Do You Wear Shoes In The House? (And Three Reasons Not To!)

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

Credits/Author: Elsie Larson. Photography: Amber Ulmer. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.
  • I got into the no shoes habit indoors in 2020 after we got new carpet for stairs & upstairs & new tiled kitchen the fact is firstly it’s more comfortable not wearing shoes indoors not to mention not bringing in dirt & germs so I have my crocs for inside during the winter & light flipflops or barefoot during the summer indoors.

  • Not all, or even most, Americans are in the habit to wearing their shoes in the home.

    I’m from California, and my family always took our shoes off at home. It was considered rather disrespectful and a little strange not to take your shoes off and leave them on the porch before coming inside. I can’t think of any ethnic or cultural reason for this behavior. My mother worked in a hospital, so perhaps that’s what prompted this policy in our house — but I recall most of my friends having shoes-off homes, as well. While the cleanliness was obviously a plus to our parents, I think we kids mainly removed our shoes because it’s so much more comfortable to free your feet when you’re in the comfort of your own home.

    In any case, this has certainly influenced my habits as an adult. I cannot stand to wear closed-toe shoes for a very long period of time — I nearly always in sandals or barefoot — and guests in my home are always expected to leave their shoes outside the front door.

  • In Asian homes, they never bring their shoes inside their homes. They have special indoor slippers. I’m half Japanese, half American. We practice the indoor slippers policy at home since my mom is too strict with it.

  • YUCK!!! No more shoes in the house for me and the family. Really appreciate the incredible insight.

  • Another Canadian here, but I have been living in the USA since 2001. I also didn’t know it was a thing to wear outside shoes inside of your house until I came here for College and all my American roommates kept their shoes on. Even when it was snowy outside, they would still tromp on into our apartment with their shoes dripping with water and salt and dirt. Half of us were Canadians and the other half Americans so it was a pretty heated topic of conversation (especially during the winter months). I always nicely ask guest to take their shoes off “if they don’t mind” and keep a bench and rug by my front door so that it is easy to do. Basically everyone who comes over is fine with it (except for my TX in-laws) and having a pile of shoes by the front door is just an every day part of my life. I do wish more houses were designed with this in mind and had better spaces to store shoes and coats by the front door. The one time I don’t make a big deal about taking off shoes is what we are having a party with adults and the weather is fine. But if it is snowy or raining the no shoes policy is strictly enforced.

  • I’m Swiss and shoes indoors is a no-no in Switzerland (and other countries in Europe). In fact growing up we were not even allowed to wear outdoor shoes in the classroom until middle school. This meant that ever back to school time, my mom would take us to buy a pair of indoor slippers to take to school on the first day. Those slippers will rest on the rack under the coat hook bench outside the classroom and kids hang their coat and switch shoes for indoor slippers before entering the classroom. The same habit is replicated at home, even apartment have a hallway before the living room to just store all the outdoor things.

    Then I moved to India, and there people walk around barefoot inside the home, it never stroke me as weird at all, but some of my American friends said they had a hard time adjusting to that idea.

  • I almost always wear shoes in the house, even if they’re slippers/designated house shoes (though I wear my outside shoes inside more than I ought to). This is because I have a Husky mix who sheds a lot. Every now and then I try to wear socks or go barefoot and end up with a ton of fur stuck to the bottom of my socks/feet, eww. No matter how often I vacuum it’s still like this. Perhaps the solution for folks like me is to be more strict about keeping a designated pair or two of indoor shoes and never wearing them outside.

  • I don’t *require* guests to remove their shoes by any means (I’d be uncomfortable asking them to do so!), but I do find that leaving our shoes by the door is a subtle reminder. Most people take their shoes off without being asked!

  • I added a large shoe rack in our garage and I really love it! No shoes in the house AT ALL! Not even for storage! I’ve also noticed that when guests come over and see us not wearing shoes they naturally do the same but I agree that it’s hard to asks guests! Love the idea of offering slippers!

  • I love the originality of this post! Definitely a cultural thing. I am moroccan and wearing outside shoes in a home is quite weird to me. Although I became more strict about it when I had a kid. I have slippers for guests right at the entrance. I live in Italy where it’s not a reflex for everybody but most people are just happy to make themselves comfortable. You can see it this way, you offer your guests a more comfortable experience! If I have workers at home and I know it’s gonna be a mess anyway I don’t say anything about the shoes and just do a good cleaning after. Xx

  • We are strict about not wearing shoes in the house for all of the same reasons. Seriously it’s just gross. We take them off right inside the garage entry way and carry them in. Each family member is allowed to keep one pair of shoes by the back door on a rack for convenience of running out to get the mail or tossing dirty diapers away. The rest are kept in our closets. It’s a good habit. Plus with little one crawling on the floors, it just makes sense.

  • I have always been a barefoot kinda girl – the less I wear shoes the better for me. When my kids were little, we started leaving all shoes at the door to save our floors and cut down on cleaning. (My brother in law made his kids put their shoes on when getting dressed and wear them in the house and I struggled mightily with this when they were visiting cause it’s hard to break others habits even with your own house rules) We still don’t wear shoes in our house but my mom does – but at 90 years old I can’t change her – and that pesky brother in law still does too. 🙂

  • I HATE shoes in the house. I’m trying to introduce my family into not doing it, but it seems weird to them. I don’t know why. Having a shoe rack is a great idea. What do you do with all of your shoes though (shoes that you don’t wear often) as in storing, especially if you have a small place?

