Japan Today

In U.S., is it rude to ask guests to remove shoes?


The requested article has expired, and is no longer available. Any related articles, and user comments are shown below.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

Login to comment

Yes, please leave your shoes and guns in the lobby.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

“It is the height of tacky to invite guests to your home and then require that they remove anything more than outdoor attire,” said Jodi R.R. Smith of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting in Marblehead, Massachusetts.

... shoes are outdoor attire. There's no practical need for them.

If you must ban shoes, says Smith, the invitation should say so. “Guests should not be surprised by your request,” she said. Imagine the mortification of a guest whose socks have holes.

... of they could just remove shoes AND socks quietly. That's what I did when a sock developed a hole (they were cheap fluffy 100yen store socks and developed a whole in a matter of hours), I simply slipped the sock off too and put it inside my shoes. No fuss, no embarrassment.

The bottom line is that if someone knows you sufficiently well to invite you to their house then you should know them sufficiently well to either know that they don't allow shoes or know them well enough not to care about going barefoot with good friends.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I always invite (though I can't insist) people to keep their shoes on. For anyone in North American apartments (especially) with their small entrance and closet spaces not designed for shoe removal and storage (as in Michigan or Alaska or Japan), removing shoes is a real hassle. It creates an unsightly pile for guests to trip over and there's no room to put a chair as suggested. Besides, any dirt on the shoes has been worn off by their long stroll down the hallway. In addition, oils from feet do more harm to fabric carpets than the clean sole of a shoe.

If hosts are that concerned about having people wear shoes inside and ruining their pristine carpets, they should perhaps entertain outside their homes. Everyone could be more comfortable. As for putting their feet up, they are guests, not family. I expect them to behave like guests. They are welcome to put their feet on their own furniture--not mine.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

it is not a part of american culture to remove your shoes indoors unless they are wet or muddy. we use special door mats on the outside and inside of the door. the outside one is usually made of a bristle type material, to scrape gunk off your shoes, the inner one is used to dry the shoe. but the point is that if you are having a party where you have first time visitors,you should inform them ahead of time that they will be required to remove their shoes. of course your close friends and family would already know your house rules and wouldn't be surprised. but to invite people who have never been to your house and not warn them is rude. some people may have fungal infections,foot ordor, ugly feet or other medical conditions where they can't(people withan artificial leg or foot, or orthopedic conditions) remove their shoes. do you embarass them and turn them away at the door? where is the hospitality in that? that's why you should inform people ahead of time so they can decide if they wish to attend, or discuss what can be done so they can visit you and be comfortable while respecting the rules of your house. but please if you make people take their shoes off, make sure your floor is clean. there is nothing worse than going to somebody''s house and having to walk on their grimey, dirty floor.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I agree with one of the people quoted in the article, J.R.R.Smith, that it depends on the circumstances behind the visit. If it is a fancy or formal party, where people have dressed up, I think it's impolite to ask people to remove their shoes.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

It's amazing how many things done in much of the world with little to no troubles, become a huge issue when it comes to doing it in America.

I grew up in a country where you take your shoes off. It was never an issue - ever. Occasionally you'd go to a house and they'd say 'oh you don't have to take your shoes off', at which point someone would invariably say 'what, are you guys American?', always sure to provoke a chuckle.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

People who want to avoid allergens should just avoid going outside, full stop. Otherwise, insist that people wash their hair just before entering your home.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

It is customary for the host to provide guest slippers in Japan. However, it is not the norm in the U.S. (I think) so guests may feel disgusted to have to walk around barefoot or in their socks.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Nothing ruins a party like dog doo streaked all over the floor by an unwary guest - shoes off.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

This is customary for many Asian-American households, e.g. Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, etc. Even if there's no genkan in their homes you'll see all their shoes by the door. Same also for people in Hawaii: no shoes in the house.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

You have to explain it in advance to guests if it's not the obvious local style. Now, there is a comfy chair in my genkan and I can add more outside (in the corridor), you can always arrange something. I usually lend (clean) slippers (at their size) to guests, unless they bring theirs. That's if there are only a few persons as we also sit on the floor sometimes. But for 10 to 20 persons, I cover my tatami rooms with carpet (and the flooring too btw, neighbors are probably grateful, that cuts the noise and vibration), I install chairs and benches, even on the balcony sometimes, and I ask everybody to keep shoes. Never seen anybody of any origin felt bothered. My father, on his first visit, did the savage "I'll keep my boots, I'm an old stubborn foreigner, and your house is my house..." , then he did 2 steps, I pushed open the sliding doors and he was standing stupid in boots in front of a tatami room. Without a word he went back and took his shoes off. He was not going to mess his tatami. Later I saw he had opened the slipper drawers and kidnapped panda furry indoor boots, oki. Common sense. Don't invite those that don't have any.

