Cleaning

Should you take your shoes off when you’re inside? We asked, you answered

And we've got expert advice for you.

Barefoot, with only socks, or your shoes still on your feet – how do you enter someone else’s home?

This age-old debate has spanned generations, and every household has a different answer.

When we reached out to you on Facebook, the answers were split down the middle. 

While many were adamant about their shoes-off-house rule, some ventured to explain: 

“The only way I have shoes off in the house is if slides or indoor shoes are worn – bare feet are worse than shoes sometimes!”

Others explained the uncomfortable feeling of having being barefoot: “I like it when people say ‘leave your shoes on’ as I always say, otherwise you feel undressed & uncomfortable sitting in their home in bare feet. Some people’s feet aren’t always clean anyway.”

On the other side, the most common reply was a definite “Off!” This was often put down to cleanliness, respect and good manners. 

But what is the actual answer to this controversial question? Let’s find out together.

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(Credit: Getty)

Why are shoes worn or not worn inside? 

Shoes are not worn inside for a wide variety of reasons, with many of them being attributed to respect or cultural practices. On the other end, keeping them on could be for medical reasons or comfort level. So which is the right choice? Take a look at the reasons on both sides:

Reasons for keeping shoes on:

  • A houseguest may feel uncomfortable showing off their bare feet, or even their socks!
  • Taking off your shoes often signifies a close relationship or intimacy that is not at the right level for some guests.
  • Wearing just socks around the house can be a slipping hazard.
  • Some individuals where shoes for medical reasons, such as plantar fasciitis.
  • Elderly, disabled and other health-compromised guests may require shoes to be able to walk.
  • If your guest is only staying for a short period of time.

Reasons for taking shoes off:

  • Taking shoes off is usually considered a sign of respect in many cultures across the globe, including in Asia and Europe.
  • In some cultures, removing shoes is considered to be a traditional practice. For example, shoes are removed before entering a house in Japan, which goes back to an era when people sat on mats on the floor.
  • Some cultures remove shoes when visiting places of worship as a sign of respect.
  • Individuals often believe that wearing shoes inside tracks in dirt and germs can be unsanitary in the home.
  • In Western cultures, removing shoes is considered ‘good manners’ or ‘common courtesy’ when visiting friends and family.

Do Australians wear shoes inside?

Australia does not currently have a common consensus when it comes to wearing shoes inside the house. It is usually down to the household rules, you are either a shoes-on or shoes-off home.

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(Credit: Getty)

Does wearing shoes inside bring germs?

Although the general consensus is a definite yes, what do the experts actually think about it?

Livia Gamble, our resident cleaning expert on Better Homes and Gardens, explains that “Bacteria and organisms, such as mould spores, are everywhere, often unseen. They hitch rides on clothes, shoes, and even on the wind. “

According to a report by The Cleaning Industry Research Institute, bacteria was found on 96% of shoes that were tested. This bacteria is not all harmful; notable strains include E. Coli, Klebsiella pneumonia (which is attributed to both pneumonia and wounds), and Serratia ficaria (which can cause respiratory infections).

A notable statistic from this study states, “Transfer of bacteria from the shoes to uncontaminated tiles ranged from 90% to 99%.” 

However, even if the germs are on your shoes and then spreading to the floor, does that mean they will affect you?

Livia says that, yes, it is true that wearing shoes indoors can introduce bacteria, but she highlights two very important factors: 

“The real impact depends on how often you clean your house and how much you actually spend sitting on or close to the floor.”

Should you have a no-shoes rule?

A no-shoes rule will always depend on the type of household you have. For individuals who work in the outdoors or in a trade, leaving the boots at the front door is pretty normal. For those who have feet or walking problems, keeping your shoes on until bedtime is a given. 

When it comes to guests, it’s up to you!

Livia reminds us that if germs from outside do make their way in from guests’ shoes, regular cleaning of your floors is definitely needed. If you’ve got young children or pets that tend to snuffle around the floorboards, having shoes off might be recommended, to avoid any close contact with bad bacteria. 

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(Credit: Getty)

Getting around the no shoes rule

The easiest way to get around the ‘no-shoes’ rule in your own home, if you like the feel and support of a shoe, is actually by having a pair of shoes that are specifically for the home. These could be slippers, Ugg boots or a dedicated pair of shoes that do not leave the indoor rooms of your home.

This means no bacteria, dirt or outside debris can be tracked through the home. Simply place your ‘outside shoes’ onto a shoe-rack at the front door, and put on your ‘house shoes’ once you get inside!

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