Sunday, December 25, 2011

Seasonal Greeting

I hope you are all having a lovely Christmas, if you celebrate it.

If you have relatives staying with you, I do hope they have taken their shoes off.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Requesting is not Demanding or Forcing


Contrary to a lot of comments in the shoes-off debate, there is a difference between requesting people to remove their shoes and 'forcing' or 'demanding' them to do so.

I consulted the Meriam-Webster dictionary:

Request: to make a request to or of, to ask as a favor or privilege

Demand: to ask or call for with authority : claim as due or just, to call for urgently, peremptorily, or insistently

Force: to compel by physical, moral, or intellectual means

We do not force or demand that visitors remove their shoes, but we request them to do so.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Practical Glamour: the art & style of the no-shoe home

Practical Glamour: the art & style of the no-shoe home

A few years ago I happened to catch a doctor on the radio who was railing passionately about the evils of wearing your outdoor shoes in your home. By traipsing through your home in fresh from the street shoes, you were effectively transferring any and all types of filth–gum, dirt, oil, spit, other things I can’t bring myself to type–from the street into your personal space, which really should really be kept as pure as possible, dirtwise and vibewise.

He convinced me. I’ve been a practitioner of the no-shoe domicile for a while and wouldn’t dream of going back to having that level of grossness imported inside again. Levels of grossness of course, being relative to where you live. Cape Cod; not so bad, maybe some sand or a spot of soil. Manhattan or downtown Los Angeles; unprintable.

I’ve noticed that here in the U.S. it is increasingly common to visit homes that are no-shoe homes. That is, you leave your shoes at the door for all the reasons your hosts might desire: the basic hygiene argument outlined above, heels carving up a soft wood floor, an addiction to white shag carpets, and so forth.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Treating Guests Like Children?


Some people feel that in being asked to remove their shoes, they are being treated like children.

They may find it obnoxious, having to follow a house rule. They may think it is fine to ask children to take off their shoes, as who knows what they might step in, but they feel patronised to be asked to take off their own shoes. They believe that adults can be trusted to wipe their feet on the doormat.

What I would say to these people is that there are many good reasons why hosts may ask them to take off their shoes. I suggest they try not to think of it as a house rule, but just as a polite request (like somebody asking you to hold their umbrella). These people probably go shoeless sometimes in their own homes, so it should not be too onerous to do this when at the homes of others.

The fact is that wiping your feet will not remove all the dreadful stuff that your shoes pick up. You may try to be careful what you step in, but a lot of the worst things, like lead or weed killer is unseen.

Other people may feel that removing their shoes makes them feel childish. They do not feel terribly grown up skipping around a house in their bare feet or padding in their socks. What I would say to those people is that they should bear in mind that in many cultures, going shoeless indoors is the norm. In Japan or Sweden, nobody thinks it childish to be in socks or bare feet. There are plenty of situations in the UK where adults will be without shoes; such as on the beach or in a Yoga class. I suggest that when they visit shoeless homes, they ought to bring some slippers to wear.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Simple Pleasures: Do you take your Shoes off at the Door

Simple Pleasures: Do you take your Shoes off at the Door

Taking off your shoes before you enter your home is the public health equivalent of washing your hands. It's free, it couldn't be easier, and yet not many people do it. Dirt isn't the only thing tracked into homes by shoes. Think about the residues of outdoor pollutants might be on your soles: pesticides, automobile exhaust, lead, allergens, plus other carcinogens and endocrine disrupters. These all pose significant risk to all family members and can reach hazardous levels with repeated treading, especially in rugs and carpets. Children and pets are especially vulnerable because they’re in closer contact with the floor than most adults.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Elegantly Barefoot


I want to challenge the notion that being bare foot should be associated with informality, poverty, tackiness or 'rednecks.'

The great artists of the past loved to paint the human form and they welcomed the challenge of painting the naked human foot. They have left us with many images of people who are barefoot, yet still possessing grace and elegance.

This blog's header image, The Golden Stairs, by Edward Burne Jones is a good example of this, but here are some more:

Monday, October 31, 2011

Ordinary Days: 31 Days of a Happy Home: Sticking To Your Guns

Ordinary Days: 31 Days of a Happy Home: Sticking To Your Guns

'But when it comes to my home, there are some things that I just have to be firm about.

For instance, we are a Shoes Off At The Door household. I'm not asking to make anyone uncomfortable. It's a cleanliness thing for us. We have tons of little kids and we all pretty much live on our floor. I don't want pesticides, public bathroom gunk, dog poo and everything else that gets trampled through every day tracked into our house.

I've hung this sign at each entrance that kindly asks people to remove their shoes. And, even though it's not the most comfortable thing in the world for me to do, I ask them to please take off their shoes if they ignore the sign. Ugh, I hate that feeling. I wish they'd just take their shoes off so I wouldn't have to ask.'

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Weblog of Zoe Winters: Please Remove Your Shoes

Weblog of Zoe Winters: Please Remove Your Shoes

"I had a party recently and had people over. There is a no-shoe policy in my house. We have laminate floors and while they “Tell you” they don’t damage as easily as hardwood floors, if it’s true then hardwood floors must be super fragile. Also, I don’t know how it is with hardwood, but I’ve noticed with my laminate it tracks in ALL dirt. You can think your shoes are totally clean and walk across the floor and leave prints. Weirdly, I walk around outside without shoes quite often, and when I come in, I rarely track in dirt. For some reason, while it’s not universally true, bare feet tend to track less of anything around. You may pick up some dirt, but it’s unlikely the dirt will transfer back onto every surface (unless you were walking in mud). But shoes? Forget about it.

So part of my no-shoe policy is about not having to spend all my time mopping up after what others have tracked in. Because I HATE mopping. Another small part is about not damaging floors with scuff marks from black-soled shoes, or scratches and such from heels. That’s part of it, and a big part of it."

Friday, October 21, 2011

Great Comment

A great comment on this post.

"If you come over to my house, you don't get to have sex on my bed. You also don't get to pick your nose in front of me, help yourself to the contents of my closet or jewelry box, eat food I haven't set out for you (unless you're a stay-over houseguest), and any number of behaviors you might feel entitled to indulge in at your home.

Most of this is a combination of common sense and manners, both of which are culturally construed. If you're still so wet behind the ears you don't know there's a divide on some fronts, such as wearing shoes inside, then you'll probably soon learn that once you start hosting or attending parties.Because it's not a given, my friends all know in advance they will be removing their shoes in the entryway. (Well, except for outdoor/porch parties.) And of course I provide slippers. Anyone who values their sartorial shoe experience more than the company and conviviality at my parties is quite welcome to stay home. Not a problem! And probably not missed; I can always meet them in public or other venues.We have this *culture* in my home for many reasons, spiritual, philosophical, hygienic, and practical as well as laziness (I have enough to clean up after a party, thank you very much) and monetary (track mud on my $5,000 wool rug--I don't think so)...

It's footwear, people, not underwear. Make whatever peace you need to and move on to something more deserving of your attention."

Apartment Therapy- Etiquette at Home: Solutions to The Great Shoe Debate

Apartment Therapy- Etiquette at Home: Solutions to The Great Shoe Debate

'Should party guests remove their shoes at the front door? Ok, no question about it, this is a "thing". An issue that people have strong opinions about, a definite yea or nay and it can feel like a "never the twain shall meet" situation. Our readers have had lots to say on the topic over the years, sharing plenty of smart advice, including a few solutions specifically for those hosts who prefer that their party guests remove their shoes that might also help keep the shoe wearing camp happy…'

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Pickahling: Wipe Down Wednesday – your shoes, that is.

