Shoes in the shower? Isn’t that a little bit? After all, isn’t the idea to remove everything so you can get squeaky clean from head to toe? Increasingly however people are investing in – and wearing – shoes in the shower, as one look at the offerings in almost any shoe store will demonstrate.
But why should you wear shower shoes – or flip flops – in the shower? If you are in your own home you probably don’t need to. But if you share a shower, with roommates, and especially if you shower at the gym or in a college dorm, an increasing number of experts agree that you should, primarily as protection against ‘invisible’ germs that could lead to foot infections.
Communal showers and disease
We think of a shower as a place we head to get clean, and at first glance most communal showers at gyms and in college dorms look pretty clean don’t they? However, according to a research study conducted by FitRated found that the average gym shower stall contains more bacteria than the average public toilet (eww) and that a barefoot shower may be little more than bathing your feet in germs. The bad news for college students? Checking dorm showers resulted in very similar results.
The bacteria that barefoot showering puts people at risk for covers more than just the obvious – things like athletes foot or fungal nail infections – it also, according to experts, can include harmful bacteria that can lead to everything from flu to MRSA , ‘Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus,’ a type of staph infection that is resistant to the most used antibiotics and can lead to life threatening infections all over the body.
The bacteria can survive even the cleanest showers, according to experts, and the fact is, over the course of the day a busy shower in the average gym or college dorm is not cleaned after every use, instead it might be cleaned every day or so (often because people assume that showers are very clean) and so even if showers started the day clean and fully disinfected it will only be a few hours before the bacteria is back.
One of the ways that many health experts – including health experts from the CDC suggest that people protect themselves when using communal showers is to wear shower shoes at all times, both when making their to the shower and when they are actually making use of it.
What is a shower shoe?
If you have yet to ever wear them you might be wondering what a shower shoe actually is. In a nutshell a shower shoe is a water resistant slide that offers both protection for your feet from the bacteria and germs we just described while also offering good traction to prevent slip and slide accidents which would obviously be a risk if one choose to wear smooth soled shoes in the shower.
Can you wear flip flops as shower shoes?
Some people wonder if they really need to invest in specialist shower shoes – which are not always particularly inexpensive – to take to the gym with them (or to wear around college dorm bathrooms) when they could perhaps wear flip flops instead. After all, flip flops are easy to wear and usually far cheaper, especially as you can usually pick up a pair at the local dollar store with ease.
You could choose to wear flip flops in the shower, but most types do have several disadvantages when compared to shower slides and other shower shoe options. The first is that most flip flops really don’t offer a lot of traction. They were created to be worn at the beach and in the ocean, and sand offers lots of traction of its own, unlike the tiled floors of the average gym or college bathroom.
The second is a matter of showering practicality. At some point during your shower you will have to remove a shoe briefly in order to wash your feet. This does call for something of a brief balancing act and slides are far easier to remove than flip flops (the toe posts tend to present an issue)
However, all of this being said wearing flip flops in the shower is better than wearing nothing at all, so if they are all you have access to they should be worn. Just make sure you dry them well after use, otherwise they themselves could become moldy and begin to harbour some of the bad bacteria you have been wearing them to avoid.
Should you wear shower shoes in college?
If you look at the average recommended supplies list given to freshman college students to help them shop for essentials you will usually see shower shoes fairly high on the list these days. And there is a good reason for this. It is very, very rare that a college student has a shower that is exclusively for their use only.
The types of shower a college student must use will vary from dorm to dorm and college to college of course. Some dorms offer large, open communal showers, others offer shower cubicles and, for those who live in smaller, on campus (or even off campus) apartments there is often a bathroom to be shared among three or four people. But whatever their living arrangements, almost every college student has to share a shower with at least a few other people. So yes, most people would say that shower shoes really are a must.
Should you wear shower shoes at the gym?
Shower shoes are perhaps even more of an essential for gym goers than they are for college students. The average gym sees dozens of people make use of the same shower facilities over the course of the day, and then means lots and lots of bacteria, both within the shower stalls themselves and on the floors that lead to them. So going barefoot in a gym locker room in general is never a good idea, whether you intend to use the shower or not.
So, what makes for good shower shoes?
Having established that wearing shower shoes is a good idea whenever you are not showering in the comfort of your own home in a shower that you know you have just cleaned yourself, what kind of shower shoes should you buy? Here’s a look at five things you should look for in a shower shoe, whatever style or brand you later decide upon.
Slip resistant: We have all once slipped on some soap in the shower and it wasn’t pretty. We have learned our lesson, but the wrong flip flops/sandals in the shower can increase the chances of slipping. Not only can this be dangerous, but it can also leave a nasty bruise. Shower shoes are supposed to protect you.
That your shower shoes should be water resistant seems like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised by the number of people who opt to make use of flip flops in the shower forgetting – or overlooking – the fact that they have cloth accents that once wet will take more than few minutes to dry (making them possible magnets for bacteria themselves) And even when they do dry off if they are used regularly – and have to be dried off often – they are likely to become stiff in places and uncomfortable to wear.
Ideally a good shower shoe should be completely water resistant, from toe to heel and only feature harder materials that dry off quickly and easily.
