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. This article is misleading. The tenet of the article is that toxins are carried into the home on people’s shoes, resulting in high exposure levels for children.

    First, you refer to lawn and garden chemicals, then pair the statement “85 percent of the total daily exposure to airborne pesticides was from breathing air inside the home”. While the percentage is correct, the source is not from toxins tracked in on shoes. The cited NRDC report clearly states that indoor exposure was primarily due to indoor, household pesticide use. The most frequently detected being a flea treatment.

    This article also states “Because of this, the total amount of insecticides absorbed by children can be 10 to 50 times higher than what the EPA considers an acceptable exposure for adults.”.

    The NRDC report is specifically referring to the residues detected within 24 hours after a house has been treated for fleas with the insecticide chlorpyrifos (under the trade name Dursban). This has absolutely positively no relation to pesticides which enter the home on people’s shoes.

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    • Dear Jim, Thanks for reading my blog and engaging with my analysis. To address the issues you raise, I have made a couple of clarifying edits. There are many studies and reports demonstrating that people track in chemicals–not just pesticides, but lead and other carcinogens, which I discuss–with their shoes and that this should be a subject of concern, particularly concerning the health of children. I’ve only mentioned some of them here.

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      • I think his point is that the studies are related to non-shoe related toxins. There are toxins around us all of the time, everywhere, it is just a question of how much is dangerous. Taking shoes off is not a bad idea, at the very least it will save you time cleaning and vacuuming, but I think it is a slippery slope if you eliminate all possible germs from an environment, especially for a child. If a children’s environment is so pristine they do not have exposure to build up their immune system, they have difficulty later in life when exposed to germs in the environment.

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      • Hi Carolyn, Yes, a very good point, indeed. Please see the lengthy response that I wrote to Mary, above, which addresses this exact question. Thanks so much for writing.

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  2. You lost me at…. “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 you and/or your kids play sports on synthetic fields, you’re tracking these potentially hazardous particles into your home, too.”

    Those “those potentially hazardous particles” are shredded tires. And they have been used since the 90’s on tens of thousands of fields all over the world. From park and rec fields, to high schools, colleges, The NFL, FIFA, teams of The European Football Association, The International Rugby Board, and other international sport federations. Let’s not forget about the workers who manufacture and install tires. Or workers in the plants that grind tires into crumbs…? This “trend” is 30 something young people across the country that have been diagnosed with cancer — and they have also played soccer. They were looking specifically for children that had soccer in common. I am sure if they used a different common denominator such as, played an instrument, there could be another whole scare to add to this idea that casual contact on a soccer field causes cancer. They have failed to mention the total number of soccer players on rubber infilled synthetic turf in the world in relation to this “trend” or the number of ALL athletes on rubber infilled synthetic turf in the world.

    Coincidentally, the estimated amount of synthetic turf currently installed in the U.S. has eliminated the need for millions of pounds of harmful pesticides and fertilizers in the environment, which holds first place on your list of concerns.

    I am all for not wearing shoes in the house, not because it’s a health “hazard” but because good old fashioned dirt belongs outside and not on my tan carpets. However.. let’s not be alarmist and scare people with another Shark Attack story. By your rationale, I’d say the danger of sitting on a tire swing is exponentially greater than a tablespoon of tire crumbs in your doormat. Let’s keep it real.

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    • Dear Joyce, thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts. I agree with you that this is a linkage that needs to be better studied. I used the word “potentially” twice when discussing this topic, to make sure that readers know that no definitive research has yet been done to link the black crumbs to cancer. I hope that news articles, like the one I linked to in my blog post, inspire researchers and agencies like the CDC and Public Health Laboratories to look into this. Perhaps you are right that black turf may be less harmful than pesticides (though there has been no definitive research on the matter), but there could also be a third option that is better than either of these!

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  3. Good that you wrote it. I would not have. I admire the way you explained it. Thank you

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  4. What i’m always afraid of when I visit homes like yours is: will my host (and the other guests) be able to smell my feet?