Pickahling: Wipe Down Wednesday – your shoes, that is.

'Take a moment and think about all the places you’ve walked today. I went to the pet store (needed a new litter scoop), the grocery store (needed more produce to make our super smoothies), storytime at the local library, then a playdate where we walked about a two miles on residential streets and dirt trail. Oh, and then I went jogging at the track at our neighborhood junior high. All in all, an average day. Just off the top of my head I can think that my shoes were exposed to a variety of different animal poop, all sorts of different little bugs that I unknowingly squashed, LOTS and LOTS of chemicals from leaky cars on the residential roads and parking lots, chemicals used to clean the library carpets, pet and grocery store floors.'



You might think that with cars having catalytic converters, lead on the ground would not be much of a risk. However, cars had been belting out leaded petrol for years.

Lead does not biodegrage, decay or dissipate. Furthermore it gets absorbed by soil. It is not just cars that have introduced lead into our environment, lead paint, debris from demolished buildings and various industrial activities have deposited lead onto the ground in urban locations.

Lead can be introduced into homes on peoples' shoes through soil and dust. This creates a serious risk of exposure, particularly for children. Potential risks of lead exposure include brain damage, behaviour changes, slowed growth, poor mental and educational development and hearing problems and seizures.

Having a shoe-free home can considerably reduce the risk of lead exposure.

Friday, October 07, 2011



You may not have a baby at crawling age
But if you ask visitors to your home to remove their shoes, you send a message that it is acceptable to keep your home shoe-free. That makes life easier for those who do have crawling babies.

You may not have a new carpet
You may have an old carpet that needs replacing or a wooden
floor that is covered in scratch marks. But if you have a shoes-off policy, it will make it easier for those who do have a new carpet to do the same.

You may not live in an area where there is pesticide on the ground
But if you have a no-shoes rule in your house, it will send a signal that it is okay for those who do.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Foreign or Exotic?


Shappi Khorsandi, a female British-Iranian stand-up comic says that "Exotic means the same thing as foreign, except you don't dislike it."

Exotic conjures up images of the far east or the New World. It is exciting colourful, sensuous and maybe a bit sexy. Foreign means something from another culture, but the word somehow lacks the exciting emotive power of the other word.

I am convinced that the English pronounce the word 'foreign' with a certain acidity. When we say the word 'foreign', there is a slight tightening of the mouth and a subtle narrowing of the eyes.

I have mentioned before about the different reactions of British and Americans to shoe removal in Scandinavia and the Far East. Expatriates in Japan and other Asian countries usually love removing their shoes and often bring the custom back, while many expatriates in Scandinavian countries find it really irritating. I suspect that the exotic/ foreign distinction at work.

When a tourist in Thailand has to go barefoot in restaurants and guest houses in Thailand, it is exotic. It is a taste of the colourful and sensuous east. On the other hand, when the same person is on a business trip to Norway and his Norwegian business partner makes him walk about the house in socks, it is foreign. Just like all the other foreign things he hates like undercooked steaks in French restaurants, bossy German policemen, overpriced everything in tourist areas and disdainful Italian waitresses.

Foreign is different, but it has a familiarity to it. Shoes-off in Japan reflects the beautiful alienness of that whole culture, shoes-off in Sweden just reminds you of those irritating fussy people back home (like me) who make you take your shoes-off to protect their carpets.

Nevertheless, we have to challenge our prejudices. We may find that steaks served very rare can be pleasently different. We may find that Germans do have a sense of humour and those Italian waitresses are quite pretty even if they think you don't deserve to be in their restaurant. And you may find that even if Nordic people are fussy about their floors, it actually makes a lot of sense taking shoes off.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Jane Norman

I was in Watford  Harlequin shopping centre and went past a fashion retailer called Jane Norman. I noticed the assistant dressing the window display had removed her shoes and was in her bare feet.

I have no idea whether that is a company policy in Jane Norman stores, but respect to that girl for her concern and carefulness. These days a lot of assistants don't bother removing their shoes before stepping into shop windows.

Last Life in the Universe

Last night I watched the Thai film 'Last Life in the Universe.' It's an interesting and creative film (though not without faults) that features a partly Japanese cast. Oddly, it's a tri-lingual film with the two main characters, a Japanese man and a Thai girl, struggling to communicate to each other in Japanese, Thai and broken English.

One thing that irritated me was the fact that the Thai character, Noi walks around her house with her shoes on. I'll  admit that I have never been to Thailand, but it is undisputed that removing shoes at the door is a universal norm in Thailand, apart from some of the highland tribes (I believe). I suppose that there might be a few odd Thai people who don't take their shoes off, but this would be so unusual in Thailand that it would be worthy of comment in the film.

I thought about a number of reasons why they had a Thai character breaking this fundamental rule of Thai behaviour. Perhaps the film is following the habit of American films of never having characters take their shoes off at the door. This would make sense if the film was keen to attract a western audience.

The fact the Thai character wears shoes in her house does build up the contrast between her slovenly and chaotic ways and the fastidious and obsessive-compulsive Japanese character. I'm not sure this was realistic though. I imagine even a slob in Thailand would remove his or her shoes, perhaps not for cleanliness, but just out of habit.

Another reason might be that the director wanted to make the moments when the character was barefoot seem more sexy and cute. The sexiness of her being barefoot might be reduced if she was barefoot for most of the film. I recently watched the Japanese classic, Tokyo Story (a beautiful film). As a result of its domestic setting, a lot of characters are barefoot for much of the film. I can imagine even a foot fetishist losing interest in all the female feet on display in that movie. In Tokyo Story, being barefoot is part of the mundane domestic reality of Japanese family life, where in Last Life in the Universe, being barefoot is meant to be cute and sexy.

                                                       Tokyo Story

The disregard of Thai norms with regard to shoes brings up some of the problems I had with the film. I don't think I learned anything about Thai culture from it. Noi, the female character could just as easily have been French or South American. The film could have been set in any country where there are a lot of Japanese expatriates living. The absence of any real exploration of Thai culture is magnified by the fact that the director decided to have the Thai anthem played rather pointlessly in one part of the film. More so than this, it seemed that the two characters existed independently of any society at all. I understand that the film is all about loneliness and isolation, but it seemed like it was following that dreadful habit of western romances of creating characters who are unbelievable because of their lack of wider social interaction. In so many romance films you have characters who are never seen to be working and don't seem to have any worry about paying bills. The protagonists of Last Life in the Universe seem very close to that category.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Odd Logic


Some people say that if you ask guests to take their shoes off you are implying that your floor is more important than your guests.

By the same logic, if a gym asks you to wear white-soled tennis shoes in their squash court that means that the gym values its floor more than its customers (and the fees they pay!).

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Recent Blogposts

Healthy Living Plus: Should homes have a “shoes off” policy?

In recent studies at the University of Arizona when researchers tested people’s shoes, some interesting facts came to light:
- They found 9 different species of bacteria of the type that can cause infections in the somach, eys and lungs.
- They found that bacterial live longer on the soles of shoes that in other places. This is because as we walk we constantly pick up new debres that fees the growth of more bacteria
- They found that children under 2 are the most vulnerable to this bacteria because they play on the floor and put their hands and other objects in their mouths an average of 80 times an hour.
- They found that the majority of bacteria contained coliform that comes mostly from human and animal waste.

