Is there a time to wear shoes or not? Discover the science, etiquette, pros and cons to wear shoes indoors and outdoors.
Should You Wear Shoes in the House? Outdoors?
You might be surprised but there’s a time to wear shoes (and not), especially when it comes to your home and garden. Here’s the science and health reasons why you might want to (or not) wear shoes indoors or outdoors.
Firstly, there’s one camp of thought that advocates for going barefoot as much as possible and as long as possible, mainly because it’s comfortable.
But that’s not always the case.
Let’s take a look at these pros and cons of wearing shoes–indoors and outdoors:
The Science Behind Not Wearing Shoes in the House
Researchers have found that shoes can carry as much as 421,000 units of bacteria, including E. coli–you know the stuff that gives you diarrhea, abdominal cramping, nausea, and even meningitis.
Shoes Track in More Than You Think (Video)
Worse still, if folks who wear their shoes and put them on an ottoman, coffee table or even stretch out on a couch, well, you can see how that can be problematic.
There are some real hidden dangers that your shoes might be tracking into your home. It might be time to rethink wearing shoes indoors.
Add to this, infants and children who crawl or play on the floor or pull up on coffee tables–have a greater chance of coming into contact with the tracked in bacteria and germs. This is definitely not a great scenario for parents wanting to keep their toddlers or kids healthy.
A Housekeeping Dilemma
Besides the bacteria that is brought into the home, so is dirt and debris that gets trapped in the tread of your shoes.
But what is more aggravating, from a housekeeping perspective, is that this stuff can be tracked from the entryway to other rooms around your house–making more work for you to clean these areas.
But dirt isn’t the only thing that could damage your flooring. High heels and abrasive soles of shoes have been known to damage high glossed surfaces like wood, tile and carpet.
That’s why if you visit a model home, you might be given shoe protectors, like they wear in operating rooms, to protect these surfaces from scratches or abrasions.
How to Encourage (or Enforce) No Shoes in the House
One of the easiest ways encourage no shoes in the house is to place a small throw rug by every doorway of your home. This becomes a non-verbal sign that says to family and friends that you’d prefer them to leave their shoes and boots there.
RELATED: Area Rug Ideas for Your Home
It’s also a good idea, when the weather gets cold, to rethink your entryways and bring out the heavy rugs to catch the damp and sludge. That way, you can safely and happily walk barefoot without a hint of dirt, grime or germs.
The Etiquette of Taking Shoes off in the House
If from what you’ve read so far has made you a believer of no shoes in the house, what about visitors to your abode?
Many cultures require (or commonly apply) this practice for various reasons, including:
- Northern Europe
- Southeastern Europe
- Middle East
- and more….
Since this isn’t always the norm here in the U.S., you might want to let your guests know ahead of time, or at the very least offer a pair of slippers or house shoes to wear when they enter your home.
And, out of respect, when I’m a guest at someone’s house, I will usually ask my host/hostess if they prefer me to take my shoes off or not.
It’s just a common courtesy on my part and very much appreciated, as I’ve heard countless times.
When Shoes Are Appropriate Indoors
That being said, not everyone will or can abide by the “no shoe rule”–and to be honest, even diehard no shoe wearer have been known to break it now and again.
Here are some are some reasons to wear shoes (or slippers at the very least) in the house:
- When you need extra support and help with balance.
- When you harbor foot fungus or infection.
- When surfaces are very slippery or uneven.
- When the area you are traveling into is unclean.
- When broken glass, metal fragments, etc. might cut into feet.
- When you feel uncomfortable about removing your shoes.
- When workmen need to repair stuff in your home.
- When moving heavy objects from one place to another.
So the long and short of this quandary is this: If you prefer a shoeless home, encourage family and friends to leave their shoes at the door. If a guest is uncomfortable about doing so, then by all means, give in out of respect to your guest.
RELATED: How to Declutter after Summer
But what about outdoors? Do you have to always wear shoes? Consider the following:
Going Barefoot Outdoors
There’s something wonderful in feeling the soft blades of grass beneath one’s during summer or hearing the crunch of frosted grass blades. It’s almost as much fun as stomping packing bubblewrap.
But did you know that there are some benefits to walking barefoot? There are. Here’s why:
Health Benefits of Walking Barefoot Outdoors (Video)
Besides increased balance and core strength, you also encourage healthy motion in your foot and ankle joints.
When to Wear Shoes Outdoors
But keep in mind that there times when hazards are present, making shoeless outings a danger to your health.
Here are just some reasons why you (and your family members) might want to wear your shoes outdoors:
- rough or uneven surfaces
- stinging insects like fire ants, ground wasps, bees
- hidden hazards like glass or other sharp objects
- hot or cold surfaces
- harmful germs and bacteria–especially if you have pets or livestock
- pesticides, herbicides or other chemicals present
As you can see, going barefoot isn’t always a panacea but when you can go sans shoes, it’s fun indeed.