No shoes = less cleaning

Most people don’t enforce a “no shoe policy” in their homes, but I’m getting ready to because I’m tired of cleaning and re-cleaning the floors of my home. Instituting a no shoe policy may be where I am heading especially with my daughter eventually reaching the stage of “total dirt ball.” She will inevitably enter the house with shoes full of dirt and grime and track it throughout the house.

I’ve been to homes where they are militaristic in their no shoe policy and I must admit that it definitely keeps the floors and carpet much more clean. So, if your floors stay clean longer, it is reasonable to assume that you will end up cleaning the floors less often. Which frees you up to do things that you’d rather be doing, like playing outside with your kids in the mud.

123 Comments for “No shoes = less cleaning”

  1. posted by JPLemme on

    What a long thread!

    I hate going barefoot. I don’t even like sandals. My favorite footwear is an 8″ lace-up steel-toe boot, which is a pain to take off and put on. And I ESPECIALLY hate to stub my toes, (which you do more often when you’re used to walking around with work boots).

    And then there’s things like frying bacon or cleaning up after you’ve broken a glass. Several people commented on having tracked glass in from outdoors. I would wager that 90% of all the glass in people’s houses comes from things getting dropped inside those same houses.

    And why is walking on my floors with sweaty fungal feet less disgusting than sitting on my chairs naked? I would rather you not do either one of those things in my house.

    That said, anybody who would either demand that shoes be taken off in their house or refuse to take their shoes off in someone’s house (medical reasons excepted, of course) is a twit. A guest should strive to be a good guest and a host should strive to be a good host.

  2. posted by Sian on

    In the UK it’s normal to remove your shoes at home too. I would feel really uncomfortable at home in my shoes-slippers are so much more comfortable. I suppose it’s mroe practical too but for me it’s mainly a comfort thing. Let’s make it clear that “most people” wouldn’t ask guests to remove their shoes in the house either (we’re British, we’re too polite!), however I think most guests would do so without asking, especially if they had dirty shoes on.

  3. posted by Briony on

    I don’t think it is either normal or unusual in the UK to remove your shoes at home. I know that many homes are non-shoe. Mine is not. I don’t like other people’s manky feet all over my carpet and furniture. Some of them smell, some of them are diseased (athlete’s foot, eczema, veruccas etc.), and my particular bugbear is finding chips/flakes of toenail polish or skin on my floors. If you’ve just walked through a load of dog mess or mud then, by all means, remove your shoes, but people who turn up and remove shoes and socks without even asking what my policy is are just annoying. If I go somewhere and the host opens the door without shoes, then I will ask. If they say they don’t mind, then I keep my shoes on. I have been to many homes that are unsuitable (unclean, dangerous) for bare feet. And if a glass breaks how do the shoeless deal with the mess? Get a grip and clean your house! It must be quicker to run a sweeper or hoover around downstairs everyday that tie and untie your shoes every 30 minutes and lecture your guests on shoe etiquette.

  4. posted by Relaxalittle on

    I think it’s important to be aware of the customs in the place that you live. When my family lived in Japan, we understood and expected to remove our shoes when we visited someone. I think it’s a great custom and I’ve adopted it since returning to the US. But at the same time, I understand that most Americans don’t expect to remove their shoes when they visit me and I don’t insist that they do so. When in Rome, and all that. Ironically, I’ve always felt a bit odd getting dressed up for a dinner party at someone’s home, and then being asked to take off my shoes (in Japan, the custom is to provide slippers). The shoes are part of the outfit in those sorts of situations, and it’s awkward to pad around in socks while wearing dressy clothes. Especially for women whose slacks or dresses might not otherwise fit correctly without heels.

  5. posted by ziggee on

    I like to go barefootin when i’m in the house, so the first thing I do when I get home is to take off my shoe’s. My dh walks around the house in his socks and our lil one is getting use to going barefootin.


  6. posted by Shaggy on

    We in America are endowed with things in the front of our heads called eyes. With them we watch where we are walking and avoid obstacles such as trees rocks and fecal matter. We’re also wild frontiersman minimalists who chucked the stupid wall to wall carpet years ago. Pure cement with rugs for now. I think the ultimate flooring though, is something with a little give to it like wood or better yet cork. So come on over and kick your shoes off but only if you want to. I value my friends more than my flooring.

  7. posted by Meg on

    My husband and I have always taken our shoes off when entering the house, just because it’s much more comfortable. Growing up, my family never like to wear shoes indoors, again, just for the comfort factor. That, and feet need to breath, or they get stinky.

    Anyway, my husband and I never insisted that guests take theirs off UNTIL our baby started rolling. Then, the thought of our wee little thing rolling all over a carpet that someone had just walked on with their nasty shoes really bothered us. I mean, those shoes have been in airports and nasty public restrooms, and who knows where else? Now that we have a toddler, it is even more important, because the first thing he wants to do is grab a hold of the bottom of someone’s shoes when they have their legs crossed. He would lick them, if someone gave him the chance. Yuck!

