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.


  • Lyudmila

    I’ve found this discussion interesting as well. We have a strict no shoes rule at our house, as has virtually everyone where I come from. Socks or bare feet are fine.
    I do understand though, why many people decide to “upgrade” their no shoes policy to a no shoes or socks policy. When you think about it, most of the time you don’t really need socks. Plus, they don’t look good, they cause slipping and let bacteria develop. I think they are useful for wearing shoes, especially during the winter, but in the house you actually don’t need them.
    So, if some people say, we don’t want socks in our house, I think that’s perfectly rational. And it is their choice, just as it is everyone’s choice if he or she wants people to wear shoes in the house.

    I wonder why so many people seem to have a problem with being barefoot. It is the most natural thing in the world, after all. And I don’t know, have these people never been to a yoga class for example? I do yoga regularly and there, shoes and socks are strictly forbidden. There is simply no discussion if you can or cannot wear socks. The teacher says you can’t, and people accept it. Is there such a big difference in comparison to a bare feet house rule? I don’t think so.

    have a nice day,

  • Julia

    Hi Klara,
    Thanks for sharing your experience. Some of our guests have claimed that they needed to wear socks because their feet would be cold otherwise. But it was pretty obvious that this was but an excuse. Our home is warm and comfortable in the winter and when I asked again after a few minutes they had to admit that they weren’t freezing at all. If your home is really too cold, then maybe you should allow people to wear socks in the winter, because you don’t want your guests to be uncomfortable or even get sick. But if it is warm, then there is no point at all in wearing socks.
    Mostly, the ones who hesitated to remove their socks were teenagers and young adults under 30, so I can corroborate what you say. Obviously they are shy about their feet for some reason. I know this from our kids as well. I think it has to do with our society. Young people are used to wearing shoes or at least socks at all times, so if they have to be barefoot for some reason, they feel exposed. We’ve had the same issue when we went to our photographer for our family pictures and he insisted that we had to take off our shoes and socks. It turned out amazing in those photos, but our girls found this embarrassing and tried to avoid it. I’m really happy though that we didn’t let them have their way, because they look so cute and natural in their casual clothes and bare feet.
    So, when young people feel embarrassed to comply with our rule, it seems to be about being shy. It goes without saying that we don’t accept that kind of excuse. In fact, a bare feet rule at the house seems quite an effective method to overcome this kind of irrational fears. So far, all our daughters’ friends and cousins eventually accepted that at our house they have to remove their socks and I guess after a few minutes they stopped thinking about it.

  • Rach

    Hi Klara ,I could not agree with you more I had this ingrained in me as a child and maintain this rule in my home To this day .I just don’t get the reason that people just have this need to hang on to shoes much less socks .. given a chance to be able to remove both !! I just do not take any excuse or reason when people are steeping I stand at the door barefoot and stand my ground,,,, thanks for the barefoot movement Rach …

  • Klara

    I agree, I have the same rules as well. Shoes and socks are unhealthy and people already wear them all day so why not have them go barefoot for the short time they are at my house?

    Socks are just pointless. You wear when you wear shoes but if you are in a place where you can take your shoes off then there is no excuse to keep your socks on. It’s like gloves, you wear them when you have to.

    I have had some complaints, mostly in the winter, mostly from young people, about removing socks. They say they are shy or uncomfortable or cold or whatever.

    A few days ago this girl (my daughter’s friend) came in and she took her boots off and when I asked her to take her wool (ugh! who wears those!) socks off she kept saying it was cold. After, when she was barefoot she kept saying her toes were freezing. Of course this happens if you never go barefoot, you have poor circulation.

    I did not let her put her socks back on, I had her stay barefoot until she had to leave. Freezing or no, rules are rules and I know that it is healthier than wearing socks.

  • Julia

    Hi Brin,
    Sorry for my late reply. I think that’s pretty awesome! I’d love it if my daughter would be promoting our rule so actively. We have a sign that tells visitors to remove both shoes and socks, but some do need to be reminded. We’ve established that whoever answers the door also has to remind our guests to comply with our rules in case they don’t do it anyway. So our daughter does tell her friends that they have to remove their socks by now. Some have been hesitant, but when they understood that this is important to us and more than just a recommendation, they did as they were asked. So yeah, for us our barefoot household has been a very positive experience as well.

