Key Takeaway: Cleaning your shoes regularly is one way to promote overall wellness even at home. This is because in cleaning them regularly, you also clean out dirt and bacteria, especially from the soles, that can bring about malaise to your home.
Let’s walk through another visualization exercise now.
Imagine yourself preparing for work on a weekday or for a weekend out, you name it. So you put on your shirt, your pants, your socks (if at all), then your shoes. You do your regular commute to work, be it public transportation or driving, or you do the same wherever you’re going, you name it. You do a lot of walking throughout the day, whether it be within the confines of your office building, or the park, or shopping at the mall, you name it. You arrive home at night and continue doing your thing at home – preparing supper, lounging in the living room, you name it.
From dawn to dusk, your shoes must have walked miles. But, more importantly, oh the places they’ve gone! Think of all the dirt, the grime… the germs, the bacteria, all clinging to the soles of your shoes. And all this while you’re standing in your home – perhaps even your own kitchen or pantry, where all the food is.
A recipe for getting sick easily.
There’s a reason we launder most of our clothes when we get home at the end of a long day – most because some we don’t bother to have washed or dry-cleaned for a period of time, like jeans. Not only because we may be sweaty and they’d smell bad the next day, but also because they’ve been out and about, and exposed to whatever potentially harmful particles that are hanging in the air, especially in an urban setting. This is true especially for places like Metro Manila and Shanghai, notorious for their pollution.
The same goes for shoes. Especially shoes, because a part of them touches the solid and dirty ground constantly. If your home has crawling kids, though too much cleanliness can eventually weaken them (more on that next time), naturally, too much dirt will also weaken, probably even kill them. But, kids or no kids, we need to reduce the harmful particles at home to a minimum, and cleaning shoes regularly at home helps.
My best friend and his family are mostly neat freaks, more than us. He washes his shoes every day whenever he uses them. Since he wears only running shoes, he can afford to wash them thoroughly, and they do so.
I used to simply wipe my shoes on our doormat at home, since they’re designed in a way to easily scrape off dirt from the soles. But that would be akin to wiping your spoon or fork with a dry napkin. It still wouldn’t be clean. And, worse, I’d store them straight in my shoe rack, which was originally in my own bathroom.
Now I know why I was sickly.
But even after the shoe rack was taken away and I eventually shared shoe shelves downstairs with my 二哥 (before he started disposing of his no-longer-worn shoes and we removed our sandals, they took up the whole cabinet), I don’t think I was entirely satisfied. If the shoes were placed in the cabinet dirty, then it would provide a very fertile breeding ground for germs, since the space is dark and cool – and possibly damp, with the sweat from our feet. And it would make the housekeepers’ cleaning job only harder.
Better to do things in advance and save up on lots of time and effort later, as The Honourable Nigella Lawson always preached in her Nigella Express show. So I started arranging for my shoes to be cleaned every time I came home in them. Since all of my shoes, except for my sandals, are made of leather, and only my Timberland boots are waterproof, I always have just the soles washed and then a damp cloth applied to the leather upper, so as not to ruin the shoes (remember, to take care of your things is a display of responsibility, not obsessive materialism). Lately, I’ve been using the same pair of shoes for up to 3 days in a row, just placing them outside the shoe cabinets (near our sandal rack) while they’re not being washed yet.
You may say, more water and soap used, and if the latter is made of chemicals, might you not be hypocritical? True, more water and soap. But there is all-natural soap, and you don’t have to use a shower’s worth of water in cleaning something as long and wide as your arm (conserve!). On the other hand, dirt and grime are harmful, always. Better to clean them now than pay for fumigation, professional cleaning, or even medical bills later.
For athletic shoes and sneakers – those made of canvas or rubber – go ahead and wash them entirely. For leather shoes, here’s a guide by Gear Patrol to clean the leather upper without harming them. They’re for boots, but you can apply them to your dress shoes too.
Have a great weekend and don’t forget to clean your shoes at home!