Q3: Isn’t it gross with all the dirt?
Not at all. But it’s all a matter of perspective. Shoes get just as dirty as bare feet, and nobody gives it a second thought. The bottoms of shoes are exposed to everything that bare feet would be exposed to when walking on the same surface. Yet, not only are shoes never washed, they are handled regularly with bare hands – when people take them off or put them back on – usually without washing their hands afterward, which then touch other things, including body parts, food, and other people.
The soles of bare feet, due to skin coloring, sometimes may appear dirtier than shoes on the bottom, but they really aren’t. Feet are also smooth on the bottoms – like leather, especially after they become tough and conditioned – and any dirt that may happen to get on them is usually soon just naturally wiped off as we continue to walk. It’s been said that bare feet are self-cleaning. Not so with shoes, whose ridges and crevices in their soles trap not only dirt, but a variety of things that get stepped on.
As to something truly repugnant on the ground, e.g., dog feces, etc., it’s highly unlikely that anyone barefoot would ever even step on something like that. But if they did, they’d feel it immediately and be able to wash it off right away. That’s because barefooters by necessity are keenly aware of where they are stepping, unlike shoe wearers who may not even know what they’ve stepped in until after they’ve tracked it everywhere, including their car, their home, other people’s homes or businesses.
But the insides of shoes are the worst. We don’t usually think of them as “dirty,” but the insides of shoes are a virtual Petri dish of bacteria and fungus growth due to constant sweat and dead skin cell accumulation. And that’s always quite apparent when someone removes shoes that have been worn for a while, only to encounter the unpleasant smell of stinky feet. It’s not the feet causing it. It’s the shoes. Now, that is indeed dirty and gross in every possible negative sense of the words.