Monday, April 17, 2017

The Protocol School of Texas: Removing Shoes at House Parties

The Protocol School of Texas: Removing Shoes at House Parties

"I understand your hesitation when it comes to removing your shoes at someone else’s home. Whether your heels complete your outfit or you just feel uncomfortable being barefoot outside of your own home, taking off your shoes may feel awkward and almost too personal. But there are certain, and valid circumstances in which the request to remove shoes is appropriate and there is a right way to go about it."

The Daily Mail: Why you really should take your shoes off in the house: The soles are infested with diarrhoea-causing bugs

The Daily Mail: Why you really should take your shoes off in the house: The soles are infested with diarrhoea-causing bugs

by Stephen Matthews

Shoes are packed full of harmful bacteria picked up as people travel and these can multiply and spread on carpets and floors.

And just touching the infected surface could land you on the toilet for a couple of hours with the embarrassing stomach bug.

Study author Professor Kevin Garey said: 'It's amazing how far humans travel during the day, and all that walking drags in germs and bugs.'

A pro-shoes off story in the Daily Mail, the Darth Vader of tabloid newspapers. I absolutely hate the Daily Mail with its pro-Brexit stance and its hostility to immigrants. However, it's probably true that a lot of the readers of the Mail keep their homes shoe-free. This is where class comes in.

A lot of people with shoe-free homes are young, trendy, professional hipsterish people (like me?). However, a lot more are what you might call upper-working class people. Skilled manual workers and successful small business people. People who have done well for themselves and have nice homes. Such people have lovely white carpets and don't have the social pretensions that would keep posher, more middle-class people from asking guests to take their shoes off. Those are not the sort of people I would get on well with if we had a conversation about politics, but I'm definitely with them on taking your shoes off at the door.

Some of the Trump supporting Americans who follow me on Twitter favorite my tweets on removing shoes. They are probably a similar sort of people to those Daily Mail readers who keep shoe-free homes.

Yes, we British really are obsessed with class.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Pounding the Streets

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Guardian: Should you take your shoes off inside the house?

The Guardian: Should you take your shoes off inside the house?

by Stuart Heritage

"My brother is a fastidious shoes-off-er. I visited him recently and, within a couple of minutes, he gestured at my feet in horror. “What are those?” he asked. “These?” I replied, pointing to my trainers. “I bought them onli–” “No!” he yelled. “What are they doing on in my house?”

This is the best way to divide people. There are those who despise the thought of rubber on carpet, who lie awake panicking because wearing outdoors shoes indoors upsets the natural order of things. Then there are normal people like me, who don’t really care because they understand the purpose of doormats.

However, as much as I hate to admit it, the shoes-off-ers might be on to something. A recent study led by researchers at the University of Houston has shown that 26.4% of shoes carry Clostridium difficile, while a 2015 study claimed that 40% of shoes carry Listeria monocytogenes. Work on a farm? A 2014 study concluded that your boots are almost certainly covered in E coli. These are not the things that should be traipsed through living rooms."

This is from a 'shoes-on' perspective, but it's good to see this issue getting some coverage in a major newspaper. The comments seem pretty evenly divided.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Classic Conversion Story

After she sadly had her dog put to sleep, my colleague cleaned her carpets, which apparently required a good deal of effort. She's now asking visitors to take their shoes off.

It's quite common for people to adopt a shoes-off policy after having their carpets cleaned. Unfortunately, some people let it slip once they have forgotten the contrast between their clean carpets and their dirty carpets.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Keep Out Dog Dirt

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Nicola Sturgeon removes her shoes while visiting a nursery

Another topical post.

The Scottish first minister and SNP leader recently removed her shoes while visiting a daycare nursery. While some nurseries have a shoes-off rule for hygiene reasons, it's more likely the first minister removed her shoes to be more comfortable while playing with the children.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Toxic Dust

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Atlantic: Around the world, slippers are used to keep the outside out of the home

The Atlantic: Around the world, slippers are used to keep the outside out of the home

by Margarita Gokun-Silver

The Victorian era added its own twist to the infatuation with the indoor shoe. Women used Berlin wool work, a needlepoint style popular at the time, to make the uppers of their husband’s home slippers. “[They] would take those uppers to a shoemaker who would then add a sole. And they would be gifted to the husband to wear while he is smoking his pipe by the fire in the evening,” says Semmelhack.

