do you allow shoes in your home

Do you allow shoes to be worn in your home? This can be a touchy thing. Just as touchy and difficult to ask someone to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer before touching your newborn baby.

I’m Filipino, so culturally, shoes are typically not allowed in the home. Everyone comes over and takes it off in the entry way. When I go to other Asian homes, we know to take off our shoes prior to entering (and sometimes you’ll notice that shoes are left outside of the door). It’s considered rude to step into their home with shoes on. I married someone who is not Filipino, so he grew up wearing shoes in the home, but he has since adopted the no shoes stance.

The main reason we do it is for health and cleanliness. Shoes track in lots of bacteria (read here and here) and we have kids who play on the ground. They roll, lay down, put down blankets all over the ground. Not only do my kids play on the ground, they tend to put their fingers and hands in their mouth (even though I’m constantly on their case for it). So shoes off in the house, is one way to help eliminate bringing in things we don’t want in our house.

We know it isn’t always convenient for people to take off their shoes. If we’re having a big party, we usually won’t say anything, and cleaning the floors just comes with the party clean up. Though most friends already know to take off their shoes, so people catch on when they see a bunch of shoes at the door. When construction people come over, we have non-slip shoe covers right at the door for them to slip on, so they don’t have to go through the hassle of removing their boots. We also have clean (and cute) slippers for guests to wear. Ben can’t walk around barefoot for long periods of time because it’s painful for his feet, so he has a pair of “indoor Nikes” that he wears just for inside the house. I’ve recently started having foot problems too, so I have a pair of Birkenstocks just for the inside of the house too. To avoid having to explain while it’s ok for us to wear shoes in our home, we will typically walk barefoot when guests are here.

I have friends who have put signs on their doors, so we recently adopted that. One friend’s sign says, “Hawaiian style. Please remove your shoes. Mahalo.” Another says, “This is holy ground. No shoes allowed.” The one I saw most recently, in beautiful calligraphy, said, “Kindly remove your shoes.” It kind of saves that awkward conversation when you answer the door and it spells it out plainly.

In a recent discussion on another blog, I saw someone mention if they go to a home where they have to remove their shoes, they aren’t likely to go back to that home, and will prefer to meet that friend out. I thought that was an interesting response.

Imagine where our shoes have been! Public restrooms… eek! I once was at someone’s house recently, and they wore their outside shoes inside, and put their shoes up on the couch and the coffee table. That same evening they laid on the couch and ate dinner on the coffee table, and I just kind of got the heebie jeebies. It’s obviously not my preference to wear outdoor shoes inside!

I know this can be testy subject. I think I’ve discussed it here before, but some friends and I were discussing it recently, and especially since we just put up a sign on our door, it’s been on my mind. Shoes or no shoes? What do you do in your home and what do you expect your guests to do?

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28 Responses to “do you allow shoes in your home”

  1. Lauren says:

    In Canada we generally don’t wear shoes in the home. I’m surprised to hear that some people have such strong opinions about it! Not going back to a house where you have to remove your shoes? Silly. :)

  2. Lisa says:

    That’s always funny to me to read outraged comments from (mostly US) people disgusted at the idea of taking off your shoes in the house. I’m French-Greek, and in my parents’ home (in Greece) we take off our shoes, but that’s really not the norm for Greek people. I now live in Austria where taking our shoes off is completely natural – usually in the entrance of flats and houses. I’ve even had appointments at offices where the people working there have specific “house shoes” (sturdy slippers, often Birkenstocks) – I find that it makes a lot of sense, especially in winter when you don’t want to wear your wet winter boots all day. Generally in Northern Europe it’s really normal to take your shoes off.
    Like you I cringe when people put their shoes on their couches, coffee table or – the worst- beds! Ha, I even take off my slippers if I put my feet on the couch ;)

  3. Nikki says:

    Lately I’ve been seriously wanting to adopt a no shoes policy, especially since we’ve recently replaced the carpet in our basement and I would like to keep it as nice as possible for as long as possible.