    So now we strictly enforce the no shoes policy – and yes, it does cut down on how often I need to wash the floors as well. My father-in-law is the only person who has a problem with it, but that’s just too bad. Our toddler’s health is more important to us than that.

    Oh, and my husband has foot problems too – he wears comfy slippers with arch support in the house. No biggie!

  8. posted by Ben on

    I just spent some time reading through the year-old responses on this, and I don’t understand how some people get so worked up at the concept. Saying “If I were asked to remove my shoes, I would never visit again” is like saying “My personal comfort is more important than being polite to my hosts.” If you like swearing, and were visiting someone who asked you politely not to, would you still swear? If you’re thirsty and the host hasn’t offered anything, do you ask, or do you go start pulling things out of the refrigerator?

    I don’t have an official no-shoes policy, because I don’t feel like enforcing it. However, I have an obviously separate entryway with a chair and a pile of shoes. When I walk inside, I immediately kick off my shoes. I’ve never had a guest see this and not follow my example unless they were only stopping in and not walking past the entryway. It’s a win-win situation, because I don’t have to feel rude asking them, and they do what I want anyway to avoid seeming rude themselves.

  9. posted by Eva on

    I’m rather impressed that folks are making no allowances for differences in climate in this discussion. I live in the northern part of the central US and it is totally impractical to wear shoes inside in the winter (it doesn’t matter _what_ kind of floor you have, heavy road salt will ruin it). I try to be a good hostess, but in the winter I’m going to require my guests (asking politely, of course) not to track snow and salt all over the house.

    Also, for folks who are generalizing like crazy, please stop. “Most Americans” can’t agree on much of anything. We live in a huge country and there is plenty of variation in our culture.

  10. posted by Keilexandra on

    Rebecca: I’m surprised that you cited etiquette as a reason against no-shoes. It’s a terribly American-centric point of view. In most other countries and cultures, taking one’s shoes off at the door is the accepted norm; in fact, in many Asian cultures, NOT taking your shoes off is a breach of etiquette because you’re disrespecting the host/hostess by tracking dirt all over the place.

  11. posted by Edna on

    Does anyone out there know of a short poem that can be placed on the front door requesting guests to remove their shoes? I remember reading one years ago but I am unable to find it anywhere now. Thanks

  12. posted by Brandy Gunderson on

    Edna, I do not know of a poem – sorry, wish I did. I simply cut a short article from our newspaper stating the amount of lead found in the soil in the area where I live, being an industrial area (Michigan), and the realted effects on children having high levels of lead in this city. It is in the soil, so on shoes, regardless of how you look at it. I have never had anyone complain while in my home. My friends respect my wishes. I did on the other hand have an in law complain that she couldn’t smoke in my house because it was too cold to smoke outside. And we had a 3 month old baby. I think people who are offended to respect the homeowners wishes should go elsewhere.

  13. posted by Sidra on

    My parents bought a house with the shoe issue in mind. Our current house is completely tiled in the common areas, and only the bedrooms are carpet. This enables guests to wear their normal shoes during parties. Also, I’ve noticed people don’t walk through my room in this house as often–it’s as if the carpet gives them a mental boundary of ‘do not enter’ even without anyone stating it. So if you’re buying a new home, might be something to think about.

  14. posted by Francesca on

    Based on my own experience and objective observations I do not see at all how taking off shoes indoors cuts back on clutter and cleaning, at all. Quite the contrary. And yes, it’s a cultural thing for Asians, which makes it really pretentious and self-loathing for Westerners to do. Don’t get me started on athletes foot-I’m sure disinfecting after that is a real mess.

    One, your barefeet have oils which turns your carpets into dust magnets. A real estate agent once told me the dirtiest floors come from shoeless homes. Secondly, why do you want to spend more time bleaching holes in the socks you’ve turned into dust mops?

    If you’re exposing your unprotected feet especially to hardwood floors you had better be cleaning more not less! Ever notice how once a glass breaks no matter how much you sweep those little pieces keep coming back. This is one big reason why I no longer go barefoot. And don’t get me started on if you have indoor pets? Nothing is grosser than walking on litter and then tracking it into your bed. (Come to think of it, what else are you tracking into your bed if you’re not putting a removable barrier over your foot while walking around the house? )And yes foot conditions mandate shoes unless you want your guests to be in pain, I have fallen arches-I know. I hope nudists don’t ask their guests to get naked at the door.

    By all means switch into some comfy clean protective indoor slippers at the door, if you have time, but shoeless just defies logic if it’s for cleanliness or simplicity. But alas this seems like the whole Western bad, non western or hippy good mentality.

  15. posted by Francesca on

    I also love how we’re talking about sensitivity to the asian shoeless tradition while we’re bashing on and dissecting the apparently “freakish” American tradition of wearing shoes indoors, hmmmm.

    I noticed this when I traveled. My group had to be respectful of all the traditions and cultures we encountered and conform, heads covered in mosques, toilet paper hoding in Easter Europe etc. Yet in the US Americans have to repect the traditions of foreigners living here while our traditions are dissected and disrespected. When can one feel at home in ones culture if one is American, like the moronic “americentric” comment above reflects.