So without becoming too paranoid what can you do about this problem?

Encourage your own family to remove their shoes when they get home and put on slippers. It will soon become a comfortable habit. You can either leave them in special storage at the front door or carry them to your closet. It might be a good idea to then wash your hands which you should do when getting home anyway.

If you want to keep your home cleaner, then you will find a way to persuade others to remove their shoes before entering your home without hurting anyone’s feelings.

Glasgow Humane Society: Be certain Your Home Remains Healthy
Take your shoes off outside the house, if possible. If not, kick them off within the front entrance to your house. When you walk around, your footwear come into contact and grab things, even in places like hospitals and malls. The bottoms of your footwear are covered in mold germs, a range of chemicals, dust, dirt as well as bacteria. When you track these things into the house, it settles into the carpets and rugs and flooring. It then becomes kicked up when there is activity. This ensures that instead of staying in the floors, you kick it up into the air for you to breathe in. If you take off your shoes outside the house or within the entry way of your home, you reduce this risk by leaps and bounds.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011



You will have noticed that there is lots of dust on the streets, unless you live in Finland, where the streets are immaculate.

You will also have noticed that on dry days soily ground is dusty. It is estimated that 35% of household dust originates in outdoor soil.

Naturally, as much of it originates from the ground, dust contains all the sort of things that are on the ground, such as pesticides, weed killer and lead. Things which are not good for your health. Keeping as much of this dust out of the home is a really sensible idea and this means taking off your shoes at the door and asking visitors to do the same.

Even if the dust that gets in is not full of toxins, it is good to reduce it. It reduces the quality of indoor air and can be a source of allergies.

A fashionable strategy is to remove carpets, as they absorb dust. However, this may be counterproductive as without the carpet, the dust is exposed. If you are going to go carpetless, you either need to opt for shoes-off (for all) or sweep very often. Hence, whether you choose to opt for carpet or sans carpet, a shoes-off policy is totally adviseable.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

This we know...

- You can make exceptions for elderly people or people with disabilities or medical conditions.

- Workmen who need to wear boots for safety can be excused.

- You can make exceptions for parties if you like.

- It's bad to demand shoes-off in a rude or aggressive manner.

We know all this. So why is there any real debate about having a shoes-off policy?

Parents' New House

I visited my parent's new house this weekend. It's bigger and much nicer.

One change is that the downstairs has wood flooring, while it is carpeted from the stairs upwards. This is the first house my parents have had with wood flooring. Naturally, they are worried about it getting scratched.

I'm not sure if they are about to start asking every visitor to remover his or her shoes, but they are avoiding wearing shoes in it themselves. My mother, who teaches English, had a French student staying who was removing her shoes at the door.

My mother asked me how much traffic I was getting to this blog (about 130-150 hits a day). She was surprised when I told her that removing shoes in homes was a controversial subject. She was surprised that anybody would be against the idea.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Blue Cakes- A German Tradition:Guest Slippers

Blue Cakes- A German Tradition:Guest Slippers

'It’s customary when you go over to someone’s house in Germany to remove your shoes at the door. Being the neat freak that I am, I LOVE this tradition, and in the mess of winter with all the snow and slush, I think it’s particularly wonderful. Simply put, outdoor and dirty shoes just don’t belong on clean floors.

That said, although removing one’s shoes does do it’s job in keeping the house cleaner, it also conjures up a new problem: cold feet- and that’s no fun!

Many German homes have combated this problem with charm, practicality and an entirely new tradition: guest slippers. Just inside that entrance to one of these homes, you will be greeted a basket, drawer or shelf filled with your choice of various slippers that are made available to guests who visit.'

I have suggested here before that guest slippers would not necessarily be the best approach here in the UK. I think most British people are fine with taking their shoes off, but would find borrowing slippers a bit weird.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Long Strange Trip: To Shoe or Not to Shoe

Long Strange Trip: To Shoe or Not to Shoe

'Plus an article in the Online Journal of Issues in Nursing May, 2007 which included a list of ways to decrease the risks of lead in the home.

Yes. Lead is apparently being tracked into our homes on the bottom of our shoes. That got my attention. I like to sit on the floor with my grandsons and play games.

As a result, I’m in the market for a sticker or unobtrusive sign to hang on my door. Shoes off. Please.

It is not my intent to debate the relative importance of such gestures compared to greater societal ills, and fears, such as terrorism, environmental hazards, disease and unemployment. I get that many people are struggling to put food on the table and keep their kids safe. By the same token, I feel that sacrificing civility, humility, and deference to others accelerates humanity’s decline. The crudeness and coarsening of our language is reflected in popular TV programs, music and movies. Self-restraint is dead. Self-centeredness is the order of the day.

But, kind sir . . . gentle woman, in my house . . . please remove your shoes. Okay?'

Patricia Little was kind enough to link to this blog.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Tip Junkie: Remove The Shoes! {10 Creative Signs For Guests}

Tip Junkie: Remove The Shoes! {10 Creative Signs For Guests}

'Looking for some really creative ways to ask your guess to “remove the shoes!” I was asked over on the Tip Junkie Facebook page by Noralyn if, “I had any ideas for a sign that politely or comically request that my house guest remove their shoes at her front door.”

Asking guests to Take Off Shoes can be easier than you think with these fun ideas.'

Monday, August 15, 2011

Living in Perfect Harmony: What about your Shoes?

Living in Perfect Harmony: What about your Shoes?

Years later as a mother of three children, the house rule was that outdoor shoes had to be removed before entering the home. I was so worried at what surprises these three pairs of feet would bring in to the house! Then, as my children grew up and friends became a constant in our home, the rule applied to them as well. It was a habit that stuck.

Now, “God’s Little Angel”, (yes, my granddaughter) will soon be crawling around the floors of our houses. I shudder to think what she could pick up on her exploratory travels through the house if shoes were allowed.

It is summertime now. What a perfect time to instill changes in your homespace with regard to shoes.

Agree to change for the health of your homespace. And, if you cannot make abrupt all encompassing changes take baby steps. First, make sure you and those that dwell in your home remove shoes when entering the space. Then, gradually you will become more comfortable with asking others to do so as well.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Shoes-Off Policy is...

...simply one intelligent adult asking another intelligent adult to do something reasonable.

Saturday, August 06, 2011



Some people in Britain and the USA have an interesting perspective on this subject. They feel happy taking off their shoes at the home of an Asian person whose culture demands removal of shoes, but consider it deeply rude for a British or American person to insist on visitors to her home removing their shoes.

There are two problems with this attitude. Firstly, there is a touch of cultural arrogance about it. It implies that the Asian custom of removing shoes is purely of spiritual or cultural significance with no practical value. Maybe Asian people are primarily concerned about keeping their homes clean! Behind the pretended respect for a foreign culture, there is the unspoken assumption that Western practice is superior.

Secondly, this attitude seems to take a rather static view of culture, seeing it as a set of chains that bind people to particular rules of behaviour. In fact, culture is dynamic and fluid, it changes over time.

It seems to me to be quite obvious that if a person of Asian descent can be considered British while keeping her home shoe-free, it is perfectly acceptable for a White British person to keep her home shoe-free.

It may be the norm in Britain and most of the USA for shoes to stay on in homes now, but this may change. In fact, I believe it probably will. Many White Americans and even British people are adopting the custom of shoes-off in homes.

We are living in a global village with increased immigration, travel and communication between different cultures. There is tremendous potential for different cultural practices to migrate across geographical boundaries.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

cinseven13: Shoes On Or Off?

cinseven13: Shoes On Or Off?

