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?