Should you take shoes off at the front door? Homeowners debate this controversial etiquette rule

Is it good manners to remove your shoes in other people’s homes and to ask guests to do so in yours?

Shoes and boots lined up in a hallway with floral wallpaper
(Image credit: Future)

It's the big question. Should you take shoes off at the front door when you go to visit someone else's house? There is often an awkward moment – whether you know the person or not – as you enter the entrance or hallway. 

Should you slip off your trainers, heels or flats and leave them politely on the mat without saying anything. Or should you ask? 

You told us exactly what you think in a poll in last week's Ideal Home newsletter. An overwhelming 83 per cent of readers said no and only 17 per cent said yes. Hallway shoe storage ideas could be the answer, but in the meantime, two readers take to the floor.

Should you take your shoes off at the door?

Shoes and boots lined up in a hallway with floral wallpaper

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Brittain)

Yes roundel in red

(Image credit: Future)

Kate, 54, lives in a three-bedroom terraced townhouse in east London with her husband, and their son. She is a travel writer.

‘When I was younger, I thought people who expected me to take my shoes off in their homes were a bit fussy and posh. But that changed when my son was born. My husband and I didn’t want him crawling around on a dirty floor, so we introduced a “shoes-off” rule that’s stuck. 

Most visitors take off their shoes as soon as they step through our door, but occasionally we have to ask. We have wood floors everywhere, except the stairs, and our living room is on the first floor. Guests sometimes get as far as the stairs in their shoes, but the carpet tends to stop them in their tracks. Even when we have a party, the rule stands. We had  60 guests at Christmas – there was a huge pile of shoes by the door. At the end of the night, one of our friends realised his shoes were missing, but he preferred the pair that had been left behind!

Animated pull quote saying yes to taking shoes off

(Image credit: Future)

When we sold our last house, we asked the estate agent to ensure shoes were removed. But the first people who came to view it left theirs on – and promptly trod dog mess along the hallway. The agent was mortified, and had a real job getting rid of the smell. That’s what can happen if people wander in with their shoes on. It is simply good manners to leave them at the door.’

no roundel in magenta

(Image credit: Future)

Rosie, 41, lives with her boyfriend, in a one-bedroom flat in Walthamstow, east London. She is a writer.

‘I would never expect guests to take off their shoes. Homes are to be lived in. Our flat is very clean, and my boyfriend in particular can be quite pernickety, but expecting visitors to pad around barefoot or in socks would be a step too far. It seems so undignified. We just assume people will wipe their feet before they come in. That’s what the doormat’s there for, after all. Just don’t put your dirty shoes on my sofa!

Of course, I respect other people’s rules when I go to their homes. If a friend wants me to remove my shoes, then I do. But I hate walking around in socks or tights in winter. My feet get cold and I don’t feel properly dressed. In summer, I normally wear ballet pumps. The prospect of taking them off is even worse. 

Animated quote saying no to shoes off in the house

(Image credit: Future)

We once went to a property viewing and were asked to take off our shoes before the estate agent would let us in. I was wearing pumps with no socks, and no way was I going to get my feet covered in dirt walking around a stranger’s home. We left without seeing it.

I wonder if the “shoes off” brigade ever have parties. Surely the rule would become unenforceable if you have lots of guests coming and going? If you insist that people go barefoot in your home, you should be certain that your floor is immaculately clean. Why should I get your dust and dirt on the soles of my feet? I think that if you’re going to ask everyone to remove their shoes, you should be prepared to provide them with clean and comfortable hotel-style slippers!’