This was a big controversy for a while with my sister's husband's family. His aunt is Japanese, and insisted everyone remove their shoes before entering the house. Family members were insulted by it, but I didn't see the big deal. It was her custom, and her house. She was never rude about it, very polite and soft spoken, but firm about no shoes in the house. And she had one clean house!

I always take mine off. It started years ago, when we lived on a farm for a while. One of the cows, who was a very old gal, was given free range. She liked to wander around near our living room windows and look in at us, so you had to watch to make sure you weren't stepping in anything on your way to the door. Our door was in the back of the house, so there was really no way to avoid walking on the grass. We got in the habit of removing our shoes simply to ensure we weren't tracking any manure into the house. We'd remind friends and family to watch their step and remove their shoes on the enclosed porch. I always had extra slippers waiting on the porch so ladies could put them on instead of having bare feet on the hardwood floors.

I hadn't noticed this one..

Shoes Off, Slippers On Please

Somebody started a blog about removing shoes in homes without my noticing. Unfortunately this blogger only put up a few posts in 2008.

I really like this:

Remember you dont have to justify your houserules to visitors.Shoe removal is not unreasonable.
You will actually find that in reality that the majority of homes are shoe free and slippered.
The dissenters will always atte attempt to paint a different picture, just as smokers will always try and justify their addiction.
You are not asking people to get undressed, simply take of their shoes. You are protecting your investments, your families health and just chilling out in your comfy slippers.

Set the Stage: #1 Home and Life Improvement Tip: Removing Shoes in the House

Set the Stage: #1 Home and Life Improvement Tip: Removing Shoes in the House

The same reasons why you wear shoes outside of your house is the same reason why you wouldn’t want to wear shoes in the house. There’s dirt and a long list of unmentionables that you wouldn’t want to track into your private living space. Imagine if the high traffic dirt paths were eliminated, mystery goo disappeared, rocks, sand, and other sharp objects, including heels and cleats didn’t cause additional and ongoing damage to your floors. How much time and money would you save on cleaning, maintenance and replacement costs?

When I mention it, it’s agreed that it’s a good idea, but the ones who express the greatest challenges about maintaining their carpet or other flooring are also the ones who make every excuse about why they can’t do it or that their kids won’t do it or they can’t ask their guests do it, and the list goes on.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mandalorian Etiquette

One of the great things about Star Wars is that there is information about every single detail and corner of the Star Wars galaxy.

The Mandalorians are a race of nomadic warriors, the most famous of which was Boba Fett, who appeared in the movies Attack of the Clones, Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

According to an article in the Star Wars online encyclopedia, Wookieepedia, removing boots when entering homes is a vital part of Mandalorian etiquette.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Not quite consistent

I went to a fashion retailer in Hastings the other day. An assistant went into the window to change the display. She did not remove her sandals before stepping in.

The next day I saw another assistant cleaning the same window in the same store who was in her bare feet. I wonder whether the store manager prefers shoes on or off when in the window.

The Spanish Student

I am on holiday this week and staying at my parents' place in Hastings.

My mother has started English teaching. Her first student arrived this week, a 16-year old boy from Spain. Spain is of course a country where removing shoes in homes is not very common at all.

When he arrived he did not remove his shoes, despite the rain outside. This may not be Sweden, but most English people would remove their shoes or at least offer in bad weather. He kept his shoes on during dinner.

Nevetherless, after he had been here for about an hour or so he started copying us and began leaving his shoes at the door and continued to do so every time he came in from outside.

Monday, July 11, 2011



HIPRF stands for Herbicides, Insecticides, Pesticides, Rodenticides and Fungicides. These are chemicals that are used to deal with weeds, insects, spiders, slugs, mice and fungus. They are used in all sorts of places, particularly outside, on lawns, pathways and driveways.

You do not know how often you are picking up these chemicals on your shoes. If you wear shoes in your house, you are introducing them onto your floor and into the dust that you breath. HIPRFs are toxins that are designed to kill lifeforms. Hence they can present health risks, particularly to children.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Medical Conditions


If you read internet discussions about the subject of the shoes-off rule, you will find countless people who claim to have a medical condition that means they must wear shoes all the time. If these discussions were representative of the population; nearly half the people in the USA have such a medical condition. I do not believe it.

Yes, there are some people who do have a genuine medical reason for not removing their shoes. We must make exceptions for them.

Some people say having a shoes-off policy causes embarassment for such people because they must reveal their condition. However, this is quite unnecessary. A person with a medical condition can simply say:

I am sorry, I can't take my shoes off. Doctor's orders.

She does not need to reveal the nature of her condition. She does not need to give any embarassing details. There is really no problem here.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

No Shoes on my Picnic Blanket!

I attended a picnic in a park today with a group of friends from church.

They were quite amused by my insistence on keeping my picnic blanket a shoe-free zone. In fairness to me, they did acknowledge that my picnic blanket was a lot nicer and more comfy. The others had blankets made of rough wool, while mine was a soft, fluffy blanket.

It did get stepped on quite a few times by some of the energetic children, but those people who sat on it with me did remove their shoes or flip flops.

A picnic blanket is for eating off. You don't put your shoes on the kitchen table and you shouldn't put your shoes on a picnic blanket.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Germs Are Not Necessarily the Issue


A lot of people think those who ask for shoes-off in their homes are 'germaphobes.' It is certainly true that a lot of people who have a shoes-off policy are parents of small children who are concerned about germs being walked in on peoples' shoes. This is a quite legitimate concern.

This concern is often countered by the so-called 'hygiene hypothesis.' This holds that allergies are currently on the rise because peoples' homes are too clean and modern children are not sufficiently exposed to bacteria. There is evidence to support this theory, even if the jury is still out.

Even assuming that the 'hygiene hypothesis' is correct, there is no obvious way to decide how much dirt is healthy. Very few parents would be happy about cooking in a dirty kitchen, or having their children sleep in filthy rooms. While some bacteria is good and healthy, some bacteria can cause all sorts of diseases.

More importantly, there are some things that your shoes pick up that are not germs, but very much in the unwanted category: lead, pesticide, weed killer, dog excrement, roundworms, dust, pollen, plant sap, mold, toxoplasmosis (a parasite which is transmitted through animal excrement and which can survive in infected soil), cigarette ash, arsenic, mecury, asbestos, cadmium and thallium.

Simply put, your shoes can pick up anything. Please keep them out of the house.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Upstairs Downstairs


Some people have a rule in their house that people may keep their shoes on downstairs, but not upstairs. In a similar manner some people require only overnight guests to remove their shoes.

I understand that the upstairs is a more intimate part of the house and the place where sleeping is done (so a natural place to keep allergy-free). However, I really do not see the need to only go half-way on the shoes-off policy. Who wants a clean carpet upstairs and a dirty one downstairs? Besides most peoples' children will be playing as often on the floors downstairs as the floors upstairs.

It seems much more simpler and straightforward to have the whole house shoe-free.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Shoe Covers


Occasionally some people suggest shoe covers as an alternative to shoe-removal.

I have expressed scepticism before that shoe covers can be worn with high heeled shoes. I find it impossible to imagine what an high-heeled shoe with a cover on would look like. Shirley Saunders supports my suspicion. She points out in her book that shoe covers can be damaged by high heeled shoes.

