don’t worry about what substances were used to make your carpets.

  15. shelly

    We’ve had such a problem convincing our frequent guests to remove their shoes at our house. We have brand new cherry wood floors to protect as well as health reasons! We’ll continue to remove our shoes in the house.
    I’m sure the Oriental people remove their shoes for energy reasons. I know my feet are much healthier when I go barefoot for a portion of every day.

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  17. shari

    So, a few weeks ago, I was looking to see if they made soft soled shoes, for my youngest who hates wearing shoes. I got the whole speech on how kids HAVE to wear shoes, or their feet on up to their spines while not form properly. And it will be the source of back and neck problems later in life, and why so many people need orthotics now…(and he had to force shoes on his little girl until she got used to it and now loves it)
    I left feeling guilty that I couldn’t afford $50+ for each of my 4 small children every few months. That I was allowing them to wear hand me downs and buying them a half size too big for growing room. At the same time, it just didn’t add up…the further back in time you get the less people wore shoes…I spent most of my childhood barefoot, indoors and out. (I’m a bit more cautious about out door, now, but we’re always bare foot indoor).
    I’m sure it helps them sell a lot of shoes, and I’ll still check their sales because barefoot at school is frowned upon, and good arch support is important when wearing shoes. But I don’t have any guilt for letting them in the back in flip flops!

    1. Post author
      Robin Konie

      Wow! Yeah, that’s weird because everything I’ve researched has said that it is our modern shoes that are causing all our problems. We were designed to go barefoot. And when weather doesn’t permit that, the less “shoe” the better. I wish it wasn’t such a social “no no” to go barefoot more places. I’d be all for it. :)

  18. Ema

    Yeah, in my country we always take off our shoes at home and use slippers, it is much more hygienic since you might have stepped on a poo down the street. It always amazes me that when Americans come to visit they don’t take their shoes off, we find it rude and offensive. I invited you, not your shoes’ dirt 😉

    1. Post author
      Robin Konie

      Yeah, even though I grew up here and was the “weird” house that took their shoes off, I’m at a point where it blows my mind that it’s not the norm.

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  20. Alex

    Oh well, this is good to know. Unfortunately my house feels dirty even though we take off our shoes at the door. And carpets are difficult to clean…

    I actually cannot stand to wear shoes for too long and the same goes with socks. I take mine off as soon as possible.

  21. Jo

    I didn’t realize it was such a common thing to wear shoes in the house! I’ve lived on 3 continents and have never seen this! Interesting…!

  22. Stephanie

    My problem is dogs also and now having a 5 month old I’m sickened to think what they bring in! I’m sure wiping their feet may help some but dogs roll, dig, wander,etc. I’m thinking wipes to wipe down their whole bodies at the door!

    1. Post author
      Robin Konie

      Couldn’t hurt. Although, keep in mind that many studies have shown that babies and kids with dogs have a better immune system than those who don’t. So don’t make yourself crazy over it. 😉

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  24. Jessica A

    Being raised in Asian culture, I do not wear outdoor shoes inside simply because it’s dirty. However, we do have separate indoor shoes and wear it only at home.

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