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Disposable Shoe Cover vs. Reusable Shoe Cover: Which is better?

Several industries have sworn to using shoe covers as part of their standard personal protective equipment (PPE).  Among those that require the use of shoe covers are medical facilities, laboratories, construction, food manufacturing, livestock and research.  The benefits of using shoe covers should not be downplayed.  They are, after all, a vital part of the whole PPE package.  

 

There are different types of shoe covers, made of different materials.  With a wide selection from the world over, a question arises – which is better, a disposable shoe cover or a reusable one?  We have clustered the comparison between the two to determine which could better serve the purpose you need it for.

  • Price or Cost

  • One factor being seriously looked into when deciding whether to go disposable or reusable is cost.   It would seem that this is where a disposable shoe cover could win over the reusable ones.  Disposable shoe covers come in packs of 50s or 100s at a price that could even land at less than $10 per pack.  The price of reusable ones, on the other hand, can go from $15 to $30 per pair.

    Cost, however, shouldn’t be the sole basis in deciding which to purchase.  It must be laid down along with other factors so you can properly make a judgment call.

  • Appearance

  • Shoe covers were not made for you to make a fashion statement.  They were designed for ease of wearing.  The slip-on feature is a much needed necessity to do a more time-efficient way to put them on.   Both have this feature but which looks better on you, you might ask.

    A disposable shoe cover usually has a no-frills design.   It is not contoured to shape like a shoe, making it look like you wore a plastic bag over your shoes.  A reusable shoe cover boasts of being more contoured to take the shape of your shoes.  The added layer over your shoes creates a more seamless look.

  • Strength and Durability

  • Shoe covers are meant to protect your shoes and the flooring you step on.  Thus, it is a must that they can withstand the elements that you have to deal with like liquid, dust, rocks, mud and others.  

    Disposable shoe covers, being made of extremely thin sheet of plastic or fabric may not be too durable for longer use.  As it is called, it is for single use and must be disposed after.  Reusable shoe covers are made of different materials that make it suitable for long-time use.  There’s neoprene, silicone, rubber, nylon and others.  When it comes to strength and durability, reusable shoe covers take the win.

  • Cross-contamination

  • If you are working for a hospital, food manufacturing, or a facility whose ultimate goal of wearing shoe covers is to prevent cross-contamination, then the best option would be one that can be easily removed and replaced when moving from one room to another.  It must also be properly disposed of after use to prevent any instance of contamination.  In this case, disposable shoe covers are better.

     

  • Controlled environment

  • Aside from the cross-contamination factor, another one that must be considered is if you are to use shoe covers in a controlled environment where an area is sanitized and disinfected.  When you are working in such areas, there must be zero tolerance to dust, mud, or any other particles that can disturb a rather controlled environment.

    Reusable shoe covers, no matter how many times they might have been washed and sanitized, could still have the risk that they could bring in dust from the outside.  Disposable shoe covers come out clean every time from the box.  It is therefore advisable in this case to use disposable ones.

     

  • Floor Protection

  • Little rocks or stones can get lodged in the soles of your shoes and can damage the floors when you don’t use shoe covers.  This will hold especially true for construction workers or movers that work in their clients’ homes.  To protect the floors of the homes, they must wear shoe covers to make sure that they cannot scratch the floors. 

    Disposable ones, being made from a thin sheet may not do a very good job in protecting floors.  Reusable ones are more appropriate to wear to serve this purpose.

     

  • Easy usage

  • While both are easy to use, the maintenance part is where both differ.  Disposable shoe covers are easy to slip-on and easy to dispose of.  There is no maintenance effort on your part other than to dispose of them properly.  

    For reusable ones, there is a maintenance process that you have to undertake to ensure that they are ready for proper use the next time – clean and functional.  It must also be done to make your reusable shoe covers last long.  You have to wash them thoroughly to get the dirt and germs out, dry them before you can use them again.  If this is something that you wouldn’t have the commitment to do, then go disposable.

  • Storage

  • If you need more of one thing, then you need storage to keep them.  This is true for disposable shoe covers that come in boxes of even hundreds.  If you need to use them often then you need to have several boxes in your stockpile.  You would need a bigger storage if your facility is home to hundreds of workers too that change shoe covers often.

    This will not be a problem to consider for reusable shoe covers though for if you only need at most two, then you can just put them inside your lockers along with your shoes or socks.

     

  • Environmental and Ecological Impact

  • There is one important factor that you also have to consider when choosing which type of shoe cover to use – environment.  Disposable shoe covers can be a waste generator especially if you use and need to change them often.  But if you do need to use them for ease and for health and safety measures then you have to have a disposal management process in place to lessen the impact and risk to the environment.

    Reusable shoe covers, being made to be used and reused has a lesser risk to the environment.  You can use them for as long as you want them with proper maintenance.

     

    Choice Must Be Industry-based

    The choice between the two must be based on the kind of industry that you’re working in.  If the goal is more for sanitation and to prevent cross contamination, then disposable shoe covers are highly recommended.  They are in fact required by health authorities as part of the basic PPE.  This must be incorporated with a waste management protocol.

    If your aim is to ensure that floors are protected or your shoes are protected from harsh elements, then reusable ones can be the best option.