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  5. I was always worried about asking other people to take their shoes off, too, but I’ve gotten lazy and stopped making my kids put their shoes away as soon as we get in…usually the pile of shoes by the door gives people the message that we take our shoes off, and they do it without us having to say a word!

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  6. sprinkle a little baking soda in your shoes when you take them off at night and that will help with foot odor

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  7. I agree with you about tracking in stuff, but not “no shoes”. I change at the door to the “house shoes”, the ones that stay inside. See, I do a lot of home repair, and it’s really dangerous to use sharp tools without shoes!

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  8. OK, we’ll all take off our shoes before entering the house. But what are you supposed to do if you have a large dog?

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    • Hi Chris, this is an excellent point. Most of the reports and studies I read focus on human tracking-in, though some mention dogs as well. Naturally, if humans can track-in toxins, it makes sense to assume that animals can do the same. So, what can you do? You can buy doggy shoes that your pet can wear during walks, and you remove these before coming home. Alternatively, and this may be less cumbersome, Amazon and Petco sell “No Tracking Dog Paw Wipes” that you can use to clean your dog’s paws before coming into the house. These may seem a little pricey, so I’d look into using baby wipes, as they may be a cheaper option. Here’s a link to one specially made brand of dog-paw wipes: http://www.amazon.com/Natures-Miracle-Tracking-Citrus-P-5908/dp/B003TUK06C/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1413734076&sr=8-1&keywords=No+Tracking+Dog+Paw+Wipes .

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      • I’m going to assume, based on this reply, that you do not have a dog. I have two medium/large dogs that we walk 3 times a day. Trust me, your suggestion is not even remotely feasible, especially if you are entering the house with your children in tow.

        Not to mention, there have been several articles published about why children who grow up in a household with dogs are not only less likely to get sick as often, but are also less likely to develop allergies. Why? Because living in a household with dogs means that the child’s immune system is being stimulated appropriately by all of the things our furry friends track into the house.

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      • Hi Mary,
        No I don’t have a dog and that is precisely why I didn’t discuss pets in my post–I didn’t want to talk about something with which I have no experience. I was only making suggestions, but I could imagine as I was writing my previous reply that it would be very cumbersome to clean off dog paws after each walk. I was simply responding to a question and you have to make the choices that work for you based on the information you have. Again, it’s all about making trade-offs and only you can judge the right balance for you.
        The second point you bring up is an excellent one. If you only knew the kinds of disgusting crap my little kids are exposed to, especially my youngest who is still crawling, on a daily basis. Some of the places we visit on a daily basis include the library, kiddie play areas populated by sick kids and dirt, and the lobby of my oldest’s dance school. During all these times, my youngest is crawling and lying around on a dirty floor that is being traipsed over by tons of people every day (and who knows when it is even cleaned) and he picks up things off the floor and puts them in his mouth, not to mention that he absolutely ADORES garbage cans, so he loves to touch those, too! And, by the way, we don’t use anything antibacterial in my home! So, I have not even a tiny concern that my kids haven’t been exposed to tons and tons of germs and filth of all kind on a daily basis, enough, at least, to build up a healthy immune system. And trust me, I’m not the kind of mom that goes and cleans every toy that has been on the floor when it is dropped!

        But, you know what? My house–it’s the only place in the world that I have *some* control over the environment, so I try to keep it as clean and healthy a place as possible. I say “some” control, because even there I can’t possible control every aspect of the environment. You may disagree, but I believe that our bodies can be overtaxed by being constantly exposed to toxins, so in my house, for that few hours a day we are home, my kids’ bodies get a little break from being constantly bombarded by unfriendly pathogens and chemicals. Though some toxins are unhealthy no matter how small the exposure, for others, it’s the dose that counts. So, by giving their bodies a little break a couple of hours a day (we spend most of the time out of the house), I am making sure the “dose” isn’t too high and overwhelming for their immune and nervous systems.

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      • Dogs sweat through their feet. They should not have “shoes” on when outside in the hotter months.