  • Midwesterner here. We’re a shoes off family. It’s really to prevent tracking in mud and salt from the inclement weather that’s always changing. Road salt is terrible for floors!

    We keep shoe organizers by the doors to keep everything tidy, I really like the IKEA ones.

    As for our dogs, if it’s wet outside paws get wiped when they come in. I have a hook with a towel on the shoe organizer. We even have a command to get them to stay and wait, “Paws!”

    When it comes to guests, if we’re having a party I don’t ask. For just a friend or two hanging out, I’ll ask them to take their shoes off.

  • i wear slippers in the winter, and flops in the summer. i hate being barefoot, and being in socks is a hazard on my wood floors.
    so i don’t really wear my outside shoes inside very often, but it’s not a rule.

    the thing is, i am VEHEMENTLY opposed to asking guests to take off shoes in your house in this country. since it’s not a widely accepted cultural thing here, it just seems unimaginably rude to do.
    i don’t like when other people ask me to, though i will do it. but i don’t like being barefoot at all, and especially not in front of other people. i think it’s too informal with people i don’t know well, and i like the safety of having shoes on my feet for things like stubbed toes or someone stepping on me.
    so i would never ask anyone else to do so.

    and as far as cleanliness goes…eh. i grew up on a farm, and while we had coveralls and barn shoes, it was impossible not to bring a little manure in with you occasionally.

    likewise, i have dogs. one of my dogs regularly pees on his own paw and leg. we also go walking around our city, and our city’s big park, and a little dog paw wipe doesn’t do much to clean their feet.

    i love my house, and i love the things in my house. but my safety and comfort, and the safety and comfort of any guests i have, is more important than any of those things. i wish that other people felt the same way when i visited their houses, but they don’t.

  • I understand the reasoning behind taking your shoes off. I work in the nastiest of environments.. A hospital. So I immediately change out of scrubs and shoes. But I always think about what else I’m bringing home. From the seats, booths, benches I’ve sat on.. Doctor’s office, restaurant, movie theatre, my own car.. What I’m bringing home with me just on my clothes. What I come in contact with due to my purse. And my cell phone.. Gross. I clean it religiously, about like my hands that feel like sandpaper because I’m so paranoid about not washing my hands, even with gloves, about what I come in contact with at work. But

  • Honestly, I am always shocked when I hear that Americans wear shoes in the house because in Canada it isn’t a thing. When I worked in Japan they were about to insist I take my shoes off and were relieved when I was already doing it. Growing up, I just assumed every country took off their shoes and wore bare feet, sock feet or house slippers when they came inside!

  • Lovely atricle. Here in Germany slippers or “house shoes” are worn indoors. I would never wear my (dirty) outdoors shoes inside. And it is also totally normal to ask your guest to take their shoes off, most people do it without asking anyway. I always have slippers for them though, so they don’t have to walk around in their socks or barefoot. I don’t think it would be rude if you ask your friends to take their shoes off – less cleaning after a party 😉

  • Thank you!!! I could have written this but I’m going to send it to my husband. He has been hard to train.;) I’m with you on the guests and parties too-just can’t go there.

  • You know, I guess I never put much thought into this! I have wood floors and a few rugs, and I do tend to walk through my house, to my bedroom, before taking my shoes off. And then I immediately put on flip-flops. I am almost always wearing flops in the house, but I tend to assume no shoes in other peoples houses without even really thinking about it, and just always take them off.

  • But if you have a dog, the bring all the nasty stuff in then you are walking barefoot on it!? That is the main reason I usually wear slippers at the very least

  • Growing up as an Asian in Australia, I was brought up to take my shoes off at the door. I remember my non-Asian friends did not do this, but now that I am an adult, I have found that most of my non-Asian friends will ask whether or not they should remove their shoes. I think it’s due to increased multiculturalism and awareness where I live.
    My parents always keep house slippers on hand for guests.
    Even if I hadn’t been brought up with it, I think I would still remove my shoes because it’s so much more comfortable!

  • I am increasingly in the minority, but I don’t really care whether people have shoes on or off in the home. Or out of the home, for that matter. I am comfortable going outside barefoot, and comfortable if guests or family have shoes on inside. Whether I take my shoes off when I go inside generally has to do with how messy they are at that moment, how easy/hard they are to remove and replace, how long I intend to be inside, and what I intend to do while inside. I usually take off stiff or heeled shoes right away, but am just as likely to kick them off by the couch as by the door. I do keep a basket by the door and encourage my kids to take shoes off once we’re inside, but not rigidly (absent extra-messy feet due to play or weather) and I’d never ask guests to do so. I would and do remove shoes if asked or indicated at another person’s home, but do not enjoy doing so. It feels intimate, and sometimes I’m not shod/socked in a way that I’m comfortable sharing my footlessness. And I don’t want to wear someone else’s slippers. (But would rather than cause a fuss.)

  • P.S. We enter the house and step onto a mat, remove shoes and keep shoes in the mudroom (on washable durable plastic trays) or at a second entryway (shelves in closet) … no shoes anywhere else in the house.