Portraits of the Russian upper classes of the 18th and 19th century frequently feature subjects in either the Ottoman style mules or in thin—intended for indoor use—slipper-shoes. The same couldn’t be said for the poor. Peasants and laborers are either shown barefoot, wearing boots meant for outdoor work, or donning valenki, the traditional Russian felt boot. Perhaps because of this link between the indoor footwear and the leisure of the rich, tapochki were snubbed immediately following the 1917 Russian Revolution. Remnants of the maligned, old world had no place in the new Soviet paradigm. But the sentiment didn’t stick. Although never as extravagant or ornate as before, soon tapochki were back in most Soviet homes offering their owners comfort after a long day of building the Communist paradise.

Today, attitudes towards taking off shoes indoors vary, often by national culture. An Italian friend told me it was considered rude to go barefoot in the house in Italy, and a Spanish friend raised her eyebrows when I offered a pair of slippers. “Spaniards don’t take their shoes off.”

In Japan, where slippers are a Western introduction, most people take off their outdoor shoes before going indoors. Jordan Sand, a professor of Japanese History at Georgetown University, notes that architecture accommodates the practice. “The Japanese live in dwellings with raised floors. It’s basic, even in modern apartment buildings, that every private dwelling has space at the entry,” he explains. “As you enter the door there is a little space and step up and the rest of the house is higher than the outside. You shed your footwear there. In a traditional house, most of the interior space is covered with tatami mats. No footwear is worn on tatami mats.” While the Japanese generally go either barefoot or wear socks on the mats, there are exceptions. In those parts of the house that aren’t covered by tatami—the kitchen, the hallway, and the toilet—people wear slippers. A singular pair of slippers is reserved specifically for the toilet, where it stays.

When I moved to the U.S. in 1989, slippers disappeared from my life. Americans never took off their shoes and their wall-to-wall carpeting bore traces of the outside tracked indoors on the soles of their footwear. I could never get used to it. My shoes came off immediately whenever I entered my house and I’ve asked my guests to take off theirs. The panoply of terry mules I have hoarded from hotels is always on hand to help.

A rare history of the custom of removing shoes and changing into slippers. Is Wearing Shoes Inside a Home (or on a Couch in the White House) Rude? Is Wearing Shoes Inside a Home (or on a Couch in the White House) Rude?

by Natalie Way

"Your house, your rules, says Aimee Symington, an etiquette expert and CEO of Finesse Worldwide: “If you are OK with your guests playing leapfrog from your sofa to your chairs, then great. But if you’d rather have your guests leave their shoes outside, that’s your choice, too.”

If your hosts have a shoes-off policy, it’s good manners to respect their rule.

In many cultures, removing your shoes inside is customary. If you are a guest in a home where this is the case, it’s polite to adhere to the homeowners’ wishes.

“In countries like Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Korea, and Turkey, it is common practice to take off your shoes when entering someone’s home,” Symington says. “For some, it may be a religious belief, a cultural protocol, or a practical exercise, but be aware of this and always ask your host if they would like you to remove your shoes before entering their home.”"

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Godwin's Law!

New Jersey 101.5: Are shoes-off-in-house Nazis the ones complaining about Kellyanne Conway?

Give me a break America. I had to wonder, are these people ripping her the same people who turn into Shoe Nazis when folks visit their homes? The ones with the little shoe basket? Where all guests immediately upon entering are instructing to take their shoes off so they down traipse across the homeowners sacred carpeting wearing, gasp!, shoes?

In this case, I suppose so.

It's a while since I have heard the term 'shoes-off Nazis' but I've been accused of it a few times. The expression 'Shoes-off Nazi' basically sums up Godwin's Law that an internet debate is effectively over when one side calls the other side Nazis.

With the rise of Trump, Brexit, and debates about feminism comparisons to Hitler are pretty normal. Basically everyone thinks their opponents are Nazis. Brexiteers compare the EU to the Third Reich, while Remainers sometimes compare Brexiteers to the Nazis. But calling people with a shoes-off policy 'Nazis' is the height of silliness.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

No! No! Not Shoes on the Sofa!

Trump advisor and former campaign manager got criticised for getting a little too casual in the White House, with her feet up on the sofa.

Worse than that, she didn't even take her shoes off. I bet her heels made a hole in the cushion.

