Friday Question of the Day – Do you take your Shoes Off When Entering a Home?

by Prince Of Petworth August 13, 2015 at 10:22 pm 80 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user Erin

Back in 2012 a reader requested this question but it had more to do with guests. I’ve always kept mine on but a friend recently posted an article from a crunchy sounding group that still freaked me out. So let’s do a simple random poll this week – do you take your shoes off when you enter a home?

  • Anonymous

    My home? Yes. Others’ homes? Not usually, unless it’s an obvious household ritual.

    • textdoc

      Same here.

      • shadesofpale


      • sunnytime


    • dcloafer

      “Do unto others…”

      • Anon

        This doesn’t really apply here for all the obvious reasons.

        • dcloafer

          I don’t know that they’re obvious. I take my shoes off in my own home because I don’t want to track DC’s sidewalk nastiness into my apartment. I assume the OP does so for the same reason in his own home. Why not grant the same courtesy to your friends?

          • textdoc

            The problem with “Do unto others…” here is that people who wear shoes in their own homes would be “doing unto others” by wearing shoes in other people’s homes too. Which isn’t necessarily what the other people want.
            Also, if someone else is so benighted* as to wear shoes in his/her home, it’s not going to make much of a difference as far as tracked-in dirt if you as a guest take off your shoes in their home.
            *JOKE, JOKE.

  • textdoc

    I don’t remember the thread from 2012, but was reading it just now and had to LOL on reading this comment from Bloomingdude: “My guests keep their shoes on but take the rest of their clothes off.”

  • Anon X

    That article claiming wearing shoes in the house is a public health danger is junk. It’s in the vein of the food babe and dr oz. Using just enough science to create hysteria, but without a complete picture. Many surfaces that we come in contact throughout our daily lives have an array of nasty bacteria on them. The idea that your house is more sterile if you don’t wear shoes is absurd. Not wearing shoes might keep you from tracking visible dirt in, but it won’t keep you safer from harmful bacteria.

    • Yes yes yes

      +100 this.

      I promise you I can find millions of *potentially* deadly bacteria on anyone’s skin at basically any point in time. Yet somehow they almost never kill us!

  • HaileUnlikely

    My own home: not immediately, but soon after entering. Other people’s homes: I follow the lead of the residents.

    • DC_Chica

      +1 – exactly, when you’re a guest you should ask the host explicitly or follow their lead (like if they have their shoes on, I assume it’s ok to leave mine on – if they’re barefoot and have a shoe pile inside or outside of their front door, I either ask or just automatically take them off)

  • Quotia Zelda

    My house or my parents’/in-laws/other family members’? As soon as I walk in the door. I grew up in Appalachia, so barefoot is my default. ;) Plus, my in-laws are Asian.

    At someone else’s house, though, I prefer to keep them on, unless my host requests otherwise. It feels a little weird (to me) to be barefoot in the house of someone who isn’t a close family member.

    • Emily


  • CapitalDame

    I think it’s somewhat rude (depending on the situation) to invite guests into your home and ask them to remove their shoes. I went to a nice dinner party with about 20 people there and they made everyone remove their shoes. On top of that they had cocktails in their garden so people had to put them on then take them off again to go in and outside. Then again, I have a dog so I’m used to cleaning my floors pretty much everyday. Also, this question reminds me of the Sex and the City episode about this.

    • skj84

      Hehe. I immediately thought of Sex and the City.

      • sunnytime

        Love that episode!

    • ted

      i think it’s gross to track dirty all over my house.

      • CapitalDame

        I think its gross to assume that dirt and germs will only come in on the bottoms of shoes… so I clean before and after guests leave. Again, I have a dog so I’m used to cleaning my floors pretty much every day.

  • hannah

    Absolutely, and I usually ask guests to remove their shoes too. My husband and I have lived in Turkey and the Arab world for years, and it’s just habit at this point. We do have loaner slippers for guests who would prefer having something on their feet.

    • anonymous

      I would not want to wear loaner slippers. At least with socks they can be washed…otherwise disposable stockings would work as aslo.

      • textdoc

        Slippers can be washed too, depending on the type.
        I’d much rather wear slippers than walk around someone’s house in my socks (or in their socks) — that’s like a recipe for stepping on something wet in the kitchen.

  • anonymous

    my house no. Nor do i expect others to. Also- if you expect for people to take their shoes off, i say announce it beforehand, if not have a basket of socks available for guests just in case they are not wearing socks.

  • strategerie

    My house, as soon as I walk in the door. Less cleaning, and it’s just liberating. Someone else’s house, only when asked, unless it’s a close friend and I know they prefer not having shoes in the house. It feels strange to not wear shoes in someone else’s house. Granted, if things go late and get more relaxed, they might come off, but otherwise, nope.

