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Is it Safe to Share Shoes?

Consider purchasing your own

There are certain personal items you should never share. Undergarments including socks, handkerchiefs, toothbrush and towels are some of the common items that people know are not to be shared. T-shirts, jeans, trousers, tops, jackets or cardigans are a different story.

Parents pass down their clothes to their teenage children, clothes of older siblings are passed on to the younger ones and friends often share multiple apparels and accessories. Not every accessory should be shared though. Earrings may seem safe but they are not. The same applies to nose studs. Other jewelry items such as necklaces or pendants and bangles are exempted and can be shared if a person does not have obvious signs of any infection.

Shoes are a tricky territory. At the superficial level, sharing shoes doesn't seem to be a problem. After all it is footwear and what can be so wrong about sharing an item that anyway is meant to tread on the roads, parks or grounds and all over the world. The truth is it is not safe to share shoes. There is a plethora of concerns here that must be duly considered before sharing shoes with friends or among family and passing them down to children.

Physiological Incompatibility is Irrefutable

Human feet have been standardized by shoe manufacturers. The United States has its own standard of sizes, the United Kingdom has a different method and many countries around the world follow either of the two or have their own system of sizing shoes. Whatever is your size, it may not be and perhaps is not the same as your partner, friend, child or someone in the family with whom you may intend to share your footwear. Even if the sizes appear to be same, there will be physiological differences.

Two people can have the same shoe size but the exact contours of their feet may be noticeably or subtly different. One person may have much broader or slimmer feet than the other, despite the same length from ankle to toe. Some people may have larger or smaller ankles, longer or shorter toes, the toes could be wider and the feet could be heavier. The curvature of the feet may also vary from one person to another, regardless of the same overall size.

Bearing in mind the several possible dissimilarities between the feet of two individuals, can the same shoe fit both people perfectly? If yes, then sharing shoes may be fine, at least from the prism of this perspective. There are other concerns that need to be considered. If the feet of two individuals are not identical, then sharing is out of the question.

The Altered Form of the Shoes

Whether you have a pair of inexpensive flip-flops or an expensive pair of sneakers, all shoes will undergo a change in their form over a period of regular use. The way you stand, the way you walk or run and the manner in which you keep your feet on the ground while sitting as well as how you care for your shoes will have an indelible effect on the exact form of the footwear. Any shoe will undergo a change in response to the shape of your feet and all the actions we have just mentioned.

In other words, the shoe you had purchased from the store is no longer what you have at the time of sharing it with someone. Hence, it is not sharable. The shoes have adapted their forms to suit your feet and that may not be what someone else needs. This may not seem to be much of a concern when it comes to flip-flops or comfy loafers but the difference is more than subtle. There are adverse consequences in regards to comfort, support for your feet, including the ankles, arches and toes, and overall posture, whether you are standing or walking.

Sharing Shoes is Unhygienic and Unsafe

Your feet are a thriving ground for various microbes, most notably fungus. The nails on your toes are the most vulnerable spots. The area between two toes is less vulnerable but still a concern. The most discomforting reality is the fact that fungus can live on in shoes, from flip-flops to work boots. You may not even realize this but you would be actually infecting the person you are sharing your footwear with.

It is true that wet shoes or those who work in environments where there is relatively high humidity or exposure to moisture will be more vulnerable to an excessive growth of fungus. But even those who wear socks all day and work in reasonably clean & hygienic environments will also have fungus on their feet. It is best to not facilitate the spread of such fungus by sharing footwear.

In the best case scenarios, shared shoes will be uncomfortable and unsupportive to wear. At its worst, it can facilitate serious problems in natural posture and spread microbial infections.

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