Sunday, February 26, 2017


Bob mentioned Mahabis the other day. A very clever invention; a casual shoe, with a detachable sole enabling it to convert into an indoor slipper. I had seen them advertised a lot on the internet and I had visited their website, but I had not seen anyone where them until yesterday evening, when I saw a Filipino woman wearing a pair at mass (some say that deep down, every Filipina is an Imelda Marcos).

It's a good idea for those who are nervous about taking their shoes off when visiting because they are worried their feet smell or they feel embarrassed about showing their feet. I wouldn't mind at all if somebody came into my apartment wearing Mahabis (with the sole detached).

But, but, but... somehow I don't feel, deep down, that I like the idea.

One practical problem is bad weather. In heavy rain, the slipper part would get soaked and so would not really be suitable as indoor slippers. However, I doubt that they would be the first shoes of choice in wet weather for most people.

Aesthetically, I sort of feel that indoor and outdoor footwear ought to look different. For that reason, I don't think I would ever wear flip flops or Crocs as indoor slippers, as I wear those outdoor. Just my aesthetic preference.

I know this is something some people dislike about the shoe-removing custom, but I think there is something positive about the sense of intimacy it creates. There is a sense of trust when people make theselves vulnerable by removing their shoes in somebody else's home. They exercise trust that the floor or carpet in that home is going to be comfortable. Even when one brings a pair of slippers, one must make oneself a little vulnerable by removing one's outdoor shoes. The Mahabis concept rather removes that. Just my traditionalist instincts kicking in; the Mahabis are a good idea.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Mail Online: Such good manners! Adorable four-year-old pays tribute to her Asian upbringing by removing dolls' shoes before letting them go into her Barbie Dream House

Mail Online: Such good manners! Adorable four-year-old pays tribute to her Asian upbringing by removing dolls' shoes before letting them go into her Barbie Dream House

In many Asian homes, it's considered good manners to take your shoes off before entering, since shoes can drag in germs from outside the house.

And it's clear one little girl California has learned that lesson all too well from her parents. In fact, she's even passing it on to her Barbies.

Korra Lam, an adorable four-year-old from Orange County, was caught playing by her big half-sister sister, who noticed that the little girl had her dolls take off their high heels and slippers before going inside Barbie's Dream House.

I approve of this girl's sensibilities, but I am a little surprised this made it into the news (I suppose you can blame it on Twitter). I am sure there must be many little girls who do this with their Barbie dolls.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Public Toilets

Sunday, February 05, 2017

The Telegraph: Why you should join the slipperati and take your shoes off at work

The Telegraph: Why you should join the slipperati and take your shoes off at work

by Radhika Sanghani

Yet it is not just schools leading the way in the no-shoe movement. In Sweden, the country that gave us hygge and better shared paternity laws, slippers are now the footwear du jour in a growing number of start-ups and new companies.

David Brudo, the CEO and founder of mental health app Remente, was one of the first to create a no-shoe policy in his company’s offices in Gothenburg. “If you can have a relaxing office etiquette it can be very positive for workplace performance and how you experience stress and productivity,” explains the 37-year-old. “If you’re comfortable you’re less prone to feel stress and perform better.

“In Sweden you always take off your shoes when you get into a home. What happens is doing that communicates to your body and mind that you’re more at home and comfortable, so things get a bit more quiet and relaxed. You see the same benefits in the workplace.”

ITV: A new approach to learning - with no shoes

ITV: A new approach to learning - with no shoes

It's a new approach to teaching that may sound eccentric - but some believe making children take their shoes off at school is making a real difference to their learning

The concept is on the rise around the world.

Supporters say it makes classrooms quieter and calmer and pupils more relaxed and willing to work.

Christine Alsford has been to Lanesend Primary at Cowes on the Isle of Wight where they are hailing their 'shoes off' policy a success.

This is an old story, but it has a nice video of a British shoe-free school in action. I like the fact the no exceptions approach, with teachers and visitors removing their shoes as well as the pupils.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Homemaking Cottage: Why You Should Not Wear Shoes in Your Home

Homemaking Cottage: Why You Should Not Wear Shoes in Your Home

"In many countries around the word, it is customary to remove your shoes before entering a home. It only makes sense. Do you have any idea what gets tracked into your home by way of your shoes? Think of the places where you walk outside your home: parks, asphalt, sports fields, work sites, public restrooms, and gas stations."

