06 Jul
Shoes Off!

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

I have an question that I don’t think Emily Post would touch, so I’m guessing you are the right women to ask. I would like to know how you feel about the etiquette of being barefoot in someone else’s house. We have a lot of friends whose houses are shoe free — meaning they kick shoes off at the door so as to protect the cleanliness of their floors. In the winter, it’s no biggie as a guest: you just make sure you choose socks without holes before going over.

But in summer, when I almost never wear socks, I find myself often barefoot in other people’s homes. I’m always barefoot in mine, so it doesn’t really bother me, but I wonder if I really ought to be skeeved out. Or if they are. Should I put socks under my Tevas (fashion FAIL!) before I go over, just so that my feet aren’t bare on their floors? And what about the unanticipated visit when I’m wearing pretty sandals or summer slides…sockless? What would you do?

Signed, Well Pedicured in MI


Dear Well Pedicured,

Oh, I feel your pain. And I confess, I don’t understand the whole “take your shoes off, ye who enter here!” movement.   Is it because their floors are so clean that they want to prove that they can, in fact, eat off of them?   Or do they think that you’ve been tracking   through the mud and don’t want pig slop on their carpet?

Personally, I think it’s rude to ask your guests to remove their shoes and pile them by the door like some kind of entryway to Treblinka.   But when in Rome, do like the Romans.   Which means that you have to start battling lions, or at the very least take off your shoes.

Summertime takes it up a notch and makes you walk around barefoot, like an older and slower Zola Budd.     I have the very opposite of a foot fetish, so I don’t understand how anyone can bear to look at our people’s FEET.   With TOES. And heels.   Gag.

But to each her own.   So if you suspect that your host is into shoelessness, slip a pair of socks into your purse before heading over to her house.     Or better yet, bring your own slippers and robe. I’m pretty sure that’s what people say when they tell their guests “make yourself at home!”

Happy feet to you,

Marinka, TMH

30 Responses to “Shoes Off!”


Comment by Elizabeth.

Any person who makes guests remove their shoes should provide some slippers for them to wear. They could keep them in a basket by the door.

That’s too much effort for me, so I guess I’ll stick with my system. My husband and I take off our shoes, but for guests, we let it slide.


Comment by Desperate Dietwives.

Gosh!!! Sounds like these people value their floors better than their friends!!!

This reminds me of something an ex co-worker told me once: a friend of hers, whenever she had people over at dinner, put on her best tablecloth and covered it in plastic, so as to preserve it from stains.

I call this very rude. The best answer is really to keep a pair of socks in your purse and wear them ostensibly before entering the house. Perhaps they’ll understand, more likely they won’t, but if it starts making them think, it will be a good result.


Comment by Betty Herbert.

Sage advice. Expecting people to take their shoes off at the door is some bizarre rudeness tic in my opinion, obliging us all to show off our trotters in their least acceptible state, i.e. after they have been inside our shoes.

I’d be tempted to claim you have rampant verucas, and to keep your Tevas (whatever the hell they are; in the UK we have to subsist on a hearty diet of Clarks and nothing else) firmly on your toes.


Comment by Christy.

Please keep in mind that in some places, this is the culture. In our area of Ontario, it was the custom so we did it.


Comment by Sophie, Inzaburbs.

Growing up the rule seemed to be “shoes off – unless you are a guest”. I think this works very well. Guests shold always get special treatment. Except everyone who comes to my house now insists on taking theirs off, over my protestations, so they won’t mess up my … tile. Really, I don’t mind either way, I am sure other peoples feet are much cleaner than mine 🙂
I have something against wearing other peoples shoes, especially communal slippers which have been sweated in who knows how many times before. Ugh. Unless culturally mandated, I prefer to go barefoot.


Comment by OldLadyinaShoe.

Seriously? What’s the big deal? I don’t have people do it in my home, but it doesn’t bother me in the slightest to take my shoes off at other people’s home. If they want to preserve the life of their carpet for a little bit longer, so be it. If they are perfectly comfortable with me rubbing my stinky unmanicured feet all over their carpets, then why shouldn’t I?


Comment by dusty earth mother.

I loathe the “take the shoes off” thing, but my husband insists on it, so I must comply. Hey, I think this is a real question for the advice wizards… Marinka, Kelcey, Heather, Wendi… anyone? Help?


