Just How Gross Are Bowling Shoes Really?

Are bowling shoes festering footwear or no threat to your tootsies at all?

Does this picture fill you with joy or with unholy fear and disgust?

For most of us, bowling shoes are a sign of fun to come -- once our feet are ensconced in these little beauties, we can walk out to the bowling lane and begin demolishing the opposition. But others find them terrifying -- thinking of them as a breeding ground for tinea, warts and other fungal infections. Like Jimmy Fallon, for example.

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So who is right?

Well, according to US podiatrist Thomas Vail, all of us are. They could be totally gross, but bowling alleys have to make sure they're not.

"Rented bowling shoes can be a host to several microorganisms including fungus, bacteria and the virus that causes warts," he said in a blog he wrote recently.

"Although the likelihood of getting a virus such as warts or a bacterial infection of the foot from rented bowling shoes is low, if you have a blister or open sore and the shoes are infected, and you are not wearing socks, then it is possible to pick up this type of infection very easily."

So how do we NOT pick up infections? By having strict rules about wearing and cleaning them, that's how.

All alleys will insist that you wear socks whenever you wear their bowling shoes to stop infection. Beyond this, it is down to the spray that is applied after using the shoes to protect your feet.

"At the very least, a bowling alley should incorporate an antifungal spray or powder in-between use of their rented shoes," said Vail.

Sanitising sprays kill 99.9% of the microorganisms that create odour, and that also cause athletes foot, toenail fungus, and onychomycosis. Excuse us while we go throw up.

Okay, delightful.

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Strike Bowling Brand Executive Georgia Rainey told 10 daily, "bowling shoe makers and bowling operators would have differing materials and policies to keep their shoes clean."

"But at Strike Bowling we regularly replace our shoes, spray them after every use with disinfectant and ALWAYS make sure people wear socks. We even stock socks if anyone turns up for a night out without any!"

And if you have you ever wondered why it is we wear them in the first place -- there is a reason we put on shoes that a million other people have already worn.

Bowling shoes prevent injury by allowing you to slide as you deliver the ball.  And stop when you've done it.

That approach to where you bowl needs to be clean and controlled so you don't fall over -- shoes that stick or that bring debris in from outside can be dangerous, which is why you're also supposed to take the shoes off when you go to the bathroom.

Basically, bowling shoes are worn to protect you and the lanes from damage.


Now, who wants to be frightened by the thought of what could be caught in the finger holes of your bowling ball?

Feature image: Getty