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      • Hi Nicole, As I said I have no experience with pets and thanks for pointing that out. Doggy paw wipes seem like a good option for summer months!

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      • I have dogs. They have been conditioned to stop and wait when they come in and get their paws wiped. Only takes a few seconds.

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      • Thanks for sharing, Denton. I knew it couldn’t be too big a deal!

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      • Mom of three dogs here. And three kids. My dogs paws are wiped every time they come in and out of the house. I keep a shoe tray of about one inch of water outside the back door, tell the digs ‘clean your feet’, they walk through the water and get a quick wipe with a towel after. Several times a day.

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      • Great, glad to hear you do wipe the dogs’ paws and that it’s very doable! I love that strategy!

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  9. Thanks for sharing some of the reasons why people shouldn’t use shoes. As you know, Indian families have been leaving their shoes outside for thousands of years. Being barefoot alśo helps you feel more grounded energetically.

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    • Hi Pravin! Yes, I know this about Indian families, and I there are other cultures that do the same. I have heard a lot about the benefits of walking barefoot, especially on natural earth surfaces. It grounds your body, counteracting some of the effects of being constantly exposed to electromagnetic forces. Some people swear by the health effects.

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  10. What about pets, though? They go outside and come inside with their bare paws…

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    • Hi Jen, this is an excellent question. I just posted a response to this question by another reader. See my response to Chris, below, about using dog shoes or dog paw wipes–you can actually buy these on Amazon and in pet stores! Thanks for reading!

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  11. My problem is that I have a prosthetic on one leg and no fatty pad on the other foot. Walking barefoot would not only throw off my step and cause pain on the other but it is almost impossible to remove a shoe from a fake foot without being able to sit. I used to be a shoes off person before this but now I have to wear them. If I can’t wear my shoes I don’t go to the home. Have a few people I will no longer visit because of it. Before you ask someone to remove their shoes what are the circumstances?????

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    • Dear Karen, Thanks for taking the time to comment. Of course one should take into account the situation! I would never ask someone like you to remove your shoes in my house. I try to make all my guests as comfortable as possible. If for whatever reasons people do wear their outdoor shoes into my house, I try to ask them to avoid stepping on the small carpeted area we have in the living room (if possible), and I will just wipe down the floors after they leave.

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      • We are a no shoes home and all the installers and repair personnel that visit my home come with little elastic and cloth shoe covers to wear inside. I think it is done as a courtesy to all customers, not just me. One of my friends is a double amputee and so shoe removal is not possible. He carries these shoe covers in his pocket and wears them into his own and other shoe-free homes.

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      • Wow, I love how respectful your friend is.

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  12. Gosh. So much scary stuff outside. Maybe we should never leave the house at all…..

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    • Hi Jen, I hear you. I sometimes feel overwhelmed as well with all the information out there. I find that living healthfully and fully means making trade-offs and not being extreme in either direction. I try to get this point across in my blog. Trying to find the right balance is key. You can read more about how I work to find that balance here: https://homehealthlove.com/2014/04/03/its-all-about-balance/
      I do also believe that knowledge is power–with knowledge you are equipped to make the right trade-off’s for you. That’s why I try to inform my readers on topics they may want to know about.

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  13. Angelika, thank you for this post. Whether or not every detail is exact, the overall idea just makes sense. That is how we are trying to take care of our health and wellness at our house. I haven’t issued a no shoe policy but it really does make sense. Of course, if I had someone with special circumstances visiting, then I could probably use that same sense to make an exception or have slipper available as you do. Just trying to affirm you and negate some of the input you have received just because people like to bicker about anyone having anything to say.

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  14. I actually prefer my guests leave their shoes on; I clean the floors regularly so dirt and germs aren’t a problem. Also I am not happy when a hostess requires me to remove my shoes–my shoes are part of my outfit! Often my pants will drag the ground without my heels. I think it’s more important for guests to be comfortable than to appease the hostess’s phobias.

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    • Hi Mar, I hear you, some people feel exposed without their shoes on! I don’t get to regularly clean my floors because I am constantly running after my little kids and working as well, but if you’re able to, that’s great!

