“Shoes and Pets and Mold”

Mold spores are everywhere. When found in areas with humidity levels above 50% and a food source (almost any organic matter, including dirt and dust), mold rapidly reproduces.  For those of us who are mold sensitive, we proactively take precautions in our homes to eliminate any existing mold and to control any new growth.  To do so, we clean areas susceptible to mold growth regularly, control indoor humidity levels, repair leaks and sources of water intrusion, and rinse away the mold spores that can enter our sinuses and cause health symptoms.

Unfortunately, no matter how hard we try, there are a few The source of disease can be tracked in.common “Achilles Heels” that still bring mold into our homes. Two of the most common of these avenues are shoes and pets.  Taking shoes off when entering your own or someone else’s home is often recognized as a cultural practice, and in some Eastern societies, as the cultural norm. For mold sufferers, adopting this practice at home is highly advantageous. It immediately lessens the chances of mold and bacteria that are commonly found on shoes, from being tracked inside onto carpets and floors, and in some cases, transferred onto upholstered furniture.  Leather shoes, in particular, can trap moisture inside of them and be a breeding ground for mold. Realizing this will get most mold-allergy sufferers quickly kicking their shoes off at the door.

Yesterday, on April 9, 2017, the Wall Street Journal published an article titled, “BURNING QUESTION:  Is it Healthier to Remove Your Shoes at Home?”   “It’s considered polite in some households, but are there more practical reasons for going shoeless inside?” The article focused mostly on dangerous bacteria; but it also applies, possibly more-so, to the tens of thousands of resistant microorganisms in the fungi family.

While it is unlikely that bacteria and mold tracked in by shoes will make the average person ill, for those who are mold-sensitive or immunocompromised and vulnerable, it is a valid concern. Shoes provide mold an entry point. Once inside, molds can release millions of microscopic spores into the air we breathe.  Wiping shoes on a door mat provides some benefit; however, it can also provide a means to gathering and tracking in mold that a previous entrant wiped onto the mat beforehand.

A physician friend who treats mold patients often challenges me to an experiment: Place white towels on the floor near both the front and back doors and wipe your shoes on those towels before entering your home for a week.  I tried it.  At the end of the week, I had filthy towels, that when tested for mold and bacteria with a mold test plate, had colonies and cultures that were too numerous to count. This tangible evidence both amazed and startled me by how freely mold and germs can enter our homes through the front door.

You may be wondering where all of this mold is congregating outside? Outdoors mold is everywhere. As things decompose, mold is part of that process. Our lawns, beds of mulch and pine straw hold moisture and breed mold to help complete the cycle of life. All of this organic matter is likely never mold free, simply because it retains moisture.

Regarding pets, mainly dogs, even indoor dogs must go outside to do their business.  They happily sniff and trample all over grass, mulch, etc. while outside.  They then come inside and track any mold their paws or fur picked up into all of their favorite places.  Miniature varieties, with their undersides exposed to the ground, often find their favorite relaxing places on our furniture. So, as you can see, when a furry pet is a part of your life, mold can quickly become an indoor problem.

For mold-sensitive people to mitigate the risk of bringing outdoor mold inside, here are a few easy tips:

  • Remove shoes when entering your home. You may be very surprised that guests will accommodate. They may also ask why and then consider this solution when they recognize the benefits on hygiene, health, and home.
  • Regularly mist carpets, welcome mats, pet beds, and rugs with EC3 Mold Solution Spray.
  • Regularly wipe down shoes with EC3 Mold Solution Spray. Pay special attention to leather shoes, as they often retain moisture inside.  Spray the insides of your shoes on alternate days to allow them to dry adequately between wears.
  • When taking your pets outside, leave a towel and EC3 Mold Solution Spray right by the door. Upon returning, spray EC3 Mold Solution on your pet and/or towel and wipe their paws (also stomach and chest for small pets) before re-entering the home.
  • Hang coats on a coat rack near the door before entering your home. Avoid draping coats over furniture or tossing them on your bed. Consider misting your coats with EC3 Mold Solution Spray, as needed, to ensure that they are not carrying mold.

For mold-sensitive patients, vigilance is critical to keeping our homes free from unnecessary mold.

In addition, mold breaks down materials over time. Shoes are often expensive. Frequently check on and clean expensive shoes that may be stored in original boxes or closet racks to keep them mold-free and to extend the life of these cherished wardrobe items.