Our Shoes Off Preference in our home

With the goal to keep our homes as clean free as possible now, I thought I’d do a little explaining about our shoes off preference in our home. There’s a reason why we don’t wear shoes in our house – not in any reason to convince you to do the same because I honestly I’m not passionate about convincing people I’m right, it’s your house and you can do whatever makes you happy!  Isn’t that great?

Since I’ve been asked why we decide to go the no shoe route, and many wonder how to start going that route (and also how to ask guests to remove shoes) I thought I’d share why we do this, and you can decide if this is a route you want to take one day.

When do you allow guests to keep on shoes in the house?

I want to note – We allow guests to keep shoes on for comfort/health and if we host a cocktail party where shoes are a part of the outfit. We understand that those are special occasions and situations – this is for the common every day in hopes to keep our home cleaner.

For Asians it’s a tradition because many things are done on the floor in Asian countries – like sitting to eat so for hygiene purposes it makes sense. I however, was born in Northern California and have always grown up taking off my shoes.

Reasons why we take off our shoes inside our home

  • We want to differentiate the inside from the outside – dirt stays outside.
  • If we did wear shoes, dirt would be inside our home, and if we ever took off our shoes, the bottoms of our feet would get dirty. Therefore we can’t curl up on the couch or get in bed without dirt everywhere or we have to leave shoes on all the time in our home and barefoot is so much more comfortable.
  • Babies can crawl on a cleaner floor and probably get sick less
  • Even if you have pets (my parents have my college dog) he is so small and tracks little to no dirt in since he’s indoor so it’s still fine to still be a shoeless home.
  • It keeps our things looking newer and cleaner – I can kick up my feet on our furniture any time
  • Our carpet stays white in bedrooms
  • We have SOFT wood floors – so worn down high heels will leave marks
  • We don’t like dirt sticking to the bottoms of our feet since we prefer bare feet inside
  • No shoes on the couch isn’t a rule, it’s just what happens when shoes are already off

So, that’s really it.

My feet itch when I walk barefoot outside even for a second, and I want to keep our home looking clean.  I’m a germaphobe.

Have you seen the Swiffer commercial where people test it out and clean their kitchen and show the bottom?  Well if you watched the people, they wear shoes inside their home so of course it looks dirty on the mop.  If you tried it on ours, the bottom of our mop wouldn’t be bad.

How do we ask visitors and friends to take off their shoes?

First I think it’s obvious as people our age should now enter homes and look at the hosts feet and automatically observe. Our friends know our policy after being friends with us for years, but for newbies, we just politely ask, no big deal.

We’ve never had push back.  Then, we promise our floors are clean.

There are a few ways to set up before guests come over

  • Leave a few pairs by the door (as a hint)
  • Have a sign by the door
  • Have slippers or socks (guests can take with them) at the door in a basket

Here I explain how we ask

Shoes off signs

We hang a sign outside the door asking guests to remove shoes, but we tend to remind guests before they come over – read this post on how we ask.


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We understand the tradeoff for asking those to take off their shoes – we should have clean floors.  And, we do, because of our no shoe rule :)  And our cleaning lady gets a good applause too.

I had a friend who stayed with us for five days and she loved our no shoe policy that she implemented in when she returned home. I’ve always done it, even in my college apartment with roommates, rental apartments, no matter where I lived because it was simply a clean thing and worked for us.

I’ve had a friend concerned that it wouldn’t work with her home with so many people going in and out, and worried about the inconvenience.  I say if you make it a rule in your home, and ask them to, they’d be happy to oblige.  Our family and friends are happy to (or so we think and they still come over and hang out so they must be OK).

So if you ever come over, kick off your shoes and then kick your feet all over the place if you want – because your feet are clean and our house is clean!  Weeee!

How do you ask guest to remove their shoes?

Read how we request guests to remove their shoes – to avoid those awkward moments if you need some help ;)

Do you wear shoes in your home?  Do you think you’d ever implement a no shoe policy? The discussion below talks about asking guests to remove socks as well, what are your thoughts?

*This post was originally published on Feb 27, 2014 and revised and updated May 29, 2020.

Diana Elizabeth 

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.


  • Nogami

    Hi, what will you dp if you have just to go in for a couple of minutes?