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      • You don’t get to regularly clean your floors? And you are asking people to walk around on them in their socks? What is wrong with you? That’s gross. If someone asked me to take my shoes off and when I left their house my socks were black on the bottom then I’d be pretty irritated/grossed out.

        As a general rule, your floors better be spotless if you are going to ask people to take their shoes off. Otherwise, it would be like a grocery store asking you to take your shoes off when you enter. Would you do that??

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      • Sorry, let me clarify. I have my floors mopped down once each week. In between I just sweep and spot clean as needed when something icky or wet gets spilled on the floor. My floors are some of the cleanest I have seen (sometimes people even comment on this!). What I meant in a previous reply to a comment is that I don’t have the time to wipe my floors down every time I have guests (if they were to keep their shoes on and track filth into the house).

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      • Oh ok, then yeah, that’s kosher. I don’t really think this is a big deal one way or another (especially for people w/o kids), but personally, I’m ok with it as long as the floor are clean. I’ve been to plenty of houses where people take their shoes off, but one was so gross that it mentally scarred me (I’m kidding, but it was kind of disturbing – I didn’t even want to put my feet back into my shoes with those socks!).

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  15. Though I agree with the basic “your house, your rules,” I’d caution against insisting that visitors remove shoes. Asking, absolutely, but if your guest says that he’d rather not, please do not shame him with a sermon on chemical exposure. Many people have reason for needing to wear shoes. Some (like me) require orthopedic supports to make standing/ walking bearable. Others may have a foot fungus or serious odor issue. Whatever the reason, being forced to explain our situation in front of everyone and ask for a special exception is embarrassing. SO, if it’s really that big a deal (and I know that for some houses of medically fragile people, it IS), keep shoe-covers by the door for people who would rather keep their shoes on. They’re cheap and easy enough to get wherever building and painting supplies are sold. Thanks!

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    • Hi Erin, Shoe covers, what an interesting idea!!! Thanks for mentioning it, I didn’t even think of it. By the way, if someone ever mentioned to me that they were uncomfortable taking off their shoes, I’d let them keep them on and clean the floors afterwards. Actually, this is the case with my cleaning lady–she is on her feet all day so it’s hard to be without the support provided by shoes. So we have her just spray a cleaning solution and wipe down the bottom of her sneakers before she comes in.

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  16. I have heard that certain preschools have indoor shoes and outdoor shoes. They have the children switch shoes to go out for playground time and switch back to come inside.
    I am someone that cannot stand to be completely barefoot or even in sock feet most of the time. When I come inside I immediately switch to indoor flip flops or slippers. I also have a pair of shoes that I only wear inside. It really reduces the visible dirt and grass that is tracked in as well as the things we can’t always see.

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  17. Good point. I guess smelly feet can be washed and socks with holes are the wearer’s problem!

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  18. I’ve seen the issue of shoe vs no shoe policies raised a few other times and I can’t help but laugh. I’m assuming you must not be from the north. I live in Michigan where every year we get so much snow and rain which causes so much mud and wetness that I honestly don’t know anyone who doesn’t have a no shoe policy. Our floors would be destroyed and anyone in the house without shoes would have cold, wet, dirty feet if people left them on. Even at large parties held at homes during winter everyone takes off their shoes. My carpets are already pretty bad (4 yr old, 1 yr old, dog, and cat) so when the weather is fine I”m not totally pushy about, but even then most people automatically take them off because that’s just the way everyone is raised. 🙂

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  19. I hate when ppl tell me to take off my shoes in their house meanwhile when i am getting ready to leave my white socks r now grey. If u ask me to take my shoes off… your floor better keep my feet/socks clean. I’m the type that will shout you out…why u worried about dirt being tracked in when u have more than enough in here already?

