Cleaning Home Organization

How To Become A Shoes-Off In The House Family

Shoes on or shoes off in the house is such a touchy subject. Most people feel very strongly towards the topic altogether. But I’m not scared to dig into the deep stuff, so when I had a reader ask me about the baskets of shoes by my door in one of my earlier posts, I decided it’s time I get real about it.

Yes, we are a shoes-off household. No, we haven’t always been one. And yes, our family and friends had a bit of difficulty getting used to it. But if you’ve ever considered making the switch to a shoes-off in the house policy, for whatever reason, this post is for you. I’ll share exactly how we made the switch, the obstacles we ran into, and how we make it work for us.

I Didn’t Grow Up Like This

Now I will preface this as I am a girl who lives in the south. My grandparents own a farm. Shoes in the house was just something I was used to. I never had anyone in any house that ever asked anyone to take off their shoes. (Unless they had cow manure on them, in which my grandmother would chase you out if she caught it.) I never grew up with that mentality. It didn’t matter if we had carpet or hardwoods, it was always the shoe-wearer’s choice whether to wear or take off.

So here I am, a thirty-something year old woman, running a household with a husband, a preteen boy, and three pets, with a basket by the door and shoes that never make it past the welcome mat. How?!? Y’all are thinking I’m some kind of magician, right? But honestly, I had no intentions of making this happen. It actually started because of a rug.

How Our No-Shoes Policy Began

I drooled over those white cowhide rugs for pretty much my whole life. When I finally got one, I felt like I was living the height of luxury! I named her Sheila and I promised her I’d never let shoes touch her pretty white [faux] fur. So the minute Sheila claimed her spot in the living room at our old house, I was very vocal that she could only be touched with socks or bare feet. I’ll admit, I was known to semi-shout “No Shoes On Sheila!” if I saw my son’s shoe soles getting close.

It took some training of our frequent houseguests, but eventually everyone knew that shoes and Sheila didn’t mix. Although we never really made anyone take off their shoes, it just seemed easier to take them off at the door than risk seeing the waterworks take over my face if something stained “her.”

So when we were in the process of building our new house, my husband and I came to the realization that *everything* in this house is new. We can’t blame a floor scuff on a previous owner. We can’t be mad about a spot that doesn’t come up. We are completely responsible for the care of this home and no one has ever owned it except us. So when the builders put in matte flooring (we bought mid-build so the builder had already chosen and ordered the flooring before we signed the contract) I snuck a sample out of the house to take home to test.

Y’all, that same scratched up with one swipe of a retracted pen. I was so upset, and I knew these floors would be trashed in no time. Not to mention that they cover the ENTIRE first floor. That’s when the stars aligned and my hubby and I thought the same thing at the same time. We rarely wear shoes in our current house, so why not just ban them from the new one?

I wish I could say it was some glamorous reason like we were being health-conscious or protecting our kid and pets from harmful germs. But honestly, we just wanted to take care of our stuff. And while it may be a selfish reason to begin with, we’re still getting those health benefits. And we only have to mop the floors once every two weeks before they never really get dirty. In our old house we were mopping every three days!

wooden coat hanger and shelf styling

How We Made The Transition

1. We Started Small

Jumping straight from Shoes Anytime to Shoes Never would’ve been a disaster waiting to happen. It’s just too hard to make a huge switch like that overnight. In the case of Sheila, we started by just simply not allowing shoes to touch the rug. Then we slowly moved into the idea that shoes won’t touch any rugs or carpet. Eventually it made it easy to just leave the shoes at the door. (And it started to become a pain to play “Rugs Are Lava” all the time.

2. We Made It Easy

If we started this whole venture by just hoping that we’d all remove our shoes, walk them to the closet, and immediately put them away, this wouldn’t have even lasted a week. We knew that in order to remind and incentivize us to keep it up, we had to have somewhere to actually put the shoes when we take them off. In our old house, I installed some floating shelves from Target below the windows to hold the shoes. And in our new house, we have two large baskets by both our front and back doors.

