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Survey: Is it customary for shoes to be off in the house? January 4, 2011 8:51 PM   Subscribe

Following on this very interesting question, I present this survey to fellow Mefites: Is it customary for shoes to be off in the house?

I threw together this survey because I feel compelled to find out if there's a regional distinction between people who do and do not take off their shoes in the house. Feel free to spread the survey far so that we may disguise our errors with a larger sample size.

The survey is done with a Google form.

All of the results will be publicly available in this spreadsheet for your mapping and graphing pleasure.
posted by Mo Nickels to MetaFilter-Related at 8:51 PM (217 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

Can there be an option for, "It's bloody rude not to take your shoes off right away. A host shouldn't even have to ask!"?
posted by jmd82 at 8:54 PM on January 4, 2011 [11 favorites]


Once you answer this question, on to the bigger issue:

PANTS.
posted by jonmc at 8:57 PM on January 4, 2011 [24 favorites]


How about an option for "There's no way you keep your floors clean enough for my socks, let alone my bared and quivering twinklies"?
posted by carsonb at 8:57 PM on January 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


How about a box for "people who get huffy about other people's manners are missing the point of etiquette altogether"?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:59 PM on January 4, 2011 [67 favorites]


jmd82 and carsonb, that's what the "Additional Comments" field is for.

Jonmc, if you go through the original thread and replace "shoes" with "pants" or "underwear," a lot of the responses become hysterical.
posted by Mo Nickels at 9:01 PM on January 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


or...sociable...
posted by jonmc at 9:04 PM on January 4, 2011


My form will be the one that, in additional comments, reads "Shoes are dirty and should only be allowed in doors for purposes of sex."
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:18 PM on January 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Oooh! A survey! Frankly it's not as exciting a question as the stand or sit one.
posted by arcticseal at 9:28 PM on January 4, 2011


Personally, I think wearing (outdoor) shoes indoors is disgusting. Maybe it's a Canadian thing because everybody I know takes their shoes off when entering someone's house. Street shoes are dirty (think of all the spit and other grossness on the street), and the only way I would want to leave my shoes on is if the house is even dirtier than the street (but I'd still remove them out of politeness).
posted by 1000monkeys at 9:29 PM on January 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


This MeTa thread is not actually the survey. Just making sure people know that.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:29 PM on January 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


Personally, I think wearing (outdoor) shoes indoors is disgusting. Maybe it's a Canadian thing because everybody I know takes their shoes off when entering someone's house. Street shoes are dirty (think of all the spit and other grossness on the street), and the only way I would want to leave my shoes on is if the house is even dirtier than the street (but I'd still remove them out of politeness).

Pretty much everything everywhere is gross, including the floors of your supposedly clean house. Feet sweat a lot and socks have bacteria, which is just as gross as anything else. I think this is just germophobia, like people who don't touch fixtures in public bathrooms (and therefore don't flush). If shoes are visibly dirty and tracking mud, then I can understand, but otherwise I don't particularly care.
posted by codacorolla at 9:41 PM on January 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


My coworker (Japanese, like most all of the rest of them here), was absolutely horrified by the concept that Americans allow their infants and small children to crawl all over the floor where they wore their shoes that had been outside and in public bathrooms etc.

I really just take off my shoes because I prefer having my shoes off. Not really a germ or dirt concept. I sometimes went barefoot outdoors in nice weather in college. I even take my shoes off at work (If I have to walk somewhere I'll put them on, but at my desk they are generally off). Luckily this is also more acceptable in Japan.
posted by that girl at 9:48 PM on January 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


My survey answers can double as a makeshift safety manual should you find your feet on fire.
posted by item at 9:58 PM on January 4, 2011


I like having a no shoes house because on the few occasions when we do leave our shoes on, dirt and leaves and various other yard detritus ends up all over the carpet and we have to vacuum more often. The germ thing has really never occurred to me. Plus, I never feel fully relaxed with shoes on.
posted by chiababe at 9:59 PM on January 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


Is it customary for shoes to be off in the house?

I don't know, are you feet cold or something?
posted by nola at 10:01 PM on January 4, 2011


Canadian here. I live in a reconditioned, hardwood floor ex-punk squat house. If you wanna take your shoes off in my house, be my guest, but you're f'in crazy if you do. (Unless you wanna lie on my bed and make out ... there's exceptions to every rule...)
posted by mannequito at 10:04 PM on January 4, 2011


Thank you, Mo Nickels! I was just thinking about how awesome that thread was!
posted by Night_owl at 10:06 PM on January 4, 2011


I politely ask anyone commenting below to please talk off your pants. Srsly. That's how we do it here.
posted by special-k at 10:32 PM on January 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


That thread was pretty much a double.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:32 PM on January 4, 2011


I can't stand to have this discussion again. I just can't.
posted by ottereroticist at 10:35 PM on January 4, 2011


Canadian here. I live in a reconditioned, hardwood floor ex-punk squat house. If you wanna take your shoes off in my house, be my guest, but you're f'in crazy if you do.

*politely removes shoes*

posted by Sys Rq at 10:36 PM on January 4, 2011


That's why I'm sitting down. With no pants on.
posted by ottereroticist at 10:36 PM on January 4, 2011


Oh! I must be Canadian, then. I wish Mom and Dad had told me. It explains a lot.
posted by ottereroticist at 10:37 PM on January 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's funny here in Canada: We never wear shoes pants in our own homes, but if we have company over, we're too polite to ask them to take their shoes pants off. They will offer to do it, but we will insist that, "No, it's fine, really," even though it So. Totally. Isn't.

Note to visiting Yanks: "Keep your shoes pants on," is Canadian for, "Take those fucking things off now."

posted by special-k at 10:40 PM on January 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


My socks-but-no-shoes policy is important, because it lets me run down the hall and slide pretty dang far! I couldn't do that otherwise!
posted by aubilenon at 10:41 PM on January 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


My floors are covered with toads that have epidermal-absorbable psychoactive venom secretions so you're missing out on a pretty fabulous trip if you insist on wearing shoes here.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:42 PM on January 4, 2011 [12 favorites]


When I was an exchange student in Italy a common question I got was "Why do Americans put their feet up on the furniture while they're wearing shoes, like we see on American TV?" I didn't have an answer for that one.
posted by hydrophonic at 10:43 PM on January 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I politely ask anyone commenting below to please talk off your pants

er take off. But hey, I'll talk off your pants too.
posted by special-k at 10:43 PM on January 4, 2011


Is it customary for shoes to be off in the house?

Yes, unless you a) are a horse or b) live in a sit-com. If a), horses shouldn't even be allowed in a house, if b) THAT'S WHAT SHE SAID!!! [Audience applauds, cheers]
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:43 PM on January 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


Feet sweat a lot and socks have bacteria, which is just as gross as anything else

Not, not necessarily. It depends on what the person is worried about. Pesticides? Heavy metals?
posted by salvia at 10:50 PM on January 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Y'know what kills basically all foot-dwelling microorganisms?

Fresh air.

I can't even imagine how completely disgusting y'all's feet must be in the States. Do you only take your shoes off to shower? Because, um, showers--particularly public ones--are perfect vectors for athlete's foot, plantar warts, etc., which you then quickly insert back into your warm, moist shoes, which, being warm and moist, are the perfect habitat for the microorganisms responsible for such diseases to thrive... ugh...

But hey, I guess it's nice of you to throw some business to the poor folks at Lamisil and Gold Bond.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:51 PM on January 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


When I was an exchange student in Italy a common question I got was "Why do Americans put their feet up on the furniture while they're wearing shoes, like we see on American TV?" I didn't have an answer for that one.
I'm neither American or Italian but, if you put your shoes on my furniture, I'll kick your arse. With my shoes on.
posted by dg at 10:55 PM on January 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Could one of you nice Canadians please rent the apartment upstairs when our neighbors move out in two months? Our current neighbors don't wear pants in the house, and now I know why — the wife is Canadian.

Always try to live under a Canadian.
posted by taz at 11:08 PM on January 4, 2011


I politely ask anyone commenting below to please talk off your pants

er take off. But hey, I'll talk off your pants too.
posted by special-k at 10:43 PM on January 4 [+] [!]


No need. Mine are already off. I'm planning to leave them off all day.

It's the only way to ensure I don't break my new year's resolution by absentmindedly wandering off to the shop to buy cigarettes.

(And you people think I'm joking..)

But as for shoes, it's really simple. If there are shoes lined up outside (or just inside) any building (home, mosque, restaurarant, whatever) you take yours off. If you want people to take off their shoes, line up some old ones outside the door..
posted by Ahab at 11:47 PM on January 4, 2011


It depends on what the person is worried about. Pesticides? Heavy metals?

Wha? Really? Holy moly, I've heard everything now...
posted by JenMarie at 12:06 AM on January 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Somehow, I entered my home town as New Orleans, CA. Time for bed.
posted by brundlefly at 12:27 AM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I fucking hate germaphobes, seems like such a sad life.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:04 AM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I grew up in a distant time and place where people generally did wear shoes indoors. They wiped their feet before entering. Then shag rug was invented and everything changed.

Nowadays, nobody seems to have shag rug anymore (nice and soft under stocking feet) but they still expect you to kick off your shoes, which actually hurts once you hit say 40 years of age (hardwood floor + stocking feet do not mix for prolonged periods).

My suggestion: if you're going to get all precious about NO FOOTWARE in your abode, maybe make slippers, sandals etc available to your visitors (and make sure you offer a wide range of sizes -- wouldn't want to discriminate against the bigger/smaller than average).
posted by philip-random at 1:15 AM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]



I can't even imagine how completely disgusting y'all's feet must be in the States.


