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#16 Not Wearing Shoes Indoors

Posted February 25th, 2008 by Peter · 71 Comments
35,407 views

ShoeRackYou’ve got foot odor. Your asian friend invites you to his or her house to eat dinner with their family. You are excited. “Wow, I get to enter an asian household.. I wonder what it’ll be like.” Stepping up the stairs, images of oriental things like paintings and Chinese Calligraphy race through your mind. “Do they have a table with chairs, or a kneeling table?” You continue walking up the porch, until finally the door opens. It’s exactly as you think it will be, but better. The priceless china, the beautiful paintings on the walls. The fan hanging over the sofa, and the staple personal computer in the other corner of the room. It is a sight that you will never forget, an immersive experience into the lives of your asian friends. However, you look down to see shoes and sandals sprawled across the entrance to the living room. “Oh… no…”

sweatshopRemember a previous post about the pride asians have in their own country’s products? You know, that one that talks about how asians love Michelle Kwan, Yao Ming, and Yi Jianlian? Here’s the truth about the statement. It holds true for pretty much every asian product. Kids in Chinese and Vietnamese sweatshops toil hour after hour, day after day, to supply the world with casual and athletic running shoes. Needless to say, Asians are very prideful of items that their own kind have had to work to make. They will also work hard to make sure that these products are used to the max in order to outlast the “Made in China” moniker. There are many other reasons:

1) Cleanliness: Asians love a clean house. On New Years day, it is a sign of whether or not a family will be successful. They know what shoes have been through. If you have ever been to the men’s bathroom, you will know why shoes shouldn’t be worn indoors. What about that dog crap that you stepped on walking to school, or even that gum that stuck to your shoes while running outside? Asians have enough to worry about, and cleaning floors with shoe marks is not one of them.

2) Tradition: In many asian cultures, it is customary to take off one’s shoes upon entering a house or restaurant. Asian parents and elders will scold at you if they see shoes covering your feet in their households. Especially in Japan is this evident, where you will receive a pair of slippers upon entrance. They will also give you bathroom slippers to avoid those slippery puddles of urine. It’s a great idea if you really think about it.









3) Geography and Location: A great deal of Asian countries are located near the tropic of Cancer, which is very humid and temperate year round. The coldest day in Southern Vietnam during winter is one of the warmest days of the year in Southern California. Asians have had to cope with living in these humid and wet conditions without damaging the inners of their houses (don’t forget the foot odor). Over time, this has caused Asian people to develop horrible sweat regulation techniques, which results in foot odor. We must also remember that households for the longest time have had hardwood floors. Carpet has only grown in popularity over the last 30 years.gator
Now imagine an asian person walking into a white household. “Do I need to take my shoes off?” “Oh no.. it’s alright.” The asian person continues walking through the room, extremely cautious of their every step and being careful not to ruin the delicate folds in the carpet. They think about all the dirt and grime in the carpet, and suddenly, the walls start to close in, cornering the asian and intimidating them with its evil dirtiness. The asian person will recover and play along for a while, until they finally can’t take it anymore. “Can I go to the restroom?” “It’s around the corner” “Alright.” They take their shoes off in the restroom. “Gosh.. I’m so glad I’m asian.”

There you have it. Asians have an in-negligible right to take their shoes off. Asian people have worked so hard to be able to produce shoes for the world. Their pride and spirit will be crushed if those shoes ever touch their own carpets. Not wearing shoes indoors also preserves cleanliness (which in America is seen as close to Godliness), tradition, and serves as a testament to adaptations asians have made to their geographical dispositions. Must I say the next sentence? No, but I will: Asians like Not Wearing Shoes Indoors.

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Tags: Activities · Chinese · Culture · People · Superstition · Vietnamese

71 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Dr. Chan // Feb 25, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    i make my guests take off their shoes before entering.

  • 2 Snobby // Feb 26, 2008 at 11:11 am

    Where can I score a J-Me shoe rack, locally, like the one in the picture.
    San Francisco.

