home.health.love

A balanced and easy approach to healthy living.

Why You Should Have a No-Shoe Policy at Home

165 Comments

Since having kids, we’ve instituted a no-shoe policy in our house. My three-year-old daughter is so used to this, that she immediately takes off her shoes whenever we go to someone else’s home, and she’ll often ask me why others aren’t doing the same.

I always find it awkward to ask guests to remove their shoes and it feels like an imposition. They just arrived and here I am making a demand of them! I am aware of the nuisance, but I have good reasons for it.

Studies have shown that people track in all sorts of harmful toxins from outside the home when they walk into the house without removing their shoes. These toxins persist in the air in the form of dust, which is inhaled and absorbed by our skin as it settles on the floor and furniture. Chemicals stay in the air and on surfaces longer in our homes than they do outdoors, where the sun and rain help break down pesticide residues.

Children are more highly exposed to these chemicals. They spend most of their time on or near the floor, and can breathe in and touch chemical-laden dust or soil tracked in by shoes.  Little kids who are constantly putting their hands and other objects in their mouths can ingest these dangerous particles, too. In addition, the infant breathing zone nearest the floor is less ventilated than the adult breathing zone.

Now, let me tell you a little about the toxins we’re literally walking into our homes.

These chemicals include pesticides and herbicides that are sprayed on lawns and gardens (they can remain on the lawn for up to a week after application). An EPA study found that 85% of the total daily exposure to airborne pesticides was from breathing air inside the home—a result of both indoor use of such chemicals and track-in. At least a few studies have focused solely on tracked-in chemicals and their persistence in homes. For instance, a 1996 study found that the weedkiller 2,4-D used to treat lawns could persist in carpet dust up to one year. Pesticides have been repeatedly linked to cancers, tumors, and neurological disorders, among other things.

The EPA has warned that lead, mercury, and gasoline can also be tracked into our homes from soil outside that is contaminated by deteriorated exterior lead-based paint and other lead sources, such as industrial pollution and past use of leaded gasoline. Lead and other heavy metals have been linked to neurological problems, particularly in the developing nervous systems of children.

And then there is coal tar, a known carcinogen used in driveway sealants, which is tracked into homes from driveways and parking lots. Even the US government is concerned about the carcinogenic nature of coal tar and the dangers it poses to people and especially children, both outside and indoors.

These are just a few of the toxins we regularly track in with our shoes. There are many others. For instance, just this week I read in the news about a trend of young soccer players developing cancer, potentially due to their frequent contact with, ingestion, and inhalation of the black crumbs found in most artificial turf. If your and/or your kids play sports on synthetic fields, you’re tracking these potentially hazardous particles into your home, too.

I hope this post draws awareness to the hazards of wearing outdoor shoes in the home. I know that most people won’t implement such a policy–it is cumbersome and inconvenient, and we all have to make our own trade-offs. But, on behalf of those who do, I’d humbly suggest that next time you visit someone’s home, ask if they’d like you to remove their shoes. This way, it’s less awkward and guilt-inducing for your hosts, and on behalf of us no-shoes-in-the-home-policymakers, we’d greatly appreciate it. 🙂

For those who come to my home: I have slippers available so no one has to go barefoot. (As I’ve learned from my readers, it’s important to offer indoor shoes, particularly for guests with medical issues.) I hope that makes your stay a little more comfortable.

Photo Credit: SportsandHistoryReader521

165 thoughts on “Why You Should Have a No-Shoe Policy at Home

  1. Goodness, I’m surprised at how upset people are at this idea. Whether the studies show this or that or the other, it’s just common sense. Do I want my baby crawling around or laying in a nasty parking lot, a park where there are animal droppings, or a yard that’s been recently treated? Of course not! Of course people should have enough sense to remove their shoes, especially in someone else’s home. I’m sorry your post is being attacked–I never knew that people were so attached to their shoes!

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I totally agree w/you and I try to do the same in my home. I hate that some people are calling you a “germaphobe”, etc, even though you have explained several times your reasoning and that you are just trying to give your family a small break from the daily exposure to some toxins. I have had family refuse to remove their shoes and there’s not much you can do, but I don’t push it. My kids automatically remove their shoes at others homes, even when told they do not have to. Thanks for this, nice to know I’m not alone! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  3. PLEASE DON’T INVITE TO YOUR HOUSE!!!! I am certain that when I take off my shoes, my medically necessary braces will not fit properly into your ” one size fits none” slippers and I will be hurt. You probably have lot a of little rugs or scattered toys to trip on if your dog doesn’t do me in first. And no grab bars or railings.

