At this point, most people have heard all about the dirty downsides to wearing shoes inside the house. It’s one of those things I know isn’t good for me, but sometimes I do it anyway—kind of like ordering a basket of fries, even though I’m well aware that they just took a dip in a vat of oil. But unlike America’s general consensus on the amazingness of fries, an indoor shoe policy is rather divisive subject.
For some, it’s easy to overlook the ick factor of wearing shoes around the house. For others, those sneakers better be off before crossing the threshold. I totally get both, but Infection preventionist at UCHealth Lauren Bryan, RN, MPH, says, “[shoes] act as a vector, picking up dirt, dust, mold spores, chemicals, bacteria, and viruses wherever we go.” That sounds like a lot of things I don’t want all over my pretty new carpet. Sometimes it’s plainly inconvenient to remove my shoes, though, and I pretend those invisible little microbes don’t exist.
So, should you or shouldn’t you wear shoes inside your home? The Well+Good team sounds off:
The shoes-on argument
“Growing up, my parents had a very laissez-faire approach to shoes inside. To me, this felt like it sent the message, ‘Welcome! Come—and stay—as you are!’ And so, I’ve carried my you-do-you approach to shoes-wearing into adulthood. You want to kick your shoes off at the door and get cozy on the couch? Mi casa es su casa. You feel like your footwear really completes your outfit (or, as so often happens to me when I visit shoes-off houses, you’re afraid your tootsies stink)? Leave ‘em on!
“Germaphobes will try to convince you that your shoes are an express train to your home that bacteria will pile on like it’s rush hour. But you know what? Germs are everywhere all the time. They’re on your shoes, sure. But they’re also on your pants and on your skin and in your hair. I’m not going to make you put on pajamas before you sit on my couch—and lord knows where your bum has been—so why would I make you prance around in stocking feet? When you come to my house, take your shoes off if you feel so inclined…or don’t. (Just keep your sneakers off my furniture because that would be rude.)” —Abbey Stone, managing editor
The shoes-off argument
“I grew up in a shoes-on-anywhere-in-the-home household in the suburbs of New York City. Since moving into the city, I am strictly SHOES-OFF! The city is beyond dirty and the last thing I want to do is bring all that into my small apartment. In the city, the bottom of your shoes probably touch every bodily fluid on a daily basis (YUCK!), whether you walked on the subway platform, into a bar, or down the sidewalk. It gives me the chills just thinking about it. My boyfriend and I even offer slippers to our guests when they come over if they don’t want to be barefoot. This rule ranks high up there along with the “no street clothes on or in the bed.” —Celine Cortes, audience development associate
The shoes-off-only-slippers argument
“We are firmly shoes-off in the house. House slippers are fine. But the outside world has grime, motor oil, barf, and poop. I don’t need to track that inside our house.” —Annie Tomlin, Well+Good Council editor
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