    Since it is just my boyfriend and I in the house, we generally don’t wear shoes, we opt for socks all day long (I kind of hate the feeling of our cheap laminate flooring against my feet!). In the winter I do my best to make people take their shoes off at the door, so as to avoid tracking snow, mud, and salt all over the floors. Most people are accommodating, but here in Utah we’re generally “non-fussy” people so I can tell that some friends find it weird.

    Posting a sign is a great idea, but we’re not quite there yet. How do you have “the talk” with your friends?

  4. Rhianna Wells says:

    I’m with you all the way! It grosses me out to see people wearing their dirty shoes in the house. I can’t believe some people wouldn’t go back to a No Shoes house. That’s so silly! I’ve thought of buying some cheap slippers and socks to keep at our door for visitors, but I haven’t had any problems with people taking their shoes off yet, in my circle it seems to be pretty normal for everyone to take off their shoes.

  5. Kayla says:

    No shoes in the house! I’m only half Filipina and was raised to take shoes off but I’ve found that most of my friends across all different ethnicities removes shoes at the door. So I think it might be a Canadian thing too then.

    Even growing up I remember everyone thinking it was super weird/gross that on American TV shows people wore shoes in the house… even on the bed sometimes! Yuck!

    I get the sore feet thing though, so my hubby and I have tsinelas for indoor use only too :) Been on the look out for some comfy, slip on ones for guests as well like the good filipinos we are. I can’t stand the mesh, beaded ones most of my tita’s have. I choose barefoot over those.

  6. Jade says:

    My mom was born and raised in Japan, so we grew up with the habit of taking off our shoes. Every member of my extended family shares this habit (even my father’s side, which is from Brasil), so I didn’t really grow up realizing people wore shoes in the house. My husbands family (born and raised in Missouri) don’t take their shoes off. My mother in law walks through the house and switches her shoes to slippers. They aren’t bothered by us taking off our shoes at the door, but I am now imagining all of the germs we get on our feet in their homes. I have noticed that when people see we aren’t wearing shoes, they take theirs off without question.

  7. do you have a link to the guest slippers you use? :) my husband and I are Chinese American and have a shoes off home, but definitely need to work on keeping our tile floor and carpeted bedrooms and living room more clean, especially when our infant starts to crawl. ;) we have friends who are not Asian who also have a shoes off home, but all of our other (non-Asian) friends where we live in San Diego wear shoes in their homes.

  8. Lindsey says:

    It sounds like Wisconsinites are similar to Canadians, most homes take shoes off. It really grosses me out when people don’t, and i actually will take my shoes off in homes where everyone else wears shoes. That habit dies hard. A lot of guests to our home just ask if we want them to take their shoes off. I usually say that we are a shoes off family but whatever they prefer. The only exception is older folks who have a hard time with bending.

  9. Holly says:

    I was always so grossed out watching tv when people are laying on their bed wearing shoes. I’m from Canada & I don’t think I’ve ever been to a house where I kept my shoes on or was told to keep them on (unless thehouae was undergoing renovations). In Canada everyone just automatically takes their shoes off. I have slippers that I wear at home in the cooler months. I remember visiting family in the States & they were like oh no keep your shoes on! I tried but a few minutes later I took them off, haha. It just felt weird to me!

    I couldn’t imagine someone not going to a house because it was a “shoes off” house. That’s nuts! Haha.

  10. Vénusia says:

    As said, most canadian takes off their shoes, but even, some not. I still don’t get it. Usually they are older, and since I told them a couple of times to get their shoes off, I feel shy to repeat myself every time. So I’m always happy when winter comes, cause then, you take your winter boots off for sure. The snow helps it making it pretty clear to takes shoes off.