From an aesthetic point of view, I would not want people walking about my home in covered shoes. I want it to be a place of relaxation not a crime scene. In any case, I think most people would feel sillier and more self-conscious in shoe covers than in socks or bare feet.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

The Road to Poland: Clash of Cultures: Please remove your shoes

An American married to a Pole posts about her reluctant adoption of the custom.

The Road to Poland: Clash of Cultures: Please remove your shoes

Martin: But what if people don't take their shoes off? Then they're walking all over the carpet and the floors with their shoes on. Besides, isn't it more comfortable to have your shoes off?

Me: Yeah, but I just don't think it's polite to make guests take their shoes off when they are here to celebrate a family event (Baptism) in their Church clothes, especially if they don't want to.

Martin: OK, ok. Fine, we'll ask them. Nobody *has* to take their shoes off.

Me: Thank you.

Notice that Martin and Olivia recognise that asking people to remove their shoes is not forcing people to remove them. A lot of people discussing this subject on the internet cannot see the difference between politely asking people and 'making' or 'forcing' them.

Saturday, June 04, 2011



If asked to remove their shoes, most people are polite enough to comply. However, it is always possible that there may be some refuseniks.

If somebody refuses to remove her shoes, the host has several options:

1. Not let them in.

2. Let them in, but express one's unhappiness. Not invite them in again.

3. Let them in, express one's unhappiness, but invite them again hoping that next time they will comply.

4. Let them in and say nothing. Not invite them again.

5. Let them in and say nothing. Invite them again in hope that next time they will be more polite.

There is no right or wrong response. Whether you let them in and whether you invite them again entirely depends upon your wishes.

You have every right to refuse to admit somebody to your home. If a person is visiting to sell you a product or service, or to promote their religious organisation (usually Jehovah's Witnesses are polite enough to offer shoes-off) then you might well refuse to let them in. On the other hand, if your boss is visiting, it might be a bad idea to refuse to let her in!

If the visitor is not a close friend, but a person you have invited to dinner in order to make close acquaintance with, you have every right to never let them darken your door again. On the other hand, you may not want to lose a close friend over the issue. However, you might feel more comfortable expressing your unhappiness to a close friend than to an occasional visitor.

There is simply no right or wrong response to refuseniks.

Would you let somebody in your house if they refused to remove their shoes when asked?

Monday, May 30, 2011



Roundworms live in the intestines of dogs and cats. They pass their eggs into the feces. These tiny eggs can survive in the soil for months.

You might not see any dog or cat plop on the ground on which you walk, but potentially you are picking up Roundworm eggs on your shoes.

If you allow shoes in your house, Roundworm eggs may be introduced onto the same floor on which your children play. It just takes your child one mouth to hand contact for her to become infected. Potentially she could develope lung problems as a result of infection.

Just take your shoes off and ask others to do the same. It's not rocket science.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Flip Flops


Flip flops are definitely my favorite kind of footwear. I expect a lot of people who want shoes-off in their homes like flip flops, as they are easy to put on and off and are minimal enough for people who like being shoeless. The only disadvantage is that in very wet weather, your feet can get muddy and you need to wash them after coming in.

I have mentioned before that the popularity of flip flops and sandals today shows that most people are not embarassed any more about their feet. It seems doubtful that many people would mind being asked to remove their shoes.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Treating other people with respect


We should always do our utmost to treat other people with respect.

All of us have little things that we are sensitive about. Other people might find it hard to understand those things and may think we are oversensitive about them. However, that does not mean that we should not take those things into consideration.

For instance, some people may not like to hear bad language. If so, you should try as hard as you can not to swear when in that person's company. You may think that is silly. You may think they have the problem, not you and they should deal with it. I disagree. I think that you should respect the fact that those people do not like bad language.

Some people may not like you to smoke when there children are present. You may think that is silly, after all they are not going to be affected by you smoking just one cigarette in front of them. However, perhaps these people do not want you to set an example to your children. You should respect that.

Likewise, some people do not want shoes to be worn inside their homes. This is something important to them.

You may think this is daft. If it is for cultural reasons you may think "They are living in the UK not in China." If it is to protect the carpet you may think "Carpets are meant to be walked on." That is fine. You are entitled to your opinion. However, you should still treat their preference with respect. They are fellow human beings who have the right to their preferences and opinions as much as you do. So please don't complain if you are asked to remove your shoes in such homes.

We should also not be afraid to state our preferences. Nobody is going to know that you would rather they avoided using bad language in front of their children unless you tell them this. In the same way nobody will know that you would like shoes-off in your house unless you make it clear. There is nothing wrong with expressing how you feel and asserting your wishes. You have the right to be respected.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Encourage but not insist?


Some people say that it is fine to encourage people to remove their shoes, but one should not insist that they do so.

There is a fine line between insisting on people removing their shoes and encouraging people to take them off. There are a number of things one could say that are subtle encouragements:

We take our shoes off here.

You might like to take your shoes off.

These imply strongly that the host wants the guest to remove her shoes. I do not see that insisting or asking is worse than encouraging. If you encourage people to take their shoes off, then you have started from the assumption that people will be willing to take them off. By encouraging, you apply a degree of moral pressure to comply.

I think a lot of people would not want the uncertainty of just being encouraged. I was dating a girl a few years ago when I was not 100% sold out to the shoes-off rule. She asked me if she should remove her shoes. I told her that we removed our shoes but she did not have to. She was actually uncomfortable at this answer and asked me whether I wanted her to take them off or not.

Sometimes it is simpler just to be straight with people and ask them to remove their shoes. No need to beat around the bush.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Shoes still need to come off in Summer


Some people may be of the opinion that shoes-off in homes is a good idea in the damp of winter, but is quite unnecessary in summer, except when it rains (which it certainly does here in the UK).

However, on the contrary I maintain that shoes ought to be removed even in summer.

It is true that the weather is drier in summer,so there is less chance of bringing damp or mud into the house. However, in summer, shoes will still pick up small particles of grit. These particles gradually wear out carpets.

If you have laminate or wood floors, there is still the risk of making scratches (watch out with those high-heeled sandals, ladies) or leaving marks (why do you think you are expected to wear deck shoes or go barefoot on a yacht?).

Dust is still a problem in summer. Dust is not good for your health or your children's health and the less of it in your house, the better. There is likely to be even more dust in summer, as the ground dries up and cracks.

Dog dirt is still a problem in summer. In winter, many people will walk their dogs to the minimum that is necessary. In summer, people will be spending longer outisde with their dogs, increasing the risk of fouling up. Dog dirt is extremely unhealthy stuff. Not good for crawling babies. You may try to avoid stepping in it, but your shoes will still pick up small traces and then grind them into the carpet if you do not take them off.

There is also pollen, which is only a problem in summer. Your shoes will pick up lots of the stuff. If you suffer from Hayfever or you live with Hayfever sufferers, I recommend having a shoes-off policy in summer.

Of course, on a hot summer's day, nobody ought to mind taking their shoes off!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

You can't argue with this

If you think that you can't look glamorous with your shoes off, just take a look at this picture of Lady Victoria Hervey at a yacht party in Cannes:

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Hey, Buddhists take their shoes off!

I am an huge fan of Doctor Who. On my other blog, Tea with Morbius, I review Doctor Who stories and also post my fan fiction.

The Doctor Who serial Planet of the Spiders came out this month on DVD. Not that I am going to buy it any time soon. I am not a big fan of the Pertwee era in Doctor Who anyway, but Planet of the Spiders is a really naff story.