Friday, February 03, 2017

Doctor Steven Park: An Allergist’s Nightmare: The Micro-Poop Theory

Doctor Steven Park: An Allergist’s Nightmare: The Micro-Poop Theory

"Let’s say the next day the same dog poops again in the same
spot and the owner doesn’t clean up. The building
superintendent happens to be watering the garden, notices
the dog feces, and hoses it away towards the street into
the gutter. You then walk by a few minutes later, and step
in the area where the poop used to be, but you don’t notice
this since it’s now covered in a thin layer of water. You
walk through the lobby and up to your apartment.
Now this is where it starts to get really problematic. Many
people assume walking over lobby carpeting or the door mat
in front of your apartment would have wiped any residual
poop particles off your shoe. But think about this: if you
step in poop and take a towel and wipe it off vigorously,
is it really off? Even if it’s a wet towel, can you be
truly certain that your shoes are truly free of all fecal

This situation doesn’t just apply to dog poop. This also
applies to human phlegm, gum, dog urine, bird poop,
chemicals, car oil, pollutants, bacteria and molds and
whatever else you might find on the sidewalks of New York
City at any time of the day. How many different kinds of
germs or chemicals, organic or non-organic, are still stuck
to the bottom of your shoe when you enter your apartment?
“Yes”, you say, “but I clean the floors all the time with
disinfectant cleaning agents”. My answer to that is, “Yes,
you can mop the floors every day, but you literally can’t
mop after every new footstep”. Your carpet is like the
towel that you originally used to wipe your shoes off with,
only now you’re living on it. Even worse, you let your 8
month old toddler crawl on your freshly mopped floor, not
realizing that it’s already been contaminated by your
husband after he came home, bringing home his daily dog

Excellent article on the risks of bringing just traces of fecal matter into your home.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

It really can affect people

My neighbour told me yesterday that the lady above her wears shoes in her apartment and is constantly stomping around on the wood floor. My neighbour is very frustrated by all the racket. She said she had complained to the lady, but she had not changed her behaviour. I suggested that she buy this woman a pair of slippers as a polite nudge.

If you live in an apartment block, you really need to think about the people beneath you and stop wearing shoes inside.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

reddit: Hello, Europe! Do you wear shoes indoors?

reddit: Hello, Europe! Do you wear shoes indoors?

Another discussion on reddit about what the custom is in different European countries. The big cleavage comes out between Scandinavian and Central/ East Europeans who all remove their shoes and those from Mediterranean countries where shoes are kept on in homes. At one point somebody wonders if religion has something to do with the difference, but then it is quickly established that it cuts across Orthodox/ Catholic/ Protestant lines.

It's kind of interesting that the shoes off/ on border in the south-east is between Greece and her northern neighbours, Albania, Macedonia and Bulgaria. I don't quite get why this should be. Greece shares religion with Macedonians, Bulgarians and some Albanians and all of them were under Ottoman rule. Climate might be a difference, but winters in Greece can't be that much milder than those in Albania or Bulgaria. Is it down to the fact that Greece was not under Communism?

The original poster is from Bugaria. He says that removing shoes in his country is not down to tradition, but just the practicality of keeping out dirt. I've heard some people in Bulgaria would like to move away from removing shoes because it's uncool, meaning un-western, but no doubt practicality will prevent that. Removing shoes may be uncool, but that doesn't make the streets any cleaner.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Reader's Digest: 7 Reasons to Take Off Your Shoes the Minute You Walk in the House

Reader's Digest: 7 Reasons to Take Off Your Shoes the Minute You Walk in the House

by Stephanie Smith

Not everything carried in on your sneakers is invisible to the naked eye. Dust and dirt built up from your shoes can easily be carried into your living quarters. Even if it’s not toxic, carrying dust and debris in from the park or trail isn’t ideal. Remove your shoes to keep things clean and tidy, and think about investing in a doormat to catch anything you might track in before you undo your laces.

It is interesting that the author assumes the reader is living in a trailer park. Certainly those living in muddy trailer parks definitely should be keen to go shoe-free.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Christmas Present

My parents gave me a set of guest slippers as a Christmas present. It contains four different sizes of felt slippers made in Denmark.

While my parents obviously thought this was a good idea and I'm grateful for their thoughtfulness, I think most British people are likely to be finicky about wearing slippers that have been worn by others. This is especially so as these slippers cannot be washed.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Nordic Habits Die Hard

My mother had a Finnish lady over as a guest this New Year. She insisted the woman should keep her boots on when she came in, but the lady insisted on taking them off. Trying to get a Finn to keep her shoes on in the house is not going to work.