Even though it might seem like a simple (read: less important) task, slipping your sneakers or heels off as soon as you walk through the front door is a step you shouldn't skip. Don't believe us? Here's every reason you should impose a "no shoes allowed" rule in your house immediately.
1. They could ruin your floors over time.
"Hard shoes or heels are more abrasive than socks or slippers," explains Carolyn Forte, director of the Cleaning Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute. So, yes, they'll scratch up your hardwoods over time. Not to mention, shoes also pick up small particles of grit that cause wear and tear on carpet.
2. They carry toxins that pollute the air in your home.
Research has shown that things like the chemicals you use to treat your lawn or the coal tar that's used on asphalt roads (which could cause cancer) can easily get tracked into your house on your shoes, and settle into nooks and crannies. Slipping your shoes off is an easy way to protect your health.
3. They track in dirt that ends up everywhere.
Of course, not everything you tread on outside is toxic—but a lot of it is, well, dirty. Do you really want the dust from the field or the soil from your garden (and whatever little critters have left there) in your home? You can tell your family to leave shoes at the door, but invest in a doormat to thwart debris from guests' shoes. Actually make it two doormats—one for the inside and one for the outside, so you've got double the chance of trapping dirt before it finds its way into your kitchen.
But Forte reminds us that you've got clean your doormats too: "I like to vacuum my mats on both sides, because vacuuming the back actually pushes out more embedded dirt on the front side."
4. They're a hot spot for icky bacteria.
Seriously, the ickiest of the icky: In a study by shoe company Rockport at the University of Arizona, they found that frequent contact with "fecal material" (most likely thanks to your trips to public restrooms) means shoes harbor a host of nasty bacteria, including E. coli. Yuck.
5. They hold back your feet from being their strongest.
While the arch support most shoes sport is key for comfort during the day, your feet shouldn't experience this support all the time. Walking barefoot helps keep feet and arches strong.
6. They might wake up your downstairs neighbor.
If you live in an apartment building and pride yourself on being a nice and considerate neighbor (like we hope you do), nix the shoes. They're super loud—especially if your unit boasts wood floors.
7. Left strewn about your house, shoes risk becoming your dog's favorite chew toy.
While leaving 'em out is fun for him, it's bad for your brand-new pumps. The puncture holes your furry friend's teeth leave are impossible to fix (which you've probably learned the hard way). If this is a problem in your household, start stashing them out of sight as soon as you get home.
8. They just add more annoying clutter to your home.
Here's how to prevent that stray tennis shoe from ending up in the bedroom with its pair nowhere in sight: Immediately take your shoes off and put them on a designated shelf (or bin or cubby) in your entryway as soon as you get home.
9. They stall relaxation time at the end of the day.
Do you really need an excuse to kick up your feet at the end of a long day? Well, here you go: When you remove your shoes, you're subconsciously telling your brain that you're done for the day and it's relaxation time. Go ahead, you deserve it.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.