Use Foot Power to Avoid Germy Doors

By Andy Perez

A 2019 test found the door handle on a New York City Starbucks location had 31 times more bacteria and viruses than surfaces in the subway. The Centers for Disease Control reports that only 31% of men and 65% of women wash their hands after using a public bathroom. Disturbing statistics indeed.

In a Covid-19 world, how can anyone avoid germs on the most common high touched surfaces we face every day – especially the door handle?

While the CDC recommends washing your hands after touching surfaces like door handles, elevator buttons and handrails, is there something more businesses can do to make their customers and workforce feel a level of safety and comfort upon re-opening?

San Diego-based manufacturing and machining services company, 5th Axis, Inc. thinks so. The creative engineering minds collaborated to produce the StepHandle, the most sanitary way to open a door hands-free.

Using foot power to open doors, this ingenious product is a secure way for small and large businesses to keep their customers and employees safe. It is compatible with all types of footwear.

“Covid-19 has heightened people’s awareness for transferring disease and sickness, said co-founder Steve Grangetto. “All of a sudden, I started looking at convenience stores and public bathroom doors a bit differently. You begin to wonder how many people have touched this door before me and is this a danger for me, especially when a lot of bathrooms don’t offer towels to dry off anymore – after you wash your hands, you still have to touch a door handle to exit.”

His partner, Chris Taylor agrees. “Door handles are the #1 culprit of everything. Ninety percent of the time you get sick from touching a door and then your face.”

Classified as an essential business, 5th Axis began looking for ways to protect their employees from the coronavirus. The company sampled several touchless products already on the market but in true entrepreneurial spirit, the engineers knew they could design a safer and easier to use product.

“It’s our mission to constantly improve and streamline manufacturing processes in order to be more efficient. Steve and I have been building stuff since we were kids, and we always ask, “how can this be done better?’”

After building several prototypes, they hit on the simplicity of the StepHandle.

A safe and durable piece of US-sourced aircraft grade aluminum attaches to the base of a door. Instead of a perpendicular grip like the competition’s, StepHandle incorporates a small step angled at 20-degrees and lined it with gripping teeth. To open the door, the user lightly presses down and pulls against the door with their shoe without expending a lot of energy. This product is durable, easy to use and safe and has been tested with many different types of shoes including flip flops, sandals, business shoes and high heels.

“It’s not a natural habit to look at the bottom of a door so we include a sticker that indicates how to use the StepHandle,” adds Taylor.

StepHandle installs in less than 90 seconds by using the included hardware (two screws) and a drill. It is compatible with almost any type of latch-less door and is low enough to the ground to prevent tripping.

“For the foreseeable future, I think it’s going to be healthier for our society to have improved sanitary habits,” said Grangetto. “It makes us feel good to know that the StepHandle can make an impact on people’s quality of life.

StepHandle is available for $30 at