    Like

  4. Now if only people would stop letting their kids stand and walk on furniture in restaurants.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Shelley, as a mom I know how hard it is to control your kids! For this very reason, I avoid sitting on my bed or any other place that’s supposed to be “clean” before changing out of my outdoor clothes for the day.

      Like

  5. I’ve always had this rule. Hate cleaning up mud, and such after those guests that don’t want to take off their shoes. We have a dog and I don’t want him ingesting everything people drag into my home

    Liked by 1 person

    • Susan, I didn’t even think of that: not just kids, but pets can ingest dirt and grossness being tracked in by outdoor shoes!

      Like

      • We are a shoes off house, but, honest question: if shoes track all that stuff in how do pets’ feet not do the same? I expected you to say, “I didn’t even think of that: pets also track toxins in.” What is your answer to the grossness they track in?

        Like

      • Hi Erin, We have had a lot of comments and replies to this exact question so please search for pets to locate those comments, and my thoughts. Thanks

        Like

  6. We use blue shoe covers in our house. Inexpensive and easy to use. We have a zone with a bench inside the door to put these on. That way we are not making the dirt from outside our door get in.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Its simple respect. I know i do not want somebody to have to scrup their floors for inviting me in for a conversation or sharing a moment. I always have extra slippers for my guests. BUT there are situations when its impossible for a guest to remove shoes so i am very understanding of those moments too.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. No shoes, no question! I find it utterly rude if someone waltzes into my house as a guest and not remove their shoes. My inlaws are bad for this and even say “my shoes are clean”. No, they aren’t! You walked outside, you walked in public malls, bathrooms and who knows where else! It’s disgusting IMO and an insult to the family who lives in the house. My kids floor play, your shoes are gross. If you have a hard time taking them off maybe try slip ons. Sorry but that’s how I was raised!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I wouldn’t mind removing my shoes, except that I have severe foot issues that makes it necessary to wear shoes from the time I get out of bed until I go back to bed in the evening. Walking without shoes is extremely painful. If I take off my shoes in someone’s house, I am pretty much confined to a chair, and when I must walk shoeless, I hobble around, barely able to walk. My family members take their shoes off, but I cannot. I make every effort to keep my shoes clean, watching where I walk outisde, and then wipe them as best I can when I go inside. At home, I sometimes hose off the bottom of my shoes after I’ve walked in the yard. There have been many times when I’ve felt extremely uncomfortable in someones’ home because I am the only person with shoes on, but I don’t feel I have much of a choice. I do always apologize to the person when I have to keep my shoes on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Elaine, It sounds like you are very respectful and thoughtful about wearing your shoes in other peoples’ homes. I would just keep a pair of indoor shoes with me when I visit others that I could wear.

      Like

  10. We have a shoes off policy in my home because it’s cleaner and safer for our family. We have two young girls who immediately take off shoes and place them in their respectable shoe racks. Who would walk barefoot in a public bathroom? Hopefully no one, so don’t track those germs in my home. When my daughter comes home from kindergarten she immediately sheds her shoes and heads to the bathroom to bathe. Quick and easy way to wash off all those pesky school germs before enjoying her afternoon. Plus it’s nicer to snuggle a clean kid!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m surprised this is even an issue. Talk about cultural differences! Here in Qatar, we cannot even think of entering a house with shoes on. I think it’s so because, we pray in our homes and prayer spaces are supposed to be clean. So it’s a religious obligation for is to keep our homes clean.

    Like

  12. My family does not wear shoes in our house so when you walk in you can see all our shoes lined up downstairs I figure when I have company they will take the hint and take off their shoes although I don’t bother people about it it annoys me when they wear their shoes in my house. I also always ask people when walking into their house “should I take my shoes off”. I called common courtesy.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I agree shoes should be taken off and my kids do so in my home and at others homes but I don’t like taking my shoes off in other people’s houses because I feel very uncomfortable. If that is your policy then make it known ahead of time and I can bring my own slippers or be better prepared but you can’t get mad at someone if they don’t want to remove their shoes!!

    Like

  14. I cannot believe how germaphobic people have become. Sure taking you shoes off is a good idea, but there a ton more easily acquired foot issues that you can aquire, i.e foot fungus and althlete’s foot fungus. You might as well live in a bubble with no outside contact. The likely hood of acquiring those is most likely higher than something else. People also have pets that go outside and track stuff in and litter boxes don’t get me started on those.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. 99,9% of Finns take their shoes off when they go home/friends etc. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  16. OMG!!!! I needed this article. When we were living in Oregon everybody takes their shoes off in their homes. Moving back to NJ – it has been hard for us to tell people to please remove their shoes. My girls immediately take their shoes off when we get home and when we go to someone’s house. They do ask why everybody else doesn’t. Lol.

