The etiquette for a shoe free home

shoes offIt seems more and more households are going shoe free. So, it was timely when I received an email from a Clise Etiquette newsletter reader who asked me about the etiquette of asking people to remove their shoes in your home. A general contractor, he also queried whether he should offer to take his shoes off and/or put on shoe covers when entering someone’s home when on duty.

I asked my Clise Etiquette Facebook followers if they are a shoes off house. A few replied they are. A couple of people wrote that they feel uncomfortable having to take their shoes off in someone’s home. It seems there are some mixed feelings about removing one’s shoes in someone’s home.

Here are some etiquette tips to keep in mind. If you choose to not allow shoes in your home you must offer slippers or shoe covers for people visiting your home. As some of my Facebook readers stated, it’s embarrassing to have to take their shoes off if their socks aren’t in great shape or they’re not wearing any socks. You should also let people know about your no shoes policy before they come to your house so that they don’t wear those heel dependent jeans or build their outfit around their fabulous Manolo Blahniks.

When my husband and I visit friends and family who have a no shoes rule we bring our slippers. That way our feet stay warm and we don’t have to worry about whether we are wearing socks or not and what condition those socks might be in. But, we only do this when we know shoes aren’t allowed. It does annoy me when I discover I have to take my shoes off upon arriving at someone’s house when they don’t offer slippers. It’s surprising how quickly I get cold without shoes or slippers on. Additionally, my shoes are often a thought out component of my outfit, so it’s a shame when I can’t wear them.

One of my Facebook Likes mentioned when she and her boyfriend host parties they make a game out of their no shoes policy. They not only let their guests know in advance that shoes aren’t allowed in their house, but they “give prizes for best socks, best pedicures, and best abandoned pair of shoes.” I think that’s a fun way to approach it. However, I think they need to add the category of “best slippers” to the prizes.

Now to the second question my general contractor newsletter reader asked; should he offer to take his shoes off when he visits a house when he is in on the clock? He stated that there have been times he is told to go ahead and keep his shoes on and then notices no one else in the house is wearing shoes, which embarrasses him. Conversely, he has been told to take his shoes off only to discover that not only are members of the household wearing shoes, but the floors are dirty so his socks end up getting soiled.

The quick and easy answer to this is to bring shoes covers and put them on no matter if it’s a shoes off or shoes on household. That way he protects their floors and his socks. It’s simple and it’s respectful.

Do you have a no shoes in the house policy? If not, how do you feel about having to take your shoes off in homes you are visiting?





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Arden Clise is founder and president of Clise Etiquette. Her love for business etiquette began in previous jobs when she was frequently asked for etiquette, public speaking and business attire advice by executives and board members. The passion for etiquette took hold and compelled Arden to start a consulting business to help others. Read more >>


  1. Thelma on May 29, 2018 at 7:29 pm

    We have a shoeless household policy. We recently replaced carpet and added new floors and rugs. We have little kids that lay and play on these surfaces and feel it is unsanitary to tramp around in shoes worn all over tarnation ie phblic restrooms, hospitals, parks, subways…you get the idea. I think it is the polite thing to ask upon entering a home whether or not you should remove your shoes and not to just assume you can traipse all over someone’s house in your shoes. And as for the embarrassment of naked feet, how naked are your feet if you have on flip flops to bare feet??

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