3. We Informed Our Family

This is a big one. Right after we moved into our new house, we invited our family over. Nigel’s side and my side. And in the text invite, we were sure to mention “We’ve decided to make our new house a no-shoes zone, so make sure you wear cute socks!” That eased the stress of being caught by surprise when someone could have potentially worn the holey socks from the back of drawer, but also prepared them so we wouldn’t have to police the door to tell everyone in person. Way less awkward.

And bonus points too, because now when our family comes over, it turns into somewhat of a sock fashion show to rock your coolest ones. Nobody ever sees the colorful funny socks that get hidden under pants and shoes, so everyone loves showing off their bacon and flamingo socks.

no shoes policy

Roadblocks You May Run Into

Implementing a whole new policy for how you live and entertain in your house isn’t going to be smooth. I wish I could say it will, but it definitely will not. People are going to slip up. You’re going to slip up. It’s going to be awkward sometimes. There’s no getting around it.

But I guarantee you aren’t making this big switch for no reason at all. Whatever that reason is, whether it’s health-conscious or just an overly-obsessive new floor Mom, you’re passionate enough about it to want to change. So when things go wrong, don’t freak out and don’t give up. All new habits take time.

Roadblock #1: You’re afraid your kids won’t be on board. 

Girl, it took SO long for me to get my kid to remember! But when I added the shelves and the baskets and gave him a special spot for his shoes, it instantly clicked. He really liked having one spot that was just his, and no one else’s stuff would ever be there. Plus, he admitted that he actually likes not wearing shoes in the house and thinks it’s weird that we did it in the first place.

Roadblock #2: Your husband isn’t on board.

Okay, this one’s definitely a road block, and it can stop you in it’s tracks. If your hubby isn’t on board, you better just give it up for now. Forcing the co-owner of your home to do something he doesn’t want to do is never going to work. And unless you are both 100% in, it will never be enforced. Sure, he may take them off when you’re home, but I guarantee he’ll shrug his shoulders and stroll in with his wet sneakers when you’re not. You need your partner to be just as passionate as you are or it’s not even worth doing.

Roadblock #3: You’re worried guests will be annoyed.

Hey, they might. But they also might not like the paint color in your dining room. Or the gallery wall around your TV. Or the polka dot wine glasses you put out. Do you stress over those things when they come over? Of course not. Those are part of your home. Your home. A No-Shoes policy is part of your home as well, and guests will always respect that. If they’re annoyed about it, they’ll likely never tell you.

Just be sure to give them a head’s up before they come over. Again, nobody wants to be seen wearing the ugly used-to-be-white socks from the back of the drawer. Be respectful of them by letting them know a few days before their visit, and they’ll be respectful of your house rules.

Roadblock #4: You don’t think your kids’ friends will oblige.

I’ll tell you one thing for sure, my son’s friend that lives next door follows the No-Shoes policy better than anyone I’ve ever invited to our house. Noah told him the first time he came over, showed him where to put his shoes, and he’s never made it past the mat in his shoes. He never forgets, and when his sisters come to tell him it’s time to go home, he quickly instructs them to take theirs off too. You shouldn’t worry about your kids’ friends at all. They follow your house rules better than your own kids 99% of the time.

Recap

  • Changes won’t happen overnight. A No-Shoes policy is something that takes time to get used to.
  • Your spouse MUST be on board, and feel just as strongly about the change as you do. If not, it’s never going to work.
  • Make sure you’ve got a place to put the shoes, like a shelf, cubby, or basket, and include a place to sit to remove them.
  • Tell your guests days ahead of time of your policy and to avoid sounding bossy, throw in a “now you can show off your favorite pair of socks” line.
  • Evaluate how you feel after a trial run. Are you mopping less? Does your house feel cleaner? Do you stress less over your floors and rugs? If you feel good about how things are going, keep it that way. If it doesn’t work for your family, chalk it up as a fun experiment and keep those laces tied.

Weigh In

Shoes On or Shoes Off? This is SUCH a controversial topic, and totally a personal preference. I wrote this post for Moms like me who want to implement this policy, not to persuade others to live this way. That being said, I’d love to hear your thoughts below in the comments. Do you allow shoes in the house? Why or why not? Have you tried this before? And if so, what methods worked for you?

