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Why I Like Shoes Off in the House

shoes off in the house
shoes off, slippers on in the house

The world outside is a messy place. At the end of each day, I like shoes off in the house. We can enter the fresh and nurturing world inside our own home and leave the worlds mess behind.

Create a buffer zone

One way I keep my home clean is by creating buffer areas between inside and outside at the entryways. Buffer zones are where the shoes come off. The buffer zone helps to intercept the messiness of the outside world when moving into the neat and tidy indoor world.

Floor Mats

My entry areas all have hard surfaced, easy to clean floors with soil attractant mats at the doors. The combination helps to keep dirt from migrating too far into the home. The mat also helps to clean my dog’s feet when she zooms in. In the garage, we have an eight foot long paw-cleaning mat especially for the dog. At these entry/buffer  areas, I also have benches for easily removing shoes. A closet and hooks take care of the coats, and there’s a place for slippers to take the place of the shoes. At my back door, we installed a sink to wash up before coming into the home from working outdoors.

What’s wrong with shoes?

Entering the home with shoes is one of the most common pathways for soil, pesticides, and herbicides to find their way indoors. My company, HPS in Palo Alto requires all our Stewardship technicians working inside the home to wear protective shoe cover booties. Some cultures routinely require shoes off at the door to not only prevent dirt migration but to honor the sanctity and spiritual aspects of life at home.

Health benefits

My friend Alex Stadtner at Healthy Building Science tells me there are proven health (and cleanliness) benefits to the shoes off practice. At our home in Oregon, we have adopted strict shoes-off indoors. We switch to socks at the door and provide our guests with indoor-only slippers if they don’t feel comfortable in their stocking feet.

After a year, the shoes-off experiment is a habit now and we can say with confidence that it’s better having shoes off in our home. I feel more grounded in the house now. I can sense the textures of the flooring and that the floor is cleaner. As a bonus, it has made me much more aware and appreciative of our warm floor heating system.


Shoes off in the house…try it, I think you’ll like it.

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