Shoes off Home: How to ask Guests to remove Shoes

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

A question I’m often asked by friends as they have started a shoes off preference in their home is, how do you kindly–and not awkwardly ask guests to remove their shoes? So maybe it’s an enforced rule, kind of, at least in your home for your household roommates aka family, and you’d love for your guests to participate when visiting your home. Let’s talk about that!

Before you start leaving hate comments on this post, calm down. 

  1. If you prefer to leave your shoes on for medical reasons or your socks don’t match, of course you are welcome. We have had several keep their shoes on, so we say, “If you feel comfortable enough to take off your shoes, please do, or keep them on, whichever makes you feel most comfortable.”
  2. For parties like cocktail, baby showers, guests I don’t know (like big party) when the shoes go with the outfit, keep them on! It won’t look that great when everyone is standing in a cocktail dress with bare feet right?
  3. I don’t ask clients to remove shoes. They are going a short distance and heading into my office straight from the front door.

But for the other days, say a casual get together, maybe we’d just like our new friends who will come over again in the future to know our preference, that’s all. No need to get so offended, this post is about trying to make both sides have peace with it!

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 preference becomes regular for your guests who really know you – but what about the guests who don’t? Like how do you say it, if at all?

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?

But let’s get back to every day.

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 is that offended (trust me there are some, these people leave crazy comments here on the blog post), well they won’t show it but they will talk about it behind your back so let them. So don’t worry about the request – your guests would rather abide by your rules than make the host uncomfortable! But maybe you are here because you are a guest and uncomfortable with taking off your shoes and you landed on this post – well just say something! That’s ok too! You decide what is best for you, but if you really can’t take off your shoes your guests aren’t going to care, truly. But if you are just being angry about and you don’t want to (and plan on leaving a rude comment that won’t be approved for anyone to see anyway) then ok, you can do that too. You decide how to communicate your preference and respect others request.


Notify guests ahead of time


Here on my Instastories I shared the story about how we ask guests to remove shoes –

  • Text the heads up to people. I had a friend who was coming to visit for the first time, for a LONG time. 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 shoes off sign for unexpected guests

You can buy this sign on Amazon and hang it or tape it to your door temporarily

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.

Or make your own and borrow this saying –

Or, buy a sign and mount it, I love this one!

Here’s a cute sign on Amazon I would totally buy:

remove shoes sign for doorOn Amazon



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.


How to respond to guests who push back or say something rude


Of the hundreds of people who have come into our home over the past 10 years (and even more over the lifetime I have always been a shoe free home), I have never had anyone push back on taking off their shoes, but I understand some of you fear it, or have. I hope this helps –

  • Let them wear their shoes. At the end of the day if that’s a small fight they want to have, let them win, be a gracious host. If it’s incredibly rude, then don’t invite them back but I am hopeful your friends are not rude people.
  • If you aren’t sure if you want to really go all in with the no shoes, or just slowly implement it, just be barefoot yourself, leave a pile of shoes off at the front door, and hopefully your guests will see it and ask. If they do, you can say if they feel comfortable or don’t worry about it.
  • Offer house slippers or socks – I’m suggesting this again.
  • No matter how rude the pushback, it’s not the time to be passive aggressive, as much as you might want to – just let it go. Then clean right after they leave or hire a cleaning person to help!

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! Here is what I recommend – we offer both to guests, socks and slippers!  Pick up a pack at Forever21 or TJ Maxx next time you are out!


READ: Why we are shoes off home

If you are a guest who can’t remove your shoes


I’d be shocked if someone who is already upset gets this far on the blog to read this, but God bless you if you are still reading and not jumping straight to the comments box! If asked reply the following –

  • Tell the truth why you can’t. That’s it.

And your guest will be like oh great, then keep them on! Really it’s not the biggest deal. Don’t get mad at their preference, don’t get all bent out of shape because they prefer shoes off in their home. If you roll with it and kindly explain your host will be happy to accommodate! It goes both ways! Then enjoy the time together – shoes on or off!


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?

This post was originally published on July 12, 2019 and updated on May 3, 2021.

Diana Elizabeth is an author, photographer, and obsessive antique shopper. You can typically find her in her garden wrist deep in dirt, at a local estate sale or planning her next epic party.

70 Comments

  • Mary

    What can we do for seniors who have a hard time removing shoes. I have put a chair out for them but they still have a hard time.