  • 3 Chinkygirl // Feb 26, 2008 at 3:44 pm

    i hate it when i can’t find my shoes in the big lump in front of the door

  • 4 J // Feb 27, 2008 at 6:05 am

    Minnesotans also like to take their shoes off at the door. It’s because of the winter season and the dirt/slush covering everything. Northeast/Southern people just don’t care if you track the hobo’s urine from the subway into the house. I don’t understand why.

  • 5 Anonymous // Feb 27, 2008 at 11:51 am

    “The coldest day in Southern Vietnam during winter is one of the warmest days of the year in Southern California.” I find this statement inaccurate…Have you ever spent a day in southern China in wintertime?

  • 6 Matthew C // Feb 28, 2008 at 11:58 am

    I wish more people in Britain would adopt this most excellent custom.

    I dedicated an whole blog to this subject.

  • 7 BS96 // Feb 29, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    In an invite to a party at my house, I stated that “mine is a shoes-off environment”.

    Naysayers scoffed and said a shoes-off house party couldn’t be done.

    But alas, it was. Arriving guests couldn’t kick off their shoes fast enough w/in a five-foot radius of the door.

  • 8 Matthew C // Mar 1, 2008 at 2:32 am

    BS96, I did exactly the same. I wrote on the invitation- “Shoes off at the door would be appreciated. Feel free to bring some slippers.”

    Everyone took their shoes off and they all had a great time.

    And I could not smell anybody’s feet.

  • 9 StereoTypicalAsian // Mar 5, 2008 at 7:39 am

    It’s cleaner that way. We let our non-asian people to keep their shoes on if that makes them more comfortable. We took the carpet out for that reason and replaced with hardwood. It’s much cleaner that way. Carpet traps all kind of dirts.

  • 10 anon // Mar 6, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    Taking off your shoes before entering a house is also common in Hawaii. But idk if that is because of hawaiian or Japanese influences.

    … i never knew taking off shoes was an asian thing.. I thought all people did it….

  • 11 ACanadian // Mar 6, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    Am I to understand that the majority of North Americans DON’T take their shoes off when entering a home? If so, that’s freaking disgusting. And I’m typically known as a slob. It’s a matter of hygiene and respect as far as I’m concerned… shoes are naturally dirty from being in contact with everything from mud to dogshit to who knows what is lying on the ground outside… and having that shit tracked around one’s house can’t be good. Not to mention what that does to your feet… feet aren’t meant to be constrained like that for long periods of time. It’s bad for your bones and muscles, and it causes bacterial and fungal problems very easily.

    And lmao @ the “reason” Asians take their shoes off being primarily because of pride in the products they produce. That’s the funniest stuff I’ve hard all day.

  • 12 Amy // Mar 11, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    @Anonymous:

    ” ‘The coldest day in Southern Vietnam during winter is one of the warmest days of the year in Southern California.” I find this statement inaccurate”¦Have you ever spent a day in southern China in wintertime? ”

    No, that statement is actually correct. Note that the writer said “Southern Vietnam” and not Southern China. Southern China is right next to Northern Vietnam.
    In Southern Vietnam, the lowest temperature in the last 20 years or so was 20 degrees (Celcius).
    It’s much colder in Northern Vietnam though.
    :)

  • 13 anonymous // Mar 18, 2008 at 5:05 am

    Personally it’s not just about hygiene or customs, the main factor is comfort.

    Why would you want to bring dirt and grime into your house anyway? The point of wearing shoes is precisely to shield your feet from unclean stuff so that you won’t arrive home with shitdirty feet and mess up the whole house.

    In fact, if I feel it is neccessary, I wash my feet after taking off my shoes once I reach home.

  • 14 Anonymous // Mar 21, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    It’s crazy to wear shoes indoors! It’s not an Asian thing. Wearing shoes indoors is just another non-sensical American thing. I live in Canada and i don’t know anyone who wears shoes indoors (Asian and white people included).

