6 Bacteria Commonly Found on Shoes

bacteria on shoes, shoe germs, shoe hygiene

6 Bacteria Commonly Found on Shoes

Shoes are dirty—anyone who’s taken a look at the underside of their shoes before knows.

But shoes aren’t just dirty in the sense that they’ll muddy up your otherwise spotless floors. They’re dirty in the way that gets you sick. Dangerous germs live on your shoes.

Shoes carry all kinds of bacteria, viruses, toxins, and even fungi on their soles. As our society becomes more informed about shoe bacteria, and the role that they play in disease transmission, the need for a more comprehensive shoe hygiene solution becomes urgent.

Many people spend their time worrying about the bacteria on the inside of their shoes. After all, the bacteria inside can make shoes smell pretty dreadful—and it can cause nasty fungal infections like athlete’s foot.

But according to the science, you should be much more worried about what's on your shoes than what's in them.

Germs on Shoes

A study by the University of Arizona found that the average shoes carry over 421,000 units of bacteria on the outside, versus less than 3,000 units of bacteria on the inside. The overwhelming majority of those pathogens are living on the bottom of your shoes.

That’s right—over 99% of the microbial load on your shoes is found on the bottoms of your shoes, not inside your shoes.

And you may think those germs are not a major cause for concern, because you don’t touch the bottoms of your shoes regularly. But here’s what you’re missing.

Germs can live on the bottom of your shoes for weeks. Remember that gas station bathroom you went into last week? The one where you practically had to hold your breath the entire time because it was so gross? All the germs that were living on that floor are probably still alive on the bottom of your shoes.

But they don’t just survive on the bottoms of your shoes. They thrive.

shoe germs
Bacteria can live on porous shoes soles for weeks

Every day, you walk across tiny organic material on the ground. Whether it’s human fecal matter from a bathroom, or trash residue on the sidewalk, your shoe soles pick up the organic matter like a sponge. And then the bacteria feed on it, growing substantial colonies all across your shoe soles.

The bottoms of our shoes are cesspits of contamination.We move through our lives, unknowingly spreading dangerous pathogens in our wake.

We walk through our offices, shedding bacteria onto the ground and into the air with every step we take. We sit in our car with air vents blowing on our feet, circulating those pathogens throughout the cabin. We walk into our kitchen and shed shoe germs that spread through the air to land on countertops and sinks.

But what kind of shoe germs are we really spreading here? Surely it’s not the kind of bacteria that is truly dangerous to humans, right? Think again.

6 Bacteria Commonly Found on Shoes

Statistically, you likely have at least one of these bacteria living on your shoes right now, if you’ve worn them in public sometime over the past couple weeks.

E. coli

Escherichia coli (E. coli) normally live in the intestines of animals and people. But they become a problem when they spread outside of the intestinal tract, often through fecal matter, and get into places they shouldn’t be.

e. coli on shoes

E. coli infection can cause diarrhea, stomach cramps, and fever, and in some rare cases can lead to kidney failure and death.

Symptoms of E. coli infection can last for up to 2 weeks.

Multiple studies have confirmed that E. Coli can be commonly found on shoe soles.

C. difficile

Clostridium difficile, commonly known as C. Diff, is another bacterium commonly found on shoe soles.

shoe bacteria

C. diff is a highly contagious bacterium that causes diarrhea and colon inflammation. It’s estimated to cause almost half a million infections and around 15,000 deaths in the United States each year.

C. difficile can cause diarrhea and serious infections of the large intestine. It releases toxins in your gut that damage the cells in your intestinal lining. C. difficile spores are very hard to kill: they’re resistant to heat, acid, and many antibiotics and disinfectants. They can also survive on surfaces for months.

Clostridium difficile is particularly dangerous to the elderly. One in 11 people over age 65 who develop a C. diff infection die within one month.