    • Diana Elizabeth

      Hi Mary, I would help them remove their shoes (if you feel comfortable) or allow them to keep their shoes on (maybe just wipe the bottoms off with a damp towel with disinfectant or soap), or wear booties over their shoes. Totally up to you on how you want to accommodate your guests, perhaps give them options? Seniors put shoes on and off daily so maybe you can ask them what would help. There might be others on here who can give advice. xx

  • HIlarY (if anyone knows me and reads this they will totally know it’s Me)

    Howdy.
    Just wanted to chime in. I noticed there’s a recent comment so I’m not talking to an abandoned blog post. lol. So I have four little boys ranging from ages 8 down to 1. My one year old isn’t walking yet but does a little scooty scoot across the floor and unless I have him in the walker or high chair, he spends his awake time on the floor. We have a small house that is entirely tile floor. I have to literally sweep every room every day or it is noticeably dirty in my opinion (Should invest in a roomba I know but the hubs is kind of against them on principle). Anyways I’m pretty ocd and having kids made it worse to begin with. Nowadays with 4 kids I’m finally relaxing a bit and realizing yes there will be mud and dirt on the floor sometimes and it’s not the end of the world. That all being said, we have been a shoes off house forever. My boys run in and out all day but they know to remove their shoes when they come in. It’s actually quite funny when we go to someone else’s house and we’ve never been there before. My boys immediately take their shoes off and our host will comment on how polite or funny it is. But it’s ingrained in them. I personally think that is the polite thing to do when you go someone’s house. Take your shoes off, or at least offer to; ask, “should I take my shoes off?” and a lot of times the host will appreciate it. So at our home we do just politely but point blank ask people to remove their shoes. I gave my husband permission when he felt awkward to just blame it on me being postpartum and kinda ocd/wacky. When service people come to our house we ask them too. I immediately kind of apologize and then explain that I have a baby crawling around and I want to keep the floor clean for him. (Honestly I understand the argument that germs are good for his immune system but since he’s frequently crawling around in my bed too, I don’t want all the ick from the floor in my sheets.) I wear socks in the house and my husband usually does too. Our kids prefer to be barefoot so I keep floor mats on the sides of my bed so if they want to climb in they can wipe their feet off before getting in (if they aren’t otherwise filthy). So I probably sound crazy to some but this is what works for our family and gives me the ability to relax even with my ocd issues. My big thing about shoes in the house isn’t so much that you’re tracking in dirt from outside, but where else have you been in them? A public bathroom? At a gas station? I don’t want all that nast in my house and I certainly don’t want it on my baby’s hands and in is mouth!

  • Darci

    I have a sign that says please remove your shoes and I’ve asked along with my husband to tell his family to remove their shoes at the door. We installed an entryway Ben h for them to put on and off shoes along with a sign next to it. They will either take their shoes off in the beginning and then at the end go onto the carpet to tell the baby bye or they immediately come in and onto the Carpet and then take their shoes off. It’s a HUGE pet peeve of mine! They are not a clean family they have a golden retriever in the house that they don’t pick up it’s poop and let it run around in the mud without wiping his paws. I don’t know what else I can do besides putting an obnoxious sign outside the door. It’s so frustrating!!

    • Diana Elizabeth

      Hi Darci! When you come through the front door of your house is it automatically a carpet surface? If so may I suggest having someone tile the front for a little bit so you have a harder surface that would be easier to clean and allow guests to remove their shoes by the front door if you were having a problem with them removing it outside of the door. I think sometimes I get lost in translation or people forget how much dirt gets tracked in. I don’t know how much space you have between the front two but you could also put down a small rug or a clear plastic surface. I know that’s probably not what you want to do but perhaps it would help? If not may also suggest having them come through the door through your garage. We have another side entrance and you could say something like they can come through that entrance so it will be easier for them to kick off their shoes. Just a thought!

  • Tanya Tierney

    So I recently decided to try to implement a no-shoes policy in our new place. I’ve always wanted to, but have felt too awkward to ask. We notified my in-laws in advance, but my FIL walked straight in with muddy boots. I kindly reminded him that we prefer no shoes and he said “Well am I even allowed to sit on the couch, or should I just sit on the floor”. It was very awkward. Now I’m afraid to ask any future guests since his reaction was not nice at all. Has anyone dealt with a similar situation? How did you handle it?

