Fighting Fungus: Europeans Try Aerated Shoeboxes to Combat Athlete’s Foot

In America, topical creams and prescription drugs are the first athlete’s foot treatments that come to mind. However, Modelsa Plastik in Turkey is experimenting with the use of aerated shoeboxes to cut down on the athlete’s foot risk. Company CEO Abdullah Ayodogan said there are sanitary concerns with using cardboard shoeboxes, and that his new product uses air ducts to increase air flow inside the box and prevent the spread of athlete’s foot fungus.

shoe collecting

In some places, plastic shoeboxes are all the rage among shoe collectors.

Aerated Shoeboxes Are All the Rage Overseas

Enclosed cardboard is the standard for shoeboxes in America, but that’s not so in countries overseas. Though it’s a new type of product, manufacturers feel confident that it will become the new standard. “In Turkey, there are about 20 million households. Every household has 10 shoe boxes, which gives a total amount of some 200 million units,” said Aydogan. “It takes time for a product to gain widespread recognition … but over the past years, there has been increased demand [for plastic shoe boxes].”

In Australia, Sascha Griffin — founder of Pinklily — built a $1.3 million empire around plastic shoeboxes. “The first product I sold was a clear plastic shoe box, which was originally a storage idea for a pair of shoes I had designed,” she explained. “I had designed a matching pair of shoes, handbag and belt and I was looking for a packaging solution for the shoes when someone told me about a clear, plastic shoebox they had seen years before.” Granted, for Griffin, it was more of a design aesthetic for shoe collectors, but one can certainly make a case that clear shoeboxes seem more sanitary as well.

shoe boxes

Fungi like mold and athlete’s foot love cardboard boxes.
Image Source: Flickr user darastar

Are Shoeboxes a Breeding Ground for Microbes, Like Athlete’s Foot?

We haven’t found any studies examining the bacterial or fungal growth in cardboard boxes, specifically, but there is a lot of evidence to suggest that your shoebox may be the perfect breeding ground for microbes. According to scientists at NUTRI-SPEC, one should not use cardboard boxes for storage because “cardboard is a favorite growing environment for mold.” Instead, one should use “plastic sealable containers, such as those made by Rubbermaid,” they say.

Better Homes & Gardens adds that mildew and mold can grow on a damp surface, like cardboard, within 24 to 48 hours, and produce spores that travel through the air.  “They will break down and destroy whatever they’re growing on and can cause mild to severe health problems for you and your family,” they warn.

Athlete’s foot is not a mold, but — like mold — it is part of the fungus family. All fungi thrives and grows into colonies in much the same way. If you put wet shoes away into a cardboard box for storage, then you are fostering the development of a fungal colony, since fungi loves to grow in dark, damp, organic places.

One person wrote in a forum that she always stores shoes in the original boxes. At the turn of the season, it was time to put some of her shoes away for a few months. “I packed up about 10 pairs of shoes and booties, and stored the boxes in a large cardboard box and put them in the basement. I never gave it a second thought,” she recalls. Upon opening the shoeboxes later on, she found that they were all spotted with mold.

athlete's foot prevention

Treat your footwear properly to avoid athlete’s foot infections.

Treat Your Shoes to Treat Your Feet

Contaminated footwear is one of the main ways people get recurrent athlete’s foot infections. They treat the infection with creams or pills, but put their feet right back into the same shoe that is full of contagious fungal spores. Then they put their damp shoes into cardboard boxes, where fungi thrives. We have created the SteriShoe UV shoe sanitizer to kill up to 99.9% of the fungi, bacteria, and viruses in footwear within one 45-minute treatment. Our device also helps dry out sweaty or damp shoes before storage. When combined with plastic shoeboxes, it’s a much more sanitary way to store footwear, and will help you prevent frequent bouts of athlete’s foot.