  11. Jessica says:

    It seems like the no shoes stance is also one based on where you live. I live in California, like you, but actually know no one that takes their shoes off in their home. Sure, if it’s raining we leave our rain boots/wet shoes by the door. Do your children wear shoes in the backyard? Mine often don’t, and honestly neither do I, so our floors are probably already tainted anyway

    • Jessica says:

      For some reason it cut off the rest of my response. I wanted to ask about you wearing sandals in the summer. We all do and our feet get horribly dirty. We wash them before bed, but not otherwise. My question is, do you then wash everyone’s feet before they walk around the house to keep the floor clean?

  12. Alex says:

    We are in the UK and don’t allow shoes in the house. I was brought up to take them off. Our house is in a rural area which is muddy all year round so everyone seems to remove shoes automatically. Our floors would be quickly ruined if shoes didn’t come off.
    Its cold here for much of the year so we wear slippers. Personally I wouldn’t wear “guest”slippers when visiting so don’t expect guests to wear them at mine. People bring slippers to wear if staying for a while.
    Wearing shoes in the house seems to be a very habit. Its something I have never done.

  13. Anastasiya says:

    We don’t wear shoes at home in Russia. Partly, by tradition (people had to work with cattle a lot and in the gardens in dirt, so, they had an extra pair of rubber boots on), partly, because of the highly eroding soil. We always have extra slippers for people who like their feet “dressed”. Luckily, it’s the usual thing here, so, we don’t have any issues with the taken off shoes.

  14. Chloe says:

    I come from a family with the whole spectrum of in-house footwear preferences :) I always take my shoes off at the door and prefer barefoot or socks only; my dad removes his shoes and immediately switches to slippers, and my mom prefers to wear her shoes all over the house and even up on the couch sometimes which my dad and I yell at her for, haha.

    Shoes in the house don’t really bother me about bacteria, just visible dirt tracking, and I’m personally more comfortable without hard soles on my feet indoors. I typically remove my shoes in other people’s homes automatically if I’m staying a while, but I only have a couple family members that enforce a no-shoes inside policy, most don’t care either way. I prefer guests to remove if they’re doing more than just stopping by, but not sure if I’d ever enforce a policy.

  15. Robin says:

    I live alone in a nice town-home in the suburbs. The main floors is a combination of hardwood floors and nice area rugs. The steps and bedrooms as well as the basement are carpeted. Like the majority of the other posters I maintain a shoe free home.
    My friends know my preference and leave their shoes at the door when they enter and my family has no issue when they visit. I will tell people the first time that I invite them over that they will be visiting in their stocking feet. I do have two g/f’s who happily remove their shoes but bring slippers to change into. Most of my friends have a similar custom. When I visit someone for the first time I will always ask if they prefer that i take off my shoes.

  16. east meets west says:

    Canadian born Turk here. Both cultures required shoes off indoors. In the Turkish culture shoes are taken off before entering the home. Canadian culture calls for shoes to be taken off after entering the home (near the door, mud room etc.). I remember in elementary school, here in Canada we had to have a pair of indoor shoes in our lockers and had to change once we entered the school. the custodian would then clean all the hallway floors after that. Going out for recess we had to put on our outdoor shoes again and were not allowed in the gym nor the classrooms with outdoor shoes on. when a student forgot his/her indoor shoes at home he/she had to walk inside the school with socks. Shoes off rocks…

  17. Katrina says:

    I don’t make people take their shoes off, although I typically take mine off first thing, but that’s more for comfort than anything else. I get the cultural and fear of germs thing, and while I think saying you won’t go back to someone’s house if they have a no shoes rule is a bit extreme, I’ll admit I’d probably roll my eyes and complain in my mind, especially if I’m just going to be there for a few minutes. What a pain. Especially when I see the same people who make you take off your shoes are outside barefoot, because then what’s the point? Dirt and germs get in your house on your bare feet too. And then I always worry that my feet stink. And I can’t say I want other people’s foot stench in my house all the time. I wouldn’t want to wear slippers that a bunch of other people have worn. And I grew up in a house where we wore shoes inside and played on the floor and I survived to adulthood still perfectly healthy. But I agree with you on the no shoes on the furniture! The repair people we’ve had in the house bring their own boot covers. It’s their policy, so I haven’t ever thought about getting some for them. And no shoes in the house if they’re muddy of snowy, but most people are smart enough to realize that on their own.