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  20. Angelika, thank you for being so rational, and level-headed in the face of many negative and sarcastic responses to your post. Since we moved into our new home 5 years ago, I maintain a fairly strict no-shoe policy (there is an “over 80” exception, and the cleaning lady can do what she wants since she is doing the cleaning!). I offer socks and slippers, although most people who care bring their own. Some seem skeptical about wearing strange footwear, even if clean. The shoe covers are mainly for the workmen, plumbers, etc. (they can be purchased at any paint or hardware store). We have a shoe basket and outside shoes piled by the door, and it is interesting to see who needs to be asked, who pushes back, and who just removes shoes without a fuss. Your post really resonated with me, so thanks for the synopsis.

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    • Thank you, Dori! We do everything you mentioned, and make reasonable exceptions all the time as needed. I love the support!

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      • It’s funny how many people are offended by someone asking them to remove their shoes. We are a shoe and smoke free household. Does it also offend you then I ask you not to smoke in or near my house. If someone can’t be your friend because of such things, how good of a friend are they anyways? It’s a respect thing when you get down to it. It’s my house, my rules. You don’t go other places and do as you please. Just ridiculous how sensitive people are.

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      • Virginia, you read my mind! I just wrote the same thing in response to another person’s comments. Most people don’t want smoking in the house, so why do we respect that rule without complaint and not a no-shoe policy? Great point!

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  21. Interesting – I wonder if this is regional. I’m from minnesota, and I’d say at least 75% of my friends’ homes (and my own) had this rule growing up. It’s still common practice enough here that you don’t have to ask anyone. If there are ANY shoes by the door, everyone will take them off. Mostly I think it has to do with slushy boots, but can’t hurt to keep toxins out too!

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    • Yes, it seems that this is cultural and regional! I will say that I have lived in CT, NY and FL and in all these places, most people allow outdoor shoes to be worn in the home.

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  22. I thought your article was great. Coming from the islands we normally always remove our shoes at home and i have no issues asking people to do the same..you come to my house my rules same goes as at your house.
    No one should ever feel bad to ask someone that visits their home to abide by their rules.

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  23. So disappointed. Thought this was going to be an article about making family and friends relaxed and comfortable in your home and instead it’s about how they are poisoning you. I assume after your guests remove their shoes, you direct them to the nearest sink to disinfect themselves. I think I would solve your problem by just declining the invitation.

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  24. No. I was born with defective feet and end up hobbling if I don’t have my shoes on. And I won’t ask you to remove yours because I sew and surely you don’t want to risk stepping on an errant pin or needle.

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  25. Has no one ever heard of a mat? We have one at our door and ask that evreyone wipe their feet/shoes.

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  26. I’ve had a no-shoe policy for the last 20 years! I have always thought it was unsanitary to wear shoes in the house. These shoes have been walking around in parking lots, stores, bathrooms, etc. all day long, picking up all kinds of germs and toxins. And don’t get me started on the dirt factor on my carpets and expensive wood floors. Everyone knows that if they want to come to my house, they take off the shoes! It’s my house, my rules and if you don’t like them, I guess we can go visit in my garage! LOL

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  27. Along the same line of your thinking, how do you feel about dogs in the house?

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  28. As a mom with a baby girl, I appreciate this. Although we recently lost a dear friend’s 18 month old from a car hitting her in the driveway. very tragic.
    —- there are always things we can improve upon as parents. But let’s not lose sight of the big picture while we do it.
    http://www.tealtomato.com

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  29. It always amazes me that so many Americans walk into their homes with dirty shoes! This list of toxins is not even needed for us to remove shoes at the door (we are Indian) and that’s what we’ve always done for as long as i can remember. Even if it were gum or dog poop under my shoe as opposed to toxins, I don’t want it in my home.

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  30. Is this something new to the US? This is the custom in most countries in the world.

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    • Yes, I think it’s a US thing. Most peoples’ homes I go to allow shoes to be worn in the house. You are right, though, that if they come from an immigrant background, then I am more likely to see the shoes coming off.

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  31. I have the same policy. But a family member refuses to take off her shoes because she says her feet hurt to much when not wearing shoes. You are sitting most of the time how can they hurt when you’re sitting. How would you address this?