  • Shoes in the house eh? No way! I find most Canadian’s (at least the ones around here) do not wear shoes in the house. It is just gross in my opinion… for all the reasons you mentioned. I want to run free through the house in my bare feet and not have to think about what is lurking on the floors lol. When I see blogs (usually American) with people in their shoes it makes my skin crawl… oh and shoes on the couch/hanging off side of the bed….. how is that even comfortable? We are totally ok with a no shoes policy and if a rogue person decides to try and walk on in we kindly ask the shoes come off. Ok… hot topic as it has always boggled my mind those that do wear shoes indoors so it has been interesting to read the responses here.

  • We wear shoes in our current home but we are buying our first adult home (moving from a tiny home to almost 1500 square feet) and after doing my own research into the topic, we will have a “no shoe indoors” policy. My only concern is how to bring up our policy when we have parities. Is it weird to ask all guests to drop their shoes off at the door? Any tips/ ideas are appreciated!!
    thanks! 🙂

  • I live in Finland and here it is normal to take your shoes off while you go inside. It is not that usual to wear any slippers or inside shoes either.. it sounds little bit weird. Some people might do that.. but there are never any requests for guests to wear anything else except socks inside people’s homes.
    Many people wears wool socks thought and might have a basket so guests can also wear wool socks, but that is mainly because it’s cold here ????

    Even at primary school we take our shoes off, and wear socks. ????
    But I have never been in a house where you do not take your shoes off while in Finland

  • When I was in third grade, my mom became a home owner for the first time and had nice new carpets installed in all our living space (minus kitchen, dining and bathroom). She was insistent on EVERYONE taking their shoes off at the door, and even had a plastic runner in the high traffic areas to keep them cleaner/fluffier. We lived on the Canadian border so it may have also been a bit cultural bc of the long long winters (typically October – May there’s snow or mud/snow on the ground). I’ve also got the policy of no shoes in the house, but like you I don’t enforce for social gatherings. However, I will be that one weirdo at someone else’s house taking off my shoes even when told I don’t need to. I HATE wearing shoes and prefer to be barefoot whenever possible. Being in socks is an improvement but I’m not a fan of slippers because they are too shoe like. If I’m going to be at someone’s house longer than 15 minutes, shoes come off!

  • I grew up in West Michigan where almost no one wears shoes in the house. I was really appalled when I got older and moved away and learned how many people in the U.S. do wear shoes in the house. I think I would spend my whole life cleaning if I wore shoes indoors, and it would be so gross to sit on the floors or rugs, etc. My husband grew up wearing shoes indoors and he happily switched over to my no shoes rule because he said it’s just more comfortable to not wear shoes when at home (I agree!) The only problem is when we have guests over or some sort of social gathering. I feel weird making people take off their shoes so I don’t say anything and see if they take their shoes off or not when inside. If they don’t, I spend the whole next day cleaning the floors 🙁 I personally make a habit to take a pair of socks or clean indoor slipper-type shoes (that I tell them are for indoors only) over to other people’s house in case they want me to take my shoes off.

  • Ew no! Wearing shoes in the house is SO dirty! Think of all the stuff you’re tracking in. I’m especially grossed out when I see people with their shoes on the couch or their bed. Nasty.

  • I’m advertising for running barefoot. Every morning over the wet lawn and you feel fit.

  • I grew up taking shoes off but sometimes I dont remember. I do like all those points though! I have a sign just inside my front door that says ‘please leave your worries and your shoes at the door’. Some guests see it, laugh and then take off their shoes. Some don’t and that’s okay. I agree that you shouldnt be picky about it to guests because you might put them off from coming, and that’s not hospitable! The only thing I don’t like about having my shoes off inside is that I have flat feet and sometimes get a sore back from walking around on my feet all day – time for granny inside-only slippers! 🙂

    • Ugh same here. I have flat feet. I bought a pair of Crocs “huaraches” style and use those indoors. They are a dream on my flat feet!

  • I like to have no shoes in the house. However I feel uncomfortable to ask a person to take there shoes off.

    I could never wear another persons slippers. Don’t like trying on shoes at a shop either.

  • A fourth reason: most shoes (especially fast fashion, etc) are really terrible for your feet and will cause back issues long term. If you think about it, most shoes aren’t really foot shaped (Freakonomics did an interesting podcast on this)! And a lot of shoes are not made from very breathable material either, which isn’t great if you’re living in warmer climates.

    What always shocked me the most though, was when I saw people wear shoes on the couch or in their bed! Oh, no, no no.

  • Hi! In Finland you never have to ask guests to take their shoes off, they do it automatically. If it is a bit fancier party, people bring indoor shoes with them (e.g. in autumn/winter women might come wearing boots and change into high heels).

  • I guess I knew this since college? But I hate taking my shoes off in someone else’s home if I don’t know them very well (like when you go to a party, and suddenly it’s a barefoot one!). I wear little house shoe moccasins around my apartment, but my husband is a wears-shoes-all-the-time kind of person (grew up in a formal home), so I find bits of dirt he’s tracked in here and there. It always bugs me! Great argument for NOT wearing your outdoor shoes in. Also you forgot to mention it’s way snugglier in fuzzy slippers!