Hey now, plenty of us in the States were raised to keep our shoes off in the house.

Asian Americans, I'm looking at YOU.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 1:29 AM on January 5, 2011


I think we might be indoor shoes people here in the desert because it never rains.
posted by NoraReed at 1:47 AM on January 5, 2011


If it's cold I wear socks. If it's not I go bare. If I'm sleeping I am not wearing socks, falling asleep with socks on is impossible.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:02 AM on January 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


I often wear no shoes indoors, but only for comfort. In the winter and with hardwood floors, it's a lot better way of staying warm than cranking the heat up to 90° like some do. And easier on socks.

(Granted, I could wear slippers...if I could find them. And they'd need hard soles so I could go into the workshop. And which point I'm wearing dirty, hard-soled shoes again.)
posted by DU at 3:08 AM on January 5, 2011


My floors (cheap laminate full of cracks and bouncy bits and holes because the last owner cut every possible corner, laid over concrete) have been icy cold since the start of November, despite keeping the air temperature above 20C. I specifically tell guests to keep their shoes on, because otherwise I'd have to have a rack of guest slippers inside the front door.

And really, people need to be less squeamish about dirt. As my grandmother often said, it's the kids from filthy homes that never get sick.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 3:41 AM on January 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


I have made my wear-as-little-clothes-as-possible-in-my-own-home policy reasonably clear. Though I don't give much of a crap what other people do, so long as they're not actively rubbing their anuses on my furniture. And even then, I can't imagine the results would be any worse than it is to live with my cats, who happily let their nasties rest against the sofa cover and bedsheets. I guess it's hard for me to get worked up about shoes / no shoes when I harbor creatures who shit in a box and occasionally vomit chewed-up chicken-parts along with the fur they've licked off themselves.
posted by Greg Nog at 3:48 AM on January 5, 2011 [20 favorites]


I really wanted to redirect some of the shock and ire and total aggrievement at the contrasting cultural definitions of 'filth' in the thread by revealing that I require guests to 'hammock up' when entering El Casa de Now.

Then I decided I could probably just wait for the MeTa.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 4:08 AM on January 5, 2011


Everybody seems to be talking about wearing shoes vs. socks at home as if those were the only options - question for the Americans: Don't you wear slippers when you are at home? I'd only wear socks if my floor were really warm! Plus, floors are never 100 percent clean.
posted by Omnomnom at 4:14 AM on January 5, 2011


Shoeless by necessity: I know *exactly* what my family has been mucking around in outside. Pig mud. Chicken poop and pine shavings. Barn dust. Grass clippings and garden dirt in summer, and gravelly snow and yard debris in winter. My family members take their shoes off! Interestingly, kids from shoe-wearing houses follow suit without being asked, while grownups may or may not remove their own footwear. I don't ask guests explicitly, but most of them take the hint from the shoes and the bench next to the front door.
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:18 AM on January 5, 2011


(I really like the idea of this questionnaire. Will there be some kind of graph or visual representation of the results, too?)
posted by Omnomnom at 4:19 AM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


These decisively solve the slippers vs. socks dilemma. Winner: sock slippers.
posted by cmonkey at 4:24 AM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


item: "My survey answers can double as a makeshift safety manual should you find your feet on fire"

This could go either way. I didn't read your answer, but if my feet were on fire, I could put shoes on them to put the fire out. If my shoes were on fire, I'd take them off to keep my feet from burning.
posted by Grither at 4:47 AM on January 5, 2011


These decisively solve the slippers vs. socks dilemma. Winner: sock slippers.

You do not have a basement. Or an occasional need to run outside for a second.
posted by DU at 4:54 AM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I live where it's wet and cold, and everybody takes their shoes off when going indoors.

Cold floors? That's why there's insulation, in-floor heating or carpets.
posted by Harald74 at 5:13 AM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think the shoes outside is a relic from a time when the streets were filled with horseshit. Some weird comments in this thread. I wear shoes inside in the winter. I wear bare feet inside in the summer. I have never noticed either smelly diseased winter feet nor bruised aching summer feet. Feet off furniture seems to me more about slowly wearing out the furniture than a sanitation requirement.

If the streets in my neighborhood were filled with horseshit I am sure my attitude would be radically different.
posted by bukvich at 5:21 AM on January 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Floors are generally cleaner than the inside of shoes. Keep your feet clean, don't wear shoes.
posted by blue_beetle at 5:22 AM on January 5, 2011


I think cultural background needs to be a question on the survey. Sure, it asks you where you're from, but that's not the same thing. I was born in China but I'm from Texas. But being raised in a culturally Chinese household definitely has a bearing on this question for me.
posted by kmz at 5:41 AM on January 5, 2011


The lady I work for is a bit of a fanatic about keeping shoes on. The first time I came in she said I should keep them on "in case my feet were cold"--even though it was August. When I forget and take them off automatically she immediately corrects me, usually giving some reason along the lines of comfort or cold or something. Now that it's winter rather than me taking off my muddy shoes she brings me paper towels or has suggested I bring another pair of shoes with me to change. It's kind of weird.
posted by schroedinger at 5:42 AM on January 5, 2011


I take my shoes off for the express purpose of putting my feet up on the furniture. So there you go.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 5:48 AM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think the shoes outside is a relic from a time when the streets were filled with horseshit

It's a modern benefit of the ubiquity of central heating, actually.

You do not have a basement. Or an occasional need to run outside for a second.

I run outside constantly. That's why I keep a pair of old, falling-apart, slip-on boating shoes at the front and back door.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 5:52 AM on January 5, 2011


Another axis to this is whether you live in the suburbs - where people drive to your home - or a city where people walk across streets filled with trash and dogshit to get to your home.
posted by vacapinta at 5:55 AM on January 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wish the survey asked respondents for their gender. It wouldn't surprise me if women (who are generally more responsible for keeping the floors clean, and thus presumably generally more attentive to behaviors that would make the floors dirty) are more squeamish about wearing shoes indoors.
posted by pluckemin at 6:02 AM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I find it funny that those people accusing the shoe wearers as squeamish are apparently in the same faction as those who get icked out at showing other people their socky feet!
posted by Omnomnom at 6:06 AM on January 5, 2011


I think it could be more about where your parents are from than where a person is born. In my family's native country, everyone takes their shoes off.

What's more is that it's expected that everyone then puts on indoor slippers. That should be part of the survey too, because you can't just expect people to take their shoes off and not replace them with anything. But some people do, and while I still would do this in their homes, it's a bit unthoughtful.

Also, we wear "house clothes" Not when visiting someone's house, but when you go into your own house, you immediately change out of your outdoor clothes and into house clothes. Nowadays, my reasoning (and my family's) is that this is because outdoor clothes are dirty. If you've been sitting in public chairs and brushing up against other people all day, do you really want to wear the same stuff to sit on your own couch? (ok, I admit this may be slightly germophobic.) In the past (like when my mom was a kid), I think it may have partially been because people only had a few presentable outfits (say, 3 dresses plus your Sunday clothes) and you wouldn't want to wear them out or risk getting them dirty from housework and cooking, so you'd change into your house clothes when you got home.
posted by lesli212 at 6:07 AM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Um...that should say "non-shoe-wearers"
posted by Omnomnom at 6:08 AM on January 5, 2011


You people are missing the point - taking your shoes off allows you show off your fun socks!

when you go into your own house, you immediately change out of your outdoor clothes and into house clothes.

Growing up, up until age ..12 or so, "House clothes" meant underpants.

After age 12 it was a robe.
posted by The Whelk at 6:17 AM on January 5, 2011


I never wear shoes (or socks or slippers) in my own home, but I'd no sooner take my shoes off (unasked) in someone else's house than fart or scratch my butt. Geez.
posted by JoanArkham at 6:18 AM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have been mulling this over and as someone who grew up in a mild climate and raised in a "shoes-indoors" culture, I would say that the subtle message that a host's shoes-off policy sends to me is this: "you can come in, but you're not really welcome here."
posted by trunk muffins at 6:20 AM on January 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


I would say that the subtle message that a host's shoes-off policy sends to me is this: "you can come in, but you're not really welcome here."

It my head it's more a measure of the formality of the visit.

Are you a close friend here to hang out - have a simple meal- watch a movie? - shoes off.

Are you my Mom? - shoes off.

Oh god the slush outside - shoes off.

Are you a gaggle of people of varying degrees of closeness and relationship here for a sit down dinner? - Shoes on.

Are you here in some kind of professional capacity? - Shoes On.
posted by The Whelk at 6:28 AM on January 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yes! The outside clothes thing! It squicks me no end when friends come over and sit on my bed. In their outside clothes! Those things were on the subway, and now you've gone and contaminated sheets that will be in full body contact with me.
Ick.
Also, though I am more comfortable taking off shoes indoors immediately, my ex felt the opposite. Not only did he not care about tracking in all gross stuff from the sidewalks into the house, he would sometimes use the dish sponge to wipe up a random spill on the floor, and then go back to using it on the dishes.
I would toss the sponge and redo the dishes immediately after seeing him do this.
posted by newpotato at 6:28 AM on January 5, 2011


Also, we wear "house clothes" Not when visiting someone's house, but when you go into your own house, you immediately change out of your outdoor clothes and into house clothes. Nowadays, my reasoning (and my family's) is that this is because outdoor clothes are dirty.

First thing I do whenever I get home is change into my PJs. Because they're infinitely more comfortable than whatever "regular" clothes I might be wearing.

