Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Shoes: to remove or not to remove?

This article was one I originally wrote on June 17, 2008 when I was back in Minnesota on a visit.

Ever since coming back to Minnesota, I've been reminded of the differences in Florida and Minnesota when it comes to wearing shoes in the house.

Then, this morning, there was a special on just this topic on ABC News. Check it out here.

I remember when we visited Minnesota in March before we moved there. As we visited various apartments to tour possible places to live, we were repeatedly instructed to remove our shoes. Some places even provided booties that we could put on over our shoes.

Then we moved to Minnesota, and I quickly found out that wearing shoes in homes was a majorly rude thing to do. It was a given. When you walked into someone's house, you removed your shoes. During big parties, there could be dozens and dozens of pairs of shoes piled by the front door. I would always make sure to be prepared to remove my shoes. Very dirty or holey socks weren't ideal, and sometimes I would even bring an extra pair of socks to slip on after removing my shoes.

JB and I quickly fell into this practice. When friends from out-of-state would come and visit us and not remove their shoes as they stomped through my living room, even after I repeatedly reminded them, I have to admit, I got bothered. I found shoes in the house quite gross after just a few months living in Minnesota. We had an absolute zero tolerance for shoes in our living room or bedrooms where we had carpet. This stretched as far to plummers or cable guys who without asking would slip off their shoes or slip on booties over the top of their shoes. It also stretched as far to one of us forgetting something in the house. Have to go back in for something? Take your shoes off at the door.

In Florida, when I go to a friends' house and I remove my shoes, I have had people actually say to me, "You don't have to take off your shoes." JB and I will look around and realize we are the only ones in bare feet in the entire place. I quickly became confused! Leave them on? Take them off? I don't know?

Returning to Minnesota this week, I have to remind myself of the policy here and remove my shoes before hitting the carpet. It is not a thoughtless process for me anymore. It no longer feels natural.

Getting a dog has loosened me up about shoes in the house. And, quite honestly, I realized I had to quickly give up my desire to keep my home in Florida shoe-free. People looked at me like I was quite odd when I asked them to remove their shoes during our first few weeks here, and if I were to ask a maintenance man to remove his boots, I think he would have left without doing the work.

The spot on Good Morning America said that it is considered a little tacky to ask guests to remove shoes and that all over the U.S. it is considered normal to wear your shoes in the house. So my question is this: is Minnesota the only place this is common? I don't remember having to remove my shoes in Illinois when I visit family. Is this unique to the Polar North?

***UPDATE*** We have continued to be shoeless in our home at Eglin AFB, Turkey, Portugal, and Central TN. Here on the farm, we are definitely shoe-free!

Other articles on this topic:


Ebby Ray said...

We have a pile of shoes by our front door right now, and we are in South Carolina. I guess that is from our time in Rochester, but I like it.

Shoes off is my vote.

Michele said...

Many of our friends in the Pacific NW had "no shoe" houses - and we quickly adapted. It totally makes sense to me - why track all that ick through the house?

Anonymous said...

Growing up in Canada, we always removed our shoes at the door. I don't know if there was a "rule" about it, it just seemed like common courtesy. I prefer people remove their shoes in my house, and I don't think about leaving my shoes on in someone else's, unless they specifically ask me to. I certainly don't want dirt, etc. tracked thru on my carpet.
Just my two cents!!

Joia said...

I'm with Cheryl, it's totally the norm in Ontario, and I still do things that way in my home. With bare floors throughout, I have a hard enough time keeping them clean, without shoes adding to the mess!

yuan family said...

We removed our shoes at our house in Oregon... I think it is the courteous thing to do. Thanks for coming to visit me at work...it was so much fun seeing you and Isaac!

Anonymous said...

In Canada it's odd for people to tell you to leave your shoes on. What do Americans do when it's snowy and rainy? Just track it all in through the house? Seems strange to me! And it's much easier to keep your carpets clean!

Aimee said...