  • Julia

    Hi Erika,
    I respect your point of view on this matter. If you don’t want this kind of rule at home, that’s fine, of course. I just think that everyone is free to decide what people should wear on their feet in your home. And just as you ban shoes from your house, which should totally be your decision, some people ban socks as well. It’s no big deal, really. We are not telling people to be naked at our home, it’s just their feet they have to bare, which is actually the most natural and healthy thing in the world and has also helped us to create a more comfy environment with our guests. :)
    It’s also some kind of subconscious thing, I think. Bare feet create a certain level of intimacy, especially during the cold seasons when it is not considered so “normal” to have bare feet. This is why everyone sort of tends to feel more close to each other with nothing on their feet. :)

  • Erika

    I don’t agree. Personally I hate shoes and socks and always go barefoot, but I would never force anyone to do the same. I do have a shoes off rule because shoes tend to be dirty, but that’s it. Of course they are welcome to go barefoot if they wish, but if they wanted to keep their socks on they can do that too. Why force them to go barefoot if they don’t want to?

  • Julia

    Hi Brin,
    So your daughter got the idea from this discussion? That’s so cool!
    May I ask, how old are your girls? And did you make it a strict rule that everyone has to comply with?
    So your daughters’ friends were uneasy having to remove their socks, but they had to comply and then accepted it? Maybe you could share how you manage to get everyone to remove their socks.
    Best wishes

    • Brin

      Hi Julia,

      Our daughters are a seventeen year old high school student and a twenty year old art school student.

      As for any uneasiness with removing their socks allow me to separate by the age ranges. As for as the teens nearly all the visiting girls never wore socks. The few that sometimes wore socks only required a slight nudge. It was sort of a reminder that we are family and close friends, so why be different? Let’s just all be comfy and relaxed around here. For the few boys that were hesitant, my daughter would just put her hands on her hips and look toward the floor. No spoke words were needed. It worked!

      Moving onto the adults I think it was well received because if another adult had asked it may have seemed to be a formal or harsh command. Coming from a sweet teenager it was more of a friendly request.

      This has been a solid household rule for over a year. There has been no need to make exceptions heretofore. If a person was requested to our home for professional services and my daughter greeted them, yes she would ask. However, I most likely would intervene to avoid an awkward moment. So far the barefoot household has been fun, comfy, clean and relaxing.
      Good day!

  • Brin

    Shoes were never allowed in our home. This policy was upgraded to a no shoes or socks rule as a result of my daughter’s efforts. We are always barefoot in our home and she felt others should do the same in our home. She started the policy with her friends but it was not much of a task because most of them (like us) rarely wore socks and were automatically barefoot once their shoes came off. A slight few of the young men seemed a bit put off but when boys get a chance to visit girls they become compliant. Moving to the next step, each time she greeted at the door she now posed the ruling to the adults. Overall it there was minimal opposition.

    It works well. Our home has a large foyer that supports a bench, shoe rack with shelves and a laundry hamper.

    Of course I certainly don’t see the harm in the removal of socks. I have always been concerned about the germy, sweaty environment that socks create. Keeping that off my floors has been a plus. As for peoples’ uneasiness with being barefoot, I have two girls that would not voluntarily put on shoes or socks if royalty was at the door.

    As I questioned what led my youngest to do this, she confessed she got the idea from an online blog and then sent me here. It appears to be fun, educational and entertaining.

  • Julia

    Hi, that’s so cool! Always happy to find people who share the same rules with us :)
    So, how do you tell people to remove their shoes and socks at the door? And how do they normally react?

    Well, it seems as if you are just as passionate about keeping your socks on as I am about taking them off. I think, though, that my aversion against wearing socks in the house is not purely emotional, but also based on rational grounds. And in my opinion, at my home, I can define the rules. If I don’t want people to wear shoes, I can tell them to remove them at the door. Many people do that. If I don’t want people to wear socks, I can also tell them to remove them at the door. Our guests respect and accept this. If someone would refuse to take off their shoes and socks, I would consider it really rude. However, so far, this has never happened. True, some of our kids’ friends wanted to keep on their socks the first time they visited us. But when we clarified that we don’t allow socks and they must be barefoot, they accepted it as well.

  • Megumi

    Hi, I agree with Julia that barefoot is much healthier as a home footwear. Plus, it’s trust that socks make your feet cold when it is cold inside, whereas while you are barefoot, your feet temperature get quite fast used to the cold temperature. In my home every one has to remove their shoes and socks/stockings while entering my apartment.

  • JB

    When I get home, I like to take my shoes off at the door and walk around in my socks. If you want me to relax and make myself at home in your house, then you’ll have to allow me to leave my socks on. That is what is comfortable for me. I understand that might not be comfortable for everybody, but different strokes for different folks.

    I promise you I will not slip and fall in your home. I’ve been taking my shoes off indoors for about 15 years, and never once have I slipped and fallen. And even if I did, I’m an adult, and it’s my own fault. I wouldn’t hold you responsible for that.

