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 thrift shopper. You can typically find her in the garden wrist deep in dirt, at a local estate sale or planning her next epic party. She continues to blog weekly.


  • airbnb management sydney

    What a friendly way! Asking your guest to remove their shoes might be offensive but after reading this awesome article I now finally know how to do it. Thanks.

  • Valerie Spiegler

    Shoes in my home is not an option, either. Of course with a friend with disabilities, their needs would take priority. That said, I have a sister who gets nasty and takes my request as a personal affront. I’ve stopped asking her to my home because of this. I do have OCD, but not everyone participating in this blog do. Neither do millions of Asians and Muslims. But, she simply refuses to be polite about this. Does anyone have any suggestions? This is putting an increasing strain on our relationship.

    • Diana Elizabeth

      Hi Valerie, would a good compromise with her be disposable boot covers? I found some on Amazon – she can keep her shoes on but wear booties. Or offer to buy her a pair of house slippers that are just hers? FitFlop has some great house slippers I am obsessed with –

  • Linda

    I am a 71 year old female and I have NEVER worn shoes in my house.
    As I love going barefoot, while loving clean feet as well.
    I sometimes have a guest or a service professional who appears uneasy to remove their shoes…so I offer them paper booties to cover their shoes.
    I have bought new & clean slippers for close friends to wear, which I keep for them, to ensure they STAY clean (from my clean floors).
    With the holidays upon us, I plan to buy several pair of slippers at my dollar store for my guests !

    • Rach

      Hi Linda you remind me of my aunt as a child and to this day she is still insistent on shoes off at the door the only thing she wants coming through her door is barefeet!! lol which I cant for the life of me understand why people would want shoes or socks on given the opportunity to take them off !! I
      Myself maintain the same rule ,, am I the only one does any one else try to carry on that barefoot shoes off movement?? I would love to hear some other stories !!!

    • Rach

      Hi Linda it’s sounds to me as shoes in the house are not an option?? lol I take you ask everyone no excuses entertained ??

  • Lesley

    I am usually very happy to remove my shoes but less so if I visit a home with pets. One friend religiously wipes her dogs paws after walkies but I’m pretty sure cat owners don’t wash/wipe their cats paws and they are able to jump up onto kitchen work tops too!

    • Dori

      I totally agree with Ben’s opinion and Lesley’s. I recently had a friend move to an apartment with hardwood floors on the ground level, the bathroom up stairs and the whole upstairs was also carpeted. They have do not wears shoes on the carpet because they wanted to keep it clean but now that they have dog they have to replace the carpet anyways after they move out. I was a little more understanding at first since all they had was one cat but now they have two cats and one dog. It’s not like they wipe their dogs paws off after going in and out every time. I’d understand if my shoes were noticeably dirty or muddy but most of the time they aren’t and they have outdoor mats. I find it very tedious to have to put shoes on and take them back off if I’m only going upstairs for a few minutes. I’m very opinionated and I have a hard time not saying how annoying it is, and now my friend thinks I’m rude because it’s their rule.

  • Kari

    Doormats people. Rugs people wipe their feet on before they enter your house. Or hand people wipes for the bottom of shoes if you’re actually that anal. Instead you ask GUESTS to to have to walk in someone else’s house barefoot or with socks (yuck) . How about being more concerned about your GUESTS comfort. I for instance, have foot pain that requires arch support. An hour or two without support can cause a flare up lasting a week. Some people have unsightly foot/toe issues and exposing them can be exceptionally embarrassing. Hosts demanding, again, GUESTS to remove shoes are rude.

    • Diana Elizabeth

      Hi Kari! Thanks for being here. I am fine with anyone who needs arch support to leave shoes on and several have used that excuse too. I don’t think asking people to remove shoes is rude, if they demand it, then perhaps yes and you can always decide that the home is not right for you if you are at odds. So far I’ve had no pushback, friends old and new happily oblige. I don’t require people to remove their socks though, that request to me doesn’t make sense for me personally. You are always welcome to my house with your shoes on if you need it for support. xx

