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.


On Amazon


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.


  • Alisa

    WOW that’s really a LONG discussion about that issue :-)
    In Europe it is completely normal to remove your shoes when entering your home. I was raised that way and everyone else did it, so it would seem very unnatural to me to wear shoes in the house. I mean even on couches or in bed? I see that sometimes in American movies and it seems so ridiculous to imagine people really doing that…And to wear shoes to someone else’s house is considered very rude.
    That being said, you are usually allowed to wear socks. But when last summer I visited a good friend for a sleepover, she answered the door in her bare feet and asked me to take off my socks, too. I was very surprised by that and generally I hate to be seen barefoot, so I asked for reasons. Her mom then came and explained that she found socks unhygienic in summer, because they make feet sweat and it was also to avoid slipping on their stone floor. Plus she likes the sight of bare feet at home because it’s more comfortable and relaxed, so at least their kids and their friends (I am 20 and so is my friend, but ok) have to take off their socks inside the house. I replied that I understand her point and of course respect her wish to have a clean house which is why i took off my shoes, but I don’t like people seeing my feet, so I prefer to wear socks. Then she said “There’s no need to be ashamed, as everyone else will be barefoot, too. But our rule is to take off both shoes and socks at home, so please leave your socks at the door.”
    It was so embarrassing for me to have bare feet during my stay at her home, but I also thought it’s their house so obviously they can make the rules.

    • Diana Elizabeth

      Hi Alisa! Apparently there’s a lot to talk about with shoes on and off – and now socks too! Now, I’m not really sure about the sock debate, kinda not my thing to be honest especially when I think the entire point is leaving dirt outside, but to some it’s a thing. Thanks for sharing your story and feelings, I have yet to enter a home that required socks off.

    • Alisa

      Yeah, it was new to me as well. I think I heard that in some countries this is common though. My friend’s family is from India, so it might be a custom there.
      I do see their point, of course, as slipping with socks can be kind of dangerous on some floors. And anyway it’s their house, so their rules, right?
      It doesn’t feel normal for me to take off my socks, but unfortunately when going to their house I probably don’t have a choice, right?

  • Helena

    We recently came up with a similar rule, although the reasons were a little different. I would also like to say English isn’t my first language so I apologize for any mistakes.

    Anyway, we recently moved to a new house, and my daughter invited a friend from school over to our house. While there, her friend slipped on the hardwood floors and hit her head. Thankfully she was fine, but after that we decided to extend our previous shoes off rule to a shoes and socks off rule to prevent anyone else from slipping and hurting themselves.

    My daughter was very much against this idea since she always wore socks. Pretty much the only time she was barefoot was when she was in the shower.

    Anyway, on the first day of our new rule, my daughter complained but eventually gave in. However, that evening when we were getting ready for bed I saw my daughter sitting on her bed putting socks on. I asked her what she was doing and she said that she wanted to sleep with socks on and that this wasn’t a problem since she wasn’t walking around on the slippery floors.

    I thought this was a ridiculous idea, not only because sleeping barefoot is more natural and normal than sleeping with socks, but also because she was already barefoot for most of the day, why not stay barefoot in bed?

    I told her to stop being ridiculous and to remove her socks. We started arguing and I learned of her problem with feet and that she is somehow “shy” to show them. She also said she finds barefeet gross, which is funny because I have that same feeling towards socks!

    In the end she relented and handed over her socks, and since then I haven’t seen her wearing them around the house, and I hope I never will again.

  • Nogami

    Merry Christmas to all home shoeless and socksless participants to this blog and especially to you Diana

  • Sarah

    What about socks? Do you wear and allow them in winter? In my home it’s barefoot rule all year. Interested to have your feedback on it.

    • Diana Elizabeth

      Hi! I allow socks in my home, my main concern is keeping dirt and outside elements outside. I love socks and it keeps feet warm so yes guests are free to keep theirs on, or if they don’t have any, I have some new ones for them! Some commenters on here don’t allow it but in my opinion, think that’s going beyond the purpose of taking off shoes.

  • Barefoot girl

    What about socks in winter, do you allow them

    • Diana Elizabeth

      Hi! I allow socks in my home, my main concern is keeping dirt and outside elements outside. I love socks and it keeps feet warm so yes guests are free to keep theirs on, or if they don’t have any, I have some new ones for them! Some commenters on here don’t allow it but in my opinion, think that’s going beyond the purpose of taking off shoes.

  • CHana

    Agreed! But what happens when older people/parents come over who have trouble taking off shoes? Is it rude to ask them to take of their shoes? I have little shoe booties but I worry they will take offense. Thanks! I would love to hear what you recommend!

    • Diana Elizabeth

      Hi Chana! Well, shoe booties are great and you can help put them on for them. My concern is more of if they are staying for hours and walking around the house then shoes should come off. If it’s a service guy who is coming in for a little bit and just to fix something quick on hardwood floor I usually let it slide. If it’s a cocktail party I don’t require shoes off, it’s too much to manage and it doesn’t go with outfits (and we have hardwood for most entertaining areas) so I think it’s your call and your flooring.

