Here’s Why You Should Remove Your Shoes At Home

Shoes are great. We’ve been wearing them for 40,000 years and needless to say, they’ve served us well. The first forms of protective footwear evolved from simple efforts to keep our trotters insulated from snow and cold – and given that we don’t live on a planet lined with smooth, silky grass and other assorted soothing surfaces, shoes are a basic comfort for many of us.

But do we need to wear them inside? Many cultures think not, yet in the United States and other countries, oftentimes the shoes come inside attached to the feet of their wearer. Some households have a no-shoes policy, which can be met with scorn from the unshod-shy. But there are plenty of reasons why it might be a good idea to leave the loafers off when you come indoors. Consider the following:

1. Bacteria

We’ll just go straight for the “blech” factor here: Your shoes pick up sneaky bacteria which are then spread about your home when you wear shoes inside. A study from the University of Arizona collected germs and microbes on footwear. The researchers found 421,000 units of bacteria on the outside of the shoe, including E. coli, meningitis and diarrheal disease; Klebsiella pneumonia, a common source for wound and bloodstream infections as well as pneumonia; and Serratia ficaria, a rare cause of infections in the respiratory tract and wounds, reports Reuters. Granted the study was co-sponsored by The Rockport Company, but even so, it definitely brings the point home.

 2. Toxins

An EPA study, reported in Environmental Science & Technology provided the first proof that unhealthy herbicides can be tracked into residences on shoes. The researchers found that the herbicide 2,4-D could be easily imported inside via shoes for up to a week after application. And not only that, but the “track-in” exposures of these chemicals may exceed those from residues on non-organic fresh fruits and vegetables. The study didn’t expound on the health threat of the specific herbicide, however the study’s lead author, Dr. Robert G. Lewis, said the potential exists. Exposure to 2,4-D can cause immediate and relatively minor problems like skin rashes and gastrointestinal upsets; long-term health effects of the herbicide are unknown, the EPA said.

Another study showed that 98 percent of lead dust found in homes is tracked in from outside as well. Lead, bad.

 3. Dirt

Bacteria and toxins aside, shoes also just bring in a lot of plain old dirt and grime. This means more cleaning, which means: A) more cleaning! and B) more cleaning products. Why would you want to spend more time cleaning and using cleaning products when simply not wearing shoes inside can alleviate much of the need?

4. Wear and Tear

More dirt and grit on hard floors means more wear on their surface; more dirt and muck on carpets means more cleaning and scrubbing. All of this mechanical action on your flooring means more wear and tear, meaning the sooner you’ll need to replace said floor coverings. Kicking off your shoes means spending less money on your floor and ultimately, less flooring in the landfill. Also, although the wear and tear on shoes themselves is relatively minimal when inside, it’s still wear and tear.

 5. Neighbors

For urban dwellers stacked upon each other in apartment buildings, why must you torture the downstairs tenants with the clop-clop-clop of your shoes? Not wearing shoes inside makes for happy neighbors.

6. Comfort and Health 

Unless you have a health issue in which the support of shoes alleviates pain, no matter how comfortable your shoes are, your feet are likely happier outside of them. Liberating your paws from the shoes that bind allows you to wiggle your toes and get some life back into your feet. And emotionally, removing your shoes can signal the transition from the big outside to the relaxing haven of your home.

Plus, the opportunity to be barefoot is just good for your feet. Studies have shown that children who habitually go without shoes have fewer cases of flat feet, as well as having stronger feet with better flexibility and fewer podiatric deformities. Allowing your foot muscles to do their thing helps them stay strong and flexible.

We know there will always be people who don’t want to see others’ feet as well as those who will forever shun the shoeless way. Where do you stand when it comes to wearing shoes inside?

by Melissa Breyer, from Treehugger


Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill4 years ago

I always take my shoes off. I hate shoes! I miss my flip-flops in the winter.

Sarah M.
Sarah M4 years ago

Asian household, always took our shoes off :) Good to know there are many reasons to do so in addition to custom!

Amanda M.
Amanda M4 years ago

Jan N, having spent many family vacations on the South Carolina coast growing up (my mom's family hails from the lowcountry), I know what you mean about those evil sand spurs! Those things are like miniature caltrops, and if you step on one in the middle of the night, it's a horribly rude awakening!

That having been said, we wear our shoes even indoors here. In the mountains of western Maryland, it gets pretty cold in the winter, and being a volunteer in the fire department means I never know when I'm gonna need to scramble. I don't really want to lose seconds arguing with my shoes (changing from my PJs to day clothing for middle-of-the-night calls is time-consuming enough), and I don't worry too much about germs. After all, our immune systems need something to chew on, and I don't eat with my feet!

But the main reason to keep my shoes on? Kids and their clutter. Any parent who's ever had bare feet and stepped on a Lego, a broken pencil/crayon, or anything else pointy that they leave on the floor can tell you that it's the ultimate form of foot pain! And no matter how much you bug them to pick up their stuff, there's always SOMETHING they leave on the floor!

Jennifer H.
Jennifer H4 years ago

Always slippers in the house. I hate being barefoot and don't want to ruin socks by wearing them on floors! Always have been weird that way.

Lynn Rubal
Lynn Rubal4 years ago

Very interesting!!!!

Helga Ganguly
Helga Ganguly4 years ago

We always took our shoes of at home. Nothing was said. It was like taking off your coat.No matter where we lived,it's what we did. It paid off. Our 1st 3 houses were sold with the original flooring that we put in because it looked like new.

Roslyn McBride
Roslyn McBride4 years ago

It's normal where I am to have indoor & outdoor shoes. In summer I prefer to go barefoot indoors, anyway.

delilah st louis
delilah st louis4 years ago

Common sense and courtesy , ty

M Away M.
MmAway M4 years ago

I understand.
Not on this crappy carpet! I want it torn up! Walk away!

Judie B.
Judie B4 years ago

Where I live, it's customary to remove your shoes before entering a home, whether it's your home, or someone else's.