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What to Do If You Step on Dog Poop: A Guide to Handling the Mess

by | 20 May 2024

Imagine a sunny day, a leisurely walk in the park, and then—squish! You’ve stepped in dog poop. Whether you’re barefoot or wearing shoes, it’s a situation no one wants to deal with. But fear not; we’re here to help you navigate this stinky predicament and answer the question of what to do if you step on dog poop with some practical tips and a dash of humour. Let’s get started on making your steps clean and poop-free again!

At Oh Crap, we’re all about responsible pet ownership and keeping our surroundings clean. Stepping in dog poop isn’t just gross; it can also pose health risks. Dog feces can harbour bacteria, parasites, and viruses that can harm humans. Properly cleaning up after stepping in poop is crucial to prevent the spread of these pathogens and keep your home and environment hygienic.

As a dedicated Crapologist and a barefoot enthusiast for over 18 months, I’ve come to accept that stepping in dog poop is an occupational hazard. I’ve seen it all, whether it’s a squishy surprise in the park or a slippery misstep in the backyard. And through these experiences, I’ve learned the best ways to clean up and carry on. So, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of poop management, armed with tips from someone who’s been there, stepped in that.

Understanding the Risks: Health Concerns from Dog Poop

Dog poop is more than just a nuisance; it’s a potential health hazard. It can contain harmful bacteria like E. coli and parasites such as hookworms and roundworms. These pathogens can cause infections and illnesses if they come into contact with your skin or are inadvertently ingested. Understanding these dangers underscores the need for thorough cleaning.

Bacteria and Parasites

Dog feces can harbour bacteria such as E. coli, Salmonella, and Campylobacter. These bacteria can cause gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea, stomach cramps, and fever. Parasites like hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms are also common in dog poop, posing significant health risks, especially to children and individuals with compromised immune systems.


Viruses like parvovirus, which is highly contagious among dogs, can also be present in dog feces. While not typically harmful to humans, it highlights the importance of proper hygiene to prevent the spread of disease among pets.

Cleaning Up the Mess: Step-by-Step Guide

Stepping in dog poop is no one’s idea of a good time, but with these simple steps, you’ll be back on track in no time. Let’s turn this poopy predicament into a clean getaway!

Removing Poop from Shoes

We’ve all been there, squishing poop underfoot, but don’t fret! Here’s how to clean up your shoes and walk away with a smile:

  1. Initial Scrape: Use a stick or disposable tool to scrape off as much poop as possible from your shoe.
  2. Rinse: Rinse the shoe under running water to remove additional residue.
  3. Scrub: Use an old toothbrush or a shoe brush with soap to scrub the sole and any affected areas. Pay extra attention to textured soles where poop can get stuck.
  4. Disinfect: Apply a disinfectant spray to kill any remaining bacteria and eliminate odours.
  5. Dry: Let your shoe air dry completely before wearing it again.

Cleaning Poop from Bare Feet

For those of us who love going barefoot, stepping in poop is an occupational hazard. Here’s how to clean up your feet and keep them fresh:

  1. Rinse Immediately: Rinse your foot with running water to remove the initial mess.
  2. Wash Thoroughly: Use soap and warm water to scrub your foot, paying close attention to the spaces between your toes.
  3. Disinfect: Apply a mild disinfectant or rubbing alcohol to your foot to kill lingering bacteria.
  4. Moisturize: After thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting, apply a moisturiser to keep your skin hydrated.

Dealing with the Smell

Sometimes, the smell of dog poop can linger even after thorough cleaning. Here are some tips to tackle those tough odors and ensure your shoes and feet are fresh as a daisy:

Odour-Eliminating Solutions

Commercial Products

Use products specifically designed to remove strong odours, such as odour-eliminating sprays and shoe deodorisers. These are formulated to tackle even the stinkiest situations.

DIY Remedies
Lemon Juice 

The fresh scent of lemon juice can effectively neutralise odours. Rub some lemon juice on the affected area, let it sit for a few minutes, and then rinse off.

Why it Works: Lemon juice contains citric acid, which has natural antibacterial and antifungal properties. This acid can break down organic matter and neutralise odours. Additionally, the fresh scent of lemon juice masks the unpleasant smell of poop.

Chemical Level: Citric acid (C6H8O7) is a weak organic acid that disrupts the cell walls of bacteria, effectively killing them. Lemon juice’s low pH creates an inhospitable environment for many bacteria and fungi, reducing their growth and survival.


Vinegar is a powerful deodoriser. Mix equal parts vinegar and water, apply to the stinky spot, and wipe clean after a few minutes.

Why it Works: Vinegar is a powerful deodoriser and cleaning agent. The acetic acid in vinegar not only breaks down organic compounds found in poop but also neutralises odours by altering the chemical structure of odour molecules.

Chemical Level: Acetic acid (CH3COOH) is a weak acid that can dissolve mineral deposits, dirt, grease, and grime. It reacts with basic compounds, neutralising alkaline odours and creating water and a neutral salt, which helps eliminate the smell.

Baking Soda

Sprinkle baking soda on the affected area and let it sit overnight. In the morning, brush off the powder, and the odour should be significantly reduced.

Why it Works: Baking soda is a well-known odour absorber and neutraliser. It reacts with both acids and bases, helping to neutralise the pH of substances causing odours.

Chemical Level: Sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) reacts with acidic and basic molecules, producing water, carbon dioxide, and neutral salts. This reaction not only helps to neutralise odours but also absorbs moisture, which can further reduce the smell.