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    • Good question. If it’s a one-time visit or a once-in-a-while thing, I will let it go. My floors are tile, so I will just have the visitor avoid stepping on a carpet which absorbs toxins that you can’t really get out even with vacuuming. Also, when I have large gatherings, like a birthday party, or a lot of kids over I will just let people come in with shoes. I know it’s going to be a big miss in my house anyway and I will have to clean. But here’s a trick I use when I know people will be wearing shoes in my house: I try to have them over the day before “cleaning day,” or I try to shift my weekly mopping to right after their visit. Do you think that could work in your case?

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  32. I love that you wrote this and love that you’ve responded to all the comments, both that debate your facts or opinions and those that support you. I have a no shoe policy in my house, but some people just refuse to take their shoes off, even after I politely ask. I also have to fight my husband because he thinks I’m crazy and rude to guests. I’ll definitely be sharing!

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  33. If you would have been a Skandinavian this would have been a none-issue as walking in to somebodies home w shoes on is considered extremely rude and you probably wouldn’t be invited back if you did. Just interesting coulture difference.

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  34. Thanks for researching these statistics and presenting them for all of us, very convincing. I love how you kept it short and to the point. You may want to do a part two of this article, highlighting more positive benefits, like muscle growth in your feet the more they go bear. Way to go on posting this!

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  35. I think there are differences regarding wearing shoes in the house depending on where in the country you live. For example, when I lived “up north” in Michigan, people regularly take their shoes off at the door. The houses usually have wall-to-wall carpeting in most areas (other than the kitchen and bathrooms), and because the weather is not shoe-friendly at least half of the year, you don’t walk on someone’s carpeting with wet or dirty shoes or boots. Now that I live in Florida, it seems that most homes have stone, tile, or hardwood floors rather than carpeting. Since these floorings can be colder and harder on your feet, it seems like the tendency is to leave your shoes (or flip flops) on in the home. However, if it’s been raining then I’ll still take my shoes off at the door. Some habits are worth keeping. Either way, I think it’s just polite to ask upon entering someone’s home, “would you like for me to remove my shoes?” Easy Peasy.

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    • Yes, agreed. I love that you ask!

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      • I was sent your article because I have always objected to being asked to remove my shoes when entering my daughter and son-in-law’s house. First of all, I am diabetic and we are told NEVER to walk barefoot. Not wearing shoes on stairs is very slippery. My son-in-law once fell down the stairs in his socks carrying one of his babies and really hurt himself. Luckily the baby was fine, but it could have been a disaster. I can wear slippers in their house, but even these are usually slippery.
        Second of all, their dog is not only allowed to come and go without wiping his feet, but he was also allowed to sleep in the bed with the babies even when they were infants with his feet in their face, whereas my daughter always asked me if I washed my hands before touching the children!
        I think it’s a ridiculous rule. No one of my generation took off their shoes in the house unless there was white carpeting or for some other specific reason, and we never worried about toxins. Keeping a house germ free is a lovely idea, but unreasonable. People who are barefoot leave a lot of germs on the floor, too. Using public toilets and playing on things in a playground, touching other children, books, and toys in school, petting animals in a petting zoo are also hazardous. Maybe we need to raise children in Hazmat uniforms.

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      • Hi Ilene, Thanks for reading! As I mention at the end of the post, we have special indoor shoes! Just to respond to your comments about the germs, take a look at my latest post and see how keeping a clean home is how I live a balanced approach in a very toxic and germy world: https://homehealthlove.com/2014/10/22/make-your-home-a-toxin-free-sanctuary/

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      • Good luck to all you fastidious people who don’t believe in building up antibodies! Your generation would do a lot better to worry about the toxic stuff we fill our cars with, the contaminated water that comes from fracking, the toxic chemicals they use in carpeting, in astroturf (those shredded tires that may be causing cancer in young soccer players) and all the other disastrous stuff people throw in our water, not to mention eating things that live in polluted water and in land water where oil spills and other pollution poisons the earth. If your generation doesn’t get active to vote for the right people and take a stand against climate change and everything that is destroying our environment. taking your shoes off in the house will not do you any good.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ilene, you are making assumptions about my beliefs that I never stated. You should read my latest post on the subject: https://homehealthlove.com/2014/10/22/make-your-home-a-toxin-free-sanctuary/ .
        My kids crawl around dirty floors outside the home, play with and suck on toys that fall on the floor. It’s all about a balance and getting a break from toxic overload.