My blog is all about women empowering other women to be the best human she’s always dreamed of, so please avoid negativity or judgement in the comments. We all do things differently, and that’s what makes us all SuperMoms!

 

21 Comments

  1. So helpful. Thank you!

  2. We are a shoes off household, and I love your tips. In the beginning, we asked everyone to remove shoes, even though often we didn’t have time to warn everyone in advance. For instance, we were in a gathering and invited everyone over afterward. I hated the way this made people feel. Friends and polite people never complained, but I could see it on their faces. I know some wouldn’t have wanted to come over again if we continued requiring it. There were some grumpy relatives who were openly angered and offended by it. One nasty relative even defiantly left them on and put their feet up on our ottoman with shoes on, while we had an infant. I asked them to take their feet off the ottoman the baby was learning to walk by touching. (This person always does things to get a rise out of anyone they can; so I have learned to avoid them as much as possible, but they are family and come along with others I love to see.) As our new carpet and flooring aged and showed wear from bare feet and a few shoes, we relaxed our rules for others while our family enjoys being shoes off. Everyone who enters can see we are barefoot, and we have a shoe area by the door. So many do remove shoes without a mention, and others ask. I tell them we are shoes free, and want them to be comfy so take them off or keep them on. We have a nice mat both outside and inside for wiping shoes. This makes me happy because most people do remove their shoes, and it is more important to me that they feel welcome, and that was not working for everyone before. A big thing to note is that elderly or even young people with back/foot issues cannot easily remove shoes. I think it is a great idea to have the shoe covers, but the elderly also need to have slip-free shoes. It’s easy for me to be more relaxed with the flooring so old now. I do want all hard floors later so at least they will be easy to clean when company chooses to keep the shoes on. 😉

    • Brad - Admin

      Hi, Sun. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I’m glad people are on board now that they see the effect it has on your home, and we had some visitors who were definitely not on board at first, so we’re with you there. I agree with your point about guests who have difficulty taking their shoes off. In that case, we give them a bit of leeway. We want everyone to feel welcome and never uncomfortable, so they can take them off with or without assistance (that choice is entirely up to them) once they reach a comfy seat. I myself have cerebral palsy, and since my feet usually touch my wheelchair’s footplates instead of the floor, I don’t always have to take my shoes off at Lela’s house, even though I always do out of sheer preference for comfort. We’re glad we could help you out with our post, too.

  3. I have so many questions! Do all of your shoes live downstairs or do you carry them up and down depending on what you want to wear? How do you deal with having one shoe spot but two doors? (Back and front I mean) If you just run out for a minute isn’t it a pain to sit down and put your shoes on? I am imagining being shoe-helper for my 4 little kids every time they want to grab a drink when playing outside. I don’t see how people do it with small children. Thanks for the post!

    • Lela Burris

      Hi Whitney! Great questions! Here’s my answers to each:

      1. Most shoes live in their respective closets. My shoe closet is upstairs, along with my son’s closet, and my husband keeps his shoes downstairs in the master bedroom closet. For any shoes we don’t wear almost every day, yes, we took them to their closets after cleaning the soles.

      2. We have 4 doors, and use two of them regularly. We have baskets by both of those doors so shoes can be dropped in no matter which way we come in.

      3. For quick trips out the door to get mail, run an errand, or take our evening walk, we keep one pair each of “kick around shoes” (as my husband calls them) by the door in the basket. In the summer those are slide-on sandals and in winter they are loose sneakers that don’t require lacing. They are just the quick go-to for fast in and outs.

      4. When it comes to small kids, I’d get some slip-on shoes for playing outside if you really don’t want them coming in with shoes on. Sketchers has good stretchy slip on sneakers and they’re pretty cheap. It’s definitely harder to keep it up when your kids are very young, but they’ll develop the habit and just take them off and on without thinking about it once they get used to it. And your home will be so much safer and cleaner for them, so it will totally be worth it.

  4. Thanks for the great post. This will be so helpful and gracefully addressed the worries I had on how to implement this policy in our own home among visiting families and friends for whom this is not the norm. Can’t wait to hold a “cool socks” contest.

