The long-awaited game night finally rolled around and upon walking into your friend's place, it hits you: should you take your shoes off in someone else's home? It's a good question and one that won't get the same answer across different households. You might get a breezy "whatever you prefer" from one friend and a firm "please put them on the shoe rack" from another. This is what makes it impossible to provide an easy answer, much less say which one is "correct." So what should you do when visiting someone else?
Meet the Expert
Taking them off is a smart first move, but if someone's home is set up for keeping shoes on it might be an uncomfortable mistake. The best first step is simply asking what they prefer, as it's better to be safe than sorry, especially in homes where shoes-off is the norm.
"There are any number of reasons why a host might establish a house rule of no shoes indoors," explains etiquette expert Thomas P. Farley, otherwise known as Mister Manners. "In addition to factors of hygiene, taking off one’s shoes prior to entry is also a consideration for the noise sensibilities of downstairs neighbors."
Shoes off is a common request, but Farley acknowledges that it can be awkward, especially for hosts who need might need to ask guests who don't automatically reach for their laces after entering. If you're on the hosting end, Farley says there are a few ways to prepare and make guests comfortable and want to take off their shoes. Most can be done before they even arrive. "Alert guests in advance so they are not caught unaware," says Farley. He also adds that it's important to "clean floors well before the get-together; to neglect this detail would be hypocritical."
Keeping your home and the floors warm is another great way to ensure guests won't be heading back for their shoes out of discomfort. Having a pre-prepped place for footwear is key, too. "Establish a dedicated, tidy area for people to leave their shoes—one that will not become a gigantic mountain of footwear as more people deposit their kicks," says Farley. Looking to take it one step further and be a well-remembered host? If possible, give them a replacement for their shoes. "Offer freshly packaged slippers or party-themed socks for all to wear and take home with them," recommends Farley.
Keeping Shoes On or Off: Pros and Cons
Of course, there are pros and cons to each. While one household is fully "no shoes" there might be good reasons for why another is strictly "shoes on." Roman Peysakhovich, the CEO of Onedesk, a national cleaning company, laid out a few of these advantages and disadvantages. The case for keeping them on? "You don't need to worry about offending your guests by asking them to take their shoes off," says Peysakhovich. He also adds that "it's more comfortable on your feet and back to wear shoes and it's more convenient for your guests to leave them on."
On the other side of the argument, he notes that it isn't acceptable in all homes and in some cases can be considered impolite. Cleanliness may be another concern. "Wearing shoes indoors tracks in bacteria, dirt, and other harmful germs," says Peysakhovich, adding "it's uncleanly, especially for small babies who crawl around or kids who play on the floor."
You might have a heated debate with family or friends about which is technically the best mindset about shoes in the house, but as a visitor, it's always best to simply ask and respect the host's rules.
How to Store Guests' Shoes
For your own home, find what works best for you, and to really be prepared, make sure you have an organizational system that supports you and where you prefer shoes to end up.
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For plenty of shoe storage and to really create a welcoming entryway, a multi-tiered rack makes for a great furniture pick. Not only can guests leave their shoes there, but there is room for umbrellas, coats, and the top rack can even be utilized as a surface for decor or a plant.
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Compact racks are perfect for small entryways, apartments, or for inside of coat closets. Look for three-rack shelving systems made in a sturdy material like metal with a sleek frame that won't stand out too much, no matter where it's placed.
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Shoe Storage Boxes
Storage boxes are a perfect solution for hosts who want to keep the entryway clear of their own footwear and make space for guests. They're perfect for storing under the bed or in closets and prevent shoes from causing trips or unmanageable piles.