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  36. Pingback: Make Your Home a Toxin-free Sanctuary | home.health.love

  37. Love the article. As a carpet cleaner for over twenty years. I am always shocked at how many people insist on wearing shoes in their homes. The dirt we remove is unbelievable. Then they walk right in from outside with their shoes on and walk on the carpet. Keep it up though, I appreciate it. Your making me rich. Thanks.

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  38. I think people grossly misunderstand the concept of the immune system. The immune system is supposed to be built up through a healthy lifestyle, mainly by 1) a proper diet so that the body is strong enough to fight of disease when exposed to it, and 2) proper hygiene, especially washing hands (and in this case, keeping a clean and allergen-free environment).

    It is a misconception that introducing disease to children is THE way to build their immune system. On the contrary, exposing them early in life, as babies, to common allergens actually predisposes them to developing allergies and asthma, as opposed to delaying exposure. This comes from a health professional perspective. Not to mention, exposure to viruses, such as the cold and flu, only provides immunity to that particular strand of virus which caused the disease at that time. Thus, being able to get sick again and again. That’s not building the immune system.

    In my personal opinion, I believe it is irresponsible for adults to expose children to disease through their neglect and/or for their convenience. For example, I have to fight constantly with the in-laws about washing hands prior to handling my baby, because it is inconvenient for them to clean their hands. As a parent myself, I take the responsibility to keep clean hands, and I maintain a clean floor daily for my crawling tot

    With respect to the article, in this day and age of increased incidence of cancer and other ailments, which is largely due to environmental causes, why not practice safer habits at home, where you can control that environment?

    Bottom line, the immune system is nurtured and strengthened through a healthy diet which promotes such and a hygienic environment. My goal is to always do what I can now, so that I may hopefully prevent health problems in the futur (or at least have a clear conscience that if I develop cancer, for example, isn’t due to my own neglect). That’s my twenty cents 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  39. Good that you wrote it. I would not have. I admire the way you explained it. Thank you

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  40. I was in a car accident 10 years ago and shattered my heal bone. After reconstruction and years of pain, it is better but still flares up from time to time. I have 25% permanent partial disability to that foot. If I do not have my shoes on, I limp. If I go down stairs without shoes, I go one at a time. Therefore I do not take my shoes off when entering a house. That way I can walk with no discomfort!

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  41. Thanks for a great article and such patience with some pretty petty comments. The idea of exposing yourself to germs that are thought to potentially strengthen a healthy immune system, and exposing yourself to environmental toxins are two very different things. The latter will only damage a healthy immune system and in no way benefit or strengthen it. I believe it is your house and your beliefs and preferences should be respected. Clearly you are being reasonable and if someone had extenuating circumstances (i.e. foot problems) you would change your expectations to make them feel comfortable and welcome in your home. We do the same in our home, and I completely understand the awkwardness at times of having to ask people to take off their shoes. You are trying to do what you feel is best for your family, and in particular your small children. How some people can take offense to those wishes, and think that their personal preferences should be put ahead of the health and safety of others is beyond me.

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    • Meg, wow, those were really beautiful words. Thanks for acknowledging my reasonable approach. We should all be reasonable and respectful of others. I would never ask someone with medical issues to do something painful or hurtful for them.

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  42. Taking off your shoes at the door is definitely healthier because you track in so many germs on your feet. Plus it keeps your rugs and floors cleaner and in better shape. It’s a win-win situation. We keep a shoe rack in the vestibule where people can put their shoes before entering the living area.

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  43. Great article! We take off our shoes also at our home and it works great!

