It’s an age-old dilemma: should you wear shoes indoors, or shouldn’t you?
Everyone has their own take on the shoes-in-the-house policy, and for different reasons. Some keep their sneakers on for convenience; others ask that footwear remains at the door, wanting to protect their home from outside germs or save their floors from damage and stains.
If you’re in the latter category, you’re not alone. In addition to dirt, debris, and the occasional wad of chewing gum, it turns out that the bottoms of our shoes are covered in over 400,000 types of bacteria that can get tracked into the house.
But before you go into a germ-induced panic, remember that bacteria's everywhere, and to some degree, it’s a necessary part of building our immune systems.
Still, many purists prefer to keep mud in the mudroom, even if the intent is to preserve their rugs among all else. It’s a simple rule that you can enforce with family, but when guests come over, how do you politely ask them to lose the shoes?
Below, check out five cute, clever and convenient ways to get the message across. After all, it’s your house, your rules!
1. Say it with a sign
If you’re not sure how to phrase your request, say it with a sign! Some of the best ones perfectly capture the sentiment that while shoes aren’t welcome in the house, your guests certainly are. After all, you want to invite them in to kick back, relax and stay awhile; keeping on their shoes means they’re ready to head out the door!
There are many different styles of signs, from framed prints to wall decals, to storage benches with the words painted on them. Needless to say, you’re bound to find something that fits into your décor and personality!
2. Get a cheeky welcome mat
Let guests know they should prepare to remove shoes before they walk through the door so there are no surprises. A fun welcome mat is a lighthearted way to make your request, remove excess dirt, or even leave footwear for safe keeping.
Plus, the placement of an outdoor mat means that shoes don’t even have to enter the house. This is especially handy for homes without a mudroom, or when young visitors have a habit of tracking footprints into the house. Just make sure you get a sturdy, durable mat that can withstand wear and tear.
3. Make it convenient
You have every right to ask visitors to remove their footwear, but make sure you have accommodations to make it as easy as possible. For this, you need two things: a place to sit, and a place to stash shoes.
If you have a dedicated entryway, set up a nook with a seating area and cubbies or shelves where guests can leave their items. For small spaces, an ottoman and shoe tray will do just fine, as long as everyone knows where to reclaim their belongings. Remember that episode of "Sex and the City" when Carrie’s Manolos went missing and she got shoe-shamed? You don’t want to be that host.
4. Offer indoor footwear
If you’re generally of the “mi casa es su casa” mentality, you want everyone who walks through the door to feel comfortable. It’s a thoughtful gesture — and a pleasant way to drop a hint — to offer slippers or flip-flops to guests when they enter your house.
This might even remedy a few reasons why people keep their shoes on in the first place: maybe their feet get cold, their socks are slippery, or they have a medical condition. In any case, offering indoor footwear to your guests can be a win-win for everyone.
5. Just politely ask
When all else fails, just ask! Most friends and family will be happy to comply with a simple, “Would you mind taking off your shoes?” You can also try a more direct approach by saying, “Come on in! You can leave your shoes by the door/on the shelf/in a cubby. Thanks!”
Another way to make your preference known is to lead by example. If visitors see shoes lined up at the door, chances are, they’ll follow suit. Plus, seeing you in your bare or stocking feet should send the message that footwear isn’t usually worn in the house.
If you prefer that people take off their shoes, you deserve to have your wishes respected. Try the methods above to get your point across politely, and if guests still aren’t cooperating, you might want to keep your get-togethers to the backyard!