An Eco-Mudroom: Shoes Off

OK, I am as neurotic as the next person about keeping my floors clean. With dogs and kids, the inevitable mess happens. The kids are trained to take their shoes off. The dogs know that if they wait on the mat while their feet get cleaned they will get a treat, and my guests are kind and gracious. They usually offer without being asked.

Last week my husband and I stayed at my brother’s ski house in Vermont. Ski and snowboarding boots are messy. My brother and his wife have a whole room dedicated to shoes/boots/ski stuff. It is a neatly organized mudroom that provides a barrier between the outside and the inside with storage for lots of stuff.

Architect Susan Susanka, the author of the Not So Big House books, is a big fan of mud rooms that can keep shoes, outerwear, purses, keys, back packs and other belongings in a central place near an entrance to a home.

Mudrooms encourage friends and family to take their shoes off. Here are some of the benefits of removing your shoes before entering a home. Creating a healthier home by taking your shoes off is good for the environment. Cleaner air quality and less cleaning products consumed is an advantage. Even if you clean with vinegar and baking soda, taking your shoes off by the front door will save. More importantly, the EPA found that pesticides on shoes are considered to be a major source of toxic exposure for children.

While I surf the ecosphere often, it still surprised me to find a whole blog dedicated to leaving your shoes at the door. Shoes Off at the Door Please encourages people not to wear shoes in their homes. UK blogger Celestial Fundie provides 37 reasons why you should have a shoes-off policy.

A mudroom is a perfect place to leave those shoes behind while providing all the elements for a cleaner, healthier home. Here are some ideas for creating an eco-mud room:

• Floors should be dark and durable. Mudroom floors take a beating. Eco-friendly rubber floor tiles are made with recycled rubber and are perfect for messes. Stone floors are attractive and are great at hiding dirt. Floor mats made from recycled materials are another alternative.

• Paint mudroom walls with eco-friendly paint. Try natural American Clay for a durable and interesting textured wall.

• For seating, functional built-in benches with hinged tops for storage work best. This bench has open storage for shoes. For tight spaces this hideaway bench is a space-saver.

• Determine the type of storage you need–sports equipment, kids, dogs. Bins, baskets and shelves can give each family member a space. Pegs on the floor for upside down boots or a lattice-work shoe shelf with a drip tray underneath can keep melting snow and rain off the floor. Cubbies for each member of the family keep homework, lunches and other belongings organized. This small storage unit is made from Bamboo with eco-fabric upholstery created from re-purposed denim.

• Some additional decor like a mirror (hat-hair can wreck an entrance), coat tree, key holder, indoor/outdoor thermometer and bulletin board give mudrooms multi-purposes.

Got mudroom? I wish I did.

Ronnie Citron-Fink lives in New York with her husband, two children (when they come home to the nest), two dogs and a cat. Ronnie is a teacher and a writer. She has been a contributing writer for Family Fun magazine. She currently writes articles about education and home design. Her writings are in four books including Family Fun Home and Some Delights of the Hudson Valley.


Mark B.
Mark Bloodworth3 years ago

We have a large old house in rural England. It has a large utility room at the rear entrance where shoes are removed. The house has light woollen carpets so shoes obviously have to come off for everyone. Our slippers are left in either the utility room or in the inner entrance hall. We have stone floors which make walking bare foot on them very uncomfortable. I like the American concept of a mud room. It's rare to see in the UK. Often the front door will lead into carpeted hallways. These are usually cluttered with shoes and slippers. We keep a very neat and tidy house so having the utility room really helps to keep the floors and carpets in pristine condition .

Murat K.
Past Member 6 years ago

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Andrea M.
Andrea M7 years ago

My husband and I never wear shoes in our house and even though we've lived here for four years, our carpet still looks brand new. We ask people not to wear shoes in the house, and leave ours in our mud room. I feel awkward wearing shoes in other people's homes, even if they don't mind.

Trish H.
Anne H8 years ago

I wrote a poem to deal with this issue and posted it by our door along w/ a picture of some flip-flops and the sun. I also offer visitors slippers, flip-flops or socks. If you use the poem please give credit. Contact me and I'll send you the actual picture.

"Friends bring warm wishes and stories of their lives.
Shoes bring other things, please leave them outside."
'05 T. Hart

I've found that if I say "should I remove my shoes?" a reply is "no, don't bother" but if I say "do you mind if I remove my shoes" the person says "no, go right ahead".

Adrian Davis
Adrian Davis8 years ago

Thanks for the post!

Randall A.
Randall A.8 years ago

Taking off shoes at the doorway of American homes seems to have become popular over the past decade and some of the rationale does seem practical. However, sometimes I believe some of those that practice this caveat really are not "walking their talk" relating to the sanitary essence of this "keeping their kingdom sterile."

Case in point is this: a family member and others that I associate with employ this "shoes off" policy for their well kept abodes. Human visitors must remove their shoes to enter their house; however, they have several dogs (house dogs) that reside there and as I sit there shoeless I discern these pets lying with their private parts on their floor (rugs, tiles, etc.). It especially soaks in (no pun intended) when the pet just returned from a "potty break" from their being taken outside. The pets are escorted inside and begin to lounge all over the house, couch, floors, etc.

Oh, I guess this is okay for the pet; however, the human friends must purge themselves of their shoes which carry unspeakable bacteria? Something is wrong with this picture? I'd like to hear from some that enforce this policy but still allow their pets to perform as mentioned above.

Joe D.
Joe Dusel8 years ago

Here's a link to another bamboo shoe bench.


Teresa T.
Teresa T9 years ago

Mudrooms are a great idea. Unfortunately most houses aren't designed with them in the plans, and also can't even be adapted for one; at least here in Utah. The only place I've ever seen mudrooms is on the pages of a magazine. I do agree with taking shoes off at the door, especially once the weather turns wet and/or snowy. We have a tile entry since it doesn't get slippery when damp and take heavy traffic and dirt.

Ronnie Citron-Fink

Here's the link for the Feel More Human Bamboo Bench,