If we need to go out again, the occasion determines whether I bother to change. Going to the store? Nah. Nice place to eat out, yes. Somebody else's home? Depends on who they are and what the occasion is. Which did lead to a somewhat paniced moment this year when my awesome wife got me out of the house for a surprise birthday dinner at a fancy sushi place by telling me we were babysitting for our niece.
posted by kmz at 6:30 AM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


The outside clothes thing! It squicks me no end when friends come over and sit on my bed. In their outside clothes!

Isn't this why we have Jackets? The jacket touches the subway, and then the jacket comes off and goes to make polite small talk with the other jackets in the closet.
posted by The Whelk at 6:30 AM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


trunk muffins, you are very welcome in my house, but your shoes are not really welcome.

I forgot to mention in the survey that I don't make a big stink of it if people don't get the message -- I don't run after them screaming and brandishing a shoehorn and grabbing at their feet or anything.

And my father seems incapable of taking his shoes off, so I just let it go. But it seems very dirty to me. Maybe a generational thing.
posted by theredpen at 6:31 AM on January 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


And of course in all things the host sets the tone so follow their lead in these matters.
posted by The Whelk at 6:32 AM on January 5, 2011


"you can come in, but you're not really welcome here."

That's an interesting point of view to take. I think on something so inoffensive as removing shoes indoors, especially when there are practical reasons for it (I never asked guests to remove their shoes until I invested in a white rug), being a guest in someones home means that you play by their rules graciously.
posted by newpotato at 6:38 AM on January 5, 2011


I would say that the subtle message that a host's shoes-off policy sends to me is this: "you can come in, but you're not really welcome here."

Or... they're just culturally different from you? Geeze. Do you ever visit the homes of people raised in an East Asian culture?
posted by kmz at 6:40 AM on January 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Do you ever visit the homes of people raised in an East Asian culture?

He can come in, but he's not really welcome there.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:45 AM on January 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I continue to find this scandalous. Who are you, Thorstein Veblen? Don't buy a white rug. The floor is the floor; it gets dirty. It IS dirty. And as I mentioned in the thread, don't even start about keeping things clean if you have a pet. Pets walk their shitty paws all over the damn place.

But to be clear--if I arrive at your doorstep with shoes that are muddy, wet, or covered in moose manure or whatever, of course I will sheepishly apologize for the condition of my shoes and take them off lest I drag something over your carpet.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:51 AM on January 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think this is just germophobia, like people who don't touch fixtures in public bathrooms (and therefore don't flush).

That "therefore" isn't really true. I use my foot to flush, so my hand doesn't touch the toilet. If this makes me "germophobic," then I have no problem with being germophobic.
posted by John Cohen at 6:52 AM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Shoes are dirty and should only be allowed in doors for purposes of sex."

Feeling somewhat horny, I just tried putting my dirty, dirty brogues in that box behind the letterbox.

Nada.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:59 AM on January 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I never met anyone who didn't have a strong opinion about feet. Many people I know think they are incredibly gross. Therefore, I would never--not once--ever ask a guest in my house to take off his shoes. Not just because I don't give a shit if you wear your shoes in my house (although I appreciate it if you're polite and aware enough not to track snow through my living room) but also because I don't want any of my other guests to be squicked out by your feet. But just so you know, I never wear shoes in the house, so go ahead and take yours off.

Also, I am often reluctant to ask people who invite me over if it's okay for me to take my shoes off, although I will slip them off before I try to sit cross-legged on their couch, and I always take my snow boots off.

However, I will kill you dead if you sit on my furniture without pants. That's just not sanitary.
posted by crush-onastick at 6:59 AM on January 5, 2011


What is wrong with all of you neurotics?! Take off you shoes in the house? Change your socks? Change out of your clothes into more comfortable clothes?

Have you people never seen Die Hard? Two words: "broken glass". When the shit goes down at 7:30pm, you're going to be bumbling around your house in your feety jimmy-jams while Hans Gruber and his ex-Stasi friends shoot your spouse in the kitchen.

Hells. No.

I am fucking ready to move at a moment's notice. From any given point in my house, I can be outside in any weather in less than 2 minutes.

Hans and his boys got the doors blocked? Out the second floor window onto the roof to the tree branch, down the tree in 3.75 minutes. I've clocked it. Try that in your bare feet. While they are coming in the first floor, I'm exiting the second. Then its 20 seconds to the tool shed for a crowbar and an awl, and now it's time for some close quarters wetwork.

From the moment Hans crosses the threshold of any door, I can turn the tables on him and his goons in less than 5 minutes. I literally invert space. The outside becomes the interior and the inside becomes the exterior. Try that in your bare feeties. "Ouch! The roof is too hot!" BANG! You're dead. "Yuck, I stepped in bird poop!" BANG! You're dead. "My toe ring got caught on a stick!" BANG! You're dead. And that one's from me.

You don't invert space in your bare feets. You don't weaponize the exteriority of your environment in bright pink Hello Kitty jammies and flip flops.

Keep your shit tight, people.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:00 AM on January 5, 2011 [44 favorites]


Can we stop symptomising people's attitudes towards feet, socks and shoes? As in, insinuating they are the symptoms of some unreasonable mental condition? Obviously it's a cultural thing and it's really easy to ridicule both the shoes people and the no shoes people for their approach.

Your position towards wearing shoes is not MORE VALID than that of other people in this thread. Really. No matter how ridiculous these other people seem to you. You've just been raised differently and can't seem to get over that.
posted by Omnomnom at 7:06 AM on January 5, 2011 [9 favorites]


You don't weaponize the exteriority of your environment in bright pink Hello Kitty jammies and flip flops.

Amateur.
posted by kmz at 7:08 AM on January 5, 2011 [7 favorites]


If you came into my house and took your shoes off I would be offended. You're a guest, you don't live here (the residents all wear socks around the house).
posted by Mick at 7:09 AM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


are people mistaking this MeTa for the AskMe? I guess people REALLY REALLY REALLY want to share their deeply held shoes off/on core beliefs with the world. I never realized the fetish went so strong and deep.

Kid: Grandpa tell me again why there are so few people left in the world?

Old man
: well kid, we had conquered many of our social ills, peace in the mid east, we weaned ourselves off fossil fuels, Democrats and Republicans lived together, racial and gender had been achieved, it was a utopia... but then the great shoe wars started, and it was the bloodiest, most ruthless slaughter the world has ever witnessed. The Shoes-on-all-times had a great natural advantage and won most of the early skirmishes, but eventually they became hobbled as the Take -the-damn-things-off-at-the-door faction laid cunning traps of dampness that eventually spread trenchfoot amongst the enemies with alarming pandemic certitude. And that is how the Canadians managed to spread their blanket of healthcare, gay marriage and medical pot across the (albeit decimated) globe.
posted by edgeways at 7:11 AM on January 5, 2011 [7 favorites]


Leave it to the rude "all shoes off people" and their "cunning traps of dampness" to destroy the world. Really, those crazy neat freaks would learn to be gracious hosts and not to impose their bizarre customs on their guests, we could be living in edgeway's prelapsarian world of harmony.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:16 AM on January 5, 2011


This:

bumbling around your house in your feety jimmy-jams

is about to go on regular rotation in our house.
posted by cooker girl at 7:17 AM on January 5, 2011


If you came into my house and took your shoes off I would be offended.

What about my comfort?

I was at a holiday party at the home of someone that makes five times as much as me a year. He had nice wood floors. I was coming in out of the snow. I looked for a place to take off my shoes. Nothing. I look around. No one has theirs off. So I did what everyone else did, but man did it make me feel like an ass.

When I first got my house I had a "wear your damn shoes if you want to" rule. My sister has the exact opposite rule. I was left to take care of my niece and nephew for a few hours. When they started to take off their shoes I told them they didn't have to. They started to explain their mom's rule. I said, "Well, the rule here is..."

So they didn't take them off.

My niece says, "You know what would be fun? If we put all of our toys on your ceiling fan then turned it on." Sounded fun to me too. Most my stuff was still in boxes, so who cared? I had them put on my fencing helmets to make sure no one would lose an eye and ruin the fun. The toys went everywhere. We put them back on. They went everywhere. She was right, it was great fun! Eventually we got Buzz lightyear to hold on to where he wasn't coming off, but the fan was wobbling like crazy.

Since they had on the helmets anyway my sister's kids grabbed the saber and foil and started whacking each other on top of the head.

This is the point where my sister walks in. What was she mad about? The shoes on in the house!
posted by cjorgensen at 7:33 AM on January 5, 2011 [15 favorites]


Note to visiting Yanks: "Keep your shoes on," is Canadian for, "Take those fucking things off now."

ARRRGH. Fuck your guess culture. Say what you mean! At the very least, don't explicate the opposite of what you mean!

If someone asks, "Should I take my shoes off?" the answer is, "Yes, thank you." They've already demonstrated willingness to be a good guest, don't confuse them with please-read-my-mind shenanigans.
posted by explosion at 7:41 AM on January 5, 2011 [7 favorites]


So in Canada no does not mean no?
posted by cjorgensen at 7:45 AM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have a house full of pets and an aversion to sweeping and vacuuming (also known as "chronic bone-deep laziness" in some areas). I encourage guests to keep their shoes on for their own safety and sanity.

That said, unless I'm wearing my big ass boots which take forever to lace up, I usually go barefoot, even outside, even in winter.

