If you’ve ever visited someone’s house and were surprised when they asked you to remove your shoes at the door, you’re probably wondering what the big deal is about wearing shoes inside. After all, your shoes are comfortable, they look nice, and you might have even spent a pretty penny on them. Why should you take them off?
As it turns out, there are many reasons why you shouldn’t wear shoes in the house—at your home or anyone else’s. Shoes can be a breeding ground for germs, bacteria, and other toxins that can make you sick—not to mention a host of environmental debris that can ruin your hardwood floors and contribute to extra cleanings.Curious to learn more about why so many people have a firm stance against wearing shoes indoors? Keep reading for reasons why you shouldn’t wear shoes in the house.
5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Wear Shoes in the House
No matter how fabulous your footwear is, there are solid arguments for why you should shed your shoes before entering your home. Aside from the harmful germs and toxic chemicals that can wreak havoc on your health, wearing your shoes inside means you also have to contend with a dirty house and damaged hardwood floors.
In other words, turning your house into a shoe-free zone may help protect your health and your hearth. Here are five top reasons why.
#1 They Bring in Bacteria
There’s a reason you aren’t likely to go barefoot to the grocery store or the movie theater. Whether you’re strolling down your street or browsing the goods at your favorite thrift store, the ground you’re walking on is crawling with germs, bacteria, and other organic matter that can put your health at risk.
Let’s start with the bacterial aspect. Shoe bottoms are incubators of a variety of germs and bacteria, many of which can make you sick and even lead to long-term illnesses. They’re also carrying microscopic remnants of animal and human fecal matter.
A significant cause of worry are two particularly pernicious kinds of bacteria that love to live on shoes:
- E. Coli – There are good E. Coli bacteria, and harmful E. Coli bacteria. The good kind lives harmlessly in our intestines. But the bad kind can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal cramping. In fact, nearly 30% of the more than 400,000 bacteria that can grow on a single shoe are E. Coli bacteria.1
- Clostridium difficile – Also known as C. Diff, this intestinal bacteria can cause diarrhea and, in severe cases, inflammation of the colon.1 It’s resistant to most common household cleaning products, so if you track it inside, you may have difficulty getting rid of it.
Additionally, bacteria and other germs tend to live longer on the bottom of your outdoor shoes. This is because your shoes also pick up organic matter from plants and soil that help bacteria thrive. Removing shoes before entering the house helps limit your exposure.
#2 They Track in Toxins
It isn’t only the bacteria on your outdoor shoes that can be detrimental to your health. If you aren’t leaving your shoes outside the threshold, you’re also tracking in outdoor toxins that aren’t safe for you or your family.
The ground and floors you walk on every day are covered with grime and residual toxins from everything else that uses those surfaces to get from one place to the next, plus all the foreign agents our way of life exposes them to.
In other words, one of the biggest reasons why you shouldn’t wear shoes in the house is because when you do, you’re exposing your interiors to:
- Plant toxins – From your lawn to the grass at the city park, your shoes are collecting potentially dangerous toxins from chemicals in fertilizer, weed killer, and pesticides. These toxins can disrupt your endocrine system, the system that regulates virtually every process your body performs.2
- Automobile toxins – Crossing streets or walking across parking lots is likely to leave your shoes with chemical deposits from automobiles.2 These can include gasoline and antifreeze, which have no place in the home.
Organic matter that gets stuck to shoe bottoms poses further problems because they facilitate the growth of bacteria. In other words, tracking dirt and grass into your house makes your floors more welcoming to germs.
Unlike the C. Diff bacteria, learning how to sanitize your shoes before entering the house can help reduce the toxins they carry. But removing your shoes before you step inside is far more manageable. If you can do both, however, you’re on the right track to preventing all unwanted germs from being brought back to your home.
#3 You Have to Clean Your Home More Often
It goes without saying that the more time you spend wearing your shoes inside, the more time you’ll spend cleaning. Along with those microscopic bacteria and toxins you can’t see, you’ll also have to contend with all the dirt, mud, grass, and other outside debris you can see.
If you’re debating whether wearing shoes inside is worth it, consider how much time you spend on chores like sweeping, mopping, and vacuuming and how much time you could save each week by taking your shoes off.
#4 They’re Bad for Your Floors
Never underestimate the toll your shoes can take on your floors. Whether you have beautiful hardwood, lush carpets, or ceramic tiles, stomping across them in your footwear can increase wear and tear and cause more extensive damage.3
That’s another reason why you shouldn’t wear your shoes in the house. Sneaker soles, heavy boot treads, and sharp heels can damage your floors, causing:
- Trampled carpets
Consider looking at the best house shoes for hardwood floors to keep your interior looking beautiful for years to come.
