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How Long Does E. Coli Live on Shoes? Reducing E. Coli Exposure

Facts About E. Coli and Bacteria Spread on Shoes

Bacteria and viruses live on all kinds of surfaces, including skin. It is impossible to kill them all, nor should you. Healthy bacteria have a place in every ecosystem, and exposure to germs in small doses can help strengthen your immune system and support your food digestion.


Because attention is mostly paid to pathogens being present on touch surfaces such as counters and doorknobs, it is easy to disregard other potential vectors of collection and transmission such as shoes. 

Dangers of Infections, such as Urinary Tract Infections, From Fecal Bacteria


What types of bacteria should you avoid? The main culprits behind bacterial infections include Escherichia coli, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, Clostridium difficile, salmonella, and Klebsiella pneumonia.


These pathogens can cause several disease processes such as urinary tract infections, meningitis, and sepsis, which can be fatal. All it takes is the wrong bacteria finding their way into your body through a sore, scratch or medical instrument to make you sick.

How Long Do E. Coli Bacteria Live on Shoes?

Multiple studies have all confirmed the same data: E. coli can survive on the soles of your shoes. If you think about all the places you walk, you can see how prevalent fecal matter and other contaminates are in the world around you.


That does not assume automatic infection from this or other bacteria found on your shoes, just the bacteria is transferred anywhere you walk. These germs can only live for a few hours or up to a day if left undisturbed, though additional research may determine if a virus or pathogen can survive longer than that.

Is It Possible to Be Too Clean?

It is impossible and inadvisable to kill every virus or germ, as healthy bacteria are essential parts of our ecosystem and our bodies. A healthy immune system is strengthened and fortified thanks to regular exposure to a wide range of microorganisms. But it is important to maintain clean spaces when thinking about areas with high levels of exposure or housing people with compromised immune systems. This can apply to domestic spaces like bedrooms and dining spaces, or commercial/healthcare spaces, such as hospitals, extended living facilities, food/sterile manufacturing and departments for first responders.


You can remove some risk of exposure to harmful microbes by cleaning your environment thoroughly. Keep your floors and other surfaces germ-free with cleaning products or disinfectants, and vacuum regularly to remove dust or small particles that provide a place for bacteria to live. But this only goes so far.


Mopping a floor, while an essential cleaning protocol for any controlled space, is essentially ineffective within 3 hours, as floors will return to previous levels of contamination. While in a domestic environment this may not cause issues, this presents serious hazard within healthcare facilities.

Other Questions People Also Ask


How long does E. coli live on fabric?

While E. Coli does not typically survive longer than a day outside of the human body, it can live on certain fabrics for up to a few weeks.


How long does E. coli survive on surfaces?

E. Coli can live longer on porous materials than on hard surfaces: from a few hours to several weeks.


Can bacteria live on shoes?

Multiple scientific studies demonstrate that bacteria and viruses can live on shoe soles, and this can then cause spread to other areas.


How long can bacteria live on fabric?

Depending on the type of fabric, bacteria can survive from several days to over six months. They live longer on cotton than on polyester blends because cotton is more absorbent.


How long do bacteria live on shoes?

Most bacteria only survive for several hours and up to a few days on soft materials like shoes, although some types, such as C. difficile, may live much longer. 


Stop Shoe Bacteria in Their Tracks


Shoes have been an ignored potential vector for pathogenic spread, mostly because there has not been an easy, clean and reliable way to properly disinfect shoe soles. With HealthySole, you can prevent the spread of germs and viruses using UV technology. Contact us to learn more about our shoe-sanitizing system.

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