  • Julia

    Hi Diana Elizabeth, always nice to read your replies. :)
    Of course I’m happy to answer your question. I think it is a combination of several benefits. Obviously, socks are normally not as dirty as shoes, so it’s not so much about that. However, in summer I really hate sock feet because they tend to be sweaty and smelly. More than bare feet anyway. I used to have people walking around our place with socks during summer and they left their footprints on the floor, which is really disgusting. I guess this is both a health and a cleanliness issue.
    Then there is the question of slipping. We’ve had a few accidents with people slipping on our floors because they were wearing socks. This can really get nasty, especially in stairways. At first we introduced slippers to counter this, but it didn’t really work. They were noisy, they scratched our wooden floors and they were annoying to put on our off, so our girls and their friends tended to just leave them off and continue to walk around in socks. This was why at some point we decided that bare feet for everyone was just the easiest solution.
    As for our own family, I was also tired of washing everybody’s socks all the time. In a family of four, we are talking about a lot of socks, every day. They get dirty quickly and you cannot just wipe off the dust like with bare feet. They get holes, so you have to buy new ones all the time. And they are left lying around, which is just so annoying. However, if it was just the issue of socks all over the place, we probably would have banned socks just for our own family. But the other issues concern visitors as well.

    The “experience” issue that you mention is true as well. I’ve noticed that people often completely change their attitude and behavior depending on what they are wearing. If your visitors keep their jackets, for example, it’s almost impossible that they will relax and make themselves at home. So I tell all my visitors to remove their jackets at the door. The same goes for hats, gloves etc. But it is also more or less the same with socks. I want my visitors to feel relaxed, I want to create a comfortable and intimate environment. They are not supposed to feel like being at work, but being among friends, among people they trust. And somehow, having bare feet helps creating that environment. I don’t know if this is understandable. Maybe you have to try it in order to understand it.

    But yes, in general I would say that it is a combination of several considerations why we decided to have a no socks rule. It is just a small change in our house rules, but it solved all those problems at once :)

    But if you still think that asking an adult person to remove their socks is going too far, maybe there is also a solution for that. Maybe a differentiated footwear rule could also do the job? Like for example a strict “shoes and socks off” rule with no exceptions for boys and girls, say under the age of 25, whereas for everyone older than that it would just be recommended but the final decision would be left to them. What do you think?

  • Julia

    Hi guys, thanks for your opinion on that matter. I guess we won’t find common ground here, I can just repeat that our experience with our no socks rule has been quite positive so far. It is true that to some people this seems weird at first, but when we give our reasons, people understand and respect it. We have guests quite often and many of them know the rules by now, so they comply without further discussion. And quite a few people who found it weird at first have told us later that actually it is a great idea and they enjoyed the experience.

    I also have to say that I still don’t get where the problem is. I think everyone can set the rules at their house and removing shoes and socks is not an unreasonable request after all. It has so many benefits and no cons at all, except for some undefined “uncomfortable” feeling that some people might have at first. But you could say the same about your no shoes rule. Maybe some people would prefer to keep their shoes on. Yeah well, but not in my house, because I don’t want them to ruin my carpet, drag mud on my floors and so on. Before we had a no socks rule, we’ve had a no shoes rule and everyone accepted it like the most normal thing in the world. Compared to removing shoes, actually, socks are just a small additional layer of cloth that has to be removed, so not a big fuss at all.
    And then most people happily show their feet all the time anyway. They walk around wearing flip-flops or sandals or they do yoga. All of these activities include people seeing your bare feet. As I’ve said before, we regularly get our pictures taken as a family and then we put them on our walls. And from the very first time, our photographer asked that shoes and socks had to be off. I’ve seen this in friends’ homes as well: their family portraits are taken with bare feet. And no one seems to find this embarrassing, since they all put those photos on their walls. I think you are getting my point…

    It is true that a “shoes and socks off” rule is not very common. We have friends though, a young couple from India who grew up with a rule like this and just decided to keep it. This was where I first saw this, actually, and decided that I liked the idea :)

    Best wishes, Julia

    P.S.: I almost forgot: I am not a “foot fetishist” at all, of course. Or rather, it depends what people mean by that. I do think that feet are important and we should take better care of them. This includes giving them freedom where it is possible. I would never walk barefoot in the street, for example, let alone force anybody to do that. But I do like to see a person’s bare feet if they are clean and well cared for. A friend once told me that according to her experience, you never really know a person unless you have seen his or her bare feet :)
    That may be exaggerated, but there is certainly some truth to it, don’t you think?

    • Diana Elizabeth

      Hi Julia!

      I was wondering if you can explain with the no socks rule if there was a health/cleanliness benefit? Obviously shoes are dirty from touching the ground so taking them off makes sense for those of us who prefer homes clean. From what I was understanding it was more of a preference of wanting people to have an experience at your home.

      I find it somewhat similar to requiring people to remove their jackets or sweatshirts at the door which doesn’t cause harm to anyone (like the house getting dirty or germs, etc.) but may make a guest feel uncomfortable like if they are cold or self conscious.

