How to enforce a no shoe policy with guests: Tips on politely asking guests to remove shoes ahead of time without feeling awkward

Oh hey guest, yes you, thanks for being here – come on in. Well, you come in, but not your shoes, mmmmkay? 

If you’re reading this post you might be curious to see how to start to join in on the no shoe in the house movement. I swear I’ve waited for this day – when the rest of the country would join in with Asians by kicking off their shoes at the door – making it less awkward for me. Haha!

The no-shoe policy becomes regular for your guests who really know you – but what about the guests who don’t?

Here you are trying to adult and make new friends or invite people over that are your child’s friends and their parents but you don’t want to inconvenience them or make it awkward if they have these crazy lace up boots but at the same time, inside you’re cringing counting how many thousands of bacteria are being spread across your floor and you can’t wait to get the Lysol spray the whole place once they leave, but you don’t want them to leave because you enjoy them but you can’t relax because you’re staring at their shoes on your carpet. Sound familiar?

*I don’t ask clients to remove shoes. They are either just heading into my office straight from the front door which means they are just sitting meeting with me, or going in and out to change really quick. My office floor is concrete and has a jute rug – so it’s not going to be as gross as walking on carpet. As long as they’re not tap dancing across every inch of my floor, I let clients come in and out with shoes on for ease. Just use a Lysol spray after if it makes you feel a bit better :)

So maybe you might need some help to tell new guests about your no shoe policy, or you may decide your new home will now be a shoe-free zone. So how do you enforce it, politely?

Before I get started, please remember you aren’t going to lose friends over asking them to take off their shoes – really. And anyone who has that much of an attachment to their shoes might have some feet issues or something. Just kidding. So don’t worry about the request – your guests would rather abide by your rules than make the host uncomfortable!

Notify guests ahead of time

  • Text the heads up to people. I had a friend who was coming to visit for the first time – seriously we met on Twitter, she’s like a really good friend and a photographer in North Carolina. Apparently the internet is no longer scary to me, but aside from that, I text her about her weekend stay and said, “Hey heads up we don’t wear shoes in our home, so bring some socks to keep your toesies warm.” She ended up loving the no shoes feeling and she said she’d go home and enforce the rule at her own house with her hubby! And when I went to visit her in NC, she did! See, you too can change the life of a friend, haha.
  • Tell someone to tell other people. Another example is we host a small group with our church, weekly. When we started, we told our small group leaders about our no shoe rule and they sent out an email to let everyone know. Another way could be for you to text, “Hey so excited to host and see you all, just wanted to let you know we like to go barefoot in our home just in case you need to make sure socks match!”
  • Explain it at the door. If you have little ones you can use the valid excuse that your little ones are crawling and touching everything on the ground, and to keep germs at bay, shoes off at the door is super helpful to keeping the home and baby healthy! No one is going to argue with keeping the health of a baby! But really, no guest is going to argue with you.
  • Make your husband/wife say it. If it’s a certain side of the family you can’t tell them to not fold the towels like that, or put their feet up on your coffee table because you’re just not that close, make your significant other do it.  If it’s his/her family, they know how to say it.
  • Set the example at the door. I had to do this when I was a single gal dating. I’d come in and immediately take off my shoes and just say, “I’d love for you to hang out for a bit, do you mind kicking off your shoes?” Um, 100% chance they will. Usually guests look down and observe if shoes are on or off – that’s what I do anyway so then I follow suit!

I once asked guests when I opened the door and they started to their their shoes off outside before they came in, LOL!

That has happened a handful of times and I feel so awful, so I try to wait until they step in and I say just kick them off and put them on the mat. I also add, “Don’t worry! Floor is clean!”

Make a sign for unexpected guests

If you don’t have time to explain or asking is too confrontational, make a chalkboard sign. Hang it on your doorknob outside.

And pray your guests can read or the door isn’t left open from other guests so they don’t overlook it.

Ideas on what to write on the no-shoe sign:

  • Please remove your shoes we like to go barefoot inside
  • Shoes off please
  • Because little hands touch our floor, please leave your shoes at the door
  • Friends, please help keep our house neat, no shoes on your feet
  • Welcome to our home, leave your worries – and your shoes – at the door
  • Please take off your shoes and stay a while
  • Please remove your shoes and don’t take a better pair when you leave
  • If you’re not God or John Wayne, please take off your boots
  • Welcome y’all kick off your shoes and come on in…

Or here’s an iron sign that says “no shoes please” you can drill to the side of your home.

Your duty as a shoe-free host

Don’t ask for guests to be barefoot when you have crumbs and hair all over your floors, that’s not cool, make sure you have clean floors. – If you see the previous post (link at bottom) theres a discussion about socks on or off, isn’t that funny!?

Offer new socks, have slippers, whatever will make it easier!

Also read –

Do you wear shoes in your home?  Do you think you’d ever implement a no shoe policy? How do you ask guests to remove shoes?