  • Nick

    In response to the main article and to all who mention reasons like germs and hygiene:
    Germs? Hygiene? Your premise is simply flawed.
    This is something that people don’t get, but is the FOUNDATION of what we, microbiologists, were taught and trained for in college. Yes, you have animal feces’ microflora (microbes: bacteria, viruses, protozoa, archea, etc.) on the streets and under the shoes. True. But, here’s the catch: unless you use ASEPTIC TECHNIQUE, they’re going to be on YOUR FLOOR no matter what
    What does it mean? Avoid ANY cross-contact. Let me explain
    You get in and take off your shoes. Unless you’re Superman and you can fly, you put your bare feet (or socks) on the SAME ENTRANCE FLOOR: you’re picking the same microbes UNDER YOUR FEET/SOCKS and then you’re spreading them around your house. Also, ANY time ANYTHING goes out and in (your pet, a technician in working boots to fix your heater, whatever/whoever), the same happens. Believe me: you have germs (including fecal flora) on your floor
    YOU also are carrying streets & fecal microbes in your home. Example. Do you ever go to a shoe store and try new shoes? Where do you put your feet when you change shoes? On the floor. Where everybody walks. Unless you can fly, you’re picking those germs under your feet/socks, and you’re BRINGING THEM BACK IN YOUR SHOES. If you did it just ONCE your shoes have them and every day you proudly take them off when you get back home and start walking around with your proud bare feet or in socks, you’re spreading them on your floor.
    Another example. Haven’t you ever taken off your shoes and walked around? In a hotel? In a pool change room? A gym? @ Doctor’s? At the airport? On the pharmacy’s scale? Anywhere? Well, when you put your shoes on again, you transferred those microbes in your shoes, then back on your floor at home.
    Believe me: your floor has those germs ALREADY and IT IS an unhygienic surface.

    If you have a pet, does it fly when it comes back from walking out? A pet walks in its feces, pees and walks on, and in the litter box; any pet poops and pees and then licks itself all over and then walks and lays on the floor anywhere in your home, again, you’re spreading fecal germs all over your floor. Even if you don’t have a pet, you are doing it: because of the above mentioned principle.

    Here’s what you’re doing when you’re asking anyone to take off their shoes: you’re asking them to take UNDER THEIR FEET the GERMS that SURELY are on your floor and to bring them in their shoes.

    In other words, it’s as though you’re asking your guest the following question:

    “EXCUSE ME: Will you mind if I let a cat defecate into your shoes?”

    Visibly, it’s not the same. Microbiologically and hygienically speaking IT IS the same.

    So, no, the fact that it’s your house or your culture, isn’t enough to justify you to ask your guests to let somebody’s cat defecate in their shoes.

    And no: germs and hygiene are not the reason for you to ask your guests to take their shoes off. Quite the contrary: they’re the reason to NOT to ask them to take their shoes off and your floor’s germs in.

    The above are not “opinions”, they’re not relative. They’re a fact. Give me petri dishes and I’ can prove them to you countless times.

    Thanks for understanding.

    • Holly

      The rule is to try to keep floors and carpet as clean as possible. You cannot keep all germs and microbes out of your house. Those people that come into the house already have the microbes on and in their shoes. Unless Superman is visiting.

  • Becca

    To all the people on here, who enforce “no shoes, no socks” rules, how do you handle someone wearing stockings or pantyhose? Socks are easily removed, but taking off stockings and pantyhose would be really cumbersome, especially at the door?

    • Diana Elizabeth

      Wouldn’t that be hilarious for pantyhose? I am just a no shoes person, socks I don’t care. My goal is just to keep outside dirt outside :)

  • Saeko

    Hi everyone, would you apply the barefoot only rule all year or only during warm season?

  • Steven

    I found what Julia, Brin, and Sarah said quite interesting. I’ve heard about the barefoot only rule before but I’ve never met someone who has the rule. However, I wish I did though because when I was a kid I was shy to show my feet and go barefoot around other people. I was always wearing shoes and socks and sometimes just socks which didn’t bother me but what did bother me was when I had to go barefoot around other people I would always feel some anxiety. As I got older (I’m in my 20s now) I wanted to overcome the anxiety I felt but I never really knew how. Thankfully I’ve been able to overcome it for the most part by practicing yoga. I think that had I met someone who had this rule that I would’ve been able to overcome the anxiety and shyness sooner than I did as from what I’ve read it seems that people realize how comfortable it is to go barefoot when they’ve had some gentle encouragement which goes a long way.

    • Diana Elizabeth

      Hi Steven, I haven’t met anyone who required the barefoot rule either. I don’t mind socks. I also don’t mind if someone has a valid excuse to keep their shoes on. I mean I do feel a little itchy inside when I see shoes go across my rugs (but for the most part we are hardwood floors) but never in my bedroom carpet, it’s white and yikes! That is SO interesting about overcoming your anxiety about going barefoot. I never thought about that, but that’s fantastic you had some life experiences that nudged you in that direction. Thanks or sharing your story!

    • Steven

      Thanks Diana! I felt like I had to share my story after reading all of the interesting comments that people said. Everyone raised valid points as to why they have the barefoot rule and I feel like if I met someone who had the rule that it would’ve helped me overcome my anxiety a lot sooner. I know I probably would’ve shown some reluctance in the beginning because of my anxiety and going barefoot around other people just wasn’t something I did during my childhood very often. I definitely would’ve needed some gentle encouragement to take off my shoes and socks and after hearing how comfortable it was to be barefoot and that there’s no reason to be embarrassed that it would’ve been a lot easier for me to overcome my anxiety. I had to overcome it all on my own and it wasn’t easy at times but I pushed through to the point where I can go barefoot around other people without an issue now. Now, I really like going barefoot because I find it really relaxing and comfortable thanks to yoga and barre classes. However, I still don’t feel comfortable going barefoot in my own home believe it or not and I think that has to do with my parents. They are so used to seeing me wearing shoes and socks that if I simply took them off during the day or came downstairs in the morning without socks on that they would question me about it and that’s something I don’t like. They’ve done it before on the rare occasions that I was barefoot at home. I know this reply was a little long but you seemed very interested in my story that I thought I’d share more of it with you and see what encouragement I get from it! Thanks again for your reply! -Steven


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