MRSA stands for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureua, a type of bacteria that is highly resistant to antibiotics.

dangerous bacteria on shoes

MRSA is a dangerous bacterium that causes skin infections, pneumonia, bloodstream infections, and surgical site infections. Once the germ enters the body, it can spread to bones, joints, the blood, or any organ such as the lungs, heart, or brain.

MRSA infection is particularly dangerous in healthcare settings. Infections from healthcare facilities tend to be severe, and can lead to sepsis and death.

According to a 2022 study, contaminated shoes are considered an “underappreciated source” of MRSA dissemination in healthcare facilities.

Klebsiella pneumoniae

Klebsiella is a type of gram-negative bacteria that can cause different types of healthcare-associated infections, including pneumonia, bloodstream infections, wound or surgical site infections, and meningitis.

germs on shoe soles

Klebsiella are particularly dangerous because they have developed some significant resistance to antibiotics, just like MRSA.

If Klebsiella pneumoniae spread into the areas of the body beyond your intestines, they can turn into “superbugs” that are nearly impossible to fight with common antibiotics.

Many people who get a Klebsiella infection do eventually recover, but some cases can be deadly, particularly if someone is already sick beforehand.

Serratia ficaria

Serratia ficaria is a lesser-known pathogen that can be extremely dangerous for immunocompromised individuals.

shoe soles spread disease

Serratia can cause serious respiratory infections and painful, dangerous abscesses under the skin that can be difficult to treat. Serratia species can also harbor multidrug resistance mechanisms that make treatment complicated.

Serratia is another bacteria that can be commonly found on the bottom of your shoes, which is spread whenever air circulates or when you take a walk.


Streptococcus, or Strep for short, is a germ that most of us already know about.

The majority of Strep infections cause relatively mild (if still unpleasant) illnesses, such as strep throat and impetigo. Occasionally, however, a Strep infection can cause much more severe and even life-threatening diseases such as necrotizing fasciitis (occasionally describes as “the flesh-eating bacteria”) and streptococcal toxic shock syndrome (STSS).

bacterium found on shoes

Streptococcus is quite contagious and spreads easily.

A 2002 study found that the majority of shoes tested were contaminated with Streptococcus.

How to Kill Bacteria on Shoes

We’ve known about the issue of shoe-borne pathogens for many years now, but there hasn’t been an effective solution to the problem.

For so long, the only practical solution has been to avoid wearing contaminated shoes into the house. Not a perfect solution—it’s inconvenient, and germs still shed off your shoes into the air once you’ve taken them off. But it’s better than nothing!

Now, all that has changed.

Finally, there’s an easy & effective way to incorporate Shoe Hygiene into your everyday routine.

The Shoetizer is a ground-breaking product that disinfects and sanitizes your shoes in seconds.

how to kill bacteria on shoes

Powered by an EPA-registered disinfectant, the Shoetizer eradicates over 99% of harmful bacteria and viruses, including SARS-CoV-2. Afterward the device leaves a protective film on your shoes that kills germs and pathogens on contact for up to 24 hours.

No more leaving dangerous bacteria and viruses in your footsteps everywhere you go. No more exposing vulnerable people to contamination that can harm them. No more worrying about taking your shoes off every time you get home.

Just a few seconds standing on the mat, and you’re good to go.

The Shoetizer was developed to protect vulnerable people from avoidable infection, illness, and death. When you have young children, elders, sick family members, or immunocompromised people under your care, they rely on you for protection.

The Shoetizer gives them the protection they need, and gives you the peace of mind you deserve.

A New Era of Shoe Hygiene
shoe disinfecting mat

Everywhere we go, we leave dangerous germs and viruses in our footsteps. The science is clear—our shoes are one of the most dangerous sources of contamination and illness in today's world.

The Shoetizer is a ground-breaking product that disinfects and sanitizes your shoes in seconds.

Powered by an EPA-registered disinfectant, the Shoetizer eradicates over 99% of harmful bacteria and viruses, including SARS-CoV-2. Afterward the device leaves a protective film on your shoes that kills germs and pathogens on contact for up to 24 hours.