Because I really just don't give a fuck.
posted by quin at 7:57 AM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


This may be extreme, but I give all my guests a Karen Silkwood shower at the front entrance. After that, I dress them in cleanroom bunny suits. Only then may they join me in my bubble.
posted by found missing at 8:02 AM on January 5, 2011 [7 favorites]


I just find this all so puzzling. We keep our shoes on in the house, as does pretty much everyone we know, except my former roommate's mother-in-law who insists that everyone, even the plumbing repair guy, remove his or her shoes to keep the white carpets in her condo white (and we all think she's insane). Some people bring "inside shoes" with them when visiting (so they can change out of their snow boots), but they're still wearing shoes.

I've honestly never, ever been in someone's home and been asked or expected to remove my shoes. Not ever.
posted by anastasiav at 8:24 AM on January 5, 2011


Yes! The outside clothes thing! It squicks me no end when friends come over and sit on my bed. In their outside clothes!

Yeah, anything that has had prolonged contact with the streets of NYC is not really welcome in my house. Except for puppy toes, because they are attached to puppies and often smell delightfully of corn chips.

Meanwhile, the plumbers are here right now doing god knows what to my leaky toilet, tracking TOILET WATER FOOTPRINTS all over my bathroom and vestibule in their crusty plumber shoes and I am moments away from a full on case of the vapours. *weeps*
posted by elizardbits at 8:31 AM on January 5, 2011


To me, it's a block to the natural flow of 'please, come into my home, be welcome'.

It makes it 'please, come into my home, YOU ARE FILTHY, CLEAN YOURSELF BEFORE ENTERING MY PRECIOUS ABODE that's right hop around, don't lean against the wall in case your hands are dirty too, you're right there really isn't anywhere to leave those shoes, just make a pile, oh now you are awkward because you don't know whether to put your handbag down as well or if you can pull off the outdoor-coat-handbag-barefeet look; now feel welcome!'.
posted by citands at 8:39 AM on January 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


First thing I do whenever I get home is change into my PJs.

I have a metric for this TTPJ. You can tell what sort of a day I've had by how speedy my time-to-pa-jamas is.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:40 AM on January 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


I have a metric for this TTPJ. You can tell what sort of a day I've had by how speedy my time-to-pa-jamas is.

My metric is kind of the inverse of this, TTPO: Time-To-Pants-On.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:51 AM on January 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


It wouldn't surprise me if women (who are generally more responsible for keeping the floors clean, and thus presumably generally more attentive to behaviors that would make the floors dirty) are more squeamish about wearing shoes indoors.

Well, you'd be wrong. If I have heels and pants of the perfect length or lace up tall boots that I am secretly wearing heavy, ugly socks with, it's much more of a pain to take off shoes at someone's house without feeling that I look like a bit of a schlub.

That being said, it's really not that big of a deal. People I know either have shoes off or on in their homes, and I don't second guess their motives, or think they're weirdoes, or assume they think I'm dirty and value their floors over my friendship. If I needed to keep my shoes on because of orthotics or a medical condition, my friends would not make a big deal out of this either. That's why they're my friends, and people who are easily offended are not.

I fucking hate germaphobes, seems like such a sad life.

People who live in industrial areas and have children are advised to take their shoes off before entering their homes because of all the lead and carbon particulate that is on the street and in the soil. It's a real health issue in places like West Oakland where children's rates of asthma and lead poisoning are much higher than in non-industrialized areas. But go on hating, because their lives are sad.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:53 AM on January 5, 2011


Why is it that the opinions in this thread seem so much more slanted toward "Let people leave their shoes on, you're insane if you worry about shoes indoors," whereas the answers in the AskMe thread seemed to mainly be along the lines of "Go ahead and ask people to take their shoes off, it's gross to wear shoes indoors" (with the disclaimer that there's some cultural variation)?
posted by John Cohen at 8:55 AM on January 5, 2011


I think The Whelk nails it. Shoes have two roles, the utilitarian and the symbolic. When the utilitarian value is fairly small (mild/dry climate, suburbs where everybody drives instead of walking, etc), the symbolic role becomes more prominent. Shoes are formal, shoes are stylish, and when everybody wears shoes pretty much all the time, bare feet become symbols of intimacy and vulnerability.
posted by Quietgal at 9:00 AM on January 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's precisely because I am a lazy housekeeper that I ask people remove their shoes at the door otherwise I'd be busting out the mop a lot more often. Old people and others with difficulties removing shoes get a pass.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 9:01 AM on January 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why is it that the opinions in this thread seem so much more slanted toward "Let people leave their shoes on, you're insane if you worry about shoes indoors," whereas the answers in the AskMe thread seemed to mainly be along the lines of "Go ahead and ask people to take their shoes off, it's gross to wear shoes indoors"

Because the AskMe thread was how to politely ask people to remove their shoes and this thread is where everyone who was too polite to crap in that thread has wound up.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:03 AM on January 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


True, but the original post did say:

Is it rude of me to ask? Would it be less rude or more rude to have a tiny sign asking people to comply but not insisting? If someone really doesn't want to take off their shoes, I'll be okay with that.
posted by John Cohen at 9:06 AM on January 5, 2011


Which reads as the asker preferring to navigate toward shoelessness-oriented solutions even if they're fundamentally willing to accommodate shoefulness for those who feel strongly about it. Folks trying to help the asker find polite approaches to making shoelessness happen where possible seems right on target for the question.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:10 AM on January 5, 2011


Minor survey nitpick about question 3. Surely "It's always rude" and "It's never ok" mean the same thing. As do "it's always ok" and "it's never rude". Or am I missing some subtlety?

I eagerly await pie charts, venn diagrams and bar graphs about this.
posted by Joh at 9:13 AM on January 5, 2011


I didn't answer in the ask.me cause I thought it was chatfilter and I try not to participate in chatfilter and because my answer ("It's rude to ask, unless there's a snow/thunderstorm happening at the moment people are arriving") was not helpful.
posted by crush-onastick at 9:26 AM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Don't buy a white rug.

Wisdom. That said, I have an inherited rug that's got a fair amount of off-white in it. The truly stained parts (red wine spills, a coffee disaster that didn't get noticed for a couple of days, a nebulous dark patch that nobody seems to remember being inflicted), I try to hide under furniture. But in the end, fuck it. They may be stains but trust me, they're very, very clean stains.
posted by philip-random at 9:36 AM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


What crush-onastick said. Also, I avoided the thread because it seemed to invite GRAR. Which I'm feeling right now - because, hey, won't someone think of the folks with diabetic neuropathy?
posted by Lynsey at 9:37 AM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


We have indoor shoes for ourselves, but not for guests. I would never ask guests to take their shoes off, though, even though they do sometimes track dirt in. It seems somehow impolite to me. I do offer to take my shoes off in other people's homes, but most do not accept.

This is a weirdly fascinating discussion. I never really gave it much thought before.
posted by miss tea at 9:39 AM on January 5, 2011


but trust me, they're very, very clean stains

... and they go very well with the various cracks and dents in the walls, and the bullet-hole type thing in the right corner of the living room ceiling (we're still trying to figure out where that came from).
posted by philip-random at 9:40 AM on January 5, 2011


My mom has neuropathy. She's welcome to keep her shoes on in my house. I ask most other people to take theirs off. It's only a thing if people make it a thing. I'd rather have houseguests than fight with people about footwear and I try to make that crystal clear to people.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:40 AM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think this is where my California hippy upbringing is awesome. As a child, I spent many days running around outside without shoes. I still prefer not to wear shoes, and will take them off without thinking in any situation where I feel comfortable. A friend had to remind me at one point that, while he too hates wearing shoes, his motorcycle shop is not a good place to be barefoot.

Of course I take my shoes off the second I'm home. My friends tend to take their shoes off in my house too, though I've never asked anyone to.

Not sure where I'm going with this. I think I need coffee.

Uh, but feel free to ask me to take off my shoes in your house. Presuming I was wearing any in the first place.
posted by mollymayhem at 9:41 AM on January 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is a weirdly fascinating discussion.

I love it. It's like the inner voice of protest being allowed to speak. Now tell me, please. How do I politely inform people who have big TVs in their living rooms that I think they must have brain damage? It's not their fault. They're just doing what the culture wants them to do. But it's still WRONG to plant a one-way media device in the very heart of what should be the most social, most respectful room in one's home.

Mitigation points if you keep the screen covered with a work of art when not in use.
posted by philip-random at 9:46 AM on January 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm a white guy who lives in a no-shoe apartment with my Chinese SO.

To those who think asking guests to take their shoes off is rude: would you think me rude if I asked you to take off your shoes? What about if my Chinese SO did? What about at her parents' house?

I was raised in a no-shoes environment, as was my SO, but I get the sense that even the most hardened shoe-keepers wouldn't be so churlish as to think less of a Chinese person adhering to Chinese traditions, unless there was a medical condition for them to keep their shoes on or something else like that.

It's funny how the Miss Manners entry on shoe-doffing doesn't really address this issue. She also completely ignores the fact that many East Asian people actually do specifically cite cleanliness as a reason for taking your shoes off.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:53 AM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mitigation points if you keep the screen covered with a work of art when not in use.

but my SWAT Kats figurines never come off the television
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:55 AM on January 5, 2011


I never understood the shoes-off thing until I moved to New England. Now I consider it a basic requirement for a civilized household. What made the difference? In the homes I lived in growing up in New Jersey, we pretty much had somekind of wall-to-wall carpet and only a few really snowy/wet days a year. Where I live now, at least 5 months a year you are going to track in either snow, salt, ice, or mud or some combination of the above, and wood floors are the norm. If you leave your shoes on, the floors quickly get salt-streaked, water-damaged, and dirtied. It keeps the house a lot cleaner. I also kind of like that it saves wear on your shoes not to wear them for hours around the house, and that the daily evening ritual of switching from street shoes to slippers gives me a nice, ah-I'm-home-now, Mr-Rogers-cardigan-donning kinda feeling.
posted by Miko at 10:01 AM on January 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


>My form will be the one that, in additional comments, reads "Shoes are dirty and should only be allowed in doors for purposes of sex."

