Taking Shoes Off at the Door – Practical or Pretentious?

Growing up, we always had wall-to-wall carpeting in our house. With the exception of the kitchen/dining room combo, the two bathrooms, and the garage, our entire house was carpeted. Then when I was 9, I became best friends with someone whose entire house was hardwood floors. They weren’t the cleanliest people, and so I grew up thinking that having hardwood floors meant that whenever you walked around in bare feet, you’d get stuff stuck to your soles. It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized my friend’s parents were slobs and that having hardwood floors doesn’t necessarily equal getting heebed out every time you walk around sock- and shoe-less.

A few years ago, we had family members who required us to take our shoes off every time we entered – they didn’t want us tracking in stuff all over the house. It kind of annoyed me because it wasn’t a rule I grew up with, and it certainly wasn’t one we enforced at our own house. I figured cleaning the floors were just part and parcel of household tasks and they were being a bit pretentious by not allowing us to keep our shoes on.

Fast forward to today. The majority of our main floor is hardwood and tile, our living room being the only exception. Yesterday the boys swept all of the floors – there was quite a bit of debris. And today? Today, in the fifteen minutes between the time I got out of the shower and got dressed, my feet felt like they did when I was a young girl at my friend’s house. I was so grossed out that I swept before I left for work, even though I was running late. I swept up all of this:


How gross, huh? So now I’m rethinking my stance on mandatory shoe removal in the foyer. We are obviously tracking in way more dirt than I thought we ever could. And I definitely don’t want to sweep every single day this winter. By the way, isn’t my snowman cute? It’s a holiday Wallflower from Bath & Body Works.

So what say you? Is asking everyone who enters to take their shoes off pretentious or practical? I’m thinking even if it is pretentious, we might be enforcing the rule anyway. Who wants to spend all winter sweeping and vacuuming? Not me, that’s for sure.

19 Responses to “Taking Shoes Off at the Door – Practical or Pretentious?”

  1. courtney says:

    I think it’s practical.

    I have many friends where it’s just something you do, you take your shoes off at the door and you leave them there until you leave.

  2. Marisa says:

    Mixed feelings. We didn’t have that rule growing up. My first experience with it was my SIL. When I was pregnant, I waddled into her house and had to lean against a wall and attempt to untie and remove my shoes before entering. She never offered me a chair or waved me on in – just stood there talking to me as I nearly toppled over with my huge belly blocking me from my laces.

    OTOH, I love the no shoes in the house tradition in Hawaii and I hate what gets tracked into my house now, especially in winter. BUT – I have two chairs in my foyer for guests and I’d never expect my mom or MIL or a pregnant lady to remove their shoes.

    Then again, my mom always says, “If I didn’t want you to walk on my floors I’d have put them on the ceiling.”

    My mom cracks me up sometimes.

  3. alli says:

    I don’t think of it as pretentious, to each their own. As long as you have a place to neatly put the shoes for visitors (I dislike piles of shoes by the front door) then I think it is fine. But I do want to say I think you need a roomba. :-)

  4. Cass says:

    Heh, It’s your house. If you allow reasonable exceptions, it should be fine. How many visitors do you have. Is it practical to have the rule for family members but not for guests?

    My aunt requires this, and I have my kids do it when we go there. I used to do it, but now I don’t because she has inside pets, and I don’t dare put my feet on her floors without my shoes on, because of my allergies. The last time I did it, my feet were itching before I was 6 feet from my shoes, and she keeps a very clean house.

  5. Jennifer says:

    I don’t mind shoes at the door rules so long as NOONE makes it past the door. I detest being asked to take my shoes off and then getting wet socks because someone walked through the house with snow on their shoes.
    Give me a place to sit down to take them off/put them back on, and have clean floors, and I’m good. I leave my shoes on at my mom’s when I go over there because her floors get pretty dirty between the dust the trains kick up and the dirt the dogs drag in. Anywhere else, I pretty much ditch the shoes at the door anyways.

  6. Colleen says:

    Most of the people that come in to stay are friends…the type of friends who take off their shoes and visit for awhile, without me asking.