  • 15 Anonymous // Mar 21, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    It took me two and a half years before I gave in to my wife and went with the not wearing shoes indoors thing. I’m used to it now but my White friends still hate it.

  • 16 Anonymous // Apr 4, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    Is this not normal????

  • 17 Naldak // Apr 5, 2008 at 4:26 am

    I thought it was mostly americans that kept their shoes on in the house. In Canada you can really insult someone by not taking off your shoes when entering.

    “Dude, wft? Where you raised in a field? Take off your damn shoes!!”

  • 18 Anonymous // Apr 17, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    Maybe it IS an American thing, because in Hungary, everyone takes their shoes off also.

  • 19 Anonymous // Apr 24, 2008 at 1:36 am

    I’m Canadian and i can also attest to us Canucks never wearing shoes at home. That where you raised in a field quote pretty much sums it up.

    But i also don’t think it’s just an American thing because i’m pretty sure it’s common for British people to leave their shows on at home. At least in my experience it seemed that way.

  • 20 Matthew C // Apr 26, 2008 at 3:12 am

    Yes, sadly British people do tend to wear shoes at home.

    Younger people are fortunately more inclined to take them off.

    With my blog, I am seeking to challenge the British attitude.

  • 21 Emi // Apr 27, 2008 at 3:44 am

    My mom would shoot down anyone who dares to wear shoes inside her house.

  • 22 Gen // Apr 28, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    I’m black British and its strict shoes off inside my home. come on! the ground outside is so dirty! you just don’t know what you could be tracking through the house.

  • 23 me // Jul 10, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    this post so right. asian women single handedly or should I say double footedly killed my foot fetish. i always admired some the asain chicks on my campus, they always dressed in fine clothing and heels on regular school days. however i was in an office with an asian female coworker and we were sitting in close proximity and I noticed her sandles, the odor could have only been her feet. i had another experience wataching the nba finals with a few asian women. they entered the dorm in fancy high heel pumps. then they plopped down on the couch and and took off their shoes and up came the funk!

  • 24 Eric // Aug 6, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    This is so true. If you go to any Chinese party the first thing you notice is the 50-something odd shoes by the doors.

  • 25 Scott // Aug 14, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    I wonder how many ‘Asian’ countries you have visited? How many ‘children have you witnesses working in sweat shops? Your terms seem to apply to ‘Made in China’ as tho it’s China that has child labour. Well you’re totally wrong there. Chinese children are far too busy to work in sweat shops, they are studying; this is one of the reasons ‘Asians’ have the highest score of all in most subjects like maths etc. How many Asians have you met with stinking feet? And as for cleaning house on New Years Day, houses are cleaned every day, the tradition you refer to is cleaning out anything unnecessary for the coming year…and it’s not January 1st, but Lunar New Year. Carpets a modern trend? Hardly, they’ve also been made in China for over 1,000 years! They are unnecessary in many homes and, as you rightly say, hold dirt. If you haven’t visited China, you should, but visit ordinary Chinese and you will find a totally difference from your impression and staged TV shots of Chinese village workers.

  • 26 Pojtir // Aug 21, 2008 at 5:20 am

    I’m swedish and in Sweden it’s considered extremely rude if you don’t take off your shoes when going into someone elses private home, mopping the floor with the perpetrators jacket to clean it is a fully acceptable punishment. Besides, why would anyone want to keep their shoes on in doors when you have walked around in them for who knows how long? To walk in on a carpet is even worse, although I don’t understand how anyone would want a carpet in their home (lived for two days in an apartment in London where the bathroom had a carpet… sick).

  • 27 fromthe808 // Sep 8, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    you also save time, energy, and money on electricity by not always having to vacuum. so its good for the environmentreser and your health in the long run.

