Should Shoes be Worn in the House?

WTOP posted an article on the protocols for hosting a party in which you want guests to remove their shoes. In the U.S., there are many ways this could go wrong if you aren't accommodating about such a request. The best thing to do is warn guests ahead of time, so the worst that could happen is that no one comes to your party.

The discussion at Fark ranges from "Of course one removes his/her shoes upon entering a house!  It's what civilized people do." to "If you want visitors to remove their shoes in your home, let me know ahead of time. So I can avoid visiting you." Many pointed out that bare feet can be just as nasty as shoe soles.

The custom of shoes in the house varies from culture to culture, and even among states in the U.S. In Alaska and other snow boot areas, people take off their wet boots in the mud room provided. In Hawaii, everyone wears flip-flops, so it's easy to kick them off. In Texas, no one expects cowboy boots to be removed -it's not that easy to do. In the heartland, asking guests to remove their shoes in your home can imply that you spent too much on your carpets if you can't afford to clean them, or else you care more about your clean floors than you care about your guests.

In Japan, it is normal and expected to remove your shoes inside, because people sit and sleep on the floor. Slippers are worn instead. In Australia, removing your shoes opens up the possibility that some deadly creature may crawl inside them.

In the case of families with young children, some request no shoes in the house because they want to keep the floors clean for the kids to play on. Others are resigned to the fact that kids (and pets) will track in plenty of dirt whether they wear shoes or not.  

In my house, guests can wear what they want on their feet, just don't expect the floor to be as clean as the tabletops. I certainly don't expect floors to stay clean. But please don't run up and down the wooden stairs in socks. It's not safe.

What do you think -should shoes be worn in the house, or should people remove them before they come in? You can check more than one answer in the poll below.

(Image credit: Flickr user Andrea R)

Should shoes be worn in a house?

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Newest 5 Comments

If a homeowner prefers it then it's the polite thing to do.
We would prefer people take shoes off in our home, and most do, but we don't enforce it though since our animals have ruined the carpet :P
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I don't care whether people wear shoes or not in my house, but my carpet is old and stained and wearing shoes or not wouldn't make much difference. I don't wear them inside but that's just because I prefer barefoot. When I visit someone, I'm happy to do what they want, but I'm much less likely to visit a shoes off home because it's hot here and I don't want to have to worry about smelly feet, and mostly because I have really horrible feet and don't really love putting them on display.

As an Australian, I can't say that I've ever been overly concerned about something deadly crawling into my shoes. Although it would be a rare Aussie who's never put their feet into a shoe, felt something moving and done a strange one-legged dance as they try to kick the shoe off and simultaneously check for spiders. Mostly, we just bang the shoe on the ground a couple of times if we think there's a chance something has taken residence.
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While we don't ask our guests to not wear shoes in our house, my husband and I take our shoes off in our bedrooms and wear slippers and/or flip-flops around the house, depending on the season. We don't like shoes on the couch and i'd rather be barefoot 90% of the time anyways.
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In Finland removing your shoes when entering someone's home is the default. A considerate homeowner may give you permission to leave your shoes on if you are just very shortly dropping by or if you are there to do work (for example plumber or electrician). If you don't take of your shoes, you are most likely not asked to, but you will be silently judged and resented as a rude and inconsiderate person. A major exception to the rule of no shoes inside are formal parties, you are not excpected to remove dress shoes or high heels when people gather in someone's home to celebrate a graduation, granma's 90th birthday or some other occasion where everyone wears suits and ties and dresses.

The custom makes sense, since most of the year it's either wet, snowy or muddy outside in Finland, and homes are warm and cozy. Personally I also feel much more comfortable when I don't have shoes on, so I think my home would be a shoeless one, even if the culture around me was different.
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I used to walk around barefoot as much as possible until I got plantar fasciitis. The only thing that finally made it go away was wearing supportive sneakers ALL the time. I hate it. I still have to wear them most of the time. I say respect the homeowner. In my house people are free to go with or without, as long as I don't see footprints.
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