One thing that annoys me about Planet of the Spiders is that a large part of the story is set in a Buddhist monastery/ meditation centre, in which nobody takes their shoes off. The characters even meditate with their shoes still on. That is not very Buddhist. It is rather surprising, because the producer at the time was the late Barry Letts, who was a Buddhist. You would think he would have pointed this out to the director.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Ask Anna... Reader Question: No Shoes in the House?

Ask Anna... Reader Question: No Shoes in the House?

I think having the sign on/near the front door is a great start because it prepares people as they are walking in the door. Some will forget and you'll have to remind them but that's ok. I've had a few guests make rude comments about it but I don't care because it's my home and I'm the one cleaning it.As far as what we wear in the house, it kind of depends on the season. I do have plastic disposable booties for service workers but we usually just run around in socks or bare feet. We do all have house slippers but my daughter is the only one that really wears them. I've never had a guest complain about what they should wear after they take their shoes off and most of them know that if they want sock to bring them with them. :)

Fictional People (Stereotypes?) Part 5



Steve is in his thirties and works as a probation officer. Five years ago his wife died of cancer, leaving him with four young children to bring up on his own.

Losing the love of his life felt like a deathblow, but knowing his responsibility as a father helped pull him through, as well as the comfort of friends and family.

Juggling a busy job with being a single parent has proved quite a challenge. Thankfully, some of his relatives have lived close enough to help out at times.

Steve has a shoes-off policy in his home.

He has never been fastidious about cleanliness or wanted to live in a museum, but as a father he does not want his children to grow up in a pigsty. Even with the children helping out with household chores, keeping the place clean is a mammoth task. He therefore decided that it was not asking very much to expect anybody entering his home to remove their shoes.

Steve does not hold many dinner parties, but his children often bring along their friends. His children always make sure to let visiting friends know about the no-shoes rule.

In the last three years, Steve has dated a couple of lady friends. Neither of them minded about removing their shoes, but they were a little more daunted about becoming stepmothers to four children!


Dorothy is in her sixties and is the headmistress of a small school in a village in Kent.

She lives in a cottage and rides to a parish church of Anglo-Catholic churchmanship on her bicycle. She is very active in village life and is member of the local branch of the Women's Institute.

Dorothy has never been married. She had never cared much for any of the men she has met in her life. She had been engaged once to a Frenchman, but she was jilted before reaching the altar.

She admits that she is of the old school of English spinsterhood and takes on the role with much panache.

Dorothy has a shoes-off policy in her home.

She decided to make her cottage a shoe-free zone sixteen years ago. She found too many of her friends were calling on her after walking in the fields nearby. Far be it for Dorothy to live in a house without spotless carpets. Not all of her friends were enthused, but the vicar's wife was very impressed at the efficency created by the policy and introduced it at the vicarage; a home that received far more visitors.

Dorothy has two sister and two brothers, all of whom are married and so frequent visits from nephews and nieces, some of whom have had their own children. Her siblings and in-laws sometimes sneer under their breath about her being a 'fussy old maid', but she takes this as a compliment.

The nieces and nephews are perfectly happy removing their shoes when visiting Dorothy. She is their favorite aunt; rather stern, but always passionate and fun.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bare Feet


In the UK and the USA a lot of people feel a sense of disgust and abjection towards feet. Of course, in many Asian countries, the foot is considered to be unclean. However, this is in connection with the fact that the foot touches the ground. Thus, shoes are considered to be far more unclean than the naked foot. In an Asian home, barefeet are acceptable, but shoes are not. This is actually the very opposite of the western abjection of the foot.

It is very common in internet discussions about shoes-off in homes for the subject of barefeet to be raised. It is argued that barefeet are disgusting, more so than the dirt on peoples' shoes. Of course, if you do feel that feet are disgusting, you could still ask visitors to remove their shoes if you were too lend them flip flops or socks to wear. Angie mentioned this in a previous post.

It is very likely that the sense of disgust about barefeet will decline. Sandals and flip flops have become incredibly popular in the UK and the USA. People are becoming more used to exposed feet. And ladies (and maybe some men) are spending good money on keeping them looking nice.

The argument that feet are more unhygienic than shoes is quite wrong. Unless a person has been going barefoot outdoors, they will not have been picking up the awful things that the soles of shoes pick up. You may think your feet are disgusting, however, you undoubtedly have more germs on your hands than on your feet. Feet are usually remarkably cleaner than the average pair of hands.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Being Straight With Guests


I would argue that having a 'don't ask but encourage' policy with shoes is not really any more polite than having a shoes-off rule.

Sometimes it is good for people to know where they stand.

It did occur to me that having a 'don't ask' policy might cause resentment and division amongst guests at party.

The people who take their shoes off may feel superior to those who have kept their shoes on. Even worse they may feel resentful of those people who have kept their shoes on.

A bigger problem is the embarrassment caused to guests who have kept their shoes on when they realise that shoes-off is preferred. Discovering that shoes-off is preferred when they have been walking about the house shod for an hour might make them feel rather awkward.

Monday, April 18, 2011


The blossom is falling like snow. It's very pretty, but it's starting to cover the street. It's not the sort of thing you want to walk into your carpet, so taking your shoes off at the door is definitely a good idea.

Friday, April 15, 2011



There are an awful lot of comments on the internet by ladies who would like to have a no-shoes house, but have an husband who refuses to remove his shoes. I can only recall one comment by a man whose partner was reluctant to comply with a shoes-off policy.

Husbands, can you not see any benefit in having a clean home? If you have to get your carpet cleaned or replaced it will cost you money.

Why be bossed about by your wife? Why not take the initiative and introduce a shoes-off policy in the home yourself. Take some leadership in the household. If you read this blog, you will find plenty of reasons for not wearing shoes at home.

You cannot think that there is anything manly about being worried about getting cold feet?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Hospitality Part 2


Guests are aware when they visit a home that the hosts have boundaries that cannot be crossed.

Guests know or should know that they cannot go wandering about upstairs, looking in their hosts' bedrooms. They ought to be careful in conversation that they do not mention subjects that may cause offence to the host. If the host has strong views on a subject, it is best not to argue with him or her. Guests know that they cannot bring their pet dog to somebody else's home unless the host has expressly said this is acceptable. Even if the host is an animal lover, permission to bring a pet dog must be sought.

It is now recognised by most people that when you visit the home of a non-smoker, they should not smoke inside. If they need to smoke, they should put their coat on and go outside. There are still some people, probably mostly from the upper strata of British society who think it is rude to forbid smoking in one's home. However, this view is very much in a minority.

It is important to recognise these boundaries when one visits a home and if hosts prefer, even if they do not insist on it, removal of shoes, this should be complied with by guests. To ignore this boundary is, as stated in the previous post, taking hospitality for granted.

Some people would object to comparisons with smoking pointing out the health risks of smoking, compared with the minor ill effects to health of wearing shoes past the door. However, it is not so much the health risks that should deter smoking in a non-smoking home. Nobody is going to get lung cancer because a few guests smoked at a dinner party. They are unlikely to even develope a cough because of it. No, the reason one should not smoke in a non-smoking home is simply because the smells and mess are not convenient for such hosts. It is simply impolite. Likewise it is not convenient to impose the dirt and dust of your shoes in the home of a person who would object to it.

Some would argue that it is polite for guests to remove their shoes if this is what the hosts do, but it is impolite for the host to request shoes-off. They feel that it is better to leave the responsiblity of politness to guests. To my mind, this is not quite logical. If guests have the responsibility to comply with the preference of their hosts, then it is surely quite reasonable for guests to make their preference known.