    • Ben

      I looked up this subject solely for the intent of seeing where people stood on this issue. I left a home recently after a cordial but annoying argument about this (it was more than just that). There’s no right or wrong, but my feeling is just that if you are THAT concerned, don’t have people over. I can almost guarantee most people you’re asking aren’t going to be happy about it, even if they don’t say anything. Women especially wear shoes that in some way are strategic in nature. Or you may be exposing someone who is wearing their awful hole socks. There are obvious exceptions. Like if it has been raining outside, for instance, but if you are hosting guests, it is one of the most off-putting, and quite frankly, rude things I’ve encountered in a host. It comes across as faux pretentious. I say “faux” because the thinking that follows is, “Well why can this person not afford to clean their floors.” Yes. I get it. Floors do get dingy byond any kind of cleaning, but I just have to go back to thinking that if people are that concerned, then stick with not having people over at all. Take your shoes off at your own home and don’t subject others to this uncomfortable, ridiculous, and stange ritual. I’m sorry. I’m not trying to offend anyone. I know it seems probably seems silly to be offended by it. To be honest, I don’t hate it for myself that much, but my girlfriend was horribly upset by it at another event years ago. She didnt say anything while we were there but was in tears after we left (yes, she was also highly sensitive).

    • Diana Elizabeth

      Hi Ben! Thanks for being here and sharing your thoughts. I think it’s a preference that works for us – we have lots of friends and host often. If we have a certain event like for instance we had a big baby shower in the backyard and people came in and out with shoes on we didn’t fuss. If we hosted say a New Years party and the shoes go with the outfit, then I totally say keep the shoes on, but I myself like to remove my shoes when I’m in someone’s home anyway! So to that I say, to each their own!

  • MW

    I love the idea of shoes off just the thought of everything you walk over and through outside is just disgusting. But I can’t get my husband to buy in. He constantly walks into our bedroom with his shoes on and it just drives me crazzzzy! He’s also a doctor/scientist for goodness sakes!!! It’s almost feels like he makes the money and he affords is our beautiful home so he can do whatever he wants…and he never asks his family to do anything either, so annoying. Thoughts? Suggestions?

    • Diana Elizabeth

      Hi MW, thanks for being here! I heard from a friend who said she can’t get her husband on board either but I don’t get it. I converted my husband and he loves it and prefers it so much. I would ask your husband why he won’t. Shoes aren’t comfortable anyway, and the germs! I would just communicate it, if it’s important to you, you can make it happen. They say the man is the head but the woman is the neck ;) xx

  • Merry

    I hate shoe free households. I wear KAFOs (think polio leg braces) under my cloths. The foot plate on my brace is smooth hard plastic that provides no friction. I cannot safely walk without my shoes. I find it very embarrassing and stressful when people try to bargain with me. No grippy socks will not work. I would love house shoes. Do you have any 6E width with enclosed heels? I have literally been banished to specific rooms during parties due to my disability. What do you do when someone cannot remove their shoes?

    • Diana Elizabeth

      Hi Merry,

      I am so sorry you’ve had a bad experience with people who are a shoes off wanting you to remove your shoes! I would absolutely let you into my house if you came over. Anyone who needs to keep their shoes on for their safety and health reasons I’m totally fine with that and so is my husband. I don’t know what a foot plate looks like but could you have a set that’s just for indoors perhaps? Maybe that would help :)

    • Diana Elizabeth

      You can also bring some new shoes and let people know they are your indoor shoes and the bottoms are clean. Perhaps keep them in your car?

  • Katy

    Thank you so much for the reply! This really helps make sense of the ins and outs of daily life. :)

  • Katy

    Hey! I know this is an old post, but I was googling about no shoe households and found your post so I hope you can help me with couple of logistical questions I have.
    1.) What do you do if you’re leaving the house, get to your car and realize you forgot something and have to go back inside? Do you take your shoes off, get your thing, then put them back on? Or just run in with shoes?
    2.) What about if you have guests over and you know you’re going to congregate outside in the back yard? Or be going in and out all night? This is probably my biggest struggle. I want a no shoes house but indoor/outdoor living is paramount to us and I don’t want people feeling tethered to certain areas because they don’t have shoes. Or feel like they need to go all the way back to the front of the house to grab their shoes and put them on in the back.