Ease of care
While we are on the subject, a good shower shoe should be easy to care for in general. While dirt should come off in the shower any stray bacteria may not, so ideally you should be able to wipe your shower shoes with an antibacterial wipe and have them still dry in minutes.
A good shower shoe should be as durable as possible because, for the average college student or gym goer the chances are good that they are going to see almost daily wear. If you choose to make use of standard flip flops as shower shoes this may often become a problem, especially if you choose a very inexpensive pair. Have you ever had a flip flop break in the shower? Many people have and it is at that point they begin wishing that they had chosen a shower shoe that was a little more robust.
The best shower shoes are those that are designed and crafted for frequent wear and yet are also made from materials that offer long wear. That means that you really should consider making the investment in a more robust shower shoe, especially as they will offer a better ROI in the end.
No one likes uncomfortable shoes of any kind do they, and that is especially true of shoes that will be worn as often as shower shoes. If the shoes are too tight they may cause blisters (wet feet can be especially prone to blistering) And for college students especially the walk from the dorm room to the showers can be a lengthy one, so you will want to make sure that your shower shoes are comfortable to walk in and don’t pinch.
Can you wear slides in the shower?
Slides may in fact be some of the best shower shoes of all, as long as they are water resistant and fairly robust. Many of the larger sports shoes manufacturers – companies like Adidas, Reebok, Nike and Underarmour now offer a range of shower slides for both men and women that are some of the bestselling shower shoes of all.
One of the advantages that slides offer in terms of wear is that they are easy to take on and off and make that ‘one foot’ balance during a shower a little easier as they offer a large upper surface to stand on! They are also usually crafted from either a durable rubber or TPU so offer great durability and the open backs make them a little more comfortable to walk in than tighter, enclosed shower shoes.
What other types of shower shoes are available?
As we mentioned right at the start of this piece the number of different shower shoe options available right now is increasing all the time. While they are being offered by many different manufacturers there are some basic types that shower shoes in general can be sorted into:
Slides: Athletic slides have been around for decades, but the new generation of shower slides with an athletic bent is better than ever.
For example, the best selling Men’s Adilette Shower Slide Sandal, which is also the choice of many ladies according to numerous online reviews, has a classic sports slide profile – and those famous Adidas stripes – but actually packs a lot of technology into a single shoe. They feature a memory foam like ‘Cloudbed’ footbed for extra walking comfort, a TPU upper for extra durability and a suede sole to provide additional traction without bulk.
And it’s not just Adidas who have upped their shower slide game. Similar offerings from Nike, Reebok and Under Armour all offer a great way to protect your feet when you shower and most styles are very unisex in appearance, so there is a lot to choose from.
Shower flip flops
Shower flip flops are not the standard issue from the beach store shoes that you are used to. While they offer the same open, toe-posted style profile they are completely crafted from durable materials like rubber and TPU and offer a lot more grip and slip resistance on the sole. They are also easy to clean, dry quickly and hold their shape well even after long wear. So, if you do prefer to make use of a flip flop in the shower these sturdier options are the way to go.
Enclosed shower shoes
A growing number of shower shoes are being offered in closed shoe form. This does offer the advantage that they are less likely to slip off and, in some cases, may be easier and more secure to walk in, especially on floors that may already be wet and slippy, as can be the case at a busy gym or the changing room at a public pool (where shower shoes should also be worn by the way, there are lots of germs there too.)
But how do you get your feet clean? The answer is via strategically placed holes in the shoes that allow water in. Many of them look a lot like clogs and have a similar rather snug and supportive fit, so for those with flat feet, or people who have difficulty getting shoes on and off quickly these may be a better choice than a standard slide.
Are crocs good shower shoes?
If you thought that the enclosed shower shoes we just described sounded a lot like Crocs then you would not be wrong. And in fact Crocs do now offer a line of shower shoes themselves. And in a wider variety of styles than you might imagine.
The original clog style Croc is available as a shower shoe of course, and it makes a good choice as it’s design lends itself very well to the shower shoe concept as is. Crocs clogs for the shower are crafted however from a somewhat lighter material than the standard ‘dry land’ Crocs that makes them easier to wear in the water. And Crocs also now offer slide and flip flop style shower shoes, so if this is a brand you like they certainly have a lot to offer you.
How much will a good pair of shower shoes cost me?
So how much can you expect to pay for a good pair of shower shoes (we realize that this question is especially important to college students on a budget)? The answer is anywhere between $5 and $45, with the average for a good quality pair being around $22 (based on Amazon pricing)
Pricing is not always based on the actual function of the shoes of course. You will always pay for Adidas or Nike shoes than you will for ‘no-name’ versions but just because shower shoes are being offered by a company you are less than familiar with does not mean that they are not the right choice for you.
If you are shopping for shower shoes – either on or offline – and you want to make sure you get the biggest bang for your buck take the time to do a little research before you buy. Spend a few minutes reading online reviews and making use of the comparison tables that many sites offer. After all, your new shower shoes will have some very important work to do – keeping you and your feet healthy, and so you do want to be as certain as possible that the shower shoes you choose are up to the job!