  16. posted by Eadie on

    Hi everyone,

    I haven’t read all the comments, so apologies if this has already been said.

    I don’t think it’s a matter of right vs wrong, but a matter of culture and personal preference.

    Some cultures take shoes off at the door. Fine. Some cultures wear shoes in the house. Fine. But if you go to someone’s house, it’s nice to what they like. If they like shoes off, then I go shoes off. If they wear shoes, I wear shoes.

    I grew up in a shoes-off-at-the-door home, but my mum was extremely gracious when guests came over. Seeing us shoe-less, guests would start to take their shoes off, and my mum would insist they didn’t have it, and that we only did it for comfort.

    Anyway, it’s become an automatic response for me to have shoes off at the door.

  17. posted by Eadie on

    D’oh that should read “they didn’t have to” not “they didn’t have it”.

  18. posted by Natalie from Western Australia on

    What an interesting series of comments. I live in Australia. I grew up in a normal house in a semi rural area. We put our shoes on to go out but then they stayed on until we felt like taking them off, unless they were really dirty. We were often barefoot but tracked heaps of dirt into the house from our bare feet because we spent a lot of time playing outside (always barefoot). As adults, my younger sister now has a shoes off policy for her and her daughter. They keep their shoes on a rack in the garage or by the doors BUT they always have dust on them and … very common in Australia… spiders! I cant think of anything more revolting than not being able to put my shoes on without first having to check whats inside them! Yes, they could keep them inside but being Australia and being mostly hot, they dont smell nice. Their ‘shoes outside’ preference has nothing to do with keeping the floors clean because their two fluffy cats leave fur everywhere. I am now 40 and have two young boys but have never *ever* heard anyone here suggest we need to take our shoes off inside because of whats on them. That might have a lot to do with the general cleanliness of our streets. If we do track something in, we wipe it up. My boys have only been sick with colds and things going around their schools, not from something they got while playing on the floor. As for parties, we just clean our floors as a matter of routine – generally before AND after visitors. I have light straw coloured carpets in my open plan front lounge and my kids and their friends all know not to walk over the carpet when they come in BUT I have carpet runners there anyway to catch any dirt.
    I only have one set of friends who have a no shoes policy and that is because it is their culture to do so. However, they state to all that it is what they do, but they dont expect us to. I suspect they simply wash their floors when we leave too!
    As for schools everyone wears shoes but the young kids (4 and 5 yr olds) can take them off at playtime (outside!)but have to put them back on to go inside. So, have I freaked anyone out yet???
    I wouldnt mind if anyone did or didnt take their shoes off. The only thing I have ever minded was the person who brought their dog over on a visit, expected to bring her inside (we dont have pets) and let her sit on my new light carpets. Now THAT bothered me.

  19. posted by Gabe on

    Traditions aside…
    Wear shoes for your own safety:
    I wear shoes when I’m away from home visiting others as I don’t like stepping on potentially damaging foreign objects with my bare feet. (childrens toys, cracker crumbs, somebody drops a wineglass or bowl of ice cream, etc)
    At home, I have shoes I wear in the house only…
    Tell me- How many of you cook in the kitchen barefoot or in socks?
    Ever drop a knife or fork? Splash boiling water from the pasta pot as you drain the pasta?
    My biggest peeve in the kitchen or bathroom; stepping into water while wearing socks…
    Girlfriend drips dry after shower – so bathroom floor is spotted with water droplets… I don’t care to use my socks to mop it up… then I have to change socks.

  20. posted by jade on

    Wow, it’s pathetic to read the amount of “WAAH I feel like your no shoes rule is imposing on me somehow” posts.

    It’s more pathetic to read “Oh well the homeowner should be accomidating to me as a guest if i feel like wearing shoes.
    It is BEYOND rude to expect someone to accomidate your whims in their house. You do not live there, you do not take care of the cleaning or have the same daily habits, so you either follow the rules of the house or you can LEAVE, and you will not be coming back.

    Anyone who actually started to make a scene over something as inconsequential as taking off their shoes (not including orthopedic shoes, which are a different kettle of fish entirely) whould be slapped right across the face for their inability to act like a rational human being and be told point-blank to not come near my home again. Good riddance.

  21. posted by Christine Q on

    Our nanny’s custom has always been to remove her shoes upon entering our home. It got me thinking, and I like the concept. However, the hurdle I have in my mind is, how to minimize the cluttered appearance and trip hazard of the pile shoes at the door? Or is just inside the door simply a place that one must accept clutter?

    Comments, please, from the no-outside-shoes-in-the-house community.

  22. posted by Marie on

    Regarding the “rudeness”: My husband’s friend walked all over our carpets with dog sh*t on his sneakers.

    I’ll tolerate being called rude if that means I don’t have to clean sh*t off my rugs again.

  23. posted by Allison on

    I have a no shoes rule in my house as well. I mostly just like taking my shoes off after a long day! I find that even if I mop once a week and sweep regularly my feet and socks still get dirty! So I created a foot pad that sticks to the bottom of your foot, called Footums. please check them out

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