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Readers Respond: Wearing Shoes in the House

Responses: 108

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Shoes of course

I don’t understand why anyone would think that walking barefoot inside is sanitary. Just as shoes track in dirt and mud, a person’s bare foot carries bacteria and or funguses that are contagious. Everybody has oil and body odor, and if there are carpets on the floor the oils and odors are left behind. I certainly don’t want to expose myself or family members to bacteria or fungus unnecessarily, so please wear your shoes when entering my home.
—Guest Juana

Mostly off but depends on the occasion

In our home the rule is mostly "shoes off" but some occasions would warrant the opposite: 1. New Year's party, or a wedding reception (we had at least one of each); everyone would be dressed in at least semi-formals, and I feel some would like to keep their outfits "complete." I think people would feel they looked dumb all dressed up barefoot, or in slippers. 2. We do have dogs and a cat so, yes, sometimes the floors (hardwood and ceramic) would be dirty - mud, cat/dog shedding, etc. I try to remedy that as soon as I can but, before I can steam-clean the grime, I'd say keep your shoes on if you like. Any other time, the "shoes off" would be a norm. We do have at least 8 very comfortable pairs of guest slippers (you can very often get them in bulk on eBay), and our regulars know what to do upon arrival. What makes me chuckle is the posters from the 50s with husbands sitting around smoking and reading, and their wives cooking or vacuuming in their high heeled pumps!
—Guest Lydia

Scotland

Hallo again we are pretty split in this country. The general rule is in the countryside people do not wear outside shoes inside, in fact in school we had to take black slip on shoes in winter and leave our outside shoes in the school cloakroom. However I now live in Edinburgh and its pretty 50:50. We don't wear shoes inside, my friends would never ever wear shoes in my home, not even at a party! But I do have some friends here from other places who do wear shoes inside and although I try to understand I just find it plain weird :-)
—Guest Isla

No Shoes Allowed

We don't wear shoes in the house. I get very peeved when guests visit and don't take the hint when they see our shoes and slippers by the door. We all change from shoes to slippers at the door. Also, when we visit friends and family we take slippers with us. My mother was Canadian so I grew up in a no-shoes house, even though we lived in the UK.
—Guest maxy

Casual v. Formal

Generally I prefer to move around with my shoes off, and my friends always take theirs off when they come into our house because they plan to curl up on a couch. However, all of these are casual occasions. I've never, even when I know the normal policy is shoes-off, been asked to remove shoes at any event at which I would be expected to wear heels - that is, to dress up. And I have to say that would be a little strange - I have to wear stockings and a skirt, but no shoes? I guess my question would be how to handle something like a dinner party or open house where guests show respect for you by dressing for an event appropriately, including footwear (which is definitely a U.S. custom). Again, I guess I feel like it's situational - casually, of course there's no issue. But when we're expected to be dressed more formally, it seems that the host should expect that we would dress that way from head to toe and respect that action, just as we would avoid wearing muddy shoes.
—Guest Jane

About the Smell

Also, some of you said you prefer that everyone keep their shoes on because you don't want people exposing their smelly feet. Some people do have have naturally smelly feet, but most people's smelly sweaty feet are caused be being trapped in shoes all day. If you took them off more, your feet and shoes will be able to dry out, reducing fungus that thrives on moisture. Think of it this way: imagine you wore snug heavy leather or canvas gloves on your hands from morning until night, every day, day after day, the same sets of gloves, never washing them, leaving them coated in whatever you had touched that day, and only washing your bare hands once a day. Your hands would be sweaty and smelly and your gloves would be filthy and stinky, too. This is what happens to your feet if you wear shoes all the time. And it's why some people don't want your shoes in their houses. They don't wear their shoes indoors, so their feet are dry and usually odor-free. Ask to borrow socks if you need to.
—Guest Andrea