Previously I would have been willing to swear that Astro Zombie is not, in fact, my husband, but now I'm suddenly unsure...
posted by Lexica at 10:02 AM on January 5, 2011


We were having a smallish party. One couple arrived, and the guy asked if they should take their shoes off. I said, "well hopefully by the time the sex starts, they will be off."

His wife got upset and almost left.
posted by Danf at 10:06 AM on January 5, 2011 [7 favorites]


I go barefoot pretty much any time I can get away with it. This includes indoors and outdoors and out and about. Pavement, landscaping, sidewalks, paths, as much as we've altered our environment, the world we have made simply doesn't require protective coverings for feet much of anywhere.

I have learned that a lot of people think of bare feet as obscene. They'll tell you that you have to wear shoes because your feet must be protected; point out that the great majority of shoes worn have no protective value, and they'll tell you that--okay, then, well--feet are filthy. Point out that shoe interiors are horrible germ traps and that feet washed every day are miles away cleaner than the bottom of a pair of shoes, and they'll come up with another reason why Everyone Must Wear Shoes All The Time. It's really quite bizarre, and eventually comes down to "I am offended by your bare feet."

People are strange.

I've wondered if I could avoid even getting into said discussions by having sandal straps tattooed to the tops of my feet.
posted by galadriel at 10:07 AM on January 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Bare feet can leave oily prints on some wood floors.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:11 AM on January 5, 2011


Bare feet can leave oily prints on some wood floors.

Keep spare Docs in the mud room.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:13 AM on January 5, 2011


I have a question for the 'shoes-off' people - when you do your shopping do you put the bags down outside the house/in the hall and then take your shoes off and carry the shopping to the kitchen (or where-ever else in the house it needs to go? What do you do if you need to take more than one trip from the car to the house?

I don't wear shoes in the house generally but we're not a 'no-shoes' house, I wouldn't take my shoes off if I was carrying something from outside to somewhere else in the house - eg. to bring the shopping in from the car we have to walk through the living room to get to the kitchen. I wouldn't ask or expect guests to remove shoes, unless they wanted to or they were really visibly dirty but some people seem to be very squicked out by the idea that anything that has touched 'outside' would come in to their house.
posted by missmagenta at 10:13 AM on January 5, 2011


I have a question for the 'shoes-off' people - when you do your shopping do you put the bags down outside the house/in the hall and then take your shoes off and carry the shopping to the kitchen (or where-ever else in the house it needs to go? What do you do if you need to take more than one trip from the car to the house?

Bring all the bags into the hall, take shoes off, unload bags as appropriate. It's easy in my apartment because the hall is right next to the kitchen and the bathroom, and the shoes-off policy is relaxed in those areas not only for convenience's sake, but also because they're basically direct off-shoots of that very hall. These are also not carpeted areas.

Also, perhaps pointedly: no car.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:17 AM on January 5, 2011


As a time traveller who has recently lost both his feet in a horrible, yet slightly ironic accident, I am DEEPLY OFFENDED that this question is even being asked. I pray for the day when the s-word is no longer casually used on the front page of this website by people who care naught for tolerance and sensitivity in their rabid desire to be viewed as "hip".

I apologise for anyone out there with no hips - but let's face it, you should just get the fuck over yourselves, you hipless crybabies.

-- And no offence meant against babies! Unless they cry. If so - fuck you, baby. Fuck you and your tiny little perfect feet, you miniscule HIPPY.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 10:19 AM on January 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


As a shoes-off person (in the sense that I, personally, never wear my shoes in my house -- I don't care what other people do), I can almost always kick off my shoes in the hallway, and since I am on the third floor, I generally do not have more than one load. If I do, I will put the bags down, and put things away when they're all in. If you wear shoes in the house, what do you do? Carry them all over the house to wherever they need to go, then go back and get the next one?

I just hate shoes off rules at parties. I do not otherwise care -- I'll take them off most of the time anyhow -- but at a party? Rude.
posted by jeather at 10:20 AM on January 5, 2011


when you do your shopping do you put the bags down outside the house/in the hall and then take your shoes off

I just walk in and set them on the counter. Repeat until all bags are on counter. Then, take shoes off, etc. It's not like I'm going DIRTY FILTHY SHOES ON MY FLOOR, AGGGHHHHHHH. This thread makes me anger.
posted by Askiba at 10:23 AM on January 5, 2011


Anyway, the proper method is to have a downstairs with hard floors that people can feel free to wear shoes on, but if they go upstairs then the shoes should come off. If you don't have this setup then quit reading the internet and get busy.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:26 AM on January 5, 2011


Just a thought on the survey question "Do you usually ask guests to take off their shoes in your home?"

I think the answers from Canadians aren't necessarily going to be reflective of whether or not guests take off their shoes. The wording is specifically about asking, but I hesitated. Are you really trying to find out if guests in your house are shoes-off, or if people actually *ask*?

If it's the former, I would say yes, even though I don't specifically ask, all guests in my house take off their shoes. If it's the latter, I'd say 'no', because I don't have to ask, everyone does it automatically.

In the end I just picked 'other'.
posted by aclevername at 10:27 AM on January 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


This thread is waaaay tl;dr but after a ctrl-f for 'hawaii' coming up dry, I'm just going to point out that it's damn near universal to remove shoes when you enter a person's home in Hawaii. It's a heavily asian-influenced culture, but even haoles living on the numerous military bases pick up the custom almost immediately.
posted by mullingitover at 10:51 AM on January 5, 2011


I would say that the subtle message that a host's shoes-off policy sends to me is this: "you can come in, but you're not really welcome here."

...versus...

If you came into my house and took your shoes off I would be offended. You're a guest, you don't live here (the residents all wear socks around the house).

Make up your mind, Shoes On Culture!
posted by Sys Rq at 10:57 AM on January 5, 2011


I just hate shoes off rules at parties. I do not otherwise care -- I'll take them off most of the time anyhow -- but at a party? Rude.

Nah. Trudging around some friend-of-a-friend's house in your street shoes: Rude.

Fight! Fight! Fight!
posted by Sys Rq at 11:01 AM on January 5, 2011


Unless it's really mucky out, I've always found it pretty tacky. Yes, for me it's partially a class thing. It was a sign of low class (usually immigrants from poor backgrounds) to keep plastic covers on their sofas and lampshades because it was more important to show off their purchases than for their homes to be comfortable, utilitarian, or hospitable.

Now I'm seeing a whole group of otherwise middle class (and up!) people who value their home looking like a Pottery Barn ad over their homes being utilitarian or hospitable.

If your floors are THAT fragile, you bought the wrong floor. It should be there to be walked on by shoes and even dog claws. If you're a homeowner, and not a renter with an uptight landlord, and you're THAT worried about your floor getting some character, then you might as well put plastic over your lampshades.

That said, I have mostly submitted to the tyranny of the shoes-off people but I still hugely resent it, especially at parties, and especially when there is no bench, no place to set my bag, no place to put my shoes other than in a muddly pile on the front porch, and no slippers, so that my socks don't get your car hair all over them before I have to put them back in my shoes when I leave.

I live in the SF Bay Area. Shoes-off seems to be taking over.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:14 AM on January 5, 2011 [7 favorites]


Taking off your shoes is metaphorical as well. You don't wear your galoshes inside like you don't wear your corporate office mental armor with friends.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:16 AM on January 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Maybe it's because I've mostly lived in old houses on scarred floors with worn rugs and among folks suspicious of anything that looks too new, but it honestly never occured to me that taking shoes off when coming into a house was a cleanliness thing. I just thought it was a strange family custom oft practiced by the sort of people that never seem to appreciate my fabulous shoes.

The only kind of party in which it is appropriate to not wear shoes is the kind of party you attend wearing only a bathing suit.
posted by thivaia at 11:26 AM on January 5, 2011


If your floors are THAT fragile, you bought the wrong floor.

Really? We have a soft pine-board floor with a high shine on it. It shows scuffs and dirt immediately and very visibly. I didn't buy it, I rent it, but I still want it to look nice.

I really notice the difference - when I've been clomping around the house in shoes, I spend too much time sweeping and not enough time not sweeping.
posted by Miko at 11:32 AM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, old houses. On the East Coast, a lot of the houses are old, and it's a big project to replace an entire floor. Doesn't happen often.
posted by Miko at 11:34 AM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


The only kind of party in which it is appropriate to not wear shoes is the kind of party you attend wearing only a bathing suit.

A-fucking-men.

As a man, I don't have fabulous Manolos or Jimmy Choos or something, but if I'm coming from work, in all likelihood my shoes are the most expensive single piece of attire I'm wearing. I have zero interest in taking off the nicest thing I'm wearing so that I can gad about your house in my socks, which are the least nice thing I'm wearing. Nor, as I've said before, am I interested in getting your floors into my nice shoes after I traipse around on stockinged feet picking up all your dust bunnies and cat hair.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 11:38 AM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'll keep my shoes on if that's the host's preference, but man, hardwood floors + socks == awesome sliding fun.

