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Please Remove Shoes Before Entering?

Please Remove Shoes Before Entering?

Do you remove your shoes before entering your home? Some people forbid shoes in their homes, while others consider being asked to remove their shoes nothing short of offensive. I have friends with Please Remove Shoes Before Entering signs brazenly taped to their doors, while I have other friends who’d prefer to stay out of someone’s no-shoes-allowed home rather than be required to expose their socks.

Much of it has to do with cultural tradition. In many places across the globe removing shoes before entering is a deeply ingrained practice. As a kid growing up in southern California, I always entered the house in socks. Although not because we had a rule about shoes, rather, my preferred style of footwear had wheels attached and roller skates were tricky on the carpet. But somehow I evolved, over time, into an adult who doesn’t wear shoes inside. For me it started off as a matter of comfort, but upon further reflection it has become reinforced by a number of other factors. Here are five reasons for removing shoes before entering:

1. Comfort. I wear sensible shoes (mostly? sometimes?) but no matter how comfortable my shoes are, my feet are always happier outside of them. I want to be comfortable at home. I want to take off my shoes as soon as I walk in, the same way I might want to take off a pair of tight jeans. My home is my haven, it’s hard to relax in your sanctuary wearing knee-high boots.

2. Toxins. An EPA study, reported in Environmental Science & Technology provided the first proof that pesticides can be tracked into residences on shoes. People and pets who walk on pesticide-treated lawns can pick up pesticides like the herbicide 2,4-D, for up to a week after application, the study showed. The study found that “track-in” exposures of pesticides may exceed those from the best-known source–pesticide residues on non-organic fresh fruits and vegetables. Another study showed that 98 percent of lead dust found in homes is tracked in from outside as well.

3. Happy Neighbors. If you live in an apartment building, no shoes makes much happier downstairs neighbors. Especially downstairs neighbors with a really cute little girl who is a light sleeper. (Hi Olivia!)

4. Germs. This one may have more to do with neurosis than actual facts–but living in an urban environment and seeing all the disgusting things that end up on the sidewalk? Yuck. I definitely don’t want to track pesticides and lead paint in, but neither am I interested in tracking in dog waste and other bodily fluids thank you very much.

5. Dirt. I live in a converted 19th century convent that still has boot scrapers by both entrances. (Did 19th-century nuns wear boots?) We have paved roads now so dirt and mud may be less of an issue, but toxins and germs aside, shoes still manage to track in plenty of plain old grime. Why would I want to perform extra cleaning when simply leaving shoes at the door makes such a difference in the cleanliness of my floor?

So that’s my take on removing shoes. I have a bookshelf right inside my door where my kids and I kick off our shoes first thing. I never insist on guests removing their shoes, but I would say that nine out of ten do so automatically when they see our bare feet and the shoe shelf.

Here’s my question for you: Do you remove your shoes inside, or do you prefer shoes on indoors? I want to hear from both sides of the fence, and why. Bare your soles (I’m sorry) in the comment field.

Read more: Health & Safety, Home, Household Hints, , ,

Melissa Breyer, Senior Editor, Healthy & Green Living

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.

272 comments

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4:39AM PDT on Aug 12, 2014

We never wear shoes in the house. Family and guests take them off at the door. I went to stay at a friends house last week, she has lovely carpets. I took my shoes off when I arrived and changed straight into my slippers.I would never walk on someones carpets in my bare feet. The same is expected of guests when they come to us.

5:08AM PDT on Aug 2, 2013

If you have a pet at home and have asked or your vet "My pet does not go outside, why do I have to buy flea, tick and heartworm prevention for my dog or cat?" I hope you were told that you can bring parasite eggs into the house on your shoes. If that isn't a good reason to take your shoes off in the house, I don't know what is.

This is just something fun for me to remember-Calling spring and fall "Clumpy mud season!!" (My boys still remember me yelling that to them also).

1:01AM PDT on Jul 31, 2013

I've tried to have a 'take shoes off at door' policy, but it never seems to last for long. However, we have all wood floors...no carpet...and it is swept daily. I also use a steam mop instead of a regular mop because I know the hot water will kill germs :o)

1:55PM PDT on Jul 30, 2013

I was brought up in the rural (British) West Country and now live on Cairo, but in both taking off shoes on entering the home were - are - a basic, with spare slippers, flip-flops etc. for visitors. The reasons seem obvious - country muck in the first instance with all that it entailed and all the dirt etc. that pavements and roads carry in Cairo and many other cities. I cannot imagine how anyone could be offended at being asked (which shouldn't be necessary) to remove their outdoor footwear and all that it bears before entering a home.

12:36PM PDT on Jul 22, 2013

I'm disabled and although it's not easy I always clean the soles of my shoes (or the wheelchair wheels, depending on my mobility that day) before entering my home, or change into different clean shoes at the door. I'd be happy to do the same in other people homes, however, removing my shoes completely and going barefoot isn't very practical as I'd probably hurt myself. Any regular visitors to my home have spare shoes at the door or are usually happy to clean the soles of their shoes with wipes before entering; I'm not a cleanliness freak but I don't want other peoples anything tracked into my home. I have care workers twice a week, who also visit many different homes, plus I have allergies, so it's important that they don't bring dander and dust from someone else's home into mine, not to mention the dangerous stuff from the pavement too. I can totally understand people not wanting to enter my home in their socks or barefoot, that's why I think it's important to offer an alternative!

3:04PM PDT on Jul 20, 2013

We take our shoes off at the door. The thought of tracking what's on the bottom of our soles through the house makes me queasy.

3:20AM PDT on Jul 15, 2013

Thank you :)

12:22PM PDT on Jul 1, 2013

I LOVE being barefoot&hate the sand&grit guests bring in on their shoes, but I understand in the winter under all the layers coming in out of the cold sometimes you've gotta pee badly&those boots are knee-high laced, the socks then must come off due to puddles around the shoe removal area&its muddy grit....i'll gladly remove my shoes but I wont force oters to if they've got that pained look about them...

2:08AM PDT on Jun 2, 2013

I live in a big city where we walk everywhere - and therefore pick up all the gunk off the sidewalks with our shoes. So it makes sense we would not want to drag that all over our floors, especially since we like to walk around barefoot in the house. I like to know that when I step out of the shower I'm not walking into street gunk I dragged in from the street and put my socks on clean clean feet.

11:59AM PDT on May 28, 2013

we're a shoes off house too - but, I do expect all guests to remove their shoes too (or put on booties at least) - why allow others to track in gunk when you work so hard to keep it clean - no exceptions baby!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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