Respect From Both Sides, Please

We're a shoes-off family. If you think your feet will hurt if you go shoeless, consider how long your shoes are going to be off and how much standing you are going to be doing. If you're just dropping in for less than an hour, are your feet really going to hurt if you take your shoes off? If you're going to be sitting down for most of your visit, are you actually going to be in pain? I understand that some of you think it's rude ask someone to remove their shoes, but by refusing, you are being equally rude (if not more). If you have been invited into someone's home, you should show them respect by following their reasonable rules. You wouldn't light up a cigarette in someone's living room if you knew they didn't like smoking inside, would you? On the other hand, people who ask others to remove their shoes inside and are met with hesitation should offer a pair of clean socks or clean slippers.
—Guest Andrea

Bamboozled Canadian

All my young life, while watching cartoons, I never understood why the characters wore shoes all the time in their house. I thought it was just because in cartoons they always wear the same thing. Then I watched real TV and people really do do that. So I'm guessing it's an American thing. But why would people do that?! When I use the steps to put on my shoes I get screamed at because dirt gets on the wooden floor so why on earth would someone allow people to put crap, dirt, mud, salt, ant corpses and gum residue all over there carpets?!
—Guest Brianne

I Don't Want Your Dirty Shoes All over M

I am just disgusted that some people keep their shoes on in their houses. I am American and where I come from, it is just common curtesy and sensible that the shoes come off in the house. The bacteria on my feet are not nearly as dirty as my shoes. I take my shoes off in very single house I go to and everyone takes their shoes off in my house. Maybe its just the area I live in, but when coming into my house, one thing, TAKE OFF YOUR SHOES!
—Guest Elle

Shoes Off, Slippers On

Our rule is simple: shoes off at the door, slippers on. We have very expensive and light floors, we change into our slippers for comfort as well as keeping our floors unmarked. What's wrongs with our guests doing the same?
—Guest marco

It's just rude

We do not wear shoes in our home and I can't believe how many people know this and just ignore our rule! It infuriates me and as soon as they leave I mop the floors. People think I am the rude one for asking them to take them off, they are rude for wearing their shoes in public restrooms and then wearing them on my clean floors that my children play on!
—Guest Danielle

Canadians always remove their shoes

It seems that this is a north-south issues. In artic nations (like Canada) it is expected that you will remove your outdoor shoes when you go to someone's house. Some people will bring indoor shoes with them as part of their outfit. You are obviously not going to wear snow and salt covered boots and shoes in someones home! In any case, because of this the culture is to remove your shoes year round. I do remember as a kid my grandparents telling me to keep my shoes on but they grew up in the USA. I always thought they were nuts! Must be hard for Americans in the northern states if the culture is to keep them on.
—Guest Jeff Canada

Keep Shoes On

I keep shoes on, because they keep my feet warm, and I don't want to smell dirty feet (which is caused by bacteria, which your socks have too). The only time I will not wear shoes is when they get dirty from rain or snow. Then I take them off. But no, I think it is gross to have dirty, sweaty, smelly feet on my carpet.
—Guest Bob

No shoes, but what if ...

I grew up in Bulgaria, but ten years now I live in Greece, my father is Bulgarian, my mum is Greek ... In Bulgaria you cannot even think about passing your friend's door with your shoes on ... and yes, it's a rule. If you don't take off your shoes, it means that you have no manners and don't respect your friend and his/her home. Here in Greece the things are totally different -- almost nobody takes their shoes off. It's an insult if you ask them to do so. When I first came, I didn't know it and I asked visitors to take their shoes off, most of them didn't do anything, and some didn't come at my home ever again. Yes, I have a rule in my home, and they must show some respect I think. Especially now when we have a little baby! Wearing shoes at home is so unhealthy, why some people don't understand it?
—zveli

John Wayne

Back in the 1970's, CBC used to cut inserts into old Westerns, including a closeup of John Wayne entering a saloon and taking off his cowboy boots before wandering up to the bar, with another close up inserted of a Tim Horton's coffee cup and various doilies and flowers. Most Canadians never noticed. It was only when one dollar DVD's at Wal-Mart were introduced about four years ago with the original Westerns that Canadians noticed the lack of footwear removal and started to wonder.
—parketman

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Wearing Shoes in the House

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