Stop Demanding Guests Take Off Shoes in Your House

'WSJ' writer makes her case in terms of hygiene, practicality, and personal well-being
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 11, 2022 11:40 AM CST
No, I Won't Take My Shoes Off Before Coming In
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/Mariia Demchenko)

If cleanliness is next to godliness, then Kris Frieswick has just declared herself a heathen. Sort of. That's because the writer has declared, via a Wall Street Journal opinion piece, that she's not inclined to take her shoes off in homes where people are expected to do so, in an effort to protect her "delicate, vulnerable, long-suffering feet." Frieswick says she will do so in cases where it's a matter of religious or cultural preference, but she points out that many people who make such a request of their guests often do so in the name of hygiene—and that, to Frieswick, is akin to "bringing a gun to a pillow fight." Afraid of things like E. coli getting tracked in? A Simmons University microbiology professor tells her that the bacteria is already present "everywhere" in most homes. Other germs and pathogens proliferate thanks to pets and babies' BMs.

There's also the logistics behind such forced shoe removal, with Frieswick noting that, "unless there is a thoughtfully placed stool, bench, or chair at the entrance to the shoeless home," visitors—especially older guests or those with physical conditions—may find it hard to keep themselves balanced while freeing their feet. Not to mention that once one's shoes have been sacrificed to the take-'em-off gods, barefooted or socked callers are vulnerable to "myriad household threats"—everything from stubbing a toe on a chair leg to stepping on a wayward Lego piece. In the meantime, the columnist advises people to make good use of doormats, and she assures anyone thinking about coming to visit her own home that she has no such shoe-shedding mandate in place. She won't stop you from removing yours, but once you do so, "you're on your own." (Read the full essay.)

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