Additional Tips for Lingering Smells


Leave your shoes or feet exposed to sunlight. UV rays from the sun have natural disinfectant properties that can kill bacteria and fungi, helping to eliminate odours.

Activated Charcoal

Place a piece of activated charcoal in your shoe overnight to absorb any remaining smells. Activated charcoal is highly porous and has a large surface area that can adsorb a wide range of compounds, effectively trapping odour molecules and removing them from the environment.

Detailed Cleaning Scenarios

Different types of shoes and surfaces require specific cleaning methods. Here’s how to handle each one:

Running Shoes

These often have textured soles that trap poop. Here’s how to clean them thoroughly:

  • Initial Clean: Remove as much poop as possible with a stick or disposable tool.
  • Soak and Scrub: Soak the shoes in warm, soapy water for a few minutes. Use a toothbrush to scrub the textured soles, paying special attention to crevices.
  • Rinse and Dry: Rinse thoroughly under running water and let them air dry.

Leather Shoes

Leather shoes need a bit more care to avoid damage:

  • Gentle Wipe: Use a damp cloth with mild soap to wipe off the poop. Avoid soaking the leather in water.
  • Condition: After cleaning, use a leather conditioner to keep the material supple and prevent cracking.

Bare Feet

For those of us who love going barefoot, here’s how to clean up your feet and keep them fresh:

  • Rinse Immediately: Rinse your foot with running water to remove the initial mess.
  • Wash Thoroughly: Use soap and warm water to scrub your foot, paying close attention to the spaces between your toes.
  • Disinfect: Apply a mild disinfectant or rubbing alcohol to your foot to kill lingering bacteria.
  • Moisturize: After thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting, apply a moisturiser to keep your skin hydrated.

DIY and Home Remedies for Removing Dog Poop Off Your Shoes and Feet


  • Baking Soda and Vinegar Paste: Mix baking soda and vinegar to form a paste. Apply it to the affected area, scrub it with an old toothbrush, and rinse it off. This combo is great for breaking down stubborn poop and neutralising odours.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide: For white shoes, hydrogen peroxide can be a lifesaver. Apply a small amount to the poop-stained area and scrub gently. Rinse thoroughly.

Bare Feet

  • Salt Scrub: Make a paste with salt and a bit of water. Use this to scrub your feet gently. Salt is a natural antiseptic and can help remove dead skin cells and any lingering bacteria.
  • Tea Tree Oil: Add a few drops of tea tree oil to your washing routine. Its natural antiseptic properties help kill bacteria and leave your feet smelling fresh.

Preventative Measures So You Don’t Step In Dog Poop

Prevention is always better than cure. Here are some tips to avoid stepping in dog poop and keep your shoes (or feet) clean:

Proper Footwear

Wear appropriate shoes when walking in areas where dogs frequently play to minimise direct contact with poop. Simple, I know, but it’s easier to get the mess off your runners vs your Sunday best. As we say, it’s better to be safe than stinky!

Stay Vigilant

Keep an eye on where you step, especially in parks and walking paths. A little poop patrol can save you from a lot of squishy situations. Always be on the lookout for those brown landmines!

Use Poop Bags

We might be a bit biased on this one, but we suggest always carrying poop bags and cleaning up after your dog to help keep public areas clean for everyone. Remember, a responsible Crapologist leaves no poop behind!

Pet Training

Train your dog to poop in designated areas to reduce the risk of random poop encounters. This way, you can avoid unexpected poopy surprises and keep your walks enjoyable.

FAQs: Addressing Common Concerns When Stepping In Dog Poop And What To Do About It

Can You Get an Infection from Stepping on Dog Poop?

Yes, stepping on dog poop can expose you to harmful bacteria and parasites that can cause infections. Proper cleaning and disinfection are crucial to prevent health issues.

What Happens If I Accidentally Touched Dog Poop?

Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, then apply hand sanitiser. To avoid infection, it’s important to remove all traces of faeces. You can learn more about what to do if you get dog poop on your hands here. And yes you should always clean your hands if you touch dog poop

How to Clean Shoes After Stepping in Dog Poop?

Scrape off excess poop, rinse the shoe under running water, scrub with soap and a brush, and disinfect with a spray. Allow the shoe to air dry completely.

How Common Is It to Get Sick from Dog Poop?

While not extremely common, it is possible to get sick from dog poop if proper hygiene isn’t maintained. Pathogens in dog feces can cause gastrointestinal and other infections.

What Happens If You Step on Dog Poop Barefoot?

Rinse your foot immediately, wash thoroughly with soap and warm water, disinfect, and moisturise. Ensure no poop remains on your skin to avoid infection.

Why Shouldn’t You Mow Over Dog Poop?

Mowing over dog poop can spread bacteria and parasites across your lawn, posing a health risk to humans and pets. Always clean up the poop before mowing.

Conclusion: Keeping It Clean and Carrying On

Stepping in dog poop is a crummy situation, but with the right approach, you can clean up and move on quickly. Remember, a little vigilance and proper hygiene go a long way in preventing these mishaps and keeping our environments clean. Do you have any other no-mess tips or tales? Drop us a comment or share your stories on social media. Let’s keep the parks clean and our steps cleaner!

<a href="" target="_self">Henry Reith</a>

Henry Reith

Henry is proud to be one of the crapologists at Oh Crap, and specialises in crap jokes & sharing paw-some content.

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