  • MarkQ

    This custom was completely foreign to me, but I respect it when asked. I think it’s kind of gross in a social setting; I don’t want to be smelling old guys’ feet or seeing nasty toes at a dinner party. I get a bit annoyed too when hosts act as if I should just “know” that they expect me remove my shoes.

  • Mark

    I was brought up to take me shoes off at the door at home and when visiting. I live out in the country and its the norm to remove shoes. The weather is terrible here at present and later when i visit friends I will take me shoes off and change into my slippers that I will take with me. My friends will reciprocate when visiting me.

  • anonymemouse

    I’m Asian. It’s automatic, even when I’m at other people’s houses. But, if I’m hosting guests for a party then I don’t expect anyone to take their shoes off. But, if it’s a group of close friends at my house, they respect the fact that I like having no shoes on in the house. – So no shoes on for them.

  • phl2dc

    In my home, yes. Otherwise, I follow my hosts’ lead, and if I’m not entirely sure, I ask what they prefer I do.

  • *

    I’m asian, so yes, shoes off at my house and family’s. Except when i work at home, i find that i get more done when i’m fully dressed with shoes on.

    • Traveler

      Interesting! I should try wearing shoes next time I telecommute from home.

    • textdoc

      Usually I wear slippers at home, but I also keep a pair of indoor-only sneakers.

    • I telework a lot and I can barely bother to put a shirt on. Your method is quite impressive!

  • sproc

    My own home, yes, just for comfort, but this part’s critical: socks immediately come off too. This is why I hate taking my shoes off in other people’s homes. I absolutely cannot stand walking around in socks, ever, and I’m not fond of slippers, either. Socks are slippery, and inevitably I find the one wet spot in the entire house (dropped ice cube, etc.) Other than things like barbecues and pool parties, I generally feel rude walking around barefoot in someone else’s home, so I would much rather wear shoes.

  • MVT

    Yes at mine and Yes at other peoples homes too. Actually I am sitting at my desk at work right now and I am not wearing my shoes. I just don’t like wearing shoes

  • The Llama

    My home, for the most part. Definitely on rug in living room or near couch. I always ask upon entering someone else’s house if you would like me to take my shoes off. If they say don’t worry about it, then I keep them on, if they say take them off, I do. Don’t really have an issue either way unless it’s a person who asks that you take them off when you arrive at their house, but then doesn’t automatically take them off when they come to your house or doesn’t ask.

  • I Dont Get It

    I take my shoes off shortly after coming into my house. To prevent shoes from being strewn about I have a large decorative “shoe basket” under a credenza. I would NEVER ask a guest to take off their shoes. First of all I would think that was rude but the real reason probably is that other people’s feet kinda gross me out.

    If I’m a guest in someone’s home I would follow their lead.

    • I Dont Get It

      Speaking of, my plantar fasciitis has been flaring up so I wore comfortable running shoes today. Wow do they stink! I’m glad I don’t have any face-to-face meetings today!

  • anonymous

    I try to leave my work shoes at the door and slip into Birkenstock clogs for moving about the place. Because DC streets/sidewalks/businesses are so dirty (compared to where I’m from), I don’t like the idea of trudging around my apartment in shoes that were recently in that mess- hence, the Birkies come out! I don’t require guests to remove their shoes, though.

  • Welshie

    I’d be barefoot all the time if I could!

    Mine come off the second I come home and often immediately when I enter a friend’s home (assuming I know them- otherwise I ask first).

  • brightwoodess

    I usually observe follow what the hosts are doing, or I just ask. In my house, I take them off before I go into the family room, or before I go upstairs. In my mother’s house, I take them off before I get into the driveway.

  • LoLeeDC

    My husband is Asian, so yes, all shoes come off in our house. I feel a little rude asking guests to take theirs off but it really makes my husband twitchy, so I go with it.

    At others’ houses (unless they’re also Asian or specifically ask) no, it feels like I’m making myself too much at home as a guest.

  • Pixie

    In my house yes, I always take my shoes off right by the door. In other people’s homes it depends what other people are doing or I’ll just ask.

  • Anonmom

    In my home they come off, just to keep dirt and crap from being dragged into the house from the garage/outdoors. Whenever I visit someone’s home I always just ask them if they want me to remove my shoes. Raised by Southerners, if that matters.

  • ExWalbridgeGuy

    The only correct answer is: it depends on the home. If you always take your shoes off or never take your shoes off (basically anyone who answers the poll) then you are a monster.

