I recently did a poll on our IG stories about wearing shoes in the house and I was honestly pretty surprised to learn how fiercely divided those are who do and do not wear shoes in the house.
I also learned that it’s a cultural thing. While many families in the U.S. wear shoes inside the home, many of our readers from other countries find it appalling. I learned that many people continue with the habits they were raised with as children, whether it’s to take shoes off at the door or to freely wear them indoors as much as you please.
Anyway! I’ve been researching and there are some pretty compelling reasons to stop wearing shoes inside the home. Want to hear them?
1. Not wearing shoes indoors makes rugs and carpets last longer.
It took my husband and I an EMBARRASSING number of years to realize this even though it’s pretty obvious. And to be totally transparent, just the sheer desire to make my expensive rugs last longer was the reason I started a “no shoes” rule in our home. Now I can see there are even more important reasons, but I never think it’s a bad thing to try your best to take care of things you own.
If your rugs wear out relatively quickly due to foot traffic or if they get super dirty quickly, this can change your life! Since I love light colored and white rugs, it was important to me to learn ways to make them last longer and this was the obvious first step.
Depending on your lifestyle (aka where your shoes go every day), you might be tracking a lot of dirt (and other gross stuff) into your home, and your shoes grind into your rugs and carpets every time you walk by. In addition, even if you only wear your shoes indoors (and they never got dirty), the soles can still prematurely wear out delicate rugs like cowhides and flat weaves.
Since moving to our current home and beginning to take off our shoes at the door (almost always is our goal), our rugs are lasting much, much longer and they really do not need much cleaning other than regular vacuuming and the occasional spot cleaning.
In our previous homes, I wasted a lot by wearing shoes indoors and replacing cheap rugs when they got really dirty (because they weren’t high quality enough to clean). Now I’ve had the same totally white rug in our dining room for over three years and it still looks pretty close to brand new!
2. Shoes track in toxins.
I know some of you are rolling your eyes at me, but keep reading—this is the most important point. Our shoes walk through bird poop at the park, and things like spit (ew!), rotten food and gasoline, during just a regular walk down the street or running errands. Most of it we can’t even see. But if you’ve ever had a brand new pair of shoes with white soles, you know that they can turn black in just one day of wear out in the world.
“E. coli was detected on 27% of the shoes, along with seven other kinds of bacteria, including Klebsiella pneumoniae, which can cause urinary tract infection, and Serratia ficaria, which can cause respiratory infections.” (source)
“A recent study out of the University of Houston found that 39 percent of shoe soles sampled were contaminated with the bacteria C. diff (Clostridium difficile), a public health threat that is now resistant to a number of antibiotics.” (source)
You can disinfect your floors with harsh chemicals, but why not just save 90% of that work and just take your shoes off at the door?
A certain amount of bacteria is good for us, but a lot of this is unnecessary and potentially dangerous, especially if you have little ones still crawling around and frequently eating food they drop on the floor.
Bottom line, when you wear your shoes into the home, you are bringing with you anything you stepped on that day, whether you realize it or not. If you’re someone like me who has spent a lot of time and money trying to create a less toxic household, but you are still wearing shoes in your home regularly, this could be a major opportunity for you to fix a big part of the problem all at once. It’s so easy!
3. Not wearing shoes indoors makes your home stay cleaner longer.
Like most people, I hate to clean but I love the feeling of a clean home. Since becoming a mom, I am more aware than ever how limited my free time is. I’m not complaining because I love my job and want to spend pretty much ALL my time with Nova when I am not working, but there’s not a lot left over, so I am all about simplifying anything I can.
Once I learned how much cleaner our floors stay without wearing shoes indoors, I was sold. We have WHITE grout in our kitchen and entryway. We have light wood floors and we have multiple white rugs (PLUS two dogs, a toddler and no time to clean). For this reason, I am totally sold on not wearing shoes indoors. Less to clean is always good in my book!
I hope this article was helpful and not upsetting. I totally understand that it’s not always easy to establish new habits like this. At the very beginning, Jeremy was a little resistant (it’s tough when you weren’t raised with these habits), but now that we’re in the groove it’s quite a lot easier! And teaching Nova to take her shoes off when we come inside has honestly been very easy, so I feel happy for her that she’ll grow up with this habit and will have a better chance of sticking with it.
I’ll say before I finish that while I have recently gravitated to the shoes-off lifestyle, I’m not a purist about it. Where I tend to draw the line (and I think a lot of people are with me on this) is that while I take my shoes off the door and remind my family to do so, I don’t feel comfortable asking guests to take their shoes off. Just like with anything else I feel passionate about, I truly believe that making some positive changes is better than making none at all. So even if you know you cannot do something perfectly, I still believe it’s good to try to do it better.
I will say though, after researching for this article, I will probably do a big floor cleaning after every party we host from now on. That could help cut down the grossness quite a bit, even though I’ll probably never be one of those people who stands by the door and asks people to remove their shoes.
Thanks for reading! I would love to hear your opinions and experiences in the comments! Small lifestyle changes like this are so interesting to me! xx. Elsie