On the Right Track: 5 Reasons to Keep Shoes Off Inside the House

Lawrence Bonk
Written by Lawrence Bonk
Updated May 2, 2022
pair of shoes out front door
Photo: Linda Raymond / iStock / Getty Images


  • Tracking in dirt messes up your carpets and other parts of the home. 

  • Shoes also bring in bacteria and germs, which happily spread throughout the house. 

  • When visiting other homes, it’s polite to inquire about removing your footwear. 

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The great debate lives on: Shoes or no shoes in the home? While keeping them on is certainly convenient and time-saving, there are plenty of legitimate reasons to take them off each time you enter your house. Here are five of the biggest and most consequential reasons why you should store shoes at your entryway instead of letting them traipse all over the house. 

Spend Less Time Cleaning

Your shoes track in dirt, oils, and all kinds of other contaminants that make their way through your home. If you tire of regularly hiring a local house cleaner or cleaning your carpets and flooring yourself, here’s some good news: Taking off your footwear and leaving it near the front door is a great way to reduce the presence of these rampant house clutterers. 

According to the Cleaning Industry Research Institute (CIRI), a 2016 study indicated that 90% of the gross stuff tracked in with footwear transfers to the rest of your home. This figure increases to a whopping 99% with carpeting, so you’ll be looking for a local carpet cleaner in no time if you subscribe to the school of thought that shoes inside the home are a-OK. 

Keep Your Home Free From Feces

Ready for an alarming statistic? The CIRI study found that fecal particles were present on 96% of shoe soles after two weeks of normal use. Combine this statistic with the one above, and you have one mighty fine reason to stow your sneakers at the door. 

Bacteria and Pathogens Will Stay Outside

woman disinfecting shoes outside of her home
Photo: Antonio_Diaz/ iStock / Getty Images

An average pair of shoes comes into contact with plenty of nasty stuff during their outdoor travels, and bacteria, pathogens, and related contaminants are no exception. Sole treads and cracks are the perfect places for these germs to linger and thrive. 

According to the 2016 study, researchers found that the average shoe sole featured over 420,000 bacteria. Let’s take a look at some common ones found on and in shoes. 

  • E. coli: The dreaded Escherichia coli is the most prevalent bacteria hiding in shoe soles. This little bugger causes intestinal and urinary tract infections, among other medical issues. 

  • C. diff: Clostridium difficile bacteria particles cause colon inflammatory issues (colitis) and various digestive issues. Shoes walking through metropolitan settings are highly susceptible to C. diff particles, according to the science journal Anaerobe.

  • Staph: Staphylococcus aureus bacteria are behind all kinds of health issues, from bloodstream infections to pneumonia. Though less common on shoes than C. diff or E. coli, a 2016 study in the Journal of Applied Microbiology indicated that these bacteria were commonly found on the shoes of people working in healthcare facilities and food service industries. 

  • Various pesticides: Pesticides and herbicides are everywhere, and your shoes are no exception. If you walk near crops, parks, or golf courses, you’re likely to encounter various pesticides. When introduced to the home, these chemicals can cause skin and eye irritations, among other health issues. 

Creates a Safer Place for Kids and Pets

Keeping all the aforementioned bacteria, pesticides, feces, and dirt away from your floors ensures a safer play space for your furry friends and beloved children. Both kids—especially younger ones—and animals love to sit and play on the floor, so removing shoes upon entering the home keeps them from rolling around in the dirt and whatever else is lurking around. 

It’s Just Polite

When traveling to a friend or relative’s home, it’s good manners to remove your shoes upon entering. At the very least, ask about their home footwear preferences. The same goes when people visit your home. 

Another way removing shoes in the home increases your courtesy points? Your downstairs neighbors won’t hear the constant clattering and clanking of heavy footwear like boots and platform heels. 

Tips for Removing Shoes Inside 

Change can be difficult, so here are some helpful tips for sticking to your new “no shoes inside” mandate:

  • Create a dedicated shoe area just inside the door. 

  • Help keep footwear organized by purchasing and placing down a shoe rack or two. 

  • Keep slippers or dedicated indoor house shoes right near the entryway, making it easy to switch. 

  • Put a sign out for visitors indicating your preference.

  • Ask guests politely to remove their footwear. 

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