  • skj84

    My own home yes, it’s the very first thing I do when I walk in the door. I keep meaning to get a shoe rack to set in the hallway. I don’t wear shoes around the house, the exception being parties. Strangely enough that’s when I like to bust out the killer heels. I usually take them of as the party progresses, and if my guests want to go barefoot they are more than welcome.

    Other peoples home? For close friends yes. People I’m not close with/ informal? Not unless indicated.

  • dcgator

    As an Indian American, I grew up taking them off in the garage before entering the house. I never walked around with shoes on. Interestingly enough, both my parents have begun to wear sandals/shoes (and insist I do, too–but I never do) in the house because they’ve been notified that it’s better for their feet.

    Funny, though, this reminds me of the the Beyond Bollywood exhibit at the Smithsonian, about the Indian American experience. Each entrance is lined with a mock shoe rack, similar to what you might see in an Indian American household. I’ve seen visitors curiously peering at it, wondering if they should be removing THEIR shoes as well.

    • anon

      is this exhibit still there? which museum

      • ash

        Museum of Natural History until August 16!

        • dcgator

          Yup, and actually, if you stop at 12 pm tomorrow (or 1 pm, or 2 pm), you can see the exhibit come to life. There are going to be live theatre performances based on parts of the exhibit. I’d highly recommend it.

  • blahblahblah

    In my home, I enjoy being barefoot as much as possible. But when I’m visiting, it depends on my host’s preferences. People’s expectations vary pretty greatly, so I would feel weird going barefoot in someone else’s home unless it was clearly the expectation.

  • Anon Spock

    I wait until I get to my bedroom, but it’s very close to the door.
    I have a dog who undoubtedly tracks in stuff, so I don’t care as much.
    Others: go with the flow. If I see a bunch of shoes by the door, yes; otherwise, no.

  • anon

    I grew up in Alaska and people (almost) always take off their shoes in the entryway. It’s just cleaner. I don’t directly ask guests to take their shoes off, but they usually follow my lead.

    • alaska!

      I grew up in Alaska, as well, and everyone I knew took their shoes off in the entryway. It was so ingrained in us as children that when we visited the Californian side of the family that my Uncle joked that he knew the Alaskan kids were there b/c of the row of shoes by the door. yay for another Alaskan

  • artemis

    My house: as soon as I walk in the door.
    Most other people’s houses: yes, especially since many of my friends have the same tradition. I also hate shoes so it isn’t a hard practice for me to keep up.

  • littlen

    My parents’ house has always been shoes off, so I grew up used to that. In college dorms etc I usually kept shoes on, because who really cared/the floors were often not very nice, but most of my friends now prefer if people take their shoes off. If everyone keeps their shoes on I’ll keep mine on, but a lot of my friends are Asian or spent time in Asia so that’s not too common.

  • Nope

    We never used to take off our shoes – until we discovered lead in our soil. We’re a shoes-free house now and working on the soil issue. Will probably stay shoe-free after the yard is safe, just to keep things tidier for the dog & rugrat.

  • Yams

    ALWAYS. Then again, my parents are foreigners and this is a common practice in their country,

  • My home, yes, and there is an obvious station for it as soon as you walk in the door so that guests understand the expectation. (unless we will be dining outside on the patio and then that’s made clear to them)
    At the homes of others? It depends on the person. I don’t just walk inside someone’s house and just take my shoes off, but if I see a pile by the door, or look at the host and notice whether they are barefoot or wearing shoes I will follow whatever protocol they’ve set.
    Shoe wearing, or the lack thereof, is a big respect indicator for me. If you obviously ignore it then I’m definitely judging you.

  • nightborn

    We do not wear shoes in the house. I was brought up to take my shoes off at the front door. And I like to be able to walk around my house in white socks and have them stay just as white.

    I always ask if I should take my shoes off when entering someone else’s home. Many of my friends come from cultures where shoes in the house are a big no no (various parts of Asia, Eastern Europe etc.).

    When I have big parties (10+ people), I don’t make everyone take off their shoes. I just deal with it and schedule my cleaning crew to come clean immediately after. :) If it’s just a gathering of a few close friends, they already know we don’t wear shoes in the house so it’s a non-issue. Like I said, our floors are pristine.

  • jumpingjack

    I’d like to – I don’t like wearing shoes – but I don’t unless asked because most people find it weird. Except at family members’ and close friends’ homes, in which case I take off my shoes immediately.

  • shadesofpale

    we have someone who not only doesn’t take off his shoes but also puts his feet up (with shoes!) on our furniture. I know I need to say something but he’s my husbands friend, I just death stare those shoes the whole time. We do take off our shoes and when someone comes over and offers to remove shoes I always say yes but I haven’t put it in place the rule that everyone has to take off their shoes, but I guess I should.