It is another to ask me to remove my heels at a cocktail party where everyone is dressed in suits and dresses.”

Exactly. At the time of grandma, there were the "patins", some sorts of felts soles that allowed you to keep city shoes in the no-shoes shiny flooring dining-room. That was particularly used on Sundays and nice dinners, as surely if people dress up, they come with elegant footwear, it's not to trot around barefoot or in flat sleepers.

do you embarass them and turn them away at the door?

You'd be more embarrassed if as a guest you messed the tatami (silk carpet, etc) and had to discuss about repaying for it, no ? I have to receive people for work, and sometimes I was tempted to let them out certain characters. Some showed up at my mansion's door with a doxie in tow (or already running away and hiding in a neighbor's bicycle basket) : "It's a very small one, very nice, she doesn't bite...". There is huge "no dog, no cat" sign in the entrance, that was not their first visit... Rudeness can be on the guest's side.

If hosts are that concerned about having people wear shoes inside and ruining their pristine carpets

Yes, they can say : "Sorry for not living in a barn... Let's go eat barbecue under a nearby bridge ... yes, you can spit and p... where you wish, except on the blue sheet... it's washable, it's plastic,... oh guests are always right go ahead, b*rf on it, I'll do it too to keep you company... ". But no, I'm too snobbish to have friends so cool...

1 ( +3 / -2 )

“My shoes are there,” she added, “to keep me comfortable, cute and free of your foot fungus.”

Ha ha, lol, your shoes are also there to spread the dirt from outside into your guest's home.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Not rude in Europe, we also provide slippers that go over the shoes.

Love my soft room-shoes as do the ladies, very warm.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Personally I always felt kind of gross waking into American homes with shoes on. Not for me, but for them.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

So much of this discussion thread centres on one thing and that's not shoes. It's cultural perception.

Shoes worn inside the home are not consistently caked with dog-doo, nor do they transfer all sorts of vermin into the home. And I'm not talking about tromping in from the garden and failing to take mud-caked boots off. I mean office shoes that you've worn to go to and from your car and back to the house.

Nor am I talking about tatami floors. (This article was about US homes, remember?)

Some people and entire cultures perceive failure to remove shoes (or have the toilet in the same room as the bathtub) as the height of grossness, filth and bad manners. Just as some cultures might perceive failure to make direct eye-contact as evidence of dishonesty. None of those are necessarily true. It's only true for you if that's how you have decided--or are culturally conditioned--to look at things.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Oddly many of our guests remove their shoes here in the US. I don't know why as we don't ask them to. Maybe they just have a good sense of Japanese customs? Odd, but I don't complain.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Yes it is rude. but it is done anyway. Especially done in Hawaii. People might need the support for there arches.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

If you or anyone in your family uses public restroom or one in a mall or restaurant, then they have probably stepped into something I would not want tracked into my home. I think it makes perfect sense to keep outside shoes outside of the home. This is particularly true when there are small children in the home.

As to the question, you should be able to have things done the way you want them in your own home. It's your home. I think it is rude not to respect that.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

We prefer our guests to remove their shoes. We also have simple, washable, home-made slippers available for those who would prefer something more than stockings to cover their feet. Some friends take them home then bring them back when they come over. Used slippers are washed, dried, matched, and put back in the bin next to the door.

We've only had one complaint in over 30 years. And that was a "guest of a guest". She eventually conceded and wore the slippers. We noted that she took them home with her as well.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I live in the US, and think its rude to just walk right in without taking your shoes off, at least ask what the host would prefer. So no, its not rude of the host to ask that you remove your shoes.

Some people prefer shoes not be worn in their homes, some people prefer you keep your shoes on, others don't care. Its simple, be friendly and communicate your wishes.

Besides keeping clean slippers for your guests, since some americans are a bit overweight, it may be necessary to have a chair available too. :-)

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Some guests find the request irksome — especially at holiday parties when they’re dressed up.

... or fear to reveal thy dirty socks and stinky feet.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

News flash it is very uncommon to take off your shoes in the US, most homes here either had a mud room or a welcome mat to get the dirt off, obviously you can't do that with an apartment, and for some reason door mats have fallen into disuse here.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

While living in Atlanta and Seattle our guests never needed to be asked to leave their shoes in the foyer. We always answered the door with our slippers, and a few extra clean pairs out in the open. Even the trades that needed to work inside our house respected our no shoes in the home policy. In seven years we never received a single complaint. As a result many of our American friends adopted the same policy in their homes. Growing up in New Jersey we had hardwood floors and our family left our shoes in the foyer, so it was not hard for me to adjust after marrying a Japanese women.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I'm from Michigan, and it was pretty mixed where I lived. If your shoes were dirty and you tracked mud into the house, my mom would have a fit, so snow boots or dirty shoes were always removed outside and then brought in. In summertime, so long as they weren't dirty it was fine to wear them in the house.