  • Julia

    Hi Nogami,
    Hard to say who is more reluctant. Probably men, but actually it’s mostly my our my daughters’ friends visiting us and they are mostly female, so I can’t really say. Definitely some of the girls were also somewhat reluctant and we had to insist.
    We’ve never really had anyone refuse to take their socks off. Some are a little unhappy at first, but they quickly get used to it and might even enjoy it. If someone would refuse, we would still tell them that those are our rules and that it is really rude to refuse to comply with them. After all, if you ask someone to take off their shoes and they would still insist on walking into your house with shoes, that would also be quite impolite, right? Same for socks, if they don’t remove their socks, they can’t come in.
    About your other question, we haven’t had that yet as far as I know, but if someone would do that, obviously we would tell him or her to take off those socks.

    Dear Rach,
    Sorry I didn’t reply. Well yes, it seems a little too harsh for me if you are just talking about people that we have no personal relationship to. If someone comes over to fix the light, I feel it is too much to insist that they work in bare feet. Maybe we should kindly ask them to remove their socks but if they refuse, we should still let them in. It’s us who need their service, after all, right?

  • Rach

    Hi Julia Rach here,, did see my last response I sent you on June 9th in regards to no exceptions to the rule is that to harsh ??

  • Julia

    Hi Erika,
    It’s great that you agree with me! I think it would be amazing if you would introduce a “shoes and socks off” rule in your house. First of all, it would be helpful to know who are the people in your house that are against it. If they are your children, you might just decide this on your own and just inform them. If they are not your children, you might have to discuss the matter with them first. Have you proposed this to them and they were against it? What were their arguments? Why do they think that socks off is ” a step too far”?

    Of course you are more than welcome to use my arguments which I have brought up here. You could make a list of pros and cons together with everyone else. You should make everyone agree first that the outcome will depend on that list and will be mandatory – which means that if the arguments in favor of a “shoes and socks off” rule clearly outweigh the arguments speaking against it, such a rule will be introduced and everyone will have to comply. If the arguments against this rule are stronger, of course you will not introduce the rule. In that case, though, I’d like to hear those arguments.
    Just make clear that it really doesn’t make sense to stop half-way, after you already agreed on a shoes-off rule, since there are no real reasons to wear socks inside the house and outside of shoes.
    If none of this works, you could propose to test this rule for a limited time, say three months during summer. During that time, everyone has to be barefoot in the house. And after that you can evaluate your experience together and decide democratically whether you will extend the duration of the rule or not. Maybe it is just a question of getting used to it.
    I also want to stress that it is important to be very strict about this rule, once you have introduced it. It must be a rule, not a recommendation. If people think that it is still up to them, they’ll start breaking the rule and that way it won’t work. So, it should be very clear that once you have introduced your rule, it is mandatory for everyone without exceptions (or rather, exceptions like delivery people have to be few and very clearly defined).

    That’s what I would suggest. Please keep us updated what are the results of your discussion.

    Hi Nogami,
    I’m happy to hear that you agree with our “no socks” rule, too. To answer your question, of course stockings are not allowed either. They are even worse than socks in some aspects (such as slipping) and they also cover the feet, prevent them from breathing, from being seen etc. I’ve never had this case so far, but if someone came here wearing stockings, we would send them to a private room to remove them. In case they feel uncomfortable about this, we would maybe offer them loose pants which they could wear. After all, it is just the feet that have to be bare at all times, not necessarily the rest of your legs etc.
    When we get out, we put on our socks at the door, just as we put on our shoes. This is quite easy, actually, and you can just leave your socks in your shoes as you step in and put them both back on before leaving.

    • Nogami

      Dear Julia,
      According to your experience who are the most reluctant to the “socks off rule”, men or women?
      What do you do if one/few of your guest refuse to take their socks off ?
      What would be your reaction if one of your guest remove her shoes and socks as asking by your rule, and few minutes later, once in the dining room take some clean socks from her purse and put them on ?

    • Diana Elizabeth

      Hi ladies! I wanted to jump in – thanks for being active on here and continuing a discussion, how wonderful! I do have a question – why the no socks rule? I have never had a guest slip. Our overall goal of a shoes off is just to keep outside germs outside. Socks are fine as they have only been inside a shoe and is still a barrier between bare feet (and barefoot is also welcome). I just don’t mind socks at all especially during winter and we aren’t trying to be a health/wellness/come to love your feet, household, just want to have friends over and keep dirt outside so they can relax on the couch and enjoy. Socks off seems unnecessary for our goals. So I’d love to hear why you prefer socks off. Thanks!

  • Nogami

    Hi, i agree with the no socks and shoes at home, more clean and safe. What about stockings ? And also where do you put your socks on when getting out ?

  • Erika

    Hey Julia. I agree with pretty much everything you’ve said and I want to introduce a shoes and socks off rule as well, but everyone in my house is against this. We do have a shoes-off rule but it seems socks-off is a step too far.

    Any ideas on how to change this?

  • Julia

    @ Jim
    I do not share your view on this matter. After all, we all have to do things we do not want to, from time to time. That is something that children also need to learn. Obviously, there are some limits to this. But walking barefoot is like the most natural thing and therefore well within those limits, in my opinion. The strange thing for me is why people are so much against a barefoot rule at home, when literally no-one would consider it strange that bare feet are required in every swimming pool. Is that also crossing a line? Obviously not. And why is it ok to ask people to remove their shoes in your house, but removing that thin piece of cloth on your feet is considered too much?
    So, I agree with what Margarita wrote. Of course, it is your choice if you prefer to wear socks in your own house, but so far, our rule of banning socks has proven very beneficial for all of us and I can recommend it to everyone.

    • Jim

      Vaguely remembered this and found it again.
      @Julia: No one should “have” to do anything that they’re physically uncomfortable with, regardless of age or gender, unless absolutely necessary, such as for health-related reasons. My point is that there should be no such rule between parents and children. And swimming pools enforce the rule for health reasons, but it’s not usually necessary inside of a home.

  • Jim

    @ Margarita: Since you asked, my opinion is that no one should be forced into something that they’re physically uncomfortable with unless it’s absolutely necessary (like going to the doctor), especially not one’s children.

    You say that “as a 18 yo girl she should get over this by now and being such a beauty, she really has nothing to hide.” I think that as an individual, your daughter has a right to feel however she feels about her own body. Personally, I wouldn’t force a boy to walk around shirtless if he was uncomfortable with it (just as we wouldn’t do this to girls). Ditto with forcing someone to walk around unshod.

    If yours is a true story, then I’m sure that you love your daughter as an individual and respect her feelings, so I hope that you’ve reconsidered these things. I guess I can understand liking it, but the bottom line is that this should be a choice.

  • Julia

    Hi Rach, sorry for replying so late. As I said, we have a sign at the entrance of our house which states that everyone must remove their shoes and socks. This has made it somewhat easier, since many visitors bare their feet right away without saying anything, as soon as they see the sign. Not everyone pays attention to our sign, though, and some who do ask if this really means they have to be barefoot. Then, we usually smile, point to our own bare feet and tell them politely that those are our rules.
    As for delivery people, I always felt it would be a little too much to make them remove their socks, since they just want to do their job quickly and also don’t have a personal relationship with us. On the other hand, it is true that it is sort of an inconsistency in our footwear policy to allow people to enter the house in their socks. And of course there is really nothing wrong with walking barefoot. So, do you think we should extend our rule to everyone and not allow exceptions at all? I am still unsure about this.

    I think it is amazing to hear all those experiences. Having bare feet at home has become a regular part of our lives by now and it is so much better than before. The girls are healthier, they pay attention to always having clean and nice feet and nobody has slipped on our floors any more. As for visitors, I feel that it helps bonding with people if everyone is barefoot. Maybe this sounds strange, but somehow I feel that you never really know a person in private, before you have seen his/her bare feet. :)
    So, to sum up, our experience with our bare feet rule has been overwhelmingly positive and I’d like to encourage everyone to try it.

    • Rach

      Well Julia you seem to me you are the consummate shoes and socks off barefoot household and a barefoot lady! So I would say yes EVERYONE should conform to the barefoot house rule !! Like any other rule if you have a rule and don’t enforce it don’t have the rule !!! As you mentioned in a lot of your examples !! As in say the Doctors office for example they don’t say please take off some of your clothes and put put on this gown !! Everytime I go for a physical they say” take everything off including you’re shoes and socks and put this gown on with the opening in the back !!! The yoga studio doesn’t say take off your shoes and socks but if you are wearing sneakers then it’s ok come in !!! So if I were you I say EVERYONE BAREFOOT no exceptions that’s probably harsh but rules are rules ,,, Rach

  • Rach

    Thanks Sarah well my roomie was direct she also would answer the door barefoot glance down at the floors and just say “SHOES “ and if she started getting any questions or excuses or reasoning she would just politely sorry barefoot please.. !! no excuses exceptions and ppl compiled only can remember a few that refused but could not come in and left . Just find the different story’s and input interesting so I hope we can keep the thread going thanks again Rach

