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How to Make “No Shoes in the House” a Rule (without Feeling Rude)

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Do you always take your shoes off when you walk into your home? If not, you should start! A no shoes in the house rule is a great way to keep your floors clean and reduce the amount of dirt, dust, and bacteria that gets tracked in.

In many parts of the world, removing your shoes at the door is a traditional sign of respect when you are a guest entering someone else’s home.

But even if you’re not from a culture that makes it a habit to remove footwear at the door, there are plenty of good reasons to create a ritual for taking shoes off in the house.

If you aren’t used to taking your shoes off at home it might feel a little bit weird at first, but it’s so worth it! This article can help you weigh the benefits and potential drawbacks of becoming a shoes-off household, as well as teach you how to make “no shoes at home” a habit for life.

A beautiful no shoes home where people remove their shoes and leave them on the rug

Why do people say no to shoes in the house?

When it comes to shoes in the house, my husband and I couldn’t be more different. In his Chinese culture, taking shoes off at the door is a strict rule and something that he just grew up doing without a second thought.

On the other hand, as a typical American, I grew up thinking it was normal to wear shoes inside your home. I can clearly remember my grandmother wearing high heels as she walked around. She wore them while cooking us breakfast in the morning and even while the vacuuming.

My sister and I spent a lot of time playing outdoors, no matter the weather. Although we had doormats to wipe the bottoms of our shoes off before we entered the house, there was still a lot that got stuck in the grooves, which we inevitably dragged indoors on the soles of our shoes.

Making matters worse, my dad was a landscaper – he wore his boots for work and at home. Most of the entryways to our house had carpet, which may have hidden the dirt and grime better than hardwood floors.

At the time I didn’t think much about it, but looking back now I cringe to think how much more cleaning and work we created for ourselves tracking in all that filth!

Once you experience life without wearing street shoes indoors, I promise you will never want to return to your old ways!

” The mind once stretched by a new idea never returns to its original dimension.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson
Indoor shoes on a blue chair in a no shoes Chinese home
My actual indoor shoes, are pictured on my chair. I legit did a photoshoot of my slippers for you. 🙂

Reasons to not wear shoes at home

1. Keeps indoor spaces clean

Street shoes bring large amounts of dirt indoors. Not to mention all the other gross stuff that can get stuck to the soles of your shoes, such as chewing gum, trash fragments, organic matter, and even fecal material.

Hence, simply practicing “no-shoes in the house” will significantly cut down your time spent on cleaning. That’s one of our favorite benefits of family minimalism and this rule complements the practice nicely.

2. Reduces overall cleaning efforts

To build on point one, not only does not wearing shoes in the house keep floors clean, but the entire house will stay cleaner as well as dirt and dust travel by air and touch.

If you cleaned three times a week before, you could probably make do with once a week instead, with everything else being equal. That’s freeing up 60% more time to can devote to other matters that need your attention.

3. Preserves your floor and carpet

There is a good reason why street shoes belong to the street. The dirt and wetness carried in by shoes can scratch, damage, or soak into the floor.

By implementing a no-shoe policy, you are saving yourself money and stress by not having to replace your carpet or wood floor so often. Your hardwood floors and carpets will thank you with years of lasting beauty.

READ MORE: 20 Bad Money Habits to Break (Before It’s Too Late!)

4. Reduces contamination exposure

A study conducted on footwear and germs by Dr. Charles Gerba, a professor at the University of Arizona, found that a large number of bacteria, averaging 421,000 units, can be trapped under the sole of the shoe.

Furthermore, 27% of people had E. Coli contamination on the bottoms of their shoes from animals and public restrooms.

Other types of bacteria and materials found included:

  • Clostridium Difficicle (C. Diff)
  • Staphylococcus Aureus (Staph)
  • Pesticides
  • Heavy Metals
  • Petrol residue

To reduce the risk of harmful contact with these contaminants, it is best practice to leave your shoes at the door and wash shoes when you suspect they have come into contact with contaminants.

Not only does this protect your health, but also the health of those around you – especially young children and the elderly who are more susceptible to illness.

A no shoes sign made of wood to ask guests to remove shoes at the door

5. Reduces noise 

Another great benefit of no shoes in the house is that it helps reduce noise levels. This can be a godsend if you live in an apartment with a hardwood floor.

As it just so happens, we live in a 100-year-old multi-family house in Germany, and when our upstairs neighbor wore shoes inside his apartment, we could clearly hear the difference. Even without shoes, it was noisy, but when he wore them, our walls and the ceiling would flex and creak even more when he walked!

It was noticeably quieter when he stopped wearing shoes in his home (although there wasn’t much we could do about him walking around over our bedroom at 2 am – that’s city life for you!)

6. Strengthens your feet muscles

Walking barefoot is a great way to strengthen the muscles and tendons in your feet. This can lead to better balance, posture, and injury prevention.

While you may not think about it often, the muscles in your feet are essential for keeping you mobile. These muscles don’t just enable walking – they also help you maintain balance and can absorb shock to protect your joints.

  • Stronger foot muscles.
  • Improve balance.
  • Improves posture.
  • Better blood circulation in your feet.

7. Creates a space of tranquillity

One of the best things about taking your shoes off at the door is that it creates a sense of tranquility in your home. Walking around barefoot on clean surfaces helps relax and unwind after a long day.

No one likes to walk around and feel sand and dirt sticking to the bottoms of their feet. A clean house is inviting and lets us feel comfortable in every corner of our home.

Close up of a woman going barefoot at home with slippers at her side

What are the downsides of a No Shoes policy

1. Exposure to bacteria

One of the downsides to not wearing shoes inside is exposure to bacteria, which can be present on floor surfaces if they are not cleaned regularly.

Hence, it’s essential to regularly clean your indoor space and floors to ensure dirt and bacteria don’t build up over time.

2. May increase the risk of slipping

Another downside of not wearing shoes inside your home is that it may increase the risk of slipping and falling, especially on slippery or smooth hardwood floors. I have personally found my feet are very slippery in the winter when wearing socks.

That’s because most shoes have solid grip or treads on the bottom, which reduces slippage indoors and outdoors.

One way to prevent slipping is to wear socks with a grip on the bottom or indoor shoes with rubber or silicone soles. You can buy house shoes, slippers, or flip-flops and dedicate them only to be worn inside. Here are a few examples of the shoes we keep to wear indoors.

Close up of the indoor shoes we wear in our shoe-free home
Left are the winter slippers and right are the summer slippers

3. Guests might feel uncomfortable or awkward

No matter how accommodating you are, you might encounter people who DO NOT want to follow your no-shoes rule, either because they think that it’s nonsense or because they feel weird not wearing shoes.

No offense to those people, but they aren’t the ones responsible for cleaning your home and keeping your family healthy, and therefore don’t have a say in your no shoes rules.

Either they can respect you enough to stop wearing shoes in your home or you can meet outside for coffee or lunch at locations where shoes are welcome.

If they really put up a fight, you might have a toxic person who doesn’t respect you on your hands; find out more about the warning signs of toxic people and read how to deal with that in this blog post.

5 Tips for a “No Shoes in the House” Habit That Sticks!

Are you ready to adopt the habit of removing shoes before entering the home now?

Here are five helpful tips if you are thinking about making “no shoes in the house” your new mantra at the front door. You can also read this blog post on minimalist habits that make your life easier if you’re ready for more ideas.

1. Create a landing space for shoes

Having a designated place for shoes will make it easier to remember to take them off, especially if you have young children. It will keep your front door clutter-free and aesthetically pleasing.

Rugs, shoe racks, and small cabinets and cubbies are popular choices and accessories.

If you live in a house versus an apartment or condo, you might not enter through the front door and therefore other common places to create shoe storage are by the back door or in the garage. Whatever works for your family, the key is having a designated place where everyone knows where to put their shoes.

2. Keep them close to the door and easy to access

Humans are creatures of habit and convenience. When you keep house shoes or slippers right where you need them it will become second nature to take shoes off and slip indoor alternatives on.

Furthermore, when you have visitors or guests, you don’t want to ask them to wait at the front door, so you can run through the house to find them a pair of slippers. Make it easy to access right at the entrance and less awkward for everyone.

3. Say it with a no-shoe sign

Let’s face it, although you have all the right in the world to ask your guests to take off their shoes in your house, asking is not second nature for most of us.

Instead, you might enjoy putting a cheerful sign that asks people to remove shoes in the entrance area where people can easily see it.

You should be able to find all kinds of signs, from funny to polite. Not only will this be a gentle reminder for those who forget, but it will also be a great conversation starter!

A funny wood sign for taking shoes off at home

4. Say it with a cool welcome mat

Instead of the usual “Welcome” doormat, why not get one that encourages people to remove their shoes at the door. This way, you can still be hospitable without saying a word.

There are so many styles of welcome mats; you will undoubtedly find one that suits your style and personality.

5. offer slippers to your guests

When the signs and hints all fail, sometimes you have to come out and say it. In a kind and welcoming way, of course!

One way to do it could offer your guests a pair of house slippers when they come through the door, which has never failed us so far.

One requirement is that the slippers must be clean. You don’t want to disgust your guests with gross, smelly, or worn-out house slippers – it’s a surefire reason for them to never come back for another visit. (I mean unless that is what you are going for. No judgment.)

Another way is to lead by example. We always have a pair or two in our entryway waiting for us when we come home. Most people can take that as a sign and would at minimum, ask if you like them to take off their shoes.

In my own experience, even utility workers and handymen pick up the hint when they see shoes perfectly placed on the doormat – and would ask us if they should take off their shoes. They would tell us that it’s for safety reasons when they don’t want to, but this rarely happens.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, these ideas and tips can help you develop and stick to a no-shoes-in-the-house policy that works for you and your family.

It’s not that difficult once you get into the habit, and it can make a big difference in your home’s cleanliness. Plus, it just feels good to walk around with bare feet!

Give it a try and see how you like it and if you’re looking for more ideas to make life easier for yourself and your family you can read this blog post with 100 tips to simplify life.

Do you have any stories or tips about not wearing shoes in your home? Please share them with us in the comment section below

4 Comments

  1. Growing up in Alberta Canada, I didn’t know anyone who wore shoes in the house! I didn’t even know that was a thing until we had some visitors from the USA. The leading by example definitely works though, because when they first came, they kept their shoes on but then they saw that we took ours off and followed our lead 🙂
    It’s crazy to think about how many dangerous chemicals or germs you can track in, especially if you have young kids who are crawling.

    1. Ugh, I know – I feel so weird looking back on my childhood and all the shoe-wearing that went on in the home, hahaha. Ah well, we live and we learn! Agree 100% that we need to protect precious little hands (and feet and mouths.)

  2. It is clearly not a custom here in France, but we developed the habit when we lived in Canada. We brought it back home with us, and most people will happily comply. The house is cleaner and quieter.

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