#5 Going Barefoot May Benefit Your Feet
Science suggests that removing shoes before you enter your home can have several potential benefits for your health, even beyond reducing the risk of exposure to toxins and bacteria. Although your shoes might give you the comfort and support that get you through the day outside the home, kicking them off when you get home might better serve you.
Of course, there are certainly a number of benefits to wearing shoes, especially when you’re walking outside the home. Shoes cushion your feet from the pressure of walking on hard surfaces and protect you from bacteria and injury. Furthermore, wearing the right shoes can reduce your risk of developing foot ailments like plantar fasciitis, tendonitis, and flat feet.
That said, your shoes aren’t exactly benign when it comes to foot health. Some shoes are known to:4
- Influence the structure of your feet
- Alter the position of your feet
- Alter the mechanics of your feet
Meanwhile, many reflexologists believe that walking barefoot at home can improve blood circulation in your feet, help you sleep better, and even reduce pain and inflammation.4
Are There Benefits of Wearing Shoes Inside?
It wouldn’t be fair not to mention the benefits of wearing shoes even when you’re at home. Although you’re less likely to encounter the same germs and chemicals as you would outside, indoor shoes can still be an effective safety measure to protect your feet.
Wearing shoes inside can help ensure:5
- Injury prevention – If you’re prone to stubbing your toes on furniture or other sharp edges, indoor shoes might help. They can also protect you from stepping on sharp debris.
- Whole-body support – Your shoes provide the necessary support for your feet, ankles, and legs. They also absorb shocks and promote proper arch support.
- Comfort – Many people are simply more comfortable with shoes on. This may be especially true if wearing shoes helps alleviate the symptoms of common foot ailments.
Alternatives to Wearing Shoes Inside
As you can see, there are plenty of reasons why you shouldn’t wear shoes in the house, and a compelling case to be made for why wearing shoes inside can be a good thing. So, what’s the solution?
If you aren’t ready to give up your sneakers inside, but you don’t want to track bacteria, dirt, and toxins from outside, you have a couple of alternatives:
- Inside-only shoes – If you have a favorite pair of shoes that you love wearing outside and in, consider buying a second pair. That way, you can wear your shoes inside without worrying about all of the associated hazards.
- Slippers – A good pair of supportive slippers is a classic option when wearing footwear inside. Vionic has slippers for women, men, and children that feature durable outsoles for stability and protection, plus arch support and cushioning for added comfort. These are also great slippers for swollen feet.
- Slides – If the mere thought of a plush pair of slippers makes your feet sweat, you may want to consider a sleek, breathable substitute like slides. With plenty of arch support and biomechanically designed technology that fosters proper alignment, they’re the ideal alternative to bringing your outside shoes in.
Pamper Your Feet With Vionic
When it comes to shoes that offer all-day support without skimping on style, there’s no better choice than Vionic. Our shoes for men, women, and children include all the styles you love—from sandals, sneakers, and other casual shoes, to heels, wedges, boots, and booties.
At Vionic, we believe health and wellness start with your feet. Every pair of Vionic shoes combines thoughtful construction, premium materials, and our innovative Vio-Motion technology for shoes that help you build your health from the ground up.
Discover the Vionic difference for yourself today.
- “Your Shoes May Be Making You Sick.” Methodist Health System. https://bestcare.org/news/your-shoes-may-be-making-you-sick
- Rhomberg, Lorenz R et al. “A bounding quantitative cancer risk assessment for occupational exposures to asphalt emissions during road paving operations.” Critical reviews in toxicology vol. 48,9 (2018): 713-737. doi:10.1080/10408444.2018.1528208
- “Why you may want to reconsider wearing shoes inside.” PT floor covering. https://www.ptfloors.com/post/why-you-may-want-to-reconsider-wearing-shoes-inside#
- Franklin, Simon et al. “Barefoot vs common footwear: A systematic review of the kinematic, kinetic and muscle activity differences during walking.” Gait & posture vol. 42,3 (2015): 230-9. doi:10.1016/j.gaitpost.2015.05.019
- “Going Barefoot? Take Smart Care of Your Feet.” Samaritan Health Services. 11 August, 2021. https://www.samhealth.org/about-samaritan/news-search/2021/08/11/be-smart-about-going-barefoot
- (2016) Diverse sources for endocrine disruption in the wild, Endocrine Disruptors, 4:1,