We moved to North Carolina, and it was a different story. The soil there is red clay, also know as the bane of all carpet. It stains practically anything, and is incredibly hard to get off the bottom of your shoes. Shoes ALWAYS came off down South. I like taking my shoes off, though, it makes it feel like I'm home. Shoes are for outside, slippers are for home :)

3 ( +3 / -0 )

My brother and I have had a no shoes inside rule since the late sixties. All of are friends know it and fit their feet accordingly. I don't make seniors do it, they have the option of shoes or slippers. I also don't allow bare feet or socks.

I go one step further then my brother and provide washable slippers, or thongs, sandals, that are cleaned after use. I also have a shoe bench on the porch and in the interior granite entry vestibule.

It has become automatic for friends and guests to take off their foot gear when entering. If I have a party or a dinner/barbecue, I remind friends who don't visit often, of the shoe rule.

I don't have wall to wall carpet... Filthy stuff, but do have hardwood/Bamboo/polished concrete floors which will easily mark with shoe prints in the wet NW US.

The outside world needs to stay outside in this highly polluted world. When my grand kids or guest's children play on the floor, I'm confidant it is reasonably clean.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Some people and entire cultures perceive failure to remove shoes (or have the toilet in the same room as the bathtub) as the height of grossness, filth and bad manners. Just as some cultures might perceive failure to make direct eye-contact as evidence of dishonesty. None of those are necessarily true.

Not necessarily true, however the fact is that wearing shoes outside and then inside tracks in whatever is stuck to the bottom of your shoes. If you go inside wearing shoes once or twice a year, it may not be a big deal, but if you are always wearing your shoes in the house, then you are consistently tracking stuff in and out of your house. Therefore your floors will be dirtier.

Whether or not you consider that to be gross is the cultural part.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Gottlieb defines rudeness and she and her "cute" shoes will be stopped at the front porch.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Yeah that girl at the end is an entitled brat. She wouldn't be welcome in my home anyway.

We live in a small apartment here in the US. I have a Japanese wife. We only rarely have visitors as the place is small, if we do they either know or we tell them. I don't much care if they are offended. Any of my real friends and family understand and don't have an issue. I also think it's a myth that everyone in the US keeps their shoes on. Many of my friends' houses growing up were no shoes houses.

I do agree if you are happening to have a fancy party with people who are dressing up, it's a different story. In that case, either make an exception or make it clear on the invitation.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Much more fun when you wear work boots like I do, especially when you are going to enter and leave the place several times a night, to go to other places where you must do the same. However I still did it as it was the custom in several of my Buddhist friends' houses and this was in Los Angeles back in the 1970.I was in Nicherin Shoshu at the time.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Place low bookshelves with slippers on upper shelves. Place two large signs slippers and shoes. If your house is not in northern State, shoes do not have chance to be wet or dusty unless people walk on desert.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The guest can wear the shoes on your house if they like. All you have to do is to install real hardwood, imitation oak in the living room area and vinyl or tile in the family/kitchen/bathroom area. You can use a mop with bacterial cleaner. They are easy to clean. If you like carpet, maybe just the private bedrooms and bonus rooms that the guest wouldn't go to.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

“It is the height of tacky to invite guests to your home and then require that they remove anything more than outdoor attire,” said Jodi R.R. Smith of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting in Marblehead, MA.

"Jessica Gottlieb of Los Angeles..."

Guess these women doesn't have many Asian friends, especially those who'd invite her over to their houses.

How rude! They would obviously not be invited in my house!

Being Asian, I grew up with taking off one's shoes before entering any home. I'd even politely ask whether or not I would need to take off my shoes or not before entering one's home when visiting people's homes.

Guess it really depends on the person and/or the culture and/or the location one lives. Culture obviously plays a large role.

If you have an attitude about taking off your shoes, then leave and don't let the door hit you. Don't expect to be invited back!

Sometimes I'd just say "Come in!" and don't mind if shoes/sneakers are worn inside the house especially if it's a party. But that also depends. Most non-Asians would leave their shoes on. But when I have closer friends or family members over, they would almost instinctively take their shoes off once inside the door.

I've a decent size shoe rack near the door so people realize that they just may want to take off their shoes before entering.

I've even asked my hosts who's house I'm visiting if I need to take off my shoes/sneakers 'cause I'm used to it.

It does make cleaning floors easier and cleaner by not wearing shoes indoors.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

In Canada, we never wore shoes in our house and we asked guests to remove their shoes in the porch so I think it doesn't just depend upon culture but personal preference of the family. I think that if you are invited over as a guest to someone's home, you should follow their wishes out of courtesy. If you don't want to take off your shoes, then you are welcome to leave - I think it would be rather rude to insist that you should wear your shoes in their house.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites