I have a bad reputation. Oh stop it, not in that way. No, my bad rep comes from my insistence that anyone who comes into our home has to take off his shoes. And wash his hands. And do a little jig. Ok, not that last one.
But I’m hard-ass about the first two and for good reason. Leaving shoes at the door and washing hands can reduce toxicants in the home up to 60%. That’s 60% fewer carcinogens, neurotoxins and infectious bacteria in your home. That’s 60% fewer dangerous chemicals in your child’s bedroom.
We started these practices on the advice of our pediatrician when our first child was born and 12 years/4 children later I’m still pretty adamant about it. And my friends know it.
Yeah, people get annoyed at the no-kicks rule, even if they don’t have holes in their socks or chipped pedicures. But I don’t care! Because I’ve learned that sticking to this practice is an awesome way to:
1) Keep pesticides, arsenic, lead and other hard metals off our bedroom floors (the EPA has found that pesticides on shoes is a real source of toxic exposure for kids)
2) Stop dog excrement and other bacteria from getting on my kitchen tiles (and while we’re on it, scoop up after your pooches, people)
3) Keep grime out of the mouths of babes (they crawl, they touch, they eat)
4) Protect wood floors from getting scratched and carpets from getting muddied (yup, I care about aesthetics too)
5) Avoid howling kids (someone with extremely pointy shoes once stepped on my daughter’s tiny toe and I swear, from the sound of it, she now knows the pain of childbirth)
Same idea for hand-washing. Sure, you enjoyed that peach on the way over here, but I’d rather those pesticides on your fingers not muck up my fridge handle. So come on in, knock off your shoes, head over to the bathroom and wash pesticides, bacteria, BPA (from handling receipts, for example) and germs off your hands. And no shortcuts. Use the soap – that’s why it’s there.
I’ve trained my kids well in both these practices and its all become second nature to them. They take off their shoes and wash their hands without even thinking.
Now I readily admit that I bend the rules sometimes. For our big housewarming party, I really wanted to wear my new stilettos and the hostess in me couldn’t, in good conscience, make everyone else go barefoot. And frankly, flexibility is key, in many aspects of life. Although I did make everyone do a jig.
But really folks, this one is easy. Adopt these simple, yet powerful habits and you’ll reduce toxicants and increase indoor air quality in your home. And, hey, let your reputation precede you.