I have lived in Indiana, California, Wisconsin and Minnesota and I can say that it is the rule I have always known and followed, in each and every state. And I do it whenever I visit someone, no matter where I am.
I work in a laboratory area and when I think of the potential quite literal "crap" that could be walking through my house, it grosses me out. And then there is the whole rainy/muddy/snowy thing, tracking all that into the house was never my idea of fun to clean up. I don't think I have ever had anyone look at my weird for doing it, so from my experience its normal. My mom is a HUGE stickler for this rule because she doesn't want her carpet ruined and in her house, its wall to wall, even in the kitchen, but not the bathrooms. Pets are a whole other blog!

Gabbs said...

Well, living in Florida, I think I've always kept the shoes on unless a) it was someone I didn't know very well, b) it was someone I knew very well, and we were going to hang out in the house for a while, or c) I was asked to take shoes off due to carpet reasons.

I've never been asked to take shoes off on tile or wood.

When we first got out carpet, we wanted to have a "no shoes on the carpet" rule, but it felt so weird asking everyone to remove their shoes all the time. Needless to say, my carpet looks like a mess now, but that's mostly due to the kids' drinks spilling all over.

Gabbs said...

Oh I forgot to add, though....when its been raining, then everyone usually knows to take their shoes off so that mud and grass and water aren't tracked through the house, carpet or not. Its kind of like an unwritten rule.

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine why you'd leave your shoes on and transfer all the dirt, mud, yuck in your house. Even on tile and hardwood... rocks in the bottom of shoes can easily scratch a floor.

Joia said...

I agree with anonymous about the wood floors - grit and water can be Very damaging to them.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

I have read some people saying that removing shoes is actually quite common in Florida. I suppose it must be a big place.

I am from England where it is not so common. I do have a blog dedicated to this subject:
Shoes Off at the Door, Please
You might want to take a look.

crazystegmamaof3 said...

Very interesting "thought for the day", Wen. I would say it's kinda normal here in IN to remove shoes too...at least if the person has carpet. We used to prefer that people took theirs off when our house was new, but 3 kids, 2 cats and some dirty carpet later...we really don't care now. But, I try to honor my old rule at other's houses...unless they have tile/wood floors then I figure shoes are ok?! But I laughed at your MN "piles of shoes by the door"...that is how our house looks when have a group over! :) Personall, I think, in the winter when you have snow/ice/salt on your shoes that it's a nice gesture to take your shoes off at the door (no matter what your flooring is)...in FL, we never did that though...so I think it depends on where you live...

Interesting to get advice on this though :)

Erica said...


I definitely have to comment on this one. I have always thought this was soooo weird about Minnesota! I mean, it definitely makes sense, but I had never ever removed shoes before in the south except at a couple old ladies' houses with white carpet. We have been here two years, and it still is a little odd when people start taking their shoes off. Oh well, I'll probably get used to it right about the time I leave! :)
PS Hope you are having fun being back in Roch for a few days!

Andi said...


I grew up in Hawaii. The rule there: no shoes. Most of the time we wore flip-flops (we called them "slippers" there), so it wasn't a big deal to go barefoot at all. Then I moved back to the Mainland. The rule here (where I've lived...Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, and Texas) : it's weird to be asked to take shoes off. We we dealt with gross carpet for awhile. Now we have hardwoods, so it's not as big of a deal, but I would LOVE to have a no-shoes rule in our house. But we've already set a precedent. :-(


Katie said...

Growing up in FL we never wore shoes when we went outside, so tracking dirt and grime inside went without being said just b/c it was on our feet already. I actually find this post funny b/c I remember our parents constantly yelling at us to put shoes on to go outside!
Now that I live on an island, the norm is sandals, so it's natural to be barefoot. Plus, renting has me nervous about ruining the carpet.
All this to say that no shoes in the house is a must!

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Andi, its never to late to change.

Having a shoes-off rule would really protect your hardwood floor.

Patty PB said...

My Mother would forbid us from walking barefoot inside the house. Or ever.
We did however, have special slippers only to be used inside.
Ever since I moved out, I've gone barefoot in my own house.
Cause I'm a rebel.
(But seriously, I just hate the extra dirt!)