Wednesday, October 18, 2006

It is not Selfish to ask Visitors to Remove their Shoes

Some people claim it is selfish to ask visitors to remove their shoes. They think that it shows excessive concern for one's carpet or flooring.

On the contrary it is not selfish at all.

Firstly, there is an health issue involved. Peoples' shoes pick up dust and animal excrement which is not good for one's health and especially bad for the health of one's children. If one has babies or small children that play on the floor it is extremely sensible to keep one's home shoe-free.

There are many worries today about the health risks posed by pollution, toxins and chemicals. Personally, I think many of these health scares are exagerrated. Many of the supposed health risks have not been scientifically verified. However, it is best to keep as much nasty stuff out of the house as possible.

Secondly, the notion of selfishness here is relative. In a country where shoe-removing is the norm, like Finland or Russia, it would hardly be selfish to insist on shoes-off.

In Britain or the USA, where keeping shoes on is the norm, there are many people who would like to insitute a shoes-off policy, but who are afraid of causing offence or being deemed 'selfish.' If a person is brave enough to insist on shoes-off, she makes it easier for those other people who feel that they would like to make their homes shoe-free. In time, the norms of the UK and the USA may change and shoe-removing may become as normal as it is in Thailand or Sweden.


Anonymous said...

I totally agree with your comments. There is nothing selfish about wanting to protect one's floors and keep them clean. After all it is now considered perfectly acceptable to ask visitors to refrain from smoking in one's home.
It all about cultural change, an issue that was discussed on here a few weeks ago. What is needed is for people to get rid of this attitude that it is somehow inappropriate to remove shoes in company. Perhaps the best way to play it is to make people feel that it is relaxing to take their shoes off so that it has as much to do with getting your visitors to feel relaxed as it is to keep your own floors clean.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...


Believe it or not, there are some old-fashioned people (probably from upper class backgrounds) who think it is rude to forbid guests to smoke. Amazing.

A lot of people do find it relaxing to remove their shoes, but I am not sure British etiquette allows people to get very relaxed when visiting a home.

God Bless


Redeemed said...

Good arguments. I don't see the shoe-off policy as selfish.

I would also argue that, besides, it is very polite when a guest comes over and removes his/her shoes at the door. It's more selfish on the guest's part to want to dirty my floor!!

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Indeed. But if a person was used to keeping their shoes on, perhaps they might see it differently.

God Bless