Is It OK to Ask Guests to Take Off Their Shoes? 2 Experts Weigh In

Shoes on Welcome Mat
Photo: CHRISsadowski/Getty Images

You work hard to keep your home tidy, free of germs, and sparkling clean for all to enjoy. And sure, you're happy to share your space, have neighbors pop over, and you're even willing to host a cocktail hour or two. However, when it comes to footwear you draw a hard line: No shoes in the house.

If this sounds like you, you're not alone. In many cultures around the world, removing shoes before entering homes is the norm. In most of Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East, shoes are never worn inside homes, and it can be seen as a sign of disrespect for guests to enter a host's home without leaving them at the door.

In the U.S., there are actually more shoeless households than you might think. According to research from YouGovAmerica, almost a third of the country always takes shoes off inside their house, and 26% of Americans report taking their shoes off most of the time.

Research shoes that while many Americans prefer to leave shoes off in their homes, they have a hard time requesting the same behavior from guests. Of the 31% of Americans who always take their shoes off, only 26% expect the same etiquette from their guests.

But the perception around whether it's acceptable to ask guests to take their shoes off before entering your home may be changing. Fifty percent of the general public say they would never ask guests to take off their shoes, but for those over 55, that percentage goes up to 64%. Meanwhile, 64% of millennials say they sometimes ask guests to remove their shoes.

So, what's the verdict: Is it rude to ask guests to take off their shoes before entering your home? Here's what two experts have to say.

Ask Alice: It's totally OK to ask guests to take off their shoes, just be ready.

According to Apartment Therapy's etiquette expert Alice, it's completely reasonable to ask guests to take off their shoes.

"Maintaining a no-shoes apartment is important to you—I imagine it's about a sense of cleanliness and protection over your domain," Alice wrote, adding it's key to have a response at the ready.

"For each situation, I'd say some variation of, 'Sorry to be a stickler, but you know how I am about shoes in the house.' Or: 'When I come to your place, I promise to follow all the rules! Or: 'If that makes me uptight, then what can I say! But it just really bugs me.' Or: 'I just really don't like shoes in the house, thank you.'"

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Architectural Digest: Yes, it's OK, but warn your guests ahead of time.

In response to a reader inquiry, the experts at Architectural Digest said yes, it's totally fine to ask guests to remove their shoes, but it may be best to warn guests before they even come over.

"That means either a note on the bottom of a formal invite (e.g., 'Please plan to remove your shoes before coming inside') or a quick verbal or email reminder. That way your friends can plan their outfits (and their hosiery) accordingly," the magazine wrote.

Sure, these are all great pieces of advice, but at the end of the day, it's still totally up to you depending on what you're comfortable with. After all, it is your house, so you do, in fact, get to make the rules. Just maybe have a few extra pairs of socks or slippers handy for any unexpected visitors.

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  1. YouGov America. Most Americans take their shoes off at home, but don't expect their guests to.

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