    Any insight? (Why is this so hard? Ha :)

    • Diana Elizabeth

      Hi Kathy, it’s an older blog post but it’s still very active with the comments. So glad you found it! Here are my answers 1) It depends on the shoe and where the object is. If it’s in my bedroom on white carpet I’ll just kick of my shoes. None of my shoes are that hard to take off anyway. But sometimes I do keep them off, run in and just head back out. It’s not like I can’t walk through my house with shoes, but I prefer not to for daily use. 2) I entertain outside ALL the time. So kids and adults who come over really know our preferences and they kick off their shoes when they come in. But I totally understand, we’re the same way. Our guests come to the backyard if it’s a primarily backyard event through the back gate, not through the front of the house. So everyone is outside all the time and then if they want to come in, they often come in through the mud room and that’s where they drop off their shoes. They usually do this when they know they are staying inside for a while. We’ve hosted showers and we don’t make guests take off their shoes who don’t know our preferences. It’s fine, it’s just a day and we clean and mop the floors later. I try not to be too crazy about it when you really can’t control it and chase everyone down. And if that really bothered me I wouldn’t host a shower :) But our friends who know our preferences and come over all the time don’t mind the shoes on and off thing, but it probably is easier for us because we have a mudroom with two doors. xx

  • Non-OCD Charlotte

    Why must you impose your silly, unnecessary rules onto the rest of us? Live your lifestyle, and we will live ours. I certainty wont be coming to your house anytime soon. Its stupid to over analyse a certain area for bacteria and believe it is a predictor for human health. I do not like the floor, perhaps you do, or simply your just a skrewed up OCD freak who most probably enjoys the control forcing guests to remove shoes. Think about it, humans have been wearing shoes indoors since the beginning of time and we are still alive, aren’t we darling? And for kids – it helps boosts their immune system. A completely sterile environment wont, unless you want your child to be weak.

    • Diana Elizabeth

      Hi Charlotte! I apologize it sounds like I offended you in this post. I believe you can do whatever you wish in your home. I like to put my feet up on chairs and furniture and I like to keep my home clean, floors and our white carpet included, and this was a post requested that I wrote on how to politely ask guests to remove their shoes for those of us who prefer a clean shoes off home. :) If you are open-minded, please check out this study reported by ABC – . They say the floor is dirtier than toilet seat, wow! But whatever you do in your home is what works for you – it certainly doesn’t bother me one bit ;) Thanks for reading and voicing your thoughts! Hope you have a wonderful day!

    • Lily W

      Charlotte, you seem offended by this great custom practiced many parts of the world,
      You don’t have to practice it in your home
      But you need to learn and respect other
      People customs.

  • G

    I grew up in a no shoe household.
    No big deal.

  • JB

    Diana, I have had a couple people bring their own slippers, but it’s been infrequent. I have carpet throughout most of my place, so maybe that makes it more “sock-friendly,” and people don’t feel like they need to bring slippers. Or maybe most people just prefer socks over slippers. I personally don’t own a pair of slippers, but I do know people who like to wear them in their homes.

    • Diana Elizabeth

      Hi JB! That’s pretty cool they bring their own slippers, sounds like regular visitors! My parents set out slippers too and I am fine with socks absolutely, altho my first post about why we are a shoes-off has a discussion about people requesting no socks (stranger to me as I have no problem with socks on!) :)

    • JB

      Yeah, requesting no socks seems excessive. The point of no shoes is to keep dirt and bacteria out of the home. Maybe I’m crazy, but I don’t think people have dirt and bacteria on the bottoms of their socks. I’m in my sock feet right now, which is the norm for me around the house. Shoes are just so restrictive and uncomfortable, and slippers seem unnecessary and cumbersome, although slippers most certainly are allowed here for those who want to wear them. I think most people like to be in their socks, however. I know I certainly do, even when visiting others.

    • Diana Elizabeth

      I completely agree! For me the whole point is to keep dirt and bacteria out of the home. Socks on don’t bother me, and no one has ever slipped on my floors from wearing socks. We don’t have any Risky Business dancing around here, haha!

  • Jaden

    The best part about not wearing shoes, aside from how much more comfortable it’s been since I converted a couple of years ago, has been seeing most of my friends join me in adopting the habit for themselves! Even with other guests, I’ve never really had to enforce it much, but I was thinking about getting a shoe rack at some point. Right now, I just have my front hallway where all the shoes are lined up, and it kinda gets a little tight on space every once in a while. And I’m with you on being able to relax more in another’s house with my shoes off…once I’m in my socks, I’m instantly comfortable. You’d probably feel right at home if you came here!

    • Diana Elizabeth

      Hi Jaden, I agree! It really is so comfy. I never found shoes comfortable one bit. Just so restricting. Our guests never have a problem either! :) I think our guests feel comfortable too, no pushback but if a guests needs it for support reasons we don’t mind if they keep them on but that’s not often. Thanks for your comment!