Part of the reason why a verbal request for shoes-off may be necesary is because etiquette is so uncertain and in such a state fo flux on this point. While it may be a good idea to remove one's shoes when one is welcomed by a shoe-less host, as this may be a shoes-off home, such a gesture might be taken as impolite by some. There are some who go shoe-less in their home who would be surprised by guests going shoe-less. It is probably necessary for those who desire shoe-removal to make their wish known.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Green Beans: Baby Steps to Cleaner, Greener Living: Week 2 Take Off Your Shoes

Green Beans: Baby Steps to Cleaner, Greener Living: Week 2 Take Off Your Shoes

'Stop right there!! Don’t take another step!! Go back to the door and take off your shoes!! Phew. That’s better.

Geez, I almost passed out there. Don’t you know what you’ve been tracking into your home? Besides regular dirt and grit that can scratch up and eat away at your flooring, there’s dust, mold, microbes, feces, chemicals, viruses, and general “EWE” (that’s the unidentified gunk that scientists have not yet determined to actually exist, but I know is there!) Even worse, that toxic germy soup settles into your carpets and corners just waiting for you to kick it up and breathe it in. Yum!'

Practically Green:Earth Day Celebration all Month Long! #5 is SO Environmentally Healthy: Take Off Shoes When You Come Indoors!

Practically Green- Earth Day Celebration all Month Long! #5 is SO Environmentally Healthy: Take Off Shoes When You Come Indoors!

'Growing up in Florida with the beach virtually my backyard, I spent a good deal of my childhood barefoot — outside and inside — so maybe that’s why having a shoes-off policy in my own home feels completely natural. I now live in New England, where “mud season” stretches well into April and almost every house has a mudroom and a pile of boots near the door. ‘Boots off’ is the norm in my neighborhood.

But even if you’re lucky enough to live in a place where it’s flip-flop season year round, a shoes-off policy is an essential step in protecting your family from germs that can creep in on the soles of your shoes. “Dirt” tracked in endangers more than carpets. Residues from the lead in car exhaust, toxins from lawn pesticides, traces of animal waste and allergens like pollen on the ground all present a health risk, especially to small children and pets that spend time on the floor. You don’t have to be neat freak like Monica from Friends or a germaphobe like Monk, the TV detective, to care about these risks. Removing shoes at the door is simply a matter of good hygiene, like hand washing.'

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Hospitality Part1


There are some who think that asking guests to remove their shoes is contrary to the principle of hospitality.

This is a culturally relative matter. Albania and Turkey are countries in which hospitality is greatly valued and yet it is expected in those countries that guests remove their shoes.

The shoes-on people argue that a hostess should primarily be concerned with her guests comfort and not with the state of her carpet or floor. However, most guests will feel more comfortable after removing their shoes. They may, admittedly, be uncomfortable because they are embarassed about their feet or they feel their shoes are part of their outfit. Those problems can be dealt with by letting guests know in advance that shoes-off is expected and so they can either bring slippers or plan their outfits with bare or stocking feet in mind. Any embarassment should be minimal if guests are not taken by surprise.

In my opinion, those who insist that guests should be allowed to keep their shoes on take hospitality for granted. I may well invite you. I will give you the best seat. I will cook for you. I will serve you the best food I can. I will give you whatever you want to drink, whether it be alcoholic or not. I will give you my undivided attention. I will entertain you with conversation. If you live nearby, I will drive you home in my car. If not, I will let you stay the night. I will wash up the dishes and cutelry you have used and clean up any mess you make. Given that I am willing to do all this for you, do you really think it is so unreasonable that I ask you to take your shoes off?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

"Please remove muddy footwear"

While seeing my sister in Dorset, I visited a pub with a sign that said "Please remove muddy footwear." I can't remember seeing one of those signs in a pub before. It makes sense with a lot of people coming in from country walks. I imagine the stone floor would have been a little uncomfortable to walk on in socks, but I suppose regulars would know to bring a change of footwear if their shoes were going to get muddy.

My Sister's New Carpet

My sister and her partner have a new carpet. It's quite lovely; off-white and made of natural wool. Obviously, they want to look after it and so they are pretty keen to keep their house shoe-free.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Jordan now has a shoes-off policy!

The Sun: Exclusive look at Jordan’s mansion

Katie Price did not appear to have had a no-shoes rule at the time she did that awful television series, judging by what I saw of it.

Friday, March 18, 2011

No, you don't


I sometimes read blogs where the writer says 'I have a shoes-off policy in my home.' Then in the next paragraph, she states 'I would never ask visitors to remove their shoes.'

I am sorry, but if you normally let visitors come in your home with their shoes on you do not have a shoes-off policy. You have a shoes-on policy. You permit shoes to be worn in your home that have been on public toilet floors, which have walked on weed-killer saturated drives and which have walked on lead paint and all manner of other objectionable things.

It is not reasonable to assume that your guests have cleaner shoes than your children or your husband.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The relationship between host and guest


Some people seem to see the shoes-off rule as an unfair restriction on the freedom of guests. I think that is a very sad attitude.

I rather see the removing of shoes as a beautiful and peaceful exchange between host and guest.

The guest removes her shoes when she enters the home. She shows respect to the house she is entering. She does not treat it like a restaurant where her custom is king. Nor does she treat it as her own home, where she may do as she pleases. She has entered the home of another family and she must respect the fact that their lives are lived here.

The hostess is in turn delighted by the respect that the guest shows her. In removing her shoes, the guest has entered into the environment of her family. The hostess will treat her guest with all the courtesy and kindness that she would show to her own family members. She will take care to look after her to the utmost while she remains under her roof. She will serve her the best food, give her the best seat. If necessary she will drive her home in her car or let her stay the night.

In removing her shoes, the guest becomes like the hostess, who is already shoeless. She identifies with the hostess who has welcomed her into her home. In their both becoming shoeless, the host and guest enter a fellowship and unity. They are both without shoes; they are equals. This is true friendship.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Comparison With Smoking


I think a valid comparison can be made between asking guests to remove their shoes and asking them not to smoke for three reasons.

1. In asking guests not to smoke or to remove their shoes, you are asking them to observe a boundary.

One is asking the guest to behave differently than they might in their own home.

2. While there are health issues involved in both, the overriding issue is the inconvenience caused by either guests smoking or wearing shoes in the host's home.

If a guest lights a cigarette at a dinner party, nobody is going to die of lung cancer as a result. Likewise, if a guest walks a bit of weed-killer into the carpet, it is unlikely that somebody is going to die (not that one should not be concerned about the health implications of weed-killing being walked into the carpet).

The real issue is the inconvenience caused. Smoking will bring into the house smells that are not appreciated by the host and may result in cigarette ash getting into the carpet or furniture. A non-smoking host will not appreciate this. Likewise, the host will be inconvenienced by guests keeping their shoes on. Carpets and floors may be soiled or damaged.

3. There is a possibility that the guest's comfort may be impinged by either being asked not to smoke or to remove her shoes.

If guests cannot smoke indoors, they will either have to suffer the craving or go outside in the cold to smoke.

Removing shoes is rather less likely to cause discomfort, but some guests might still be embarrassed at being asked to remove their shoes or may be unused to being shoeless in another home. This can of course, be minimized if they are informed of the policy in advance.

Guests might also be embarrassed at being asked to follow a 'house rule.' They might feel like they are being treated like children.

However, it is most likely that guests will not be at all bothered and will respect that the host behaves a certain way, whether in not smoking or not wearing shoes in the house.

