Apartment Therapy Great Debates: Do You Insist on a “Shoes Off” Policy at Home?

updated May 3, 2019
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

There are some debates that loom large in the annals of Apartment Therapy: karate chop pillows, color-coded bookshelves, open kitchen shelving, and ye olde shoes on or shoes off debate. I was curious to see if this debate has changed over the last ten years or if this has always been a great schism in the hive mind of Apartment Therapy readers. So I did some digging *lights imaginary pipe* and I think you’ll be interested in my findings…

(Image credit: Jessica Isaac)

A Great Schism!

As it turns out, we’ve been stuck on this topic for-ev-er. Going all the way back to 2006, the first post I found on this topic was a Good Question post answered by the man himself, Maxwell, who tackled this quandary: Good Questions: Is Shoes Off at a Party Proper? which yielded a whopping 181 comments.

Then we got bossy on the matter: In 2007 there was the directive Take Off Your Shoes (accompanied by the most adorably out-of-focus picture of two pairs of suede Puma’s. Shout out to those early AT photos!). And one of our most popular posts ever was 37 Reasons To Take Off Your Shoes.

As the years marched on, we’ve broached and re-broached this topic most often in the form of a question or trying to help readers solve a shoe-on-off related dilemma, such as one of my personal favorites due to the tome of comments: Ask Alice: Alice, How Do I Tell My Guests To Take Their Shoes Off? And whoooeee, Alice wasn’t the only one who had an answer for the person who signed off as “Friend of Flooring”: FOF received no less than 406 comments. 406! I mean, holy house slippers, Batman. Talk about opening a can of etiquette worms.

While the shoes-off side seems to have a slight edge overall, the impassioned discussions surrounding this debate are fascinating to read. Y’all have some real zingers!

Your Thoughts on This Topic

From the pro-shoes off side, some comment gems include:

It’s my house my rules. If I don’t want shoes in my house, I don’t want shoes in my house. I wouldn’t have you over if you insisted on being such a special snowflake.

Off. The thought of tracking in all that gunk from the street… yuck. — Carol123

I’ve had a shoes-off-at-the-door policy ever since living in Japan, where this tradition is followed even in many offices. Heavy metals or no, it keeps your home cleaner. It also creates a psychological transition from the outside that’s very nice.

I live on top of a lunatic who goes totally nuts if I don’t take my shoes off! — alexisfromtexas

Finland is also a shoes-off country (with the weather, it makes sense), and I was really squicked out by American carpeted houses with all the dog poop and spit and god knows what from people’s shoes rubbed into the carpets. I didn’t want to get off the furniture and touch the floor. I thought, haven’t they heard of sanitation here? No wonder they live shorter lives than Northern Europeans. Now I am more used to it and just mildly disgusted. — Sussu

The anti-shoes off crew comes back strong:

If you think my shoes are disgusting, wait until you see my be-bunioned, broken-toed, arch-fallen feet. They look so great with my party dress.

I leave them on. I like wearing shoes more than I like going barefoot, especially in the wintertime. — honeyhaze

Horrible Moments of Shoe Removal for Emily

1. Going to a bridal shower … had to take off my shoes and hide my un-pedicured toes (and I mean LONG toenails, unattractive) and smelly feet. I’ve never felt more uncomfortable.
2. I turned these old flare jeans into the perfect jeans to tuck into boots by cutting, and stitching. Went to a NEW friend’s house on a whim (impromtu party) and was asked to take my boots off. Had to make an excuse and leave.
3. Sock with a hole in the toe. Humiliating.
— Emmerloulou

I live with a very dear, but old and incontinent cat and therefore, prefer to wear shoes in the house. My husband prefers socks and has a tendency to yell obscenities. — bacaorr

Ouch on this one:

I think the anti-shoe people are pretentious hipsters who grew up in the suburbs and are trying to pretend otherwise. — Palmetto

And I’m not entirely sure where this comment is going, but it made me laugh:

until someone does remove his trousers. — JonathanB

And one universal truth I uncovered while sifting through a decade of comments: You ALL hate Crocs.

Let’s Do It! Let’s All Take a Shoes Off/Shoes On Poll

For the sake of history, guys, let’s all take one more poll on this topic and we can declare an Official 2017 Winner of the Great Apartment Therapy Shoe Debate. The prize? A pair of Crocs. Just kidding.

And, as always, feel free to weigh in with comments! (We know you want to!)