  • Robin

    I am a single woman and live in a townhouse. I have hardwood floors downstairs and light carpeting on the steps, upstairs and on the lower level. It has always been shoes off for me. My gal friends are always happy to lose their heels/shoes when they arrive. I always give new friends a heads up when I invite them and a surprising number tell me they have the same rule. Had a gathering of about 20 professional women a few months ago and friends who had been here before were quite happy to tell first timers that shoes need to come off. No complaints from anyone. One woman commented that it was more relaxing without shoes

    • Diana Elizabeth

      Hi Robin, I like to take off my shoes in everyone’s home because it’s so much more comfortable for me :) I’m glad the professional women didn’t mind taking off their shoes at your home, perhaps you’ve convinced some women to do the same at home.

  • JB

    I’ve had a shoes-off rule for 14 years. The two suggestions I endorse are telling first-time visitors in advance, and setting the example at the door. If people know of the policy in advance, they will make sure to wear good socks, or perhaps even bring their own slippers. No one has ever voiced an objection when they’ve been told about the policy well before they knocked on my door. And, I’m always in my socked feet when I answer the door. Guests see that, and it triggers their memory that mine is a no-shoes home. As someone who does not like to wear shoes, a shoeless host(ess) answering the door is always a welcome sight, because that means I can take off my shoes, walk in my socks and feel at home in that person’s house.

    • Diana Elizabeth

      Hi JB, have you had guests bring their own slippers? I had guests bring their own socks sometimes (they are regular weekly visitors). I like to visit friends who have a shoes off preference as well, it’s so comfortable for me to relax!

  • Jean Clare

    I’m Asian and grew up around mostly other Asian people in Los Angeles, so it never really came up until I moved to Phoenix (i.e. being around lots of non-Asian people). I host people on a weekly basis for board gaming, and, for new invites, I give my address, directions and always end the email/text with “I kindly request no shoes inside my home.” It’s never been and issue, and it warms my heart to see all my board-gamer non-Asian guy friends take off their shoes like it’s second nature to them when they come over. :)

    • Diana Elizabeth

      That’s so nice Jean Clare! It sounds like a fun (and comfortable) board-game night with friends :) I love it!

  • Carissa

    This rule is a little harder to enforce without a proper entryway (my front door leads right into my kitchen) but we do wear no shoes in the house 99% of the time. What’s so funny is that Charlie is the biggest enforcer. He tells Michael as soon as he walks in the door from work “dad! take off your shoes!!” He is so bossy, but it’s cute for now. I definitely have had it in the back of my mind, ever since I read your first post, to make a sign. I love your idea to kindly text guests ahead of time, I really need to be a bit more bold like that!

    • Diana Elizabeth

      That’s so cute! The weirdest feeling is walking on carpet with shoes on (I can’t seem to do it) I feel like I’m wiping my feet inside a home ;) Is there room for a little rug when you walk into the front door?

  • Mina

    I grew up in a no-shoes-inside home. My husband and I don’t wear shoes inside, but I feel bad asking guests to follow suit. Love this post… Now I’m on the lookout for a cute sign. :)

    • Diana Elizabeth

      I hope you no longer feel bad asking after this post :) after you get the hang of it you will probably find it easier to have guests over. Good luck! Let me know which method ends up working best for you!

  • Jessica C

    I seriously have to post this on my personal facebook page.. everyone needs to read!! The no shoes movement needs to become mainstream!


    • Diana Elizabeth

      Hi Jessica!! I agree :) the post I linked to at the end of this post about why we are a shoe-free home was a hit for some reason! And I love it!!!! I think it’s going in that direction and that’s good news for furniture and carpet to stay cleaner and look newer looking. :) great minds!

    • Socksonalways

      Just grab their feet unlace shoes pull them off as you are reaching up the pantleg, say “let’s get these socks off”. Take picture of his bare feet and post on there Facebook page that Joe has been de-socked

  • Carrie

    Oh my gosh!! This post is perfect timing. We just put down new floors and carpet and we leave our shoes at the front door. Now I just have to work up the nerve to enforce it for our guests :)

    • Diana Elizabeth

      Hi carrie! Total perfect timing! My friends usually switch over with the purchase of a new home or new flooring! Let me know how it goes, good luck!

    • Joy

      I do have a “no shoe” policy in my home and I implemented a cute sign by the door. I also supply a basket of mens, women’s, and kids houseslippers at the door for anyone who wishes to use them. They are for them to take with them if they do choose. I purchase these items on sale and add to my collection all of the time. People actually love it!


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