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  44. Wow, lots of criticism. I appreciate this article! I didn’t start this policy in my house the minute my kids started wearing shoes b/c of germophobe (sp) reasons. I just simply wanted the dirt to stop at the door. Help a housekeeper out & lighten my load so to speak. And if you have kids, you know how the soles of their shoes, inevitably, get caked with mud, dog poop, gum, raisins… Drop your dang shoes at the door. It’s less clean-up for mom/dad.

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  45. We have a no shoe policy due to my son’s allergies. He’s allergic to everything. If people want to come to our house they follow our rules. Pollen & dust get on the bottoms of your shoes & then you drag it through the house. And I, like you, keep my house clean, but can’t scrub my floors every single time someone walks in. If you want to go to a store or restaurant you follow the rules same should apply to someones house. If you don’t like the rules don’t go.

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    • Yes, Nissa, I agree. I follow rules wherever I go. If I get an invitation to someone’s home, I try to be a good guest and respect their desire, too. We have no problems abstaining from certain bad behaviors in other peoples’ homes like smoking, so this is just another one of those behaviors.

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  46. i have three kids and we always take our shoes off. Not because of the toxins but because i like more floors and carpets clean

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  47. Good article! I don’t like shoes in our house mostly because we live in the country with a dirt driveway and it becomes disastrous for keeping the house clean. I was sad to see the negative comments! You just love your family and want them to be safe. It seems to make more sense in my mind to -unintentionally offend a guest, clean more than what is convenient for me, etc etc- than to have my 18 month old sweet baby girl get sick or get e-coli or something else from icky shoes and everywhere they’ve been. Which is not an unreasonable circumstance to expect. We had a friend stay with us for a week while house hunting and he was a butcher (temp job) who was formerly a scientist and he took off his shoes every day at the door because he knew the danger of bacteria that (though not visible) was on his shoes. Just think, those shoes walked allll over the grocery store he worked at, and so do the customers’. Anyway, as momma’a, our first priority is (should be) our family and children and whatever we can do to love them and keep them safe/healthy. I see nothing wrong with making no shoe rules to see that end accomplished!

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  48. I would like to add my two cents to this article. I have been removing my shoes when I walk into a home for 65 years. My mother taught me to remove my shoes, as I did for my children. It makes sense for so many reasons. If you ever use a public restroom, think what is being tracked on to your shoes. Would you let your children sit on the floor by the toilet and play? Absolutely not! But, if you track that on your carpet, and you have babies playing on it, what germs are they picking up? Have you wondered what’s on the sidewalks we walk on? Seriously, you don’t want to know. People hack out phlegm and spit, birds and animals drop do-doo, and people urinate on it, as well.
    No thanks, I will continue to remove my shoes. It takes all of ten seconds, and saves me hours of cleaning.

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    • Yes!! I love what you had to say. It amazes me: people won’t put their kids on a dirty public restroom floor, but they will walk on the floor and then walk into their house!

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  49. I have deformed and ugly feet. I don’t think guests should be forced to feel uncomfortable in a host’s home. When a guest is invited, they are invited shoes and all. You feel awkward about asking guests to remove their shoes for a good reason – because it’s wrong!

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    • That’s right, I love people no matter what their feet look like! Again, I offer slippers and socks if that’s more comfortable, and if it’s a medical issue we just let things go and clean the floors right after.

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  50. There comes a point where making guests feel welcome in your home is more important than your obsession with germs. You can’t change the day God has chose for you to go. You can certainly take steps to keep your family healthy, but when those steps trump making your home welcoming, your focus is in the wrong place.
    I’ve been here. Just had a baby, no toes painted and toenails looked awful and was wearing Toms. It was a group mtg we were having at an acquaintances house. I mentioned id just keep my toms on if she didn’t mind. She made me put on these huge long socks and I was sweating, nursing my baby and embarraSsed she did this in front of everyone. Other people said how rude it was, as well.
    Health/cleanliness shouldn’t trump making a home inviting. Otherwise, don’t have people over and live in your clean bubble.

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