Ever walked into someone’s home and been asked to remove your shoes? While this is a common practice in many cultures, it’s not a household rule that most Americans abide by. The first time it happens you might even be a bit surprised the homeowner made such a strange request. But, alas, you take off your shoes because you don’t wish to be rude. Surprisingly, you actually find it kinda satisfying and you wonder, “Could this work for guests of my own?”
To help you decide, we’ve listed the pros and cons of having a shoes-off house. Plus, should you decide to make it a new house rule, whether it’s to protect hardwood flooring from abrasions or to limit germs, we’ve also created a list of helpful tips to maintain your shoes-free living quarters.
Shoes vs. No Shoes
Let’s lay out the advantages and disadvantages of the shoe vs. no shoe debate. If you’re on the fence, these pros and cons may help you decide where your house stands.
Less Bacteria and Germs
Believe it or not, there are a great number of toxic germs and chemicals tracked into our homes. From E. coli and influenza to now potentially COVID-19, these germs can be stopped in their tracks when the shoes come off.
Many types of flooring can be scratched by microscopic debris the size of a grain of sand. If you have expensive hardwood floors or floors with a shiny gloss top layer coating, leave your shoes at the door to prevent them from getting scuffed up.
Clean Baby-Proof Space
Babies tend to crawl around a lot and put their hands in their mouths frequently. So why wouldn’t you want the cleanest floors imaginable? Keep germs away from children by leaving shoes off.
Cozy Slippers and Sandals
When you replace your shoes with a cute pair of ultra-cozy slippers and breathable sandals, it makes it all worth it, right? Choose a favorite pair for each of your family members and offer some for guests to borrow, too.
It’s hard to break into a new habit, especially when it’s not entirely convenient. If you’ve already put your shoes on at the front door and then realize you forgot your purse in the bedroom, chances are you’re not going to take them off again to go retrieve it.
If you have a shoes-off house, ideally you want guests to abide by this rule, too. However, this can often make for awkward interactions, especially if they don’t understand your reasoning behind it or feel embarrassed by things like unmanicured toes and foot odors.
In a shoes-off house, the entryway can become quite cluttered. Even if you try to line shoes up by the door or have an organized system, there’s a good chance the kids (and let’s be honest, you) will just toss them off as they run into the house.
Planning your daily outfits and ensembles are much easier when the shoes are in the bedroom closet. For some fashionable folks, a shoe-free home is a real challenge.
How to Maintain a Shoes-off House
If you like the advantages of having a shoes-off household, here are a few clever tricks to remind family members and to give guests a subtle hint to leave them at the door.
Designate a Place for Shoes Near Entrances
Near the entryway, provide yourself and guests with a designated space for shoes. This could be anything from a shoe rack to a large decorative woven basket. Metal shoe racks are ideal for storing heavy-duty boots, hiking shoes and rain boots in the garage. However, a storage basket is better suited for more formal and stylish living areas.
Provide Cozy Slippers or Sandals
While you might feel comfortable walking in socks and bare feet around your own home, guests might find it odd. Instead, offer up a few pairs of slippers or sandals to take the place of their shoes. Make sure to offer a variety of both men’s, women’s and children’s sizes for every guest who may visit.
Offer a collection of different styles so they can have some fun with it! Offer up luxurious ones like a faux fur in colder months and open-toed sandals that give off a summery vibe.
Add Clear Signage
Okay, so some guests are pretty oblivious to all the hints of baskets and slippers. If you have lots of guests who come and go and want to make the whole shoe-free household rule perfectly clear, place some signage near the entryway that guests are sure to see.
Choose a clever sign with a cute phrase or joke that pokes fun at the shoe pile. Graphics and quotes are a great way to catch someone’s attention, practically spelling it out and forcing them to read and comprehend the rules of the household. This makes it a whole lot easier and less awkward than having to directly tell them.
Buy an Anti-Microbial Mat
While you can add all the signs in the world, both indirect and literal, sometimes a person has to enter with shoes. Whether it’s a repairman or the petsitter, it happens. So, last but not least, you can always be safer than sorry and lay down a doormat.
Even better, lay down an anti-microbial doormat that’s designed to prevent and limit the amount of bacteria and germs from getting past the main foyer’s threshold. Choose a mat that has a patterned surface to scrape shoes and high moisture retention to keep rain and snow from being tracked through the house.