  • Sarah

    Hi Rach,
    To answer your question, my mum does answer the door in her bare feet, since in our house socks are not allowed on anyone. Actually it was her who insisted on having this rule, because we kept slipping on the floor and she was also tired of washing our socks all the time. So, of course she has to comply with it as well.
    When I answer the door to visitors who haven’t been to our house before, I tell them something like this: “Look guys, we have a special rule in our house that everyone needs to follow. We don’t allow any shoes or socks in the house and as you can see, I am barefoot, too. So, please take off your shoes and socks as well!”. Sometimes people ask for a reason or they ask if they can just take off their shoes, and then I say something like “Sorry, but no. You’ll have to remove your socks, too, Please respect our rules.”. My parents and sister normally say similar things when they answer the door. When I see that people are somewhat reluctant, I sometimes encourage them by saying, “Come on, it’s only your feet you have to bare, so no need to be embarrassed” and then they do as I say.
    Why do you ask? How did your roomie tell people to take off their socks?
    Greetings, Sarah

    • Kevin

      My familly have a strict no shoes, no socks-rule at home:

      I have to use a wheelchair most of the time. Before our door i have to clean my wheels but also take my shoes and socks off, like my sibblings, even if i don’t stand on the floor. If my wheels are too wet or dirty, i have to leave the chair and move on the ground inside.
      My friends have to follow the same rules. Because we have a wooden floor, that can be damaged with hard objects, two of my friends also have to remove even their orthotics at the door.

    • Rach

      Hi Sarah Rach here I replied

    • Rach

      Hi Sarah I replied to you Rach

  • Rach

    Very interesting Sarah as I said to a Julia maybe it’s a regional thing where abouts are you at in the world ? So you say that your mom is insistent ?Now what does she say or how does she ask and I presume as my old college roommie did she is answering thr door in her barefeet ? Would love to hear any more stories ideas or input!!!! Thanks Rach

  • Sarah

    Hi gals, I’m Sarah.
    I’m 20 and still living with my parents. At our home, we have a “bare feet only” etiquette as well. My parents introduced it a few years ago, since our floors are very slippery and our socks kept getting dirty. Friends and relatives have to comply as well. I don’t know anybody else with a rule like that (some have a shoes off rule though, whereas socks are also banned in our house) and my college friends were sometimes surprised that they had to remove their socks. I could tell from their reactions that some of them would have preferred not to show their bare feet, were they given a choice. My mom tends to insist though, so none of our friends have made it into our house wearing socks so far :)
    In the end, I guess it’s our house and our rules, and since it’s only their feet they have to bare, I don’t see any problem with that. People who have been to our house before know about the rules and sometimes they paint their toe nails in advance now, because they know that they will be visible to everyone and should look nice. So actually, our rule has become a good excuse to get a pedicure for some of my female friends, while guys tend to trim their nails :).
    best regards, Sarah

  • Rach

    Thanks Julia I guess I have to get I bit more insistent ! It drives crazy they most just can pick up on the fact that iam barefoot answering thr door with a always done up pedicure and sparkling clean grit free floors! Just curious if it’s a regional thing with it iam on east coast New England USA and it seems like I have to all but pry off the shoes let alone there socks,, now about delivery service ppl Ect another funny lil side note with old college roomie who reminds me of you!, I was at her house in thr pouring rain one day as I was getting my welllies on to leave a knock on the and it was her cable technician gal who was obviously soaked she was feverishly wiping her work boots to which my friend said “ oh that’s ok “ ne need to wipe them because if they are as wet as they look they will be coming off along with yours socks before you step in on my floors ! Thats went in the back of my mind she is onto something I should try an implement it myself , Great hearing for you let’ know or if you have any more inputs or stories I would love the hear from you Rach ,

  • Julia

    Hey Rach,
    So nice to read your posts! I also love the discussion and hope that it will continue.
    First of all, removing shoes and socks is certainly a rule in our house and not optional.
    So, how do we tell our guests to take off their shoes and socks? Well, at first we just had to tell them each time they entered the house. It was not enough to just be barefoot when answering the door, people would still walk in with their shoes or just take off their shoes, but kept their socks. So we always had to tell them kindly to remove their socks.
    After some time though, we put a sign there that says “No shoes or socks in the house. Please be barefoot!” and has a picture of two feet on it. The sign is big enough so everyone will see it when entering the house. It has been helpful and normally we don’t have to specifically remind people to comply any more. It can still happen, though, and then we still have to insist on people taking off their socks.
    In the end, everyone complies and people realize that it’s actually the most natural thing to do.
    If you have any more questions, feel free to ask :)

  • Rach

    Thanks for your response Diana would you ever consider starting another one on this subject?? Shoes inside just makes me crazy!! Thanks Rach

  • Rach

    Please keep this blog going Iam curious if anyone else encourages this barefoot rule and what or how do you ask your first times guests as it sounds like it appear to be a rule to some and not optional??? LOL. Would love to hear more this subject !!!!

