Leaving Your Shoes at the Door
Just before our daughter was born, I went into a friend’s home where I was asked to remove my shoes at the door. At first, I was a little surprised, but when I walked further into her home, it made sense. Her house was not the tidiest home I’d ever seen (though if you’re interested in that, check out our advice on how to KonMari your home), but her floors were pristine. And I’m pretty sure her daughter was eating grapes off the floor.
As any new momma-to-be does, I went home that day and did my research about living in a shoe-free home. The internet astounded me. The list of toxic germs and chemicals tracked on the bottoms of our shoes immediately grossed me out. I read about e. Coli and influenza and how our shoes can be dirtier than toilet seats! The thought of letting my baby crawl around a germ-infested home was enough to convince me right then and there.
When I shared the research with my husband, he, too, was a bit shocked, but we knew if we were going to take this challenge that we should do it before the baby arrived. We had energy and motivation as new parents-to-be and we were going to DO THIS.
A Few Clarifications On Leaving Shoes at the Door
Now, please don’t confuse me with a germaphobe; I have absolutely no problem with dirt. I’m not one of those moms that has hand sanitizer attached to my key chain. In fact, I’m a believer that exposure to most germs builds up immunity and that some ingested dirt can actually contain probiotics. Check out Dr. Josh Axe’s book Eat Dirt. The germs I’m referring to as harmful are those found in high traffic, public spaces … mostly bathrooms!
I also want to make it clear that leaving shoes at the door might sound overwhelming and drastic to some of you. This perspective is in no way meant to make moms feel guilty for NOT taking shoes off, especially since there are so many factors that contribute to disease, illness and immune support. Removing your shoes at the door may not be a chore you choose to tackle, and that’s okay! This is just my personal opinion.
Fast Forward Two Years … Still Leaving Shoes at the Door!
Two years into this parenting gig, we still enforce the no shoe rule at our house, but we have admittedly become a bit more lax; I’d say we are about 82% shoe free. If it were up to my husband, we would be 100% shoe free inside given his all or nothing mindset, but I tend to be more driven by convenience and etiquette.
Our close friends and family know that they will either have to walk barefoot when they come over or borrow a pair of socks. They know to bring slippers when they stay with us. We also have shoe covers for contractors and clean grippy socks for unexpected overnight guests.
I think any effort to decrease harmful chemicals from your home is better than none. If you’re thinking of becoming shoe-free in any capacity, here is a list of pros and cons that might help with your decision.
- Cleaner floors. Hardwood floors show the most dirt and dust. You will notice a dramatic difference in the appearance of all floors when you go shoe-free. And you might even pick up a piece of food off the floor and eat it!
- Safer crawl space for babies. Studies show that shoes carry bacteria on them for long periods of time. Think of all of the places you walk (including the parking lot at Target or Port of John at Mardi Gras). Would you want those same germs sharing space for your little ones?
- Improved health. Those same bacteria that get tracked onto your beautiful tile floors are known for causing health problems like meningitis, urinary tract infections, and the flu. Taking my daughter to school twice a week is risky enough for me. I don’t need more exposure to illness!
- Cute house shoes. The top of my Christmas list last year was a snazzy pair of house shoes from L.L. Bean. Check out FeelGoodz for regular visitors or Crocs for unexpected guests.
- Convenience. My biggest hang up for a no shoe rule is sticking to it. Picture this: you are all ready to walk out the door for a family trip with your shoes AND your toddler’s shoes on (which is a feat in itself). You realize you forget her jacket in the other room. Do you A) Take off your shoes which will cost more time and hassle or B) Just walk across the darn house in your dirty shoes? I usually choose B.
- Having guests over. Although I am extremely knowledgeable about the risks involved with grimy footwear, I do have a problem asking my friends to take off their shoes for a social gathering. I know they put time and effort into their outfit. Or maybe they have unmanicured toes. Do I really want to ask them to remove their shoes and expose their feet? Not really.
- Clutter at the door. While I have three cute matching baskets that fit perfectly under a bench, between the three of us, we have a small mound of shoes that sits by each door. It gets worse around the holidays when we have family in town.
- Trying on shoes with your outfit. I believe shoes can make or break an ensemble. Trying on clothes isn’t the same without the shoes. Therefore, I carefully try on my shoes and carry them downstairs so my husband won’t notice!
While there are an equal number of pros and cons, for our family, I think the pros are more important the cons. We will continue to be shoe-free (for the most part anyway).
Love this article! We are not shoe-less in our home yet, but you’ve made some excellent points to consider as we think about whether this is the right move for us.
You missed the biggest and most important reason for doing this in New Orleans– the high lead content of the soil in MANY parts of the city.
Thanks for your commment. I would like to hear more about why lead is a bigger concern in New Orleans compared to other cities.
Thanks for the article! I have a friend that has a shoe free house; I have serious plantar factitious from pushing a stroller with two kids on the sand! I wear shoes with arch support NONstop; seriously… even to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Plantar Fascitis can be crippling when it flairs up and even 20 steps of unstretched bare feet can cause pain for weeks. After 4 years my only solutions are shoe support and icing every night. I always struggle when I go to my friends and I’ve told her my situation but she has a child with pollen allergies so she asks that I keep my shoes off. I am looking forward to the day that we can leave the kids at home and meet for lunch as I know I will not be walking a few days after my visit. Do you have any suggestions for me since you are a PT student? I’ve thought about bringing my house shoes, but they are shoes, not slippers. THANKS!
Have you thought about buying a pair of shoes to stay at her house? Maybe a pair of inexpensive Crocs or slip ons with arch support? Shoes inside the house are okay if they haven’t spent time outside. My next question would be, have you seen a Physical Therapist for treatment? It sounds like you have a severe case that could benefit from manual stretching, modalities and mobilizations. I’ve treated a lot of patients with plantar fasciitis, and while it doesn’t go away immediately, it can be managed. I would, also, recommend taking Omega 3’s to control inflammation and pain. Self massage with a menthol-like cream works well too. PM me if you need any more recommendations! It must be tough to manage this with kiddos.
I’m from the country where shoeless house is a norm. And I do have shoeless house myself here in US. I don’t see any issues: it’s just a habit. Every family member has his own pair of home shoes and we keep a couple of flip-flops and socks for the guests.
Thanks for your comment, Minnie. And you bring up good points! While our immediate family and close relatives don’t wear shoes, it is still a constant debate in our house with guests. For play dates, I ask moms to remove shoes. But for bigger groups (such as birthday parties) I would rather let them stay on and mop the next day! The floor gets dirty anyway. My husband on the other hand will patrol the door and ask them to remove shoes. So like I said, it’s a constant struggle.
I agree with your point about people not wanting to expose their feet, but I had not thought about contagious conditions that feet carry. I would have to research whether or not it’s possible to catch something from walking on the same surface as those individuals. Most of the research I’ve seen addressed things that shoes carry like feces. Personally, I would be more concerned about shoes that walk into public bathrooms than bare feet.
At the end of the day, everyone has to make a decision. As long as you are informed, I’m sure it will be the right choice! Since I’ve written this post, we don’t offer guests socks or indoor shoes. Most people already have socks on or they are wearing sandals that already expose their feet. So, it’s a small amount of people who may be exposing their feet (if that makes sense).