  • 28 fromthe808 // Sep 8, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    environment*

  • 29 Nhi // Sep 19, 2008 at 5:37 am

    This is sooo true! I can’t stand shoes. xDD

  • 30 herc // Nov 27, 2008 at 11:38 am

    Asians are cheap,carpet can be replaced,shoes can be replaced,even washed!rural nasty living with wild animals,they are scared to bring animal scum in the home,solution?join the 21st century and regulate what you eat,cut to the truth-PAVE YOUR ROADS!This will reduce the filth! I hope some one has the guts to respond

  • 31 Miss Ma // Dec 6, 2008 at 11:40 pm

    I was raised to always take my shoes off indoors, and I do so at relatives’ houses. But when I enter my own home, I wear my shoes. I really only take them off if my mom yells at me. I think I get it from my dad, he wears shoes in the house too, and he’s a FOB o.o I agree about that whole when I enter a white household that I’m constantly thinking about the dirt I’m tracking. I have a bunch of asian friends that INSIST that they take their shoes off, every place they go. lol

  • 32 Bianca Xue // Dec 15, 2008 at 9:30 pm

    Wait…white people don’t take off their shoes??

    Gyabo? What the hell? I didn’t know that……Xo

  • 33 Rachel // Feb 3, 2009 at 4:25 am

    I’m all for the shoe taking off bit, only if you adhere to that rule when you enter other peoples houses who are not asian, as well. I have several asian friends and love them dearly, but as it’s customary to take shoes off when entering their homes, I’ve noticed they do not do the same when entering yours?

    As an American I was always taught it was rude to take your shoes off without being told it was okay when visiting others. Thus, for some of us, if a person automatically took their shoes off, without being told they could, it would be considered rude.

    Taking ones shoes off implies one should get comfortable and make themselves at home, but everyone you have over to your house you dont neccessarily want them to feel “that” welcome. Basically, in my house, if your told you can take your shoes off it means you’re in, get comfortable.

    Also, if one only pops into the house for only a minute or two, I find it an inconvience to have to take my shoes off, thus I’ve resulted in telling them I’ll wait outside at the door for them.

  • 34 Billy 'Redneck" Bob // Mar 17, 2009 at 10:50 pm

    Godbless orientals for having the commonsense to remove shoes before walking indoors on nice clean floors! I’m a redneck but hate the idea of people coming inside my airstream trailer not taking off their goddam shoes!!! Cleanliness is next to Godliness my mamma always says! And just think of where those shoes have trodden, such as men’s urinals and where people have spat tobaccy…. eeeek…. makes me wanna be a good old oriental boy!!!!!!!! LoL

  • 35 Billy 'Redneck" Bob // Mar 17, 2009 at 10:58 pm

    Oh and by the way, ‘HERC’, watcha doin on this site if ya all think orientals are cheapskates??? I’m a redneck but HATE poo on my shoes more than I dislike someone for being ‘ASIAN’ – dude we all gotta live together, and keep those horrible little microorganisms out of our homes…

  • 36 Billy 'Redneck" Bob // Mar 17, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    …..In fact if ANYONE (oriental, negroid, white-trash) had the audacity and rudeness to come inside my nice new aistream trailer with their shoes ON, I would blast them square between the eyes with my spaz military pump action shotgun… NO questions asked!!! LoL

  • 37 MissOutraged! // May 18, 2009 at 11:41 am

    herc, if you disagree, why don’t you state it more politely and explain your view points in a nice way.
    Rachel did very well telling the American side of the story.
    It is considered rude in America to take your shoes off.
    But it is definately more hygenic.

  • 38 Lyn not LIN! // Jul 8, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    I dated someone until i found out they refused to take of their shoes in my room, because they declared they have foot odor… ew.
    He also didn’t flush the toilet…

    I have found that the stereotypical person who refuses to take of their shoes are Black Men. They are so proud of their $$$ shoes, and declare that they are not dirty. (they are insulted that I would even think that their shoes are not clean.) I’ve had a friend sit on the stool in my entryway to protest my rule. He just never full entered my home!
    So yeah, black/white guys with smelly feet are not a fan of the golden rule.