    Eva |

  • As a general rule we don’t in my house, although my middle kiddo needs to wear orthotics that go above his ankles to help reshare his feet, so he usually keeps his shoes on for a while after he get’s home from school, until I tell him to take them off (like if he keeps putting them on the couch), or if it’s really muddy/wet out I enforce them being taken off immediately. We have tile, so I’d prefer them off all the time, but his feet come first!

  • Another Canadian, another obvious ‘Team Off’. Even in the summer, if I run in to my house to grab something and don’t take my shoes off, I feel immensely guilty, like I’m doing serious harm to my house in some way. In the winter, if I need something just inside the house and don’t want to spend the time taking off my boots I’ve been known to crawl balancing on my knees so my dirty boots won’t touch the carpet ????

    Regarding massive piles of shoes by the door- one scenario I’m sure many (female) Canadians are familiar with is at house parties in the winter… and the mountain of boots and shoes by the door… and going to put your boots on at the end of the night and realizing you have been left with the same style but slightly different size of Uggs boots (or Sorels, or Blundstones). Before anyone calls me out, yes we lack diversity in winter footwear up here ????

  • I’m curious if people with dogs, even indoor cats, do anything special to avoid the germs they would bring in/track around the house. Dog shoes? Wash their feet every time? Or just figure the shoes are a bigger issue and can’t avoid all toxins?

  • I’m from Scotland (UK). I take my shoes off whenever I visit pals, unless they specifically say no, or live in a house with tiled /stone floors in the communal area (ie downstairs in a farm kitchen). I have friends that have lived in Japan and like to give out slippers to wear- I take my slipper socks to theirs as I don’t like wearing shoes other people have worn! However as I am a guest in someone else’s home I will always follow their rules! If I have a party people often keep on their shoes- more the women because I think perhaps they feel less made up without their heels/ shoes completing the outfit/ adding height. I have had wooden floors ruined by someone wearing stilletoes though… I like to lie on the floor infront of the fire sometimes so dont really want to lie in dirt from the pavement, and I also work in a hospital and walk in who knows what sort of bodily fluids and so I definitely take my shoes off when I get home! I won’t force people to take their shoes off or tell them to take them off, but I will silently judge them in a very British way if they don’t offer to remove them/ keep them on! Shoe storage racks in entry halls is a very common thing here- you can get nice benches with dookets for shoes, or foldaway drawers for very narrow hallways. You can see examples here at Ikea, similar available on amazon/ ebay.

  • I grew in a half Asian household and it was always expected that you take your shoes off even at Guests homes. I agree the germs you collect on your shoes are so gross just thinking about it makes me turn green. If we are throwing a party I don’t expect guests to take off their shoes but after everyone is gone I mop and vacuum all our floors. If a friend visits I have clean house slippers they can wear or if they really don’t want to take their shoes off I have shoe booties they can use over their shoes. I think both is a good compromise for my family and guests 🙂

  • I rent an apartment in Japan, and one of the rules of my lease is that no shoes are to be worn indoors. I agree it’s much cleaner, and it just feels normal to me now!!

  • Shoes are not normally worn inside in Alaska either. We still do some, but generally speaking, we take them off.

  • I grew up wearing shoes in the house. About a year ago I moved into a new apartment and tried to go shoeless…. I couldn’t do it. I hate walking around barefoot. I tried slippers, but I need to be ready to run out the door – not stop at the door to put on my shoes. I also despise shoe collection in the entryway. I host a lot of parties, and I never tell my guests to take their shoes off (because I don’t, and it just feels so pretentious to ask guests to remove their shoes… I want my home to feel like a place where you can be comfortable and make a little mess, not some pristine palace to preserve). Ironically, most of my friends are Asian and are in the habit of removing their shoes at the door, and once guests see shoes gathering at the door, they take their shoes off, too. So it’s just me, the hostess, wearing my shoes… because they complete my outfit!

  • We’re on Team OFF!! After moving to Montreal, we rapidly discovered that you def do not traipse through someone’s home with salt/snow/slush covered shoes! No faster way to ruin a hardwood (or any) floor than grinding snow clearing chemicals and sand into them. After moving away we’ve continued the habit so my kids have never known wearing shoes indoors. The dirt, chemicals and pure grossness of the world can stay off of my floors, thank you very much. I also don’t insist that people remove their shoes — my kids will always tell their friends to. Most adults, after seeing all of the shoes in the mud room will remove theirs. And I absolutely never walk into someone’s home without removing mine!

  • I would love to not wear shoes in the house, but with age – and breaking my ankle – I need to wear sturdy shoes all the time for support. I do have a pair of sturdy slippers I wear only in the house – and I bring these along to the homes of friends who leave their shoes at the door.

  • I always wear shoes in the house. Then I’m always prepared to run outside to my garden, the trash cans, run errands, do one of my outdoor hobbies, etc. It’s very Flylady, but if I don’t have shoes on my feet then I’m truly not as focused and ready to work. Shoes absolutely change my mindset to a more productive one. I also live in earthquake country and I don’t want to be caught unprepared.

    • Same! I agree with Elsie’s reasoning 100% and in the summer I am okay slipping sandals off but I like to have shoes on to run outside when needed. We have 90% hardwood floors and I don’t walk on the rugs really with shoes so it’s easier to clean up each night. It’s one of those things that just doesn’t work practically for me. I also have pets, so I have to clean the floors no matter what because they track in mud. I always ask at others homes and I don’t walk around the city much so I guess to me it’s not so bad?