Is not getting your socks dirty more important than awesome sliding fun? NO.
posted by kmz at 11:42 AM on January 5, 2011


I have zero interest in taking off the nicest thing I'm wearing so that I can gad about your house in my socks, which are the least nice thing I'm wearing.

For this exact reason, I always wear a nice pair of shoes under my shoes.
posted by found missing at 11:43 AM on January 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


hardwood floors + socks == awesome sliding fun

also, 3" splinter through middle of foot -- true story
posted by found missing at 11:45 AM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nah. Trudging around some friend-of-a-friend's house in your street shoes: Rude.

Where I come from, if it's safe to go without shoes, it's not really a party. What, no broken glass? No shrapnel? No nebulous chunks of trampled something-or-other?
posted by philip-random at 11:48 AM on January 5, 2011


I'm not sure that I've ever been to a party where they asked you to take your shoes off. This happens?
posted by octothorpe at 12:01 PM on January 5, 2011


I don't wear shoes in my house because I grew up in, and live in, a place where it is sunny 350 days of the year or so, and bare feet are comfortable. The cool tile against my feet in the kitchen is *nice*, even though I don't mop as often as I should. And our carpet has that stain-resistant stuff because we have kids and cats, so feel free to trudge around shoes-on or -off as the whim takes you. I wouldn't ask you to either take your shoes off or leave them on: you're a guest, do what makes you feel comfortable!

But now I am wondering if I should have a shoe rack and slippers of some kind for people who want to take off their shoes but don't revel in barefootedness.

So, should these be slippers? socks? Washable or throwaways? I would think they would have to be one-size-fits-all. Easily-washable slipper socks? That means more laundry, though. I'm not sure I like all my guests THAT much.

Oh, and I think houses up north have "mud rooms", which we don't have down here. See above re: sunny most of the time.
posted by misha at 12:06 PM on January 5, 2011


A solution everyone can be happy with: Dust Mop Slippers.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:21 PM on January 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Off, as soon as I get home I change out of shoes into loafers.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:39 PM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Some people are really not into the awesome sliding fun, especially people with bad knees and hips.

I wish this hardwood floors + no rugs trend would die already, for so many reasons.

And I think a landlord who rents out a house with soft pine floors is an idiot. Not every tenant will be willing to coddle a floor.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:45 PM on January 5, 2011


Admiral Haddock, you are really borderline trolling here. I'm from western Canada where it is strictly a culture thing. For me, I've done it all my life on instinct -- when you go to someone's house you at least make a motion to remove your shoes unless your host says otherwise. It's just what we do, and anyone thinking too much about this is wasting brain cells. (I'm sure it has its origins in our agrarian roots plus the fact that it's winter for like, eight months of the year.) But if I moved to a place where the opposite was the cultural norm, I'm sure I could adapt without it bothering me too much.

My point is, your superiority act is getting real tiresome.
posted by evilcolonel at 12:49 PM on January 5, 2011


Oh, and

I wish this hardwood floors + no rugs trend would die already, for so many reasons.

THIS
posted by evilcolonel at 12:50 PM on January 5, 2011


I wish this hardwood floors + no rugs trend would die already, for so many reasons.

THIS


What in the nine hells is wrong with you people? We have two area rugs in our whole place, and it's two rugs too many. Once a week I take them out back, beat four pounds of dirt out of a six-pound area rug, and silently mutter thanks that a) the rug is small and easily moved somewhere that it can be cleaned because I KNOW the vacuum cleaner is only getting out 15% of the crap in there (no, seriously: run the vacuum over your rug eleven times, and then go beat said against the railing, watch what comes flying out at high speed, and tell me how you feel about the relative cleanliness of your dust-mite-infested floors) and b) the vast majority of the floor can be Properly Cleaned with a mop and a bucket full of weapons-grade astringent.

Yes, the floor gets cold, because there's a basement underneath it. I recommend wearing shoes to keep your feet warm.
posted by Mayor West at 1:06 PM on January 5, 2011


Hardwood floors + no rugs will live as long as people own cats. Or possibly as long as cats puke up hairballs, either way.
posted by restless_nomad at 1:10 PM on January 5, 2011


Things I have learned from this thread:

Many people are embarrassed by their socks.

That's kind of sad, but cute.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 1:11 PM on January 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Hardwood floors with no rugs are hard, slippery, cold, make the room noisy,* and make the room feel like a workspace, not a living space, i.e., not cozy.

*if you live upstairs from other people and STILL don't have rugs, you very likely deserve a kick in the shins

posted by small_ruminant at 1:15 PM on January 5, 2011


I want to be the lone voice in this thread to say: I think feet are funny and cute. And you can make them do voices and dress them up.
posted by Omnomnom at 1:16 PM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


And you can make them do voices and dress them up.

But you really shouldn't demand it of your guests, at least not until they've had a few drinks. Also, the host should provide the costumes if he hasn't warned people ahead of time.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:17 PM on January 5, 2011


Uh, but feel free to ask me to take off my shoes in your house. Presuming I was wearing any in the first place.
So, how to the 'no-shoes-inside' people treat someone who arrives at the front door in bare feet?
posted by dg at 1:21 PM on January 5, 2011


> So, how to the 'no-shoes-inside' people treat someone who arrives at the front door in bare feet?

Small basins of Clorox fortified water to step in.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:24 PM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


So, how to the 'no-shoes-inside' people treat someone who arrives at the front door in bare feet?

I ask them to remove something else, for symbolic reasons. Earrings, hat, undies -- whatever is convenient.
posted by found missing at 1:28 PM on January 5, 2011


So, how to the 'no-shoes-inside' people treat someone who arrives at the front door in bare feet?

I assume with the above mentioned "mop and a bucket full of weapons-grade astringent."
posted by small_ruminant at 1:29 PM on January 5, 2011


When I get a home with sealed concrete floors, I will have an entry room with a long bench and tilted shelves for shoes underneath. A low fountain with running water will also serve as a foot-washing basin. A variety of colored, easily washable slippers will also be provided, with tags stating when they were last used and washed.

None of this would matter, because nobody will be getting past the Dobermans and the lasers.
posted by adipocere at 1:30 PM on January 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


Desolé, evilcolonel (an aptly named nemesis), but as you point out, this is a cultural thing, and we are having a culture clash here in the rough and tumble world of the gray.

But, if you prefer, we can take this outside and settle it like men. Yes, I'll wait for you to put your shoes back on.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:38 PM on January 5, 2011


And I think a landlord who rents out a house with soft pine floors is an idiot. Not every tenant will be willing to coddle a floor...Hardwood floors with no rugs are hard, slippery, cold, make the room noisy,* and make the room feel like a workspace, not a living space, i.e., not cozy...*if you live upstairs from other people and STILL don't have rugs, you very likely deserve a kick in the shins


Wow, there's a lot of personal opinionizin' here. I love the look of the golden pine board flooring. My landlord is not an idiot, he's a really nice guy who does free programs on family law at the library, and likes providing nice affordable places for people. I have throw rugs, but they don't cover every inch of the house. My house is quite warm because it's a 2nd and 3rd story apartment, so no cold issues. My neighbors haven't kicked me in the shins because they are a lot noisier than I am. I still don't see what's wrong with my house and my desire to keep it clean.

I don't ask guests to de-shoe if they're dropping by. If someone were staying for the weekend, I might, but not so likely even then. It's more of just a daily habit for those of us in the home to kick the salty, muddy boots off when we come in, and I'm not sure any amount of ridicule is going to make me think that's somehow a bad idea.
posted by Miko at 1:54 PM on January 5, 2011


"If you came into my house and took your shoes off I would be offended."

Ok, have fun with that. If you want to be adult and have a conversation about it, that's different, but life's too short to just be summarily miffed by such inconsequentialities.

My answer was here, and still is. I like the fact that my family is more pragmatic than traditional. Are your shoes dirtier than the floor? Are there things on the floor (splinters, Lego pieces for those with small kids, water from wet coats, etc.) that will go through socks? If it makes sense to remove your shoes, do so. I'm not doing it/not doing it to offend you. I usually have a reason. Ask if you're curious (sorry, Guessers). If you prefer guests to remove their shoes, please have at least the cheapie sandals/slippers handy for them to wear inside your home.

Really, stop the dogmatism and think about why you do stuff, people. It may take a few seconds, but it's worth it. Where inconsistencies/conflicts arise, talk. It's not that hard. You'll never be comfortable around people you can't discuss matters like this with, because you never know what will set them off.
posted by Eideteker at 1:59 PM on January 5, 2011


"Why is it that the opinions in this thread seem so much more slanted toward "Let people leave their shoes on, you're insane if you worry about shoes indoors," whereas the answers in the AskMe thread seemed to mainly be along the lines of "Go ahead and ask people to take their shoes off, it's gross to wear shoes indoors" (with the disclaimer that there's some cultural variation)?"

Ask vs. Talk culture.
posted by Eideteker at 2:04 PM on January 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


Ask vs. Talk culture.
Think penicillin vs tinea.
posted by dg at 2:35 PM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


if you prefer, we can take this outside and settle it like men. Yes, I'll wait for you to put your shoes back on.

Exactly why I wear loafers.
posted by evilcolonel at 2:42 PM on January 5, 2011


IT'S ON NOW.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 2:45 PM on January 5, 2011


And I think a landlord who rents out a house with soft pine floors is an idiot.