  18. Charlotte says:

    I’m from Belgium, and I don’t think I know anyone who keeps their shoes on at home. I just have a pair of supercomfy (and warm) slippers, so my feet don’t freeze. When we’re having people over, we don’t ask them to remove their shoes, but they’ll likely do so.

    I find it so weird that people keep their shoes on in tv series, even when lying on the bed. I mean, who does that? Americans, so it seems ;-)

  19. Grace says:

    I’m American but currently an exchange student in Latin America for the second time (Ecuador and now Argentina) and in both places my host family cannot understand how I walk around the house in just socks! In my last home I think it was because they thought I would get splinters from the wood floor but here they tell me I will get sick from the cold tiles. It grosses me out and tracks so much dirt in. I don’t wear shoes at home. I will say though if I went to the home of someone who was not a close friend, I would feel uncomfortable taking my shoes off, like maybe my feet will offend them? Sounds silly but shoes feels like a sort of intimacy line

  20. *karen says:

    I’m from Hawaii. So I am FIRMLY in the no-shoes-in-the-house camp.

  21. kathy says:

    shoes off for me (midwest usa) for cleanliness. also as a courtesy to the people who live in the apartment below mine to prevent noise on hardwood floors.

    saw a cute sign for this: “if you aren’t God or george strait, take your boots off”. :)

  22. Emma says:

    Oh! I’m so relieved reading you! In Spain nobody has this habit. When I ask family and friends to take off their shoes and offer them slippers they look at me horrified and criticize my attitude.

    My concern for germs and the use of logic made me take this habit at home, but I really have a hard time receiving someone at home. So I take the idea of ​​the door sign!!

    A lot of kisses!

  23. Ashla says:

    I live in Quebec, Canada, and I think here shoes and no shoes are both normal. It’s even somewhat common to ask “do I take my shoes off?” when visiting someone you’re not used to. People will then answer to take them off, or not, or to just do what you are most confortable with. The funny part is I think both point of views justify themselves with cleanliness, depending on it they find shoes or socks/feet dirtier. Also, a great part of the year the weather/winter solves the question since boots are just too hot, heavy and probably snowy. Some people bring indoor shoes or slippers, or the people who live there offer slippers or extra-warm socks. In my family, my parents wear shoes and us “children” don’t, all of us for comfort reason. I wonder who raised us ;) . In the extended family, some bring shoes and some don’t for family gathering such as Christmas, and I always thought people who wear shoes do it to be more “dressed-up” in “public”.

  24. JB says:

    There are some of us Americans who don’t like to wear shoes in the house. I cast my vote for socks. I hate both shoes and slippers. I’m not a real stickler for making guests take off shoes, but I’ve noticed that people often remove their shoes at the door of my house when they realize that I’m sock-footed. When I visit others, I always check to see if they are wearing shoes, and then I just do as they do.

  25. Marisa says:

    We live in Namibia, Africa – and generally we also mostly take off shoes when inside. Being so hot for most of our year, myself and the kids prefer to go mostly barefoot (the hubby likes to have something on his feet tough;) Actually, at the moment it is struggle to get any footwear on my kids feet at any time! I don’t mind too much when people don’t take off their shoes – as we have mostly tiled floor , so it is easy to clean afterwards :)

  26. I am Eurasian and make my family take their shoes off at the door, but I don’t make my guests do it, though many notice that we have shoes outside our door so they will take their shoes off out of respect, but I never pressure them and say it is okay for them to do it. I really am all about clean houses and hate dirt. haha. It was not taught to me as a child because my dad didn’t care (my mom did try at least sometimes), I just really like not having dirt in my home. I am the only female in my home too, so the dudes know better!

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