  • What an interesting post. I live in an urban area of a large city, without a car, so i walk everywhere. Never really thought about taking my shoes off at the front door, considering all of the garbage I step on throughout the day. This is a great idea.

  • it’s funny that all the Canadians are saying we don’t do that in Canada – i’m a Canadian, but i live in Vancouver, BC and it’s a mix of both!! i guess it’s different in BC (specifically Vancouver) because our winter isn’t very harsh. but i believe common practice is to ask if shoes come off or stay on. we are a no shoe household. because it’s dirty, but also because our feet aren’t meant to be in shoes all day. better for our feet and better for our floors!

  • I AGREE! I’m from Finland and here it’s obvious that you take your shoes off at home. Being without shoes is also healthy for you feet and shoes. Recently there was an article in finnish media which was told that you should wear one pair of shoes max 4 hours at a time and then let them rest for a day or something like that. Wearing them longer makes your shoes and feet wet, bacteria likes that, shoes wear out quickly and shoes can also shape your feet unhealthy.
    But I understand the cultural thing and as a future interior architect I’ve seen that there is not room for shoes in your entrys or hallways and I think that is interesting.
    Have a good day! 🙂

  • I’m from Canada and I don’t know a single person who wears their shoes in the house! If I’m at my parents house and need to run inside to grab something I always ask if I can keep my shoes on lol. It just seems weird to wear shoes inside!

  • Funny you posted this! I recently have been thinking about this topic lately. I generally take my shoes off, but leave them on if I am running in and out of the kitchen bringing in groceries or something. I am grossed out about the toxins, and right now I have a 4 month old baby. Knowing that she is going to be crawling around on the floor soon is inspiring me to rethink our own habits around the house. I think I am going to enforce a few “no shoe” rooms in the house for me and my husband so that she can crawl freely. I too feel weird about asking guests to take off their shoes.

  • Do you wipe your dogs feet off every time you take them out? If not, they are still tracking in the toxins that you’re worried about

    We’re generally a shoes off house, but it’s not really a rule… we just do it because it’s more comfortable.

    • Haha! Excellent point Haley! Are pets required to wear slippers too? 🙂 I guess I am in the minority here. I think whatever someone decides to do in their own home is one thing, but to force it on guests is quite rude in my opinion. I guess you would have to decide how much you like those guests, as some of them may not be back.

    • We actually do wipe our dogs paws off 🙂 It’s super easy to train them. We keep a basket of wipes and small hand towels by the door so when we walk in we give them a wipe and it’s really helpful when it’s raining out as well to wipe their body down. Keeping shoes off in the house is a must and guests who come over I ask them to take their shoes off. I put a wicker basket of new socks out for guests to use if they need/prefer socks. I also have family members who bring their own slippers. I bring socks or slippers with me when I’m going over someone’s house so I’m prepared. It’s worth knowing your house is clean from outside icky stuff 🙂

  • I am Scandinavian and I can never imagine wearing shoes in the house. No one wears shoes in the house here. I think it’s really unsanitary.

  • The other thing to note is that depending on your floor material (not just rugs), your shoes might be bad for your house – period! My parent’s house has pine floors throughout the entire main living area and up the stairs. It’s such a soft wood that high heels have always been banned in the space! I can’t imagine dents in boards, etc due to simply not removing shoes.

  • I generally take my shoes off at home as well, but I’m in healthcare and just wanted to mention that many people may need to wear shoes inside. Shoes can be helpful for any number of foot problems and, for the elderly or those with mobility issues, a supportive shoe with a good sole is very helpful to avoid falls. Something to think about! A specific pair of supportive, indoor shoes may be a good work around if you have someone like this living with you but prefer no shoes in the home.

  • Well, we are not allowed to wear the footwear that we wear outside, inside the house at all.
    But we have different sliders that we wear only in the house..

  • Taking off my shoes when I get home is mostly about comfort, but I don’t have a strict policy (especially when making multiple trips to bring in laundry or groceries from my car). Whenever guests ask, I tell them to do whatever is most comfortable for them.

  • I love how into this topic we all are???? Growing up in TX and AL, we never removed our shoes. I’ve been in Idaho for 14 years and everyone (myself included) removes shoes at the door. I don’t make my guests, but they almost always do anyway. Shoes in the house gross me out now. My family visited Canadian friends when I was a teen, and I thought it was the best thing ever that they had a cedar trunk at the door filled with house shoes and slippers for guests.

  • As I got older my feet started hurting more and more. I also got back pain. Turns out I have very high arches and not wearing shoes with arch support is what caused it. Now I must wear orthotics all the time so no more cute shoes :(.
    It’s awkward when I visit friends and they want me to take my shoes off! I’ve started having people over to my place rather than going to theirs.

    • My dad has the same problem and he has indoor shoes that he uses in the house only and brings to others houses when visiting. I think people should be understanding of that!

  • Definitely a no shoes house here! I silently seethe when people don’t take them off., lol.Like you said there are a lot of germs out there and now I have a young daughter I’m even more aware of it! I also feel very uncomfortable not taking my shoes off in another person’s house, even if they say it’s ook not too. Think it is xv a polite thing to do.

