Here’s Why You Should Take Off Your Shoes the Minute You Enter the House

Updated: Jun. 09, 2023

From avoiding toxins and bacteria to dirt and noise, there is everything to love about making your home a no-shoe zone.


1. Toxins

While chemically engineered plant food might be beneficial to your garden, there could be unintended consequences to your health if you wear your outdoor shoes inside. A study in Environmental Science & Technology found that it’s rather easy for residue tracked in on your shoes to settle into the nooks and crannies of your carpet. Herbicide 2,4-D can last up to a week after application, and, according to the National Pesticide Information Center, exposure can cause minor skin rashes and even gastrointestinal upsets. Think of that the next time you lie down and crash on your floor after a long day.

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2. Bacteria

Research from the University of Houston found that 40% of shoes are contaminated with the diarrhea-causing bacteria Clostridium difficile, and 70% of sterilized boots pick up E. coli after walking outdoors. Wear your outdoors shoes in the house and you’re likely to spread bacteria in your home. Other research has shown that more than 90% of the time, bacteria on shoes transfer to the tile floors of a home. Carpets fare even worse.


3. Filth

Beyond just those particles invisible to the naked eye, there’s dust and dirt to consider. Who wants built up residue from your shoes making a mess of your floors and carpet. To enjoy a clean and tidy home, invest in a good welcome mat—and use it.

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4. Respect

“The act of removing shoes is not only for sanitary reasons; it’s also a sign of respect,” says interior designer Jenny Nakao Hones, co-author of Feng Shui: Truths, Myths & Misconceptions. “You are respecting the hosts, the environment or structure, and others that use the place,” she adds. “Removing shoes is also an equalizer, in that you are all the ‘same’ in your ‘bare’ feet.” And: “Although taking off your shoes at the door is a simple physical act, it mentally prepares you to make the transition of leaving the outside energy at the door and reminding you that you’re entering a different space.”


5. Damaged floors

Abrasive soles of shoes can cause floors to become scratched and dinged. Limit the constant need to vacuum and shampoo carpets—and keep deep cleaning to a minimum—by changing into house slippers at the door. “It’s easier to maintain your floors, and they last longer with less wear and tear,” says Hones.

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6. Noise

This will be a familiar one to anyone who lives in an apartment with an upstairs neighbor: Shoes are loud. Shuffling around the house just feels more relaxing—and sounds more relaxing—muffled by the softness of socks or slippers as opposed to rough, hard-soled shoes or boots.


7. Healthy feet

“Without the confinement of shoes, your feet can breathe and have free range of movement,” says Hones. “You can feel the earth, and thus feel grounded. Using your feet and feeling the floor allows you to improve muscle strength and flexibility. You also stimulate pressure points on the soles of your feet. In traditional Chinese medicine, these pressure points are connected to our organs, which means you’re helping your organs function.”

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest