Have you ever walked into someone’s home and suddenly been asked to remove your shoes? Nothing is worse than cold feet on a cold day or the uncomfortable feeling of scooting around on bare floor revealing your Simpson’s socks underneath your boots.
Requesting people take off their shoes when they walk into your home has become trendy in the U.S., but few actually understand the origins, reasons and etiquette of the request.
Brief History of Removing Shoes indoors
The removal of shoes has two purposes in most cultures – religions and spiritual. In Asia, removing shoes is a symbolic gesture to let go of your workday and transition into home life – this can include a complete change of clothes. This part of the world also layers floors with heavy rugs where taking off shoes is respectful, but also much more comfortable than being on bare floor.
However, the practice of removing shoes is replace with house shoes or slippers. In most places in Asia, it is considered rude to not offer a guest indoor slippers to replace their shoes.
In other parts of the world, it has religious undertones suggesting that the home or place of worship is a sacred place that must be kept clean. In this instance, it is considered respectful to remove ones shoes but also to be better “connected”.
In most of Europe, the practice is unusual. Those places that do request shoe removal will offer guests house slippers and never request guests coming over for a formal event, like a dinner party, to remove their shoes.
The one common thing about shoe removal around the world is that it’s common for children to remove their shoes after school or playing with friends outside.
In the U.S., requesting people remove their shoes is not a tradition, yet it may be practiced by many of the diverse cultures that live within the United States due to their religious, spiritual and cultural beliefs. For those in northern states that regularly deal with bad weather, it is considered a respectful practice to remove snow or rain boots before entering someone’s home.
Tips for Protecting Your Floors
If you live in the U.S. and regularly request that people remove their shoes upon entering your home, chances are that you believe you are keeping your home cleaner. The truth is your floors are dirty and will be dirty no matter what and it can actually be considered more rude to request people scoot around in their socks (or worse barefoot) on your dirty floor without offering an alternative.
There is no doubt that salt can have an effect on wood floors, so here are some tips for protecting flooring and making guests in your home comfortable.
1. Don’t be rude – Yes, it can be considered very rude to request people remove their shoes and not offer them an alternative. You can find a number of alternatives for guest slippers to buy in bulk on Amazon. We recommend reducing landfill waste and opting for washable slippers.
2. Use rugs strategically – Rugs can offer a lot of benefits beyond just style, especially in high traffic areas. We recommend using more durable, or hotel-type, rugs that can protect floors and absorb water and salt, and can be easily cleaned by washing or with a home carpet cleaner.
3. Bootielicious – While most companies provide booties to their employees to wear inside customer homes, it’s not a bad idea to keep some by the front and back doors. Not just for servicepeople who may come in and out, but it’s a quick fix for guests. Because most people see these as disposable, it’s not our favorite recommendation simply from a sustainability aspect.
4. Swiffer Wet Jet – For those who do not find it necessary, or do not believe in requesting people remove their shoes, a Swiffer Wet Jet, or similar, can quickly and easily clean floors after guests leave, the pad can be thrown into the wash, instead of the trash, and you can feel easy about protecting your wood floor.
If you have any wood floor damage or notice weak spots in the floor, call an expert to come take a look and provide some alternatives. The longer wood floor damage goes untreated the more likely the damage will become greater, costing more in the long run to repair.