    • Brad - Admin

      You’re so welcome, Adri! It’s definitely made a difference in our house, especially since people look forward to showing off their socks now. Feel free to clear some space for a runway and put on some techno music for full effect. 🙂

  5. Guldara Kirwan

    I came upon your post while preparing my speech to motivate my audience to take shoes off before entering any house (I’m a college student). Thank you so much for the article and the advise how to let people know about your no-shoes policy beforehand. I always felt guilty asking anyone to remove their shoes. Thanks again!

  6. I googled “how to become no-shoes home” and this wonderful post came up. Thank you so much!

    I’m looking to implement this for the same reason. New house with new floors I don’t want ruined. Also its quite a large house, so I’m nervous about whether I can keep up with the floor cleaning, and I’m hoping shoes-off will help with reducing that task.

    *fingers crossed*

    • Yes! That’s the biggest pro of all! Before we were a no-shoes house, I was mopping 2X a week. Now I only do it every other week, and sometimes I wait almost 3 weeks. It’s SO worth it!

  7. I had a lovely long comment, but when I typed n/a for not having a website, I got an error message: please add http: in front of your website and it erased everything I’d written. I have to let the dogs in and can’t rewrite it now. ?

  8. Lela, I really liked the idea of no-shoes in the house. My kids did it as a preference, I switch from outside shoes to inside shoes or sturdy slippers. I like my indoor shoes; they last forever and when my outdoor/working day shoes look too worn for public, they drop down to my skuzzy outdoor work shoes – mowing the grass, changing the oil in the lawn tractor, planting and weeding flower beds, chainsawing tree branches growing in the wrong location. I get new indoor shoes, which graduate to public daytime shoes and the process continues. I also get my ldaughter’s day shoes when they hit that invisible line of not-for-public-use anymore.

    I would suggest, for unexpected company or the person who has worn light-weight or no socks while visiting you, that you tuck some warm fuzzy socks in another basket by the door and cheerfully offer a pair while explaining the no-shoes policy. I like the socks with rubber stripes on the bottom for older visitors, lest they slip and break a hip.

    The fuzzy socks are inexpensive and so easy to pick up at the drug store or dollar store, that if someone seems reluctant to return dirty socks to you, you could easily say, oh just keep them and think of us on chilly nights. ?

    • Oh I love your idea of keeping some extra socks by the door for guests! Especially the grippy ones. That’s such a wonderful suggestion!

      And I definitely agree on the sturdy houseshoes. I wear a pair around the house, mainly because bare feet and hardwood isn’t exactly comfortable, but also because my house shoes are sheepskin lined.

      And major props to your kids for doing it on their own! Sounds like you’ve got a good thing going!

  9. Oh man. I just went through this last night. I gave up. He didn’t care when we got the new living room rug (totally dirty now) so last night when he came in with the wet sneakers from the snowy, wet, dirty backyard (he had been at the firehouse so there’s a whole lot of dirt right there) I could have cried (I was very tired at 10p). Really? I cried! I went around him with my socks, wiping up his dirty footprints (God my socks were filthy!). What did he do? Proceeded into the living room, across the RUG upstairs to bed. I give up. Until tomorrow. Then I’ll tell him all about it during breakfast. Pray for me!

    • Oh Jeannette! I’m so sorry to hear that. I can completely understand why you were so upset, I’m upset for you! I read your comment to my husband hoping he’d have a pearl of wisdom from a man’s perspective, and we both agree that you should definitely sit down and explain how you felt about the situation. Of course he loves you and respects you, so he should understand when you tell him how frustrating it was for you to have to clean it all up so late at night. Maybe after asking him during the conversation to keep his shoes at the door, you can run by Target or Walmart and get one of those big plastic boot trays. They’re only $7 and they have a raised edge. He can drop them in the tray at the door (it may not be cute, but it’ll at least keep the snow from melting everywhere) and then he can just pop them on in the morning when he’s ready to leave again. It will honestly make his morning a little easier anyway. 🙂 Once he gets into the habit of it, you can finally rent a carpet cleaner and make that rug look brand new again. Keep me updated!

  10. Sandra gandy

    I love this post. no shoes. I don’t like wearing shoes at all.

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