    • Diana Elizabeth

      Hi Tanya, ah, so awkward and like why did he have to say that??? *face palm* did your husband say anything? I feel like in that instance your partner should be the one to soften that or be more firm. I would have said, back, well of course not, but there’s mud on your boots so if you sit on the couch and walk across my carpet or floors it’s going to get all over the place -or- sure I’ll give you a mop so you can clean up the mess! (But I know that can be easier imagined than actually spoken out loud, or going to his house and wearing muddy boots to see his reaction ;) ). So,….I would have your husband diffuse it or make it clear next time. I don’t think any future guests would behave like that, I have never had that instance, and if that was the case, that’s just on them. Have you tried hanging a sign on your door (temporarily?)

  • Jane

    I’m an older person who has been advised by my doctor to ALWAYS wear shoes with a particular kind of support. So I guess I should just stay home?

    • Diana Elizabeth

      We have guests who are in the same situation and we welcome them with their shoes on!

  • Footshy guy

    I hate being bare foot. The only time I’m Barefoot is when showering. I am considered a very good looking white man 6 ft 3 shoes size 13, I wear heavy work boots most days 2 days a weak I wear very expensive Italian lace-up dress shoes and high-quality expensive black dress socks usually they cost around $1,000 I take very good care of my feet are no calluses they are very soft smooth curvy my second toe is longer so it’s not embarrassment or ashamed it’s more egotistical I’ve gone out on dates and several women have tried to take my shoes and socks off against my will no one has ever gotten them off as I’m addicted to having my shoes and socks on at all times, when I was studying abroad I was staying in a house with all females and the mother of the house also said that it is a Barefoot home I didn’t know this until I was about to go back outside and get the rest of my luggage she noticed my black Italian dress shoes and ask me what size I said 13 why? She said well because since you are staying here rent-free one of the rules is that you are Barefoot all of the time I told her that was not happening I never take my socks off sometimes I even fall asleep with my shoes on she said worry I’ll peel them off myself she said she would like to do it for me. I told her no way nobody ever gets near my feet she said she always wins with the guys that stay there, she was and older big fat lady so physically I wasn’t sure if I would be strong enough but I was very confident and I said I bet you you will never be able to get my shoes and socks off well she immediately pinned me down and her daughter came over and took them off of my feet (her daughter read aloud from a law book that it was legal to take someone’s socks off even against their will )while this fat lady had me pinned down she asked her daughter what do you think (apparently she did foot readings like palm readings) and she said to her mother yep he is an atheist so he will burn in hell. the mother said good I would love to see those sexy feet burn. so every night when I got home from school she grabbed my feet started unlacing my shoes while she was doing it she would say let’s get the socks off of your feet so your toes breathe as much as I hated it, it felt so damn good and each time she took my socks off I fell more and more in love with her I didn’t let her know that I liked it at that point I kept acting like I hated it and fighting her because she liked the power winning she loved seeing mreading verneurable and helpless and yes my feet were extremely extremely ticklish and sensitive.
    Would love to find a lady to marry or date that wants to keep me Barefoot that’s the only way for me to overcome my fear

  • Simone Adams

    I’ve always dreamt of a shoe free home, when my now husband and I first moved in together I didn’t have the guts to tell our guests (who were mostly his friends and family) that they couldn’t keep their shoes on in my home. Because hubby went back to university 4 years ago we moved in with my parents, now that we’re looking into getting our own place again and starting a family I really, really don’t want outside shoes in my home… I shudder at the mere thought. But how will I enforce it with his people?! My family and friends are cool but his might take offense. I thought of putting a bench/shoe rack with a sign at the door and providing house slippers in all sizes for guests to wear in the house. But I also know that eventually someone is gonna leave drunk and forget their shoes or (heaven forbid!) take someone else’s shoes. His family are pranksters too, and will hide people’s shoes just for the fun of it. Ugh! It’s gonna be a nightmare, so if you’re religious, please pray for me.

  • Liz

    What has gone undiscussed here (I haven’t read every single comment, so perhaps I missed it) is the fact that some people with orthopedic injuries or nerve injuries (some diabetics, for example) have nerve damage in their feet or other problems such as plantar fasciitis that give them a lot of pain and/or discomfort when they walk or stand without their shoes, which are often special orthopedic shoes. The substitution of generic slippers does not suffice for them, and barefoot is not okay. Yes, they can speak up and say “no” to you, but I do not believe your assumption that most people feel comfortable saying no when a host or hostess has explicitly made a “no shoes” request of them is correct. Most people, or at least many people, would be very uncomfortable saying no to the homeowner, and would just suffer through the no-shoes experience and would probably not return. And you don’t necessarily know whether a friend or acquaintance has such a problem. So my suggestion is that anyone trying to enforce a no-shoes policy should tell guests that if it’s painful or uncomfortable for them they can opt out. That means a few shoes will indeed cross your threshold.