If it is reasonable to ask guests not to smoke, it is perfectly reasonable to ask guests to take off their shoes.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Off the Post: Please remove your shoes before entering Diniyar Bilyaletdinov’s home, but feel free to park in his space

Off the Post: Please remove your shoes before entering Diniyar Bilyaletdinov’s home, but feel free to park in his space
'The attempts of Russian footballers in the Premier League to communicate with their fans back in the Motherland is frequently hilarious. Imagine our delight then when we discovered that Everton star Diniyar Bilyaletdinov intermittently writes a blog for Russian website

The midfielder’s observations on settling in to life in Liverpool are very enjoyable – there’s no traffic and the air is clean, apparently. But there’s one British ‘tradition’ that really gets on his nerves.

He writes: “And one more feature – I did not accept. They always come in the house with their shoes on. Whether it is a visitor to your teammate or the plumber who comes to remove the data from the water meter. I always ask: remove shoes, and they wonder – why?”'

How to silently remind guests to remove their shoes


1. Cast your eyes downwards at the guest's feet for a few seconds.

2. Make a faint smile with gritted teeth.

3. Look down at the guest's feet again.

4. When the guest looks down, nod.

This may not work on first-time guests. This is best for reminding people who already know you don't want shoes in your house.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Neat Freaks?


It is commonly thought that people who insist on shoes-off in their homes are neat freaks who are obsessed with keeping their homes clean and tidy.

I dare say that there are some people who prefer shoes-off who are genuine neat freaks. And those who are Obsessive-Compulsive about cleanliness may well be among the shoes-off community.

Of course this is culturally relative. In Japan it is thought that money is dirty and unhygeinic because it is handled by untold numbers of people. Japanese people also regard any objects placed in bathrooms, such as books or ornaments to be 'dirty'. A person in a western society who held such attitudes would almost certainly be regarded as Obsessive-Compulsive.

I have known a number of people who really were excessive in their desire to keep their homes clean. Interestingly, these people did not require visitors to remove their shoes. I suspect that they probably spent so much time in cleaning their homes that they were happy to waste time cleaning up after their visitors.

Many people who keep their homes shoe-free are not domestic goddesses who like nothing better than spending whole days doing spring cleaning. Rather, they are busy working people who have far better things to do. They do not want to clean up for the sake of it, but they know that living in a clean environment is healthier and far more pleasent. Knowing that time is precious they would rather keep the mess to the minimum and spend as little time as possible cleaning up after their visitors. Prevention is better than cure.

Nobody needs a house that is spotless, but it is pointless to allow dirt and dust to accumulate when it could easily be kept out by leaving shoes at the door. A floor is meant to be walked upon, but that does not mean that one should not reduce wear and tear and save time and money.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Degrees of Offalism


0. All children and adults may keep their shoes on.

1. Small children required to remove shoes, teenagers and adults may keep them on.

2. Children and teenagers required to remove their shoes, adults may keep them on.

3. All family members required to remove their shoes, visitors may keep them on.

4. Family members and close friends asked to remove their shoes, other visitors may keep them on.

5. Family members and visitors normally asked to remove their shoes, but exceptions made for parties and some formal occasions.

6. Family members and visitors are normally required to remove their shoes on all occasions, including parties.

I would say that you only count as having a shoes-off policy if you are at level 5. Level 4 is close, but in my opinion is not really a true shoes-off policy.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Guest post from Sandro no.2

Sandro is writing from the perspective of somebody from the former Soviet Union where shoes-off is rather more common. Plastic bags might not be a common alternative or compromise in the west, but some of the arguments he offers against them could also be applied to shoe covers. For most people, taking their shoes-off should not be an hardship so shoe covers should not really be necessary.

On Plastic Bags

Sometimes, plastic/fabric bags are seen an altenative for slippers/stockinged feet. Yet I think there are some reasons to disfavor those:

1)whatever tramplians think of what they call the ugliness of feet, bags look obviosuly awkward, and so would feel anyone wearing them; a girl in in a Russian forum suggested such bags as an alternative when visiting homes, but everybody laughed at this suggesion.

2)such bags are really slippery and so dangerous for the wearer; a lady in a Baku forum said she had been using them in her child's kindergarten until she fell a couple of times, which made her switch to slippers.

3)street shoes are not allowed in kindergartens and hospitals around the ex-Soviet countries; visitors ar often offered bags to put on their shoes; yet quite often shoes-off is still required, with optional bags/stockinged feet/slippers; the reason is dirt from shoes still penetrates fabric and plastic, especially if there is some leakage.

4)shoe bags still don't protect parquet from heels

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tip For Party Hosts


If you are hosting a shoeless party and a guest arrives who is wearing a very nice pair of shoes or a pair of shoes you know to be new, always complement them. That way, they will not mind so much leaving them at the door.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

OT On Wheels: The Woman Who Would Not Take Off Her Shoes; in which I discuss my Disappointment with Home Carers lack of Respect

OT On Wheels: The Woman Who Would Not Take Off Her Shoes; in which I discuss my Disappointment with Home Carers lack of Respect
I asked her, “Please would you mind taking your shoes off? We don’t wear shoes in the house.”

“No, sorry, I can’t. Health and Safety.”

“What do you mean? Don’t you have some inside shoes?”

“No. We’ve been through this before, we don’t take our shoes off when were on the job.”

It might be hard for her to understand the implications of this. For me, this is a direct violation of my express wishes and an intrusion into my living space. My carpet is a little symbolic- I saved for a long time to afford it, because I considered it important for my family. It’s warm, and it’s clean. Nobody in the family is allowed to wear shoes on the new carpet- visitors may occasionally visit the bathroom, but no-one comes into the bedrooms with shoes on at all. Apart, that is, from the Home Care.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Isadora Duncan- Pioneer of Modern Dance

Isadora Duncan (1877-1927) is generally viewed as the originator of the Modern Dance movement. She rejected the techniques of ballet in favour of more natural, emotive and free-flowing movements. She established several influential dance schools.

Rejecting the tight outfits and dance pumps of ballet, she and her pupils danced in loose-fitting Grecian style tunics and bare feet. Isadora Duncan might not have been the first professional dancer in Europe or America to dance bare foot, but under her influence, this became standard practice in modern dance. Her work challenged the assumption that everything needs to be done with shoes on. That is the kind of thinking that this blog is about.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011



Remember that game?

I remember when I was a teenager I used to go to parties and they would get me to play Twister. I used to find the game really irritating.

Twister is one game which must be played in socks or bare feet.

Being a shoe-less game, Twister might seem the perfect accompaniment for a shoe-less party. But is this a good idea?

Being a prudish fundamentalist, I would question whether Twister in mixed-sex adult company is really quite decent, but I will leave the morality of it to one side.

For a low-key, informal party with close friends where shoes-off is expected, Twister might be a perfect game to play.

Nevertheless, some people think removing shoes at a party is really tacky. If you then ask these people to play Twister, they will consider your party to be embarassingly juvenile. While we should make no apology for asking such guests to remove their shoes, it is arguable that we must win them over by the quality of our wine, the delights of our food and the intelligence of our conversation.

On the other hand, you have asked them to remove their shoes and get more intimate. With a few drinks to loosen inhibitions, you could argue that Twister is the logical progression from asking party guests to slip off their shoes.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

A Rather Obvious Answer


"If you are so obsessed with keeping your floor clean, don't invite anybody to your home."

If you are so obsessed with what you are wearing, don't visit anybody's home.