Thrive Healthy Home

Shoes at the Door

shoes on a porch
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Written by Melanie Moore

It’s something that most of us in American culture don’t think about doing. But, one of the simplest ways to keep our homes naturally clean, is to make it a shoe-free zone. One of the main reasons to go shoe-free at home is that most environmental toxins enter our bodies through our feet. So, when our shoes track contaminants into our home, our bodies absorb these toxins through our bare feet. This explains why putting vapor rub on the bottoms of our feet works like magic to instantly stop even the worst coughs; the vapor goes right through our bodily system.

Just think of all the toxins that our shoes come in contact with: public rest rooms, parking lots, gas station pumping areas, restaurants and retail stores, especially ones with carpeted floors. Even when we stay home, we pick up toxins outside in the yard from pesticides, pollen, urine, and traces of feces from pets and wild animals.

Leaving your shoes at the door when entering your home is the simplest way to keep toxins from entering it. Wearing shoes inside, makes the flooring in your home be, essentially, public flooring. And, how would you feel if your baby put their mouth on a public floor? In a shoe-free zoned home, you don’t have to cringe when your baby puts toys into their mouth that have been on the floor. You don’t have to make sure they are always on a clean blanket, so they don’t roll over and touch their face to contaminated carpet. You don’t have to make sure that no one has walked on that blanket with shoes, or that the blanket is turned up on the same side every time. You don’t have to constantly say “no” when your toddler drops her cracker on the floor and eats it anyway. You don’t have to worry about shoes on a bed, contaminating pillows and sheets that rub against our faces while we sleep. Shoe free-zones bring cleanliness and peace of mind.

Sure, we can mop our hardwoods and shampoo our carpets every day, but that isn’t realistic and it’s a lot more work than removing shoes. Besides, to truly keep up with what shoes bring in, we would have to clean floors every time we walk in. Even the cleaning process can be harmful because most carpet cleaners have toxic chemicals and steam cleaners pose a risk of under-the-carpet mold. Have I convinced you yet, that it really is much easier to simply leave your shoes at the door? Once you do it for 10 days, a habit will be formed and you’ll take off your shoes as automatically as you put on your seat belt. You won’t think twice about doing it and you might actually have anxiety if you choose not to now, because you are more aware of the effects.

If you’re still not quite on board with the idea and make the excuse that we need bacteria to build immunity: our homes are filled with plenty of germs without purposely bringing them in. Bacteria aside, our shoes bring in plain dirt, not to mention mud and dog manure! No one wants to track that around the house! So, you think your family will jump on board, but wonder how you get your guests to comply? There will always be those who get offended, thinking, “My shoes aren’t muddy!”, others might not understand, thinking, “The host wants me to feel comfortable, but I feel just fine in my shoes.” Others might be confused, thinking, “But this isn’t a Japanese family.” And some may find it rude, thinking the host should make an exception for guests. However, when you get used to having no shoes inside, it can be bring anxiety when it happens. When I have guests, even though I know I can make an exception and clean the floors right afterwards, I shouldn’t have to.

The solution to entertaining a group of people in a shoe-free home is to offer a brief statement with the invitations; this way, guests know what to expect ahead of time. It also prevents the awkwardness of having to tell them at the door when you greet them. Guests will also appreciate the advance notice, so they know to avoid wearing holed socks and worn toe nail polish. A brief statement can be, “Our home is a shoe-free zone, so please remove your shoes at the door and thanks for understanding.” For large groups of guests, having stackable shoe racks in the foyer would be ideal, but a more economical option, and a less conspicuous one, is simply using your staircase to hold the shoes if it is located by the front door. For my stairs, I bought a couple yards of fabric and spread it across a few of the steps, leaving the bottom step uncovered, as a place to sit and remove them. it is convenient and out of the way. Another option would be, to hang a shoe organizer on the door of a coat closet. It is important to designate an area for the shoes because with, say, twenty guests, that would be forty shoes that need to be put somewhere, so that guests won’t trip on, or have to step over them.

A door hanger sign on the front door knob is a nice reminder. This is perfect for guests who come by with too short of notice to have an email sent. it can be worded in a fun way, with “Please be sweet and bare your feet.” or, “In this house, we do socks and bare feet only, please.” Or a picture with a shoe with a diagonal slash through it would work, similar to a no-smoking sign.

A hospitable touch to offer your guests would be to keep a basket in the foyer filled with various sizes of socks or slippers.
When a service technician comes into your home, most companies equip them with shoe covers that they do not hesitate to wear upon request. To make sure you always have some on hand, you can purchase a box of disposable ones at any medical supply store, just look for surgical shoe covers. When you need some in a quick pinch, disposable hotel shower caps work. When you have movers or repair people who will need to go in and out of your home multiple times, for instance, to get tools out of their truck, you can lay sheets down in the hallway to give them a protected path. Tossing sheets into the washing machine afterwards is much easier to do than shampooing the carpet.
My husband and I, and now our toddler, have kept a shoe-free zone home for years. I’ve only received positive remarks from guests about our “policy.” Plus, it has encouraged plenty of them to do the same for their home. It’s a really good and effortless habit, and, most importantly, it’s the one single task we can do to keep our home more healthy, clean, and natural.

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Melanie Moore