    Like

  17. What is far more disgusting than shoes on floors is when people let cats walk on counters and tables, or dogs sleep IN the bed. Now that is cringe-worthy!

    Like

  18. In the past I’ve been embarrassed when asked to take my shoes off at other people’s homes and it’s funny but up until I had a kid of my own, it never even crossed my mind that it would be because of germs, I just assumed they didn’t want their carpet to look dirty. Now that I’m aware of all of the crazy things people bring into their own and other peoples’ homes, I certainly understand the request better, but I still am hesitant to make people feel the way I did when asked to remove my shoes unexpectedly.

    Recently I came across a new product that has totally solved this problem for me. It kills all the germs on the bottom of shoes before they are tracked into the house AND people can still keep their shoes on! I love being able to keep my family safe and not at the expense of our guests.

    Check it out if you’re interested 🙂
    http://www.healthysole.com

    Like

  19. we don’t wear shoes in the house now that we live in hawaii and have ALL wood floors. I’m never have been a germaphobe but with hawaiis red dirt id be up to my KNEES in red dirt if we didn’t take our shoes off! its so nice thought to have clean floors and its not as much of an effort to sweep now! Id never go back. here in hawaii everyone takes their shoes off before entering someones home so its nice not to have to ask!

    Like

  20. Pingback: Should You Have a No-Shoes-at-Home Policy? | HealthySole Blog

  21. What about clothes? Are clothes OK? They don’t pick up any environmental pollutants do they? Should we strip before entering the house? I’d hate to think I was bringing anything bad in to my house and then sitting it on furniture.

    Like

  22. I grew up at home where we never wear our shoes around the house at all, we take them off at the door and put our home slippers right there so no dirt gets tracked in. I am a nanny for a one year old and even his mom knows when she comes to pick up her son that she needs to take her shoes off and she does so without any complaints since her son is the one playing on my floor. I love your post!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. These are people who have dogs and cats whose paws are not washed off when they come in from outside or cats who use litter boxes and their paws are not w ashed off. I find that gross.

    Like

  24. We have a no shoe policy in our nurseries. This will really help in explaining to some of our parents why we are doing this….Thank you

    Like

  25. It’s a sign of respect for someone to take their shoes off when invited to someone’s house. Asians have been doing this forever.

    Like

  26. Where are you from that you don’t take your shoes off? That should be common curtousy to take your shoes off at someone else’s home. Your respecting their space and their home. Doesn’t your carpet or floors get filthy? And your sitting where you just walked with God knows what on your shoes. I didn’t know that anyone did that. Gross.

    Like

  27. I feel a lot better knowing that others agree with me
    and my no-shoes-in-the-house policy

    Like

  28. We have had a “no shoes” policy in our home since my wife and I bought our first home and had to replace every stitch of carpet. For us, it was initially less about health than as first time homebuyers, we wanted to preserve our investment. And it’s not just about dirt but the treads on shoes are harder on the carpet’s nap than wearing socks. (We generally don’t ask guests to remove their shoes.) We also don’t go barefoot as the oils from our feet can be just as damaging as the dirt from shoes. We’re now in our third home, which we’ve been in for 14+ years and the carpet’s close to pristine. I work in real estate and fewer things are a quicker turnoff to buyers than bad carpet, which they generally see as soon as they walk in the front door. Ca-ching! There’s one more reason not to buy it. Here’s a quick test: walk around in your home in a clean pair of white socks, then notice how dirty they are at the end of the day. That’s dirt your socks removed that was already there. Every day you wear shoes or go barefoot only adds more.

    Like

  29. although the good of it is there, some people can’t walk without shoes, I FOR ONE BEING ONE OF THEM….I have to have my shoes on…

    Like

  30. I love that my family is not the only ones that do this.. When I was a child we were never allowed to wear shoes in the house and now that I’m an adult and have my own place I’ve implemented the same rule. My boyfriend thinks it’s weird and what you explained here is what I’ve been telling him. He has a young daughter that like to do tumbles and roll around on the floor and I said would you let her roll around in the street, of course he said no, but I said well if your walking in with your boots that you were to work then everything you stepped in is now on the carpet. So he tries to remember to take them off at the door but I still catch him trying to get away with it. I also feel odd asking guests to take off their shoes so I try and avoid having people over because I’m a clean freak and when people do come over and wear their shoes on my rug, there’s just a knot in my stomach.. My close friends know the no shoes in the house and they are kind enough to take them off..
    Now I can show this to my boyfriend and tell him I told you so.. Lol

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s