  • I loved this post, thank you so much for covering this topic! We are a shoes off house.. including asking guests to remove theirs as well (which was awkward at first but we are used to it now). Some initial complaints when we first bought our house, especially from family.. but I’m seriously grossed out by the thought of shoes indoors so I’d rather tolerate their dissatisfaction. I have a really hard time relaxing when my surroundings are dirty, so its also a way I keep my anxiety down without cleaning all the time. We keep shoe covers in our hall closet for people who prefer that route, but I love the slippers idea! Living in the pacific north west, it’s a constant parade of rain, mud, and leaves! You have to do what you feel comfortable with.

  • I NEVER wear shoes in my house. I used to not be too picky about it (my ex’s parents never took their shoes off, but I wasn’t going to fight it), but now that I live in a studio apartment in the city, there’s no way I’m letting that grime get tracked in. My bed is right by my front door…it would be like sleeping next to the sidewalk haha. Also, I’m so lazy about cleaning the floors.

  • I always take off my shoes when I get home, and when I have some friends over they do the same. Just at parties I don’t care so much!

  • It still shocks me every time I see that people wear shoes in the house! Like a few others that have commented, we don’t wear shoes at all in the house in Canada. There’s the odd time I tell people to leave their shoes on (if they’re just stopping in quick or I had planned to clean the house that day/the next day) but it’s always customary to take them off here in Canada!

  • In Canada we always take off our shoes, and it surprised me so much to learn that people in the states don’t! Like others have mentioned, having snow 6 months of the year does make a big difference. We once had a friend from New Orleans visit in December and he came walking right into our place with his snowy boots on! We had to politely ask he remove his shoes to spare our carpet haha.

  • This definitely makes a lot of sense but I just imagine a gigantic pile of shoes at my front door. My hubby generally leaves his shoes at the front door because they’re dirty and it drives me nuts. Would love an article with some attractive shoe storage finds for smaller entryways.

  • This is a topic I ADORE reading about, as the divisiveness is endlessly fascinating to me. I’m Canadian, and have always removed my shoes both at home and in literally every other home I’ve been in, as well as doctors offices/dentists/bridal shops. Whether I’ve got barefeet or socks, it doesn’t matter, nobody cares at all. In the winter time my friends and I will frequently bring along slippers when we visit each other, but again it’s not necessary.

    • That’s so fascinating! In Denmark we take our shoes off, when entering a home. But in public places like at work/school/doctor’s office/shops we keep them on.

  • We do not use shoes inside our house. And yes i agree it’s a cultural thing. On my grandparents house we do not use them, my mother did the same and guess what, my son and daugther dont allow shoes inside the house. It´s so much higienic. The worst thing is to make others – visitors and other family accept that inside my houseshoes are not allowed. There are a few ones that come inside with shoes but i allways say – please take of shoes – my house is a inside shoe free 🙂

  • I used to just wear my shoes around the house without thinking about it, but one day my carpet cleaner actually told me that I could keep my carpets a lot cleaner by just taking off my shoes as soon as I got home. I started doing that and it really has helped keep my carpets cleaner! I can’t believe I had never thought about it because I was always complaining about how dirty my rugs were!

  • I’m half Asian and so it’s just been customary since growing up to check shoes at the door! I prefer taking off my shoes at home, but sometimes I’m embarrassed to do so at other people’s places when I’m wearing flats sockless and afraid of a little sweat on my feet or my last pedi was a little too long ago!

    I’m curious to see among those who take off shoes who wears socks/slippers and who runs barefoot since oils from our feet get picked up etc and having less carpeted areas means dirtier feet/more calloused feet from no shoes. Please reply if you’re willing to answer! I’m so curious!

    • In Denmark, where most people take off their shoes at the door (we have crap weather 9 months of the year), most people wear socks/slippers inside due to the temperature. The 2-3 months of the year when it’s sandal-weather people walk barefoot inside.

      People will take off their shoes, and then be barefoor/wear socks depending on if they wore socks with their shoes or not. And if it’s cold they’ll put on slippers or an extra pair of woollen socks.

    • Interesting question. I’m not really embarrassed to answer (since this is the anonymous internet) but I will say that my husband has beautifully smooth baby feet and wears socks all the time (he is rarely barefoot in the house) while I hate, hate, hate socks and prefer roaming about barefoot and have really rough, callousy feet and need a pedicure every month or so 🙁 maybe it’s related, maybe I just have gross feet. Who knows.

  • LOve that you covered this! We take shoes off and have indoor work shoes if we’re doing something that need them. I’m the same I’m not asking guests, unless they are staying for a while and playing with my kids! Can I also add that I get freaked out where the bottom of bags have touched….. and putting a suitcase on our bed makes me want to hurl! Towel down first! Maybe I’m crazy…..

    • Not crazy! I can’t imagine a suitcase (especially a well traveled one) on my bed, then later sleeping curled up next to all those germs (I realize those ‘germs’ are unlikely to actually cause me harm by being on my blankets, but still- yuck!)

    • I appreciate your research on this topic, Elsie! It’s so interesting to hear everyone’s views. I live in Portland, OR and personally have always been grossed out by carpet and dirty shoes in carpeted houses. I have wood floors which are much easier to clean and don’t have a rule about no shoes, but just prefer slippers once I get home and settled after work. Considering I’m a bit of a germphobe with other things, I’m surprised I haven’t started a no shoes rule! I hate my grocery bags touching the kitchen counters because they were just on the floor of the car where shoes touch haha. I agree that it would be uncomfortable to ask guests to take shoes off. I only know of one family who has a strict no shoes policy and it’s because they have 3 young children. They have a sign at the door that says “Please leave your shoes at the door since little hands touch our floor” which I think is pretty cute and non arguable.