  • 39 annoyed // Sep 2, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    *scratches head* i always thought taking shoes off were a asian thing…guess not…well…that’s still good…i mean your shoes are DIRTY…i don’t care if it can be cleaned or whatever….it’s still dirty. who knows what your shoes track through…i mean anyone who has lived in NY (especially chinatown) has to agree with me how dirty the streets are…i mean, people wash fish water right onto the streets!! why would anyone want to track that into their houses? or another person’s house for that matter…unless you secretly hated that person or something…
    also, someone said that taking shoes off in another person’s house means that you could get “comfortable”. well, 1 why wouldn’t you want your guest tot be comfortable? 2 if you walk around barefoot in your carpeted house, why would you want someone walking around in dirty shoes so that you can later walk over those dirty bacteria and whatnot they tracked onto your carpet with their shoes?

    and really…unless you are REALLY close to someone’s feet or they haven’t washed their feet in like five days or they just ran a marathon you CAN’T smell their feet odor. i KNOW this as fact. i work as a manicurist/pedicurist and i can’t smell people’s feet unless i’m really really close to their feet. you would have no reason to be close enough to smell your guest’s feet odor!

  • 40 Eclecticlyfe // Sep 15, 2009 at 6:16 am

    Hhem, at the Southerner’s (US) wearing shoes in the house – Excuse me but we don’t.

  • 41 meh // Sep 20, 2009 at 2:57 am

    this is sooo true! but a good idea too, especially if you have white carpet.

  • 42 Danny // Nov 5, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    In my house there is three diffrent mats which are meant to brush your feet off, before you even come in the house. The rule in my house is you can wear shoes, but entering someones room, you should take them off.

  • 43 Someone // Mar 9, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    It’s hilarious when there’s a huge family gathering or something and the first thing you see when you come into the house is a HUGE pile of shoes xD
    It’s also entertaining to try and pick out which shoes you know and don’t know, then having your guesses confirmed later on when everyone’s going out as a huge mass all at once LOL

  • 44 C // Mar 19, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    As a Canadian, I’ve gotta say, I’ve never known anyone, of any race, who wears shoes in the house, with the exception of one American friend, and she’s, well, weird. I mean, really, why on earth would anyone wear shoes when they don’t have to?!

  • 45 Steve // May 31, 2010 at 9:15 am

    As a Brit it’s kind of odd to be forced to take shoes off in a house in Asia (I’m all for manners in someone else’s house) yet for people to automatically take their shoes off in when they visit you. In the vast majority of cases – and remember us Brits don’t like to keep repeating things! – folks still remove their shoes. Think how folks in Asia would feel if someone did not remove their shoes entering their house!

    If I may, allow me to put a Brits viewpoint across :)

    In the west, culture governs that if you take off your shoes in someone’s house, you are being overly ‘forward’ – that you are no longer the guest but taking on the role of an occupant. It’s not a case of ‘oh my feet feel bound by footwear’ – that simply implies that this person has chosen ill fitting feet!

    On the comments regarding carrying dirt in the house, well a dorrmat is supposed to remove 75% of dirt straight away. At least! Of course, if the shoes are ‘caked with mud’ then they are taken off and cleaned before the shoes are in the house, but bare feet are not that clean either – at least not necessarily when they leave a house! Let me explain – when you got to a swimming pool, you walk through a small pool of disinfectant water. This prevents veruccas and athlete’s foot from contaminating others that are bare foot.
    I’ve never seen a pool of disinfectant outside a house, nor have I seen these afflictions passed on from shoe to shoe.

    Remember, us westerners also clean and disinfect the floor, as do Asians!

    So, there it is – the British view on these matters!

    Hope it enlightens some aspects of the thread :)

    By the way, I found the site through my own curiosity as to why shoes are removed at the door – some very nice points here!

  • 46 Adam // Jun 23, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    @herc, Are you an idiot? “PAVE YOUR ROADS! This will reduce filth.” Have you never walked through a