    • Diana Elizabeth

      Hi Liz, thanks for your comment and yes, very good point! There is another related post that is more focused on why we don’t wear shoes in the house: https://dianaelizabethblog.com/our-no-shoe-rule-in-our-house/ and it has been discussed about those who need to keep their shoes on for comfort. I may have added it to the original blog posted but not this one so I will do that now. There is also another article I came across that said to consider not asking guests to remove shoes if you have a cocktail party if shoes are part of the outfit – in that case I also agree. We prefer shoes off for daily, but we are also incredibly flexible if they are not taken off. Thanks for being a part of the conversation!

  • Becca

    I’ve always had a no shoe rule in the house. Honestly it makes cleaning so much easier, and I don’t need muck coming in from outside on a regular basis. Nearly everyone has had no problems visiting our house and following this rule. Of course for those who are disabled and cannot take their shoes off, they can keep wearing shoes. As for socks, I take my socks off every time I enter my house, and I’m happy for my guests to remove their socks if they want to, and many do! But I don’t see a “socks off” rule as being necessary. Socks don’t touch the outside the way shoes do, obviously. I have a friend that has this rule for her house, and while I have no problems taking my socks off at her house, I think it’s overkill, but her house, her rules, I guess!

    I don’t have a sign, but I’m loving your signs and some other shoes off one I’ve seen on Pinterest or Amazon.

  • Kimberly T.

    “And anyone who has that much of an attachment to their shoes might have some feet issues or something. Just kidding.”
    Just kidding? Do you realize how offensive this is? There are millions of people who wear leg braces and orthotics, some of which are attached to the shoes themselves. Taking them off may mean not being be able to walk, either safely, without pain, or at all. Can you imagine the embarrassment of your guests who would be the only ones still wearing shoes? Or having to reveal private medical information at your front door to explain why they can’t follow your rule? If you’re “just kidding” then I’m guessing you think you’ve never met anyone with those needs – and you think you never will. That “no shoes” sign isn’t friendly or helpful; it’s ableism.

    • Diana Elizabeth

      Hi Kimberly, I am sorry you took so much offense to that. We ask nicely and we have also had guests say they can’t, and that’s fine. Usually we aren’t inviting strangers to our home so anyone who comes over does feel comfortable whether they take off their shoes, or if they cannot they feel comfortable disclosing it and yes, we do have a few who do need to keep them on. There is nothing to be ashamed about, it is a request and those who can comply can and those who cannot don’t have to. It’s all up to the situation.

  • Annie

    Ah I LOVE this and all of the helpful suggestions for polite and casual phrasing! I get so irritated when people not only 1) walk in without knocking, but then 2) leave their shoes on! Arghhh… happens to be only my S.O.’s family who lives nearby enough to do so, so this is immensely helpful! <3 thank you

    • Diana Elizabeth

      Hi Annie, I am so glad you found this post helpful! :) It is in how you phrase it and try not to make it awkward, haha, and most of the time your guests want to do whatever makes the host happy!

  • Adam

    I’ve encountered this issue after I moved in with my girlfriend. It doesn’t make sense to clean up if guests keep bringing in dirt from the outside. Thanks for providing some easy tips that will help the problem in a civil and polite way.

  • Grace lily

    I loved your article, read it 2 times! Thank you for sharing. This is really useful.

    • Albert Dobson

      I just came across this article. I am so amazed by the thinking of the people who think it’s rude to ask guests to remove their shoes. Does making guests comfortable mean that they are allowed to do whatever they want in your home? No. It’s called respect. Respect for being invited into your personal space. This whole way of thinking is mostly an American ideology. In almost every other country anywhere it is what you do. And, is a sign of respect. Or, it will be taken as being intentionally offensive. Like saying f*** *** to your host. The problem is the ideology is embedded for two generations now. It started with the “no shoes, no shirt, no service ” signs in the 60’s. It was the clean cut, wholesome conservative people a way to keep the liberal outspoken anti establishment (hippies) out of their stores. Prior to that barefeet anywhere wasn’t even noticed. Fast forward to now and you have a society that is used to ostracizing and, view barefootedness as dirty or obscene. However, thinking that being asked to take off your shoes is somehow rude is a self righteous, my feelings are more important than yours attitude.

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