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shoes on mat

Stop Dirt at Your Door: Leave Contaminants Outside!

By Mary Sue Kennington, Family & Consumer Sciences Extension Agent at UF/IFAS Extension-Orange County
Reviewed by Randy Cantrell, PhD, Department of Family, Youth, and Community Sciences, University of Florida

It sometimes seems like household dust has a way of magically appearing in my home. I’m betting the same thing is true in yours. But have you ever thought about what kinds of contaminants might be in that dust?

Studies indicate that ordinary, everyday household dust may contain insect fragments, lead, pollen, dust mites, pesticides, and a variety of other contaminants that can trigger asthma and allergies and contribute to grime build-up in your home. In fact, around 30 to 40 percent of the contaminants inside your home were brought in from outside.

Simple Solution: Doormats

You can reduce your exposure to these contaminants and reduce household cleaning simply by using a doormat! One EPA study revealed that when a doormat was used and shoes were not worn, lead dust and other chemicals in the home were reduced by about 60 percent. Take a minute to think about that number, especially if you have young children who crawl on the floor.

The proper use of doormats can also reduce indoor allergens and keep your home cleaner. Follow these simple tips to stop dirt at the door.

  • Place clean, non-worn, non-slip doormats at all inside and outside entrances to your home.
  • Make sure the doormats are large enough for people to take two strides across the mat to get the dirt off their shoes.
  • Freshen doormats routinely by vacuuming with a HEPA filter vacuum, or shaking or beating them with a broom outside.
  • Wash interior doormats according to the manufacturer’s label. To clean weather-resistant exterior mats, hose them down and scrub with a squirt of liquid soap. Air-dry both sides thoroughly before replacing them to prevent mold growth.
  • To further cut down on the amount of dirt entering your home, limit the number of entrances used by dogs, children and gardeners.
  • Better yet, request that your home become a shoeless zone.

The simple use of doormats can improve the health of your home and reduce the time you spend cleaning. It can also save you money by reducing health-care costs and cutting down on wear and tear on your carpets and floors.

(Photo credit: Family portrait by Sarah Joy. CC BY 2.0. Cropped.)

Further Reading

Leave it At the Door (from UGA Cooperative Extension)

Asthma Awareness: Characteristics of a Healthy Home (from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development)