      I think understanding the dirt factor is more along the lines of why people require shoes off at the door :) I appreciate you being here! xx

  • Jack

    Friends. The goal of having people in your home should be to welcome them and to make them feel comfortable. While I think the no shoes policy is quite fine, I think the no socks policy goes a bit too far. I don’t see any real reason for such a policy other than the slip quotient but I think one can address that without requiring bare feet. I don’t know how often you have guests to your home but it seems a little too power crazy to force your guests to remove other articles of clothing such as socks. It would make me uncomfortable to be forced to do that and I just think it is an unnecessary burden on others. If you have that much concern about your floors, why not meet outside your home in a restaurant or park. I think it is a nicer and more empathetic way to get to know someone first and not make them feel awkward by your impositions and intransigence. Your power and obsession for home cleanliness should not overpower your guests’ comfort. Forcing everyone to be barefoot seems to be a clear sign of a foot fetishist. It may be fun for you but don’t let it become a #metoo environment for your guests.

    • Diana Elizabeth

      Hi Jack! Thanks for being here! You said it very kindly and I couldn’t agree more. I’m about the no shoes, but I still can’t wrap my head around the no socks rule. The goal is just to keep dirt out. I don’t need to be a mental health home to encourage guests to be one with their feet or have higher self esteem about their feet while they are visiting ;) LOL. I have also had guests who need to keep their shoes on and that’s fine. I wouldn’t keep someone outside for that haha! Thanks again for your comment!

    • Ben

      I couldn’t agree more too! I would definitely be weirded out if I went to a house and was asked to remove shoes and socks. I’d smile politely and comply, of course (one should always follow the host’s rules), but I’d have to think twice about accepting another invitation there. And I don’t even have any problem showing my feet – it happens all the time at the swimming pool :-).

      There’s nothing wrong with a shoes off rule by itself, and in fact my wife and I have one in our own home. But socks off has the distinct possibility of making people uncomfortable. Whether or not people should be uncomfortable is another question, and Julia et al. have made some good arguments about this, but it’s not really my place to judge others on that.

      From personal experience where I live (large city in the eastern half of the US), about 1/2-2/3 of houses have shoes off rules. I’ve never run across one with a socks off rule. I did read once in a etiquette guide that you’re supposed to remove socks in south Asian (Indian and Pakistani) households, but I’ve never actually seen this request made in practice.

  • Julia

    Hi Nogami,
    I don’t know if you can buy those signs online, probably you can. But what we did was actually much easier: We bought a small chalkboard and wrote it ourselves. That’s what I would do if I were you.

  • Nogami

    Hi julia, thanks for your advise. By the way where did you find a sign mentionning “shoes and socks off” . Indeed i found a lot based on “shoes off” but non on shoes and socks ? Best regards.

  • Julia

    Hi Nogami,
    In France it is common to leave on your shoes in the house? How strange. Unfortunately, you are probably right that this will make a “shoes and socks off” rule harder to implement. But maybe you should just try it and explain to people why you do it. As I said before, having a sign clearly visible at the entrance helped us getting people to take off their socks. You have to make people understand that those rules are really the most normal thing to ask..
    The reason why we are so strict about our rules is that otherwise they won’t work. You’ll see that when you try it yourself.

  • Nogami

    Hi Julia, thanks for your answer.
    As i see, you’re really strict about the rules :). I think you’re right and the rules should be applied at any time. Despite the fact these rules are of a common sense, i think it will be difficult for me to enforce them, here in France it is not even usual to remove shoes, so socks would be almost impossible.
    At least i apply these rules to myself :)

  • Julia

    Hi Nogami. Well, that’s quite a detail question, isn’t it? ;)
    We think that it is important to have clear rules and not allow exceptions. That means even if you go in for just 5 minutes, you have to take your socks off. It’s just a few additional seconds after removing your shoes, after all. And if you let people walk in in their socks for 5 minutes, they’ll start doing it for longer periods as well.

    • Rach

      Hi Julia Rach here maybe i am to harsh but I don’t do any exceptions thus far but I have not had an opportunity for a service person yet maybe I might just ask and what happens happens but as far as friends and family no issues other than constantly reminders. !!! But I do see a good point Nylons I just left them in and am not thinking socks and maybe I should?? What do you think?? Thanks enjoy your insight Rach !!

    • Rach

      Hi Julia Rach here maybe i am to harsh but I don’t do any exceptions thus far but I have not had an opportunity for a service person yet maybe I might just ask and what happens happens but as far as friends and family no issues other than constantly reminders. !!! But I do see a good point Nylons I just left them in and am not thinking socks and maybe I should?? What do you think?? Thanks enjoy your insight Rach !!


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