Perhaps, but we have the world we have, not the world we think would be perfect for us. And MetaFilter for the rest of those times. Soft pine floors are just what you get out here a lot of the time. And it was fun slipping around on Miko's floors if I remember correctly.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:49 PM on January 5, 2011


I'm still allowed to be grossed out by the lady who took off her shoes in the theater and propped her stocking feet on the balcony rail the other night, right?
posted by mollymayhem at 3:01 PM on January 5, 2011


Perhaps not so much grossed out as horrified by her lack of manners.
posted by mollymayhem at 3:05 PM on January 5, 2011


This is such a hugely cultural issue: call it Ask culture vs Guess culture, call it practicality (people from snowier climates, from my own experience and by the thread above, seem to be more inclined to doff their shoes than people from more temperate areas), call it what you will.

I live someplace where there is snow on the ground four or five months a year and slush aplenty, so it would never occur to me not to take off my shoes when entering a new house unless there were, you know, rusted syringes on the floor. This thread has been both enlightening and saddening: I would never have imagined that people would be deeply offended at the idea of taking their shoes off. I would be curious to see if these are the same people who would wear a baseball cap to dinner.

As an aside, I once had a couple of Australian co-workers over for a party in the depths of winter, and they were bemused by both the doffing of boots in the front hall and the tendency to put the beer on the back porch to keep it cold. I mentioned when they were departing and about to put their boots back to mind they did not soak their socks by stepping in the melted snow.

"Melted snow...? You mean water?"

"Er, yeah, I guess so."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:27 PM on January 5, 2011


Shoes off. But I never ask people who come over to remove their shoes. That's up to them (they are guests). Chicago, Il.

Similarly, I don't remove my shoes in other people's houses unless it's either a) understood that that is what they prefer, or b) they are such close friends that whatever I do is going to be okay. Meaning: not everyone wants people to remove their shoes (there's an "ick" factor ion both sides of the coin).
posted by marimeko at 4:46 PM on January 5, 2011


I find myself a shoes-on person instinctively, although shoes-off as soon as I'm comfortable and settling in for the evening and obviously shoes-off this time of year (New England). I guess I'm with Eide in that the decision mostly depends on how dirty my shoes are. I really don't care what you do in my house as long as it doesn't get my floors wet.

That said, I have a theory of sorts - how many of you fellow shoes-on folks grew up with pets? Especially dogs? I think we may have been a shoes-on household due to all the furry ones running about.
posted by maryr at 6:15 PM on January 5, 2011


Oh, I also meant to mention that despite my shoes-on instincts, I should probably transform myself somehow into a shoes-off person - I don't even want to think about how much ethidium bromide and other chemicals I've tracked home from work to expose my bare feet and, worse, my kitty's bare paws to.

My kitty actually has cat paws, not bear paws.
posted by maryr at 6:18 PM on January 5, 2011


I wear shoes inside. But I have cats, so the floor will contain some combination of litter, cat food, hair, hairballs, and so on regardless of my shoed-ness. Thus I conclude it is better to protect my feet than to worry about my hopeless carpet.

As an added benefit, when my young one decides to play I don't get scratched-up feet.
posted by wildcrdj at 6:36 PM on January 5, 2011


In Japan it's always rude. But you knew that.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:36 PM on January 5, 2011


I specifically tell guests to keep their shoes on, because otherwise I'd have to have a rack of guest slippers inside the front door.

Such a rack is standard fare in many, many Japanese homes.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:38 PM on January 5, 2011


people from snowier climates, from my own experience and by the thread above, seem to be more inclined to doff their shoes than people from more temperate areas

This too. I started my life in Texas and spent a lot of time there, and even though kids ran barefoot a lot, there was also this sense that yuck, mature and clean people keep their shoes on most of the time, because there are real hazards and nasty things outdoors like hookworm and bugs and lizards and snakes and stuff, and you don't want your feet coming in contact with that stuff ever, indoors or out, and floors are dirty and you don't ever sit or lie on them anyway, so it's just never advisable to be running around barefoot indoors or out. This is so different in the temperate climate of the Northeast, where those things are rarely an issue and the worst hazard you have to think about is the dirt, sand, ice and mud you are tracking around with you in the cool seasons.
posted by Miko at 6:43 PM on January 5, 2011


This thread brings to mind the episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm where Larry David refuses to remove his shoes at a dinner party. Unfortunately, I can't find it at YT. Did come across this, though.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:54 PM on January 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


From the flapjax link ...

Here are the primary suspects:

Moms
"Green" people
Germaphobes
People from Ohio
House fetishists
People who prioritize feeling "cozy"
White-carpet lovers
People who grew up with "mud rooms"
Japanese people (they're excused, it's legitimately cultural)


Why am I not surprised that people from f***ing Ohio would be involved?
posted by philip-random at 7:13 PM on January 5, 2011


I notice that pretty much everyone -- and I do not exclude myself -- who has explained why it is imperative to take one's shoes off or to leave them on is offering rationalizations rather than reasons.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:41 PM on January 5, 2011


I notice that pretty much everyone -- and I do not exclude myself -- who has explained why it is imperative to take one's shoes off or to leave them on is offering rationalizations rather than reasons.

Well, this from Miko...

I really notice the difference - when I've been clomping around the house in shoes, I spend too much time sweeping and not enough time not sweeping.

... sounds like a pretty solid reason to me.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:50 PM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Japanese people (they're excused, it's legitimately cultural

Actually, just glancing through the survey results spreadsheet and these threads, I'd guess that it's "legitimately cultural" pretty much everywhere in the world except the US and the UK. I didn't see that many responses from Europe, though.

FWIW, I'm a shoes-off person. I grew up in a shoes-on household but now I think it's pretty silly to wear street shoes indoors (it seems wasteful to do all the extra maintenance and cleaning). I also have plantar fasciitis, and I just bring rubber-soled slippers with me that I can put my insoles into whenever it might be an issue. I think that my foot comfort is my own responsibility to look after, not my host's. It is only polite to follow house rules, and wearing street shoes in the house would make me feel disrespectful to my hosts and their home. I'm baffled by the people who say they would be offended if I took my shoes off in their home, though - who's being unwelcoming in that scenario?

I'd say most of my (late-20s) peers have shoes-off policies (though of course they don't stridently enforce them in extenuating circumstances). There is definitely an exception for parties - the logistics are too awkward, and you generally expect to do some real cleaning after a party anyway.

Also FWIW as a data point, the people I grew up with that had shoes-off rules were generally upper-middle class, and reasonably ecologically conscious.
posted by dialetheia at 7:51 PM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I notice that pretty much everyone -- and I do not exclude myself -- who has explained why it is imperative to take one's shoes off or to leave them on is offering rationalizations rather than reasons.

Quoting myself from much earlier in the thread:

Nowadays, nobody seems to have shag rug anymore (nice and soft under stocking feet) but they still expect you to kick off your shoes, which actually hurts once you hit say 40 years of age (hardwood floor + stocking feet do not mix for prolonged periods).

That's sort of a reason.
posted by philip-random at 8:15 PM on January 5, 2011


It's individual, though. My feet don't hurt. Plus, there are slippers.
posted by Miko at 8:17 PM on January 5, 2011


That said, I have a theory of sorts - how many of you fellow shoes-on folks grew up with pets? Especially dogs?

Oooo, me, me!

And now we have a nasty old cat that sheds enough to knit an entire second cat out of. I never ever go shoeless in our apartment; slipper-socks FTW. I hate grit and hair sticking to the bottoms of my socks or bare feet. And since we have an old apartment, with old floors, no matter how much you sweep there is always some grit left behind in the cracks between the floorboards, just waiting to be picked up.

Like I said in the other thread, it's not a big deal if I am just visiting friends casually. I'm not bothered at all. It's when I am going to a proper party that I get peeved when asked to remove shoes. Maybe it's because I only ever tend to remove my shoes when I am at home and unguarded, so to do so around strangers/acquaintances makes me feel vulnerable or off-kilter?
posted by Windigo at 8:25 PM on January 5, 2011


I can't even imagine how completely disgusting y'all's feet must be in the States.

I am having even more trouble imagining who says "y'all" and is somehow not intimately acquainted enough with the States to be able to hazard a guess as to the state of our foot hygiene.
posted by mckenney at 8:26 PM on January 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Unless it's really mucky out, I've always found it pretty tacky. Yes, for me it's partially a class thing. It was a sign of low class (usually immigrants from poor backgrounds) to keep plastic covers on their sofas and lampshades because it was more important to show off their purchases than for their homes to be comfortable, utilitarian, or hospitable.

Now I'm seeing a whole group of otherwise middle class (and up!) people who value their home looking like a Pottery Barn ad over their homes being utilitarian or hospitable.


No, no, no, no. Middle class or not, people need to keep their homes clean. When you only have a limited amount of time for housework, sometimes you need to find ways to strike a balance between inhospitable and constantly, unmanageably cruddy. No-shoes is a pretty reasonable way of keeping one's house less dirty to begin with. Maybe it's my working-class immigrant background talking, but I'm a little bit happier when my pale-coloured tile floors aren't visibly revolting.
posted by thisjax at 8:38 PM on January 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's individual, though. My feet don't hurt. Plus, there are slippers.

Have a pair of size 13 slippers on hand that are heavy duty enough to accommodate my orthotics and I won't be this least bit put out ... or just remind me when you invite me that it's a no-shoes environment and I'll bring my own pair.

I've lived in rural communities where it's a given that you won't be wearing your outdoor shoes indoors, particularly through the winter months. So you just always have a pair of decent indoor footwear in the car at all times. But in the city, A. I don't use a car, so giving up precious backpack space to size 13 slippers is something I'd rather not do, B. there's no consistency from place-to-place with regard to shoes-on/shoes-off anyway.