Comment by hokgardner.

I’ve never understood the shoes off thing, either. And most of my friends go shoeless in their own homes but don’t insist on making guests take off theirs.


One couple has a sign on every entrance to their house asking guests to take off their shoes. When they got married, they hosted their reception at their home, and all the guests, who were in dressy clothes, had to stop at the front door and take off their nice shoes and then pad around in socks and stockings. We all agreed that was taking the rule a bit too far.


Comment by Plano Mom.

It’s a hygeine thing for many people. Your shoes track in every germ and dirt speck from the outside world. If your floors are clean, you don’t have to worry about picking these up.

How about if you had friends with a crawling infant? Could you see that better, that they wouldn’t want their child picking up dirt from your shoes?

My first husband and I took off shoes. It was an issue for him, and became one for me. However we too had the “not for guests” policy – if you welcome someone into your home, you make the time to clean up your floor after they leave.


Comment by Bean.

Hygiene? I’d far rather have dirt on my floor than someone’s nasty athlete’s foot germs or plantars warts.Seriously. Something like 1 in 3 people has some sort of foot fungus.

If you think about it, health codes make people wear shoes in stores, restaurants, etc.


Comment by Heather, TMH.

Just become a social hermit, neither going over or inviting over anyone. Problem solved.


Comment by Christen.

Heaven help the person who takes their sandals off at my house… with 2 collies, I’m afraid they’d look like they had little hairy Hobbit feet by the time they left…

GrandeMocha Reply:



Comment by Rachael.

We do not wear shoes in our home just out of habit but when my daughter was crawling around and just starting to walk we did ask everyone else to remove their shoes. She would pick up things they dragged in or try to play with their shoes. I do not think it is rude to ask guests to remove their shoes if you have a small child.

White carpet is another time I do not think it is rude to ask guests to remove their shoes. We are buying a house and it is covered in white carpet (we will be removing ASAP). We did not choose for the house to have white carpet but we would like to keep it as clean as possible until we can pull it all up and put hardwood down. I do not think it is to much to ask that people respect your home. If you do not want to walk around bare foot in some ones home then put a pair of socks in your bag. I know I do when I go to the in-laws house but it’s only because it’s like a freezer there.


Comment by Kimberly/Mom in the City.

I don’t like the mandatory “shoes off” policy either. The practice in my home is to wipe your shoes on the front door rug and then do whatever you feel comfortable doing regarding your shoes. (I can always vacuum after people leave!)

I keep a pair of socks in my purse though for when I go to friends’ homes that have “shoes off” policy though. It’s not even worth the hassle trying to change people’s minds.


Comment by Amber.

I’ve never liked wearing shoes in the house, and almost always take mine off when I visit someone else’s home. I don’t make people take theirs off in my house though. While it’s really better for the floors (wood or carpet) not to track sand and other abrasive particles around, I realize that someone just really hate going without shoes. I do ask that people remove their shoes if they’re going upstairs though…since it’s all light carpet up there.

I don’t know anyone with a mandatory policy though. My IL’s, who are Asian btw, never wear shoes in the house, but when they have parties they would never ask their guests to go barefoot. I think most people realize that shoes are part of an outfit, specially when it’s a social occasion.


Comment by Peggy Sue Brister.

We have a shoeless household too but we NEVER ask our guests to remove their shoes. If I want ppl to be in my house then I am willing to re-clean my floors after my guests leave if need be.


Comment by Loukia.

I hate taking my shoes off when I go to someone’s house. But I also hate when people wear their shoes in MY house. I always think of where those shoes were… like pubic bathrooms… stepping in dog poop… stuff like that.. grosses me out!


Comment by kitty.

I don’t really understand why people have such a negative stigma about feet. While I’m definitely the kind of person who wears shoes when I’m out of the house, I have no reserves about taking off my shoes the moment I get home or arrive at a friend’s house, regardless of their shoes off policy. I am also quite happy to not wear shoes when walking around on grass outside. In fact the only real reason I was persuaded to wear shoes as a child was because it hurt to walk a long way on concrete, and honestly the same goes here(also if you walk around in a shopping center bare foot you get black feet… yuck!).

This is probably a silly thing to say, and might gross some people out, but I would rather lick the base of my own foot than lick the base of my shoe.

Marinka, TMH Reply:

Is it possible to lick neither? Because that would certainly be my preference. And I’m not even taking the contortionism into consideration!