    • nightborn

      Yikes! On the furniture?! I would not be able to keep my mouth shut…

      • shadesofpale

        I know I know, one day I’ll have a few beers before he comes over.

      • textdoc

        I remember having a friend over in grad school who sat on my bed in such a way that the side of one of her sneakers was touching my bedspread. Better than full-on sole-to-bedspread contact, but still! *shudders*

        • shadesofpale

          ack not the bed!!!

          • textdoc

            At least I could wash the bedspread. It’d be worse if it was something upholstered.

    • Q

      I simmer and grumble whenever I see someone with their shoes on the seat of the a train or bus. Now that I’m riding the Circulator every day with the facing seats, I see it a lot more often. People please! I don’t walk sidewalk goop on my pants or, god forbid, my legs if I’m wearing a skirt or shorts! MONSTERS.

  • RCS

    I take my shoes off right when I enter my own place (a small-ish 1 BR) and I ask all my friends and family to do so as well (albeit apologetically asking). No one has ever said anything other than laugh at how clean my apartment is and they get that I’m quirky and still love me for it. I have a small shoe rack in the entryway so people have a place to put their shoes. Also after explaining to them, that after walking around the city all day, the last thing I want to do is track that crap (literally and figuratively) through my apartment, they laugh it off.

    • RCS

      I also ask when entering someone’s house if they’d prefer I take my shoes off. Even though I’m usually slipping them off immediately upon entering while asking the question.

  • anon

    Yes because I was raised in Canada and EVERYONE does it there (to prevent tracking in snow in the winter, which lasts for like 9 out of 12 months of the year). I stopped doing it after living in the US for a while, and when I went back and accidentally kept my sandals on at my cousin’s house I was given a stern lecture by his 3 year old. I was scarred and have since reverted to my old habit of always taking them off, or at least asking.

  • shoes off!

    I am Scandinavian but was raised in the US and was taught to always remove my shoes at the front door, both at my home and when I am a guest somewhere else. As far as a I know, it’s custom throughout Scandinavia to do the same. The bottom of our shoes track water, mud, sand, snow, and all manner of other (significantly less savory) substances; it’s hard enough to keep up with the daily tasks of cleaning a living space, why would we make it any harder by intentionally traipsing dirt across our floors?

    • Chris

      See earlier comments on Alaskans and Canadians taking off shoes. I think this is a custom in places with lousy weather, more of a practicality than a cultural thing.

  • SparklyKittyTacos

    My mom is Japanese so definitely no shoes in my own home. As much as I would like to ask guests to take their shoes off when they come over, I know some people hate it or think it’s rude so I usually just bite my tongue and let everyone do what they want.
    When visiting someone else’s house, it’s the first thing I ask when I get there. If they say they don’t care either way, I’ll usually take my shoes off.

    • textdoc

      “so I usually just bite my tongue and let everyone do what they want.” I had to smile because that sounds like very Japanese behavior. ;)

  • Accountering

    Our house is currently a construction zone, with our contractors trekking dirt and construction debris through the house. I can’t imagine having guests over and having them walk through the dirt. Everyone keeps their shoes on at our house for the time being!

  • Planner

    I like to be barefoot – I was a lifeguard for so many years…. so I rarely have shoes on in my house, but at the same time, I cannot imagine taking my shoes off at anyone else’s house, without being requested to do so, or some other compelling reason.
    Exception: I have relatives in Hawaii, and taking your shoes off is expected there, so of course I do it automatically there. But that’s the only exception I can think of.

  • LeDroit Park

    What is the story behind the street art stencil in the picture above? I have seen that stencil around different parts of the city for many years and always wondered about the backstory.

  • Lydia

    Yes but only because I hate shoes!

  • Amy

    It’s extremely rude to ask someone to take off their shoes. First, it’s summer time. No one is wearing socks. Second, I don’t want to put on your old socks. Gross. I don’t care if they’ve been washed – you had your sweaty feet in them at some point. Unless you washed them on “hot” with bleach, they still have your germs embedded in the socks. That means I have to walk around barefoot. I don’t want to walk around your house barefoot. I have no idea what kind of germs are on your floor and it’s so easy to catch planters warts. Ugh! Moreover, I usually wear orthotics and it can be painful to walk around without some sort of arch support. Lastly, some people are self conscious about their feet- they may feel embarrassed that they have corns. Or they may feel self conscious that their feet smell if they’ve been wearing boots. I spend $500 for a pair of shoes and often times will plan my entire outfit just around the shoes. It’s extremely rude to ask me to take off an article of clothing. I would rather walk out. The only exception is for boats!


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