    • YES! We have a quite strict no shoe policy but my husband used to place his suitcase on the bed. I was SO shocked!! I mean, how many dog poop particles did you just put on our bed?? 😀
      And since I learnt that some people do that and even put their shoes on the bed, whenever I’m in a hotel I NEVER sit with my pj on the blanket. Always on the sheets, since those are the only things I’m sure got washed.
      My husband thinks I’m paranoid 😀

  • Growing up on a farm in MN, my mother held a FIRM no shoes rule in our house to lower the chance of manure and goodness knows what else being lugged in. I am as nuts about the no shoes rule as my mother was now in my own life and honestly, good thing because I live in LA and I’m pretty sure my shoes were cleaner on the farm than they here, ha.

  • We had friends who travelled/lived all over the world and collected slippers from the different countries they visited. They would keep them by the front door for guests to use – what a fun way to encourage everyone to take their shoes off!

  • I don’t wear shoes inside most of the time, but here or there I put them on early or don’t take them off immediately. I especially try to keep shoes to downstairs away from our bedrooms because I want it to be super clean where we sleep.

  • What a great read. Love the three reasons why we shouldn’t wear shoes in our homes.
    We live in Europe and almost everyone in Europe takes their shoes off at the door. We are still working on taking our shoes off at the door but it is a habit so hard to break.

    Thank you for sharing!

  • When I was growing up on a farm in Canada, we had a durable black rug made for comercial environments at our “dooryard” (a maritime term for the backyard or side yard) entrance, which was used by family and close friends. It contained a great number of shoe racks for the guests, and was seperated from the rest of the house by a door (the odor of farm shoes is better kept contained to one room). The fancy front entrance was reserved for special occasions.

    I’m temporarily living in a mouse house, by which I mean it has a great many mice living in it’s nooks and crannys, and will need to be completely gutted besides. In this house, I wear shoes at all times! I even take them right to the edge of the shower before using it. As the entire place is falling apart, it’s much safer that way! xD

  • I’m from Ohio (Midwest is blessed!) and we take our shoes off and ask friends and family to do the same! If you’re comfortable with your guest, it’s not rude to ask. It’s part of a guest respecting a home.

    I am surprised that the benefits aren’t more obvious to people. Shoes are used to protect our feet, so it makes sense you wouldn’t need that in your home and wouldn’t want to track anything in.

  • I’m Indian, and I think it’s common in most Asian cultures to not wear shoes in the house. I grew up with it and really, really dislike wearing shoes inside! I recently broke my toe, and I have to wear a boot and a shoe on the other foot to even out my step, and I have to wear them inside as well as inside, and wearing these things inside is driving me crazy!

  • I am definitely on the side of people being appalled by people/cultures who keep their shoes on in the house!!!! As a Canadian, this is just something we don’t do. I suspect it’s because of our unpredictable weather and lengthy and harsh winters. Growing up, you always took off your shoes when you entered either your own house or someone else’s house. My mother never liked walking barefoot (while, if I could live barefoot my whole life I would be very happy) and so she had a pair of running shoes she exclusively wore inside our home (never outside, there were other shoes for that). Now she has an indoors flip flop thing going on. As for teaching Nova not being hard, it’s not surprising. She spent the first few years of her life in Asia where it’s very uncommon to keep your shoes inside a home. I think its a great thing you’re trying to change your habit. I certainly cannot imagine how dirty a house must get when shoes are kept on.

  • Growing up in north central Arkansas my family always wore shoes in our house. It took moving to NYC eight years ago to drop that habit HARD. Have you seen the streets of New York? If it’s raining outside I’ll take my shoes off outside my apartment door and place the shoes inside the door on a mat so I’m not tracking water anywhere. If it’s not raining I walk to my room and take my shoes off in there, placing the shoes on a shoe rack behind in my door. As someone who is very anti-clutter I never leave shoes at the front door unless they’re wet.

    On the other hand, I do not force guests to remove their shoes. Growing up I was always nervous that a day when I decide to not wear socks would be the day I visit a friend’s home and their family makes me take off my shoes. I remember my nervousness then so I wouldn’t want any of my guests to feel the same way. 🙂

  • Growing up in Canada we always took off our shoes going into our house (or any one else’s house). I think it is because we are in winter 6 months of the year. To me it just makes sense to take them off. I remember when I moved to NYC, all my Canadian expat friends would take off their shoes when they came into my apartment but I always had to remind my American boyfriend to remove his shoes.

  • Hi 🙂
    I’m German and it’s totally normal to wear houseshoes only inside. Nearly everybody has a cupboard or basket full of slippers for guests. Also you usually ask when visiting friends if taking of the shoes is necessary.
    Another reason you didn’t mention is, that bacteria can grow inside your shoes when they are worn too long at a time. That’s why I wash my houseshoes regularly in the washing machine, think sundays in houseshoes all day long…

    Lots of love!
    Rahel 🙂

    • A lot of people offer a house slippers basket where I live as well (I’m located on the east coast of Canada). And it’s considered rude to walk into someone else’s house with your shoes on, unless they first tell you it’s okay.