    You need a Roomba.

  7. heather says:

    I had always thought it was an American thing. Growing up in Atlantic Canada, I have never come across people wearing their shoes through the house.

  8. ronny says:

    here in Norway its common to take your shoes off when you enter a private house. And norwegians ar for sure not pretentious.

  9. Chad W Smith says:

    Easy answer – welcome mat outside all the external doors – accompanied by a second welcome mat and / or runner just inside the house. If you have 4 doors – it will set you back less than $100 – but it won’t matter nearly as much if you make them take off their shoes. Plus you can make a little area inside for shoes, but don’t verbally enforce it. Just pattern it (do it yourself), and maybe find some sort of homey, non-threatening sign that says “Shoes Please!” maybe with a little cobbler elf or something. (Runs to Photoshop to make one so I can sell it online.) That way they are without excuse for not knowing – but you weren’t pretentious in saying “NO SHOES IN MY HOUSE!!!”

  10. geeky says:

    We didn’t grow up with the shoe removal rule either. We sort of compromised. Family members residing in the house would remove shoes at the door, but guests were free to do whatever they were most comfortable with. Since we didn’t have guests over too often, it saved on cleaning time, but spared guests the awkwardness of being forced to remove their shoes. Personally, I prefer not to have shoes on in the house anyway!

  11. Kim says:

    In one of my many books I’ve been reading lately, taking off your shoes is recommended as a healthy change to make for your life. Shoes pick up pesticides, dirt, animal feces, etc. during the course of the day. You really don’t want that stuff tracked through your home if your goal is a healthy home. Of course, talking Dwaine into making this change is proving challenging. But I’m working on it!

    And, if you want to channel Martha Stewart for a moment, place a basket with an assortment of slip on slippers by the door. Then your guests can still have something on their feet to cushion them and keep their toes toasty.

  12. Deb says:

    I think it’s your house, and you get to make the rules. If someone asked me, would I mind? Nope, I just know some people do it that way, others don’t. I don’t think I attach anything to it.

    Can I ask the dogs to take their paws off when they come in? LOL They make the biggest mess!

  13. Jammie says:

    Your house, your rules! To each his/her own!

  14. Tess says:

    I can’t remember what we did as kids – which means it wasn’t too big of a deal either way! But I’m sure we took them off. Now we take them off but we don’t make others who visit. My Dad on the other hand – his house is ALL hardwood – makes everyone take off the shoes. I think with hardwood I would make everyone just because I wouldn’t want stuff tracked all over plus what if they had rocks stuck in the shoes and scratched the floor? LOL

  15. Dito says:

    Remove Shoes = Longer Carpet Life.

  16. Britt says:

    Shoes off in the house is a great idea. My house has been shoes off since we moved in. The house came with white carpets and I decided the only way to keep them clean was to keep shoes out. My kids are really good about making sure their friends take their shoes off. What I have found that works is to always have a few shoes at the door (which isn’t a problem if everyone in the house always takes their shoes off). When guests see the shoes they usually ask or take theirs off automatically. I always answer the door in my socks so some will ask “would you like me to take my shoes off?” If I invite someone over for the first time I usually casually let them know about my rule. I will just put it at the end of the invitation with something like “Oh by the way we kinda have a rule at the house that everyone leaves their shoes at the door, so when you get there just add yours to the pile and come on in.” It has worked everytime. Our house has been shoe free for years and the carpets still look brand new.

  17. Cynthia Blue says:

    I still have to take my shoes off in my parents house, they have wall to wall carpeting.

    We have tile, linoleum and hardwood. And six dogs and two cats. If you take your shoes off here, your feet will get dirty. Keep them on!

  18. Matthew C says:

    Removing shoes is an excellent thing to do.

    I dedicated an whole blog to this subject.

  19. Paul says:

    I agree that it’s a pretty practical idea. If anyone greatly objects, or has health reasons which make it difficult to remove their shoes, then exceptions can be made. Overall, it does keep your floors cleaner, and it’s pretty comfortable.