    • Diana Elizabeth

      Hi Rach, thanks for being here! This blog isn’t a forum which sounds like you would like it to be more interactive. While there are certainly some comments, it depends on how often people land on this post, leave a comment and sometimes they come back, other times they don’t (they aren’t notified if you respond usually, only if I do). I just wanted you to know so you aren’t disappointed :) An active forum is best for people who want to continue chatting about it. Perhaps what you are asking might already be answered in the above comments, there are so many wonderful opinions! Check back though, you never know if someone will respond to your comment! Have a wonderful day, barefoot inside ;) haha!

  • Joanna

    Great discussion! In our home, we have a rule against shoes and socks as well. Socks are also removed, basically for the same reasons that Julia has mentioned. Some guests are surprised, but when we explain our rules, they normally understand our point of view and accept it. In their house, after all, they can set their own rules as they see fit, so it really shouldn’t be too much to ask that they comply with ours. Actually, many of our friends enjoy the casual and comfy environment of everyone being barefoot.
    I can really recommend this rule to everyone!

    • Rach

      Hi Rach here I found this very interesting article as well !! I had a old college roommate that had the very same shoes and socks off rule she had hardwood floors and light peach carpets so you were either barefoot or standing at the door looking in !!! I absolutely loved the rule but have tough time asking ppl and trying to implement it ?? Any ideas ? suggestions?? I guess I mean what do you say or how do you ask or do you answer the door barefoot glance down at the floors and just hope for the best?? Any ideas or input would be great and I absolutely above all it’s probably best to keep up on those pedicures!!

  • Margarita

    Hi everyone,
    I would have liked to read more people’s opinions about the issue, but sadly this discussion seems to have abated somewhat. Anyway, based on Julia’s arguments and recommendation, our family has now decided to try a bare feet rule in our house. We see it as some kind of experiment and we will try it for two months, before we will evaluate it and decide if we are going to make it permanent.
    So, the rule is basically that in the house, both shoes and socks are banned for everyone. Exceptions are tolerated only if someone has a good reason. For example, if we had to call a plumber, of course he would be keeping on his shoes. If someone had a medical issue about his or her feet, of course socks would be fine. Everyone else will be barefoot. Since we want to make a contribution towards developing a more natural relationship to your feet, it goes without saying that just feeling “embarrassed” about one’s feet is not an excuse that we accept. :)
    We had to make this very clear towards our daughter. But for a few weeks now she complies with our rule, removing her shoes and socks right at the door without anyone having to remind her. When we’ve had visitors, they were surprised at first, but then we explained our reasons and they understood that we are really serious about this and lost their shoes and socks. Afterwards, they tended to say that it was a good experience and an interesting idea.
    So that has been our experience so far. I would love to discuss this with you guys.
    Greetings, Margarita

    • Rach

      Hi found this thread very interesting hope it’s not over anyone comment please do would love to hear more input and stories thanks Rach ,,

  • Julia

    Hi Margarita,
    I loved to read your post and I’m happy that you enjoyed your first experience with a “bare feet only in the house” rule. I can confirm that many people love this policy and are grateful because they normally don’t bare their feet so often, which is why sometimes they need to be reminded how great it feels. In my opinion, banning socks from the house altogether is by far the best choice regarding footwear policies. The more people adopt this rule, the better :)
    And especially since your daughter has this urge to hide her feet, requiring everyone to be barefoot at home is really going to be helpful as it will contribute to her developing a natural relationship towards her own body. Of course, to achieve that, it would also be enough to make her remove her socks in the house while the others keep theirs. But why not make it a rule for everyone including guests? There is nothing wrong about that and it’s also the “fairest” solution, since everyone is treated on an equal base and no one has to be embarrassed to show their bare feet.
    I hope this was helpful. Still, I would also love to read other people’s opinion about that issue.


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