    • I’m an American living in Germany and I definitely had to adapt to the no-shoes indoor culture that Rahel describes. But now I’m a convert and also have several pairs of slippers (so their feet don’t get cold) for guests visiting me 🙂

  • Pretty standard where we live in Canada for everyone to take off shoes at the door. Funny because growing up I thought it was a TV thing and always noticed it. Like TV people don’t take their shoes off at the door, but everyone else does. Lol.

    • Me too! Always thought it was just a TV thing. I remember once, as a kid, I wore shoes in the house because all the cartoon characters did, and my mom was like, “ummm, no.” Haha. Pretty unheard of in Canada to wear shoes indoors, much more common to have house slippers.

    • What always shocks me is when people on tv flop onto their beds WITH THEIR SHOES ON. All that dirt and germs, now in your bed… 🙁

  • I used to never wear shoes in the house…. until I developed plantar fasciitis after my son was born… now I have to wear shoes all the time or I can’t walk without extreme pain. I haven’t been to a home that required shoes off since this developed… not sure how I would handle it…

    • A lot of people in Scandinavia bring a small bag with “indoor shoes” when they visit others. You can do that, too! 🙂

      • Me and one of my friends (in the UK) do this too! I never wear shoes at home, as it’s just more comfy to take them off 🙂 But I often take my slippers in my bag when I go round to a friend’s house 🙂

      • Hihi here in Germany, the bag filled of slippers for guests waits for you in every home! I was confused about it when moving here six years ago, but it’s actually such a good idea 🙂 (and somehow makes you feel very welcome)

    • Same here! But I bought a nice pair of slip-on shoes that have good support and keep them indoors to switch into when I get home.

  • I read somewhere about someone keeping a basket near their front door with new pairs of those inexpensive IKEA slippers so guests could wear those in lieu of their shoes. Something I would love to implement one day!

    My in-laws actually enforce this rule very strictly and won’t even allow anyone to walk *barefoot* in their home – socks or slippers must be worn! O_O They keep a pair of slippers there for us when we visit!

    • I have heard that too- but I worried that the slippers thing is kind of weird too… I don’t know. 🙂

      • I grew up in the north east of England and, even in my primary and high schools, we had to keep indoor shoes in the cloakroom, which we were never allowed to wear outside. Growing up on a farm, it was second nature to us to pull off boots or shoes, even just to step into someone’s lobby when delivering milk etc.

        When I moved to London, I couldn’t believe how people tracked road dust, mud, chewing gum and even dog poop into their homes and then spent ages cleaning and sanitizing. So much easier to train the kids (and husbands, in my case!) to change into slippers.

        • North England here too. We too were not allowed to wear outdoor shoes at infant and middle school. At home we changed into slippers as soon as we got in.
          Consequently I have always been strict about shoes coming off at the door. We keep our slippers there to change into.

      • In Croatia where I live now and Bosnia where I come from, slippers are a must in every home, we don’t wear shoes and don’t walk barefoot, even little children. Guests also take off their shoes and it’s really nice if you have slippers to offer. 🙂

        • Yes, Lea! I’m Serbian but was raised in the US. I think in the Yugoslav (Serbian/Croatian/Bosnian) culture, the home is a sacred, clean place and everything outside of it is dirty. Outdoor shoes came off as soon as we entered the house. Every family member has their own pair of slippers, and we have a few extra for guests. When my American friends came over to my house while I was growing up, they knew that they would be offered slippers. I’m not sure why, but walking around the house in just socks (without slippers) was always a no no!
          On a similar note, growing up I was always expected to change out of my outdoor clothes when I would come home from school and put on something that I wore only inside (sweatpants, a t-shirt, etc.). Lea, I wonder if this is a Yugoslav thing, or just something my family insists upon? 🙂

  • Question – do you store all the shoes in a mudroom or entryway, or take them to bedrooms? Our coat closet at the front door gets full of shoes quickly and we don’t currently have storage by our garage door..

    • IKEA has a number of nice shoe racks/shelves that people put next to the front door. When guests are expected, you can add more of those or bring the family’s shoes to a wardrobe or to the basement for a few hours in order to make room.

    • We leave them in the entryway and every few days whey they start to pile up I take some back to the bedrooms. But in everyday life we re-wear a lot of the same shoes so they can kind of just stay in the entryway. I always leave at least one pair of my shoes there (because of taking the dogs outside).

      I am thinking about adding a shoe rack inside our coat closet soon.

  • I’m Asian so wearing shoes in the house is normal. Growing up with this habit, the thought of wearing my shoes and treading dirt and who knows what else throughout the house and getting them on things and crawling into bed is gross. I’m glad you’re embracing this habit. =)

  • I grew up in Michigan and hardly anyone wears shoes in their house. I think mostly because of the snow in the winter no one would want that all over their house!

    • Agreed! I’m from Minnesota and there’s no way for half the year you could EVER consider wearing your shoes in the house, so it really just becomes a year round habit. Although growing up we didn’t wear shoes outside much in the summer either :/ so maybe not the cleanest to then run back inside!

  • Definitely not! Before I read blogs, I didn’t even know that people in the US wore shoes inside the house… it’s basically unheard of here in Asia. It’s so impractical!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

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