Post-modern life is just so darned complicated.
posted by philip-random at 8:40 PM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I also like to smoke a cigar after dinner.
posted by philip-random at 8:41 PM on January 5, 2011


Where I come from you pretty much have to take off your shoes in the house, since they're often covered with mud or snow. In fact, this is a good indicator of whether one is welcome to enter or not: the invitation to take off your shoes. Travelling salesmen, Jehovah's Witnesses and other unwelcome types have to stand in the foyer on the mat, wearing their wet, dirty shoes while they do their business. When that's concluded they exit, having penetrated no more than a foot or two beyond the front door. Invited guests can leave their shoes in the foyer and walk through to the inner rooms.
posted by Kevin Street at 8:43 PM on January 5, 2011


Have a pair of size 13 slippers on hand that are heavy duty enough to accommodate my orthotics and I won't be this least bit put out ... or just remind me when you invite me that it's a no-shoes environment and I'll bring my own pair

Like I said above, I don't make guests take their shoes off.
posted by Miko at 8:44 PM on January 5, 2011


It is absolutely de rigeur in rural Canada to take your shoes off when entering a house, or indeed many offices (for example, if you go to see a lawyer), at least in fall, winter and spring. That's why we have mudrooms.

If you stride into someone's house wearing shoes, you and they are going to be very uncomfortable, because they will not ask you to take them off but will be acutely conscious that you are wearing shoes.

In summer, you can wear your shoes to the lawyer's office, but you still have to take them off when entering a house.

Quite often, in winter, people round here take their shoes off *outside* the house. Mine live outside the house all summer long.
posted by unSane at 8:50 PM on January 5, 2011


Interestingly, I thought mudrooms were strictly a New England thing. I suppose it's because my grandparents have one. I find it somehow comforting that Canadians also have mudrooms.
posted by maryr at 9:36 PM on January 5, 2011


After reading through this entire thread, I'd like to just say that I've never been so glad to be Japanese and not have to worry about this on a daily basis. Though I must admit Pastabagel makes a great point and I might just consider keeping my shoes on inside from now on, culture be damned.
posted by misozaki at 11:10 PM on January 5, 2011


If your floors are THAT fragile, you bought the wrong floor. It should be there to be walked on by shoes and even dog claws.

Pfft, shoes and dogs indoors? Now you people are just making shit up.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:18 PM on January 5, 2011


Take outside shoes off when you go inside you filthy beasties sheesh. Entire countries have managed to handle it without too much drama for hundreds of years. Would you eat your dinner off a footpath too? Lick a public toilet?

I bet you even think the 3 second rule is 10 seconds! Dirty, dirty, dirty.
posted by gomichild at 12:20 AM on January 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


ottereroticist: "I can't stand to have this discussion again. I just can't"

No problem: just sit down, take off your shoes, and then we'll chat.
posted by bwg at 1:30 AM on January 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Common sense in Hong Kong: among the rather large list of things you might step in when outdoors are loogies; cockroaches (or already squashed cockroaches, which means roach juices); dog poop, urine and/or feces (some public washrooms are truly horrifying); salt water, fruit, vegetables, bits of unrefrigerated pork/chicken flesh, and fish bits/blood at the wet market; and cigarette butts.

Do you really want to track any of that into your living space?
posted by bwg at 1:40 AM on January 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


If it's good enough for Burt Cooper, it's good enough for me.
posted by bwg at 1:41 AM on January 6, 2011


I'm sad that I came across these threads a bit late. However, I appreciate that Mo Nickels set up the survey form. It was VERY satisfying to proclaim my loathing for this no shoes business and the people who promote it in an official-seeming form.
posted by mullacc at 2:29 AM on January 6, 2011


I don't wear shoes at home, but that's because my feet really weren't meant for shoes. That sounds a little weird, but my feet are a little weird, too. Too wide, too tall, too awkwardly shaped. It's just more comfortable to be barefoot.
posted by asciident at 5:33 AM on January 6, 2011


After reading through this entire thread, I'd like to just say that I've never been so glad to be Japanese and not have to worry about this on a daily basis.

It's not really something one dreads on day-to-day. It's mostly just something you notice when you go to someone's house for the first time if they practice differently than you do. It's akin to people drinking from the tap or from a filter.
posted by maryr at 8:27 AM on January 6, 2011


High-fives brother-in-orthoses philip-random
posted by jtron at 9:10 AM on January 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Too many options with a lack of balance. Should have all been yes/usually/sometimes/not usually/no. Otherwise you're going to have a skew. Also, you forgot to ask if people usually take off their shoes in your home unasked.
posted by davejay at 10:16 AM on January 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm starting to notice a lot of people who are annoyed by the shoe thing are guests who would be offended to be asked and whatnot. Are manners and politeness and consideration only for hosts, all of a sudden? Seems like, when you come to someone's house, they try to make you comfortable, and you try to be respectful. After all, you're the guest, but you're in their home. Goes both ways. I can't imagine feeling any other way.
posted by davejay at 10:22 AM on January 6, 2011


Being offended or uncomfortable is not rude. How you behave when you are offended or uncomfortable can be, however.
posted by crush-onastick at 10:27 AM on January 6, 2011


Wow, people have really strong opinions about this. Most people I know, locally, are very diverse on this issue. When you're visiting someone's home, you make the call of "shoes off or not" based on what you see. Are there shoes by the door? Is your host sporting footwear? Are your shoes dirty? It's really not too difficult. When there's doubt, you ask, "should I take my shoes off?" Or if you're like me, you may just ask, "may I take my shoes off?"
posted by zennie at 12:10 PM on January 6, 2011


If it's good enough for Burt Cooper, it's good enough for me.

Burt Cooper's a Randian weirdo.
posted by philip-random at 12:12 PM on January 6, 2011


I won't ask you to take your shoes off but all of my shoes live in the garage. I will look at you funny about leaving your disgusting thongs flipflops on the floor near my toddler though. Those things are NASTY. Take them off and leave them somewhere other than the middle of the floor.

I am so buying a shoerack and slippers for guests now.

I am one of the pantless though - I used to actually have one of those stupid arguments with my partner about it. One of those arguments that starts out funny and cute and after a few years becomes 'say it one more time you fucker'. He insisted I was one of the pantless - not only did I take my pants off at every opportunity, I also referred to things as 'pants' if I did not like them. I denied this up and down and quite ferociously. He ended up dropping the subject. Until we came home after dropping friends at the airport after they'd stayed with us for a week. Within 2 minutes of coming home I wandered back into the lounge without my pants on. His resulting hysterical laughter finally convinced me that I am indeed, one of the pantless.

I still wear knickers, so I think it's still okay to sit on my furniture.
posted by geek anachronism at 3:47 PM on January 6, 2011


I wonder how much of this is an Ask vs Guess culture thing (I wish that had been on the survey!)

I mean, there's a baseline question about "Is it okay to require guests to take off their shoes?" and if you think the answer is "yes" then Ask vs Guess doesn't matter.

But if you don't think it's okay to require it, presumably a pure Ask person would still think it was perfectly fine to ask, since the guest could always just say no if they didn't want to (right? I'm totally not an Asker.) While a pure Guess person would think it was unacceptable to ask because that's essentially the same thing as a requirement for a Guesser (although they could nevertheless believe that the guest ought to do it on their own initiative, i.e. "It's bloody rude not to take your shoes off right away. A host shouldn't even have to ask!")

I'm a Guess and so to me the "right" answer is what the OP eventually came up with... that you take off your own shoes and give other visual cues to your guest that you would prefer them to have their shoes off, but if for whatever reason they would prefer not to, you don't put them in the awkward position of feeling obligated to do it since you asked (or having to explain their smelly feet or medical condition or whatever.) Trust them to recognize and respect your preference, and respect that if they're not taking their shoes off then there's probably a good reason, a reason more important than your floors.

Are there strong Ask people who think that you shouldn't be asked to take off your shoes? Or Guess people who think it's fine to ask?
posted by EmilyClimbs at 4:11 PM on January 6, 2011


It's akin to people drinking from the tap or from a filter.

People drink water... from the tap?!

I kid.
posted by misozaki at 5:01 PM on January 6, 2011


People drink water... from the tap?!

What I tell people when they seem slightly uneasy at the absence of a Brita filter or bottled water in my house is is "Hey we sell this water to you city folk, it's that good!"

or we did, until recently
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:19 PM on January 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


You might want to check up on that, jessamyn. Just sayin'.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:56 PM on January 6, 2011


I drink water from the tap because it comes straight from my well and it tastes AWESOME.
posted by unSane at 6:04 PM on January 6, 2011


Back in New Haven a glass of tap water involved filling the glass and then waiting a couple minutes for all the sediment to settle out. I can't believe I ever drank that.

Then again, the tasty tap water here in Chicago probably is full of lead and Outfit victims, so.
posted by jtron at 7:14 PM on January 6, 2011


You might want to check up on that, jessamyn. Just sayin'.

Oh, well, damn. I liked Vermont Pure. Buy Vermont First and all that.

(Meanwhile, ha, Milton.)
posted by maryr at 10:59 PM on January 6, 2011


To the people crying "germophobe": Why do you need to keep your shoes on? What are you afraid of? Should I be offended that you seem to think my house is so filthy that your feet need protection?
posted by Sys Rq at 10:13 AM on January 8, 2011


The only people who really bitch about it around here are the smokers who have to keep taking their shoes on and off every ten minutes as they head back outdoors to smoke. But fuck 'em, they brought that trouble on themselves.
posted by klangklangston at 10:25 AM on January 8, 2011


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