Heather Reply:

If you were to see my grandmother’s toenails, you probably would understand the negative association. She could skin an aardvark with those toenails. Also, my dad could bludgeon someone with his bunions and my mother’s second toe is an entire joint longer than her big toe. *shudder*

Feet are ugly.


Comment by Deece.

We remove our shoes, as does pretty much every household on island. It’s a cultural thing. And a cleanliness thing. And yes, we all still remove shoes even during gatherings.

I don’t feel right walking into a home with shoes on. But I do, if that’s what is done. Which is extremely rare here, but it was commonplace when I lived in California. Are feet really worse than shoes? Do people really carry socks with them because they don’t want to expose their feet? Are feet shameful? Or is it because they don’t want their feet on someone else’s floor?


Comment by Deece.

Oh and the barefoot outside thing? The only people I know who walk outside barefoot seem to be people who grew up where they wore shoes in the house. Shoes in the house, no shoes outside. What is this, Crazyland?


Comment by Margo.

I think it is rude to insist on visitors taking their shoes off unless you offer them slippers to wear instead, save in exceptional circumstances (really muddy boots which a doormat alone is not going to deal with, for instance)

Not everyone is comfortable with bare feet.

equally, as a guest it is polite to follow your hosts normal house rules, if practical. However, if they slip into slippers or socks and don’t offer you naything to wear, then they can’t reasonably complain if you keep your shoes on!

That said, it isn’t dificult to have a pair of socks or travel slippers in your handbag or car so you don’t have to risk comunal slippers or go barefoot, if you don’t want to.

I always take my shoes off in the house, and am usually barefoot indoors (and in my own garden) in summer, or in slippers in winter.

I wouldn’t ask anyone to take their shoes off, unless they were wearing shoes which were likely to cause permanent damage to my floors, in which case I would explain why I was asking and offer them socks and slippers to wear instead.


Comment by mom, again.

I kick off my own shoes, and my kids adopted the habit. In our area of southern california, with a large number of Asian immigrants, our kids quickly learned it’s standard procedure to kick off everyday shoes in most homes. The Asian standard is so prevalent, many others have adopted it. Besides: flip flops are standard footwear and you are practially barefoot already. Many is the time I’ve come home to a store’s worth of flip-flops in the foyer from my kid’s friends. (Often, it’s a huge pile of identical brand and style whatever is the current fad. how anyone manages to take the same pair home they came in with I don’t know.)

However, when I’ve visited these kid’s homes, it varies. If I know the parents and it’s a casual visit, I’ll kick my shoes off. If I don’t know them and/or the reason I’m there is less casual, shoes stay on.


Comment by Rachel.

I hate the “shoes off” rule some people have. Taking off my shoes exposes the world to smelly post shoe feet, holes in husbands socks (that he refuses to throw out) and shows that the hosts care more about their floors then our comfort.

Plus, feet. Blurg!


Comment by LadySteele.

It seems to me that if someone is asking you to take your shoes off in their home, they ought to be prepared to see your tootsies. End of story.

If the discomfort is yours rather than theirs, then by all means, keep a pair of socks in your handbag for just such an emergency.


Comment by Matthew C.

Shoes pick up all kinds of terrible things.

I have never seen anyone object to removing their shoes.

With the popularity of sandals and flip flops, not to mention yoga classes, I don’t think many people are bothered about being barefoot.

I have an whole blog about removing shoes in homes: Shoes Off at the Door, Please You might like to take a look.


Comment by keepemon.

I do find it annoying, except I sort of understand it in the case of people with crawling toddlers. I do prefer to keep my shoes on at all times. More over, I also find it rather unelegant to receive people at your own home when you are barefoot. I grew up in a tropical country where barefootedness was considered a low-class, coutry-bumpkin thing. We would never answer the door without putting at least a pair of slippers on, if we happened to be baregoot insdeth house, whichwas rare.
It always shocked me (and still does), when American women always kicked off their shoes to dance in wedding parties and other such otherwise elegant occasions.


Comment by Mike.

Well I’m a guy and I wear flip flops pretty often in the summer and I have a ton of friends with a no shoes rule. So yeah, I end up kicking my sandals off at the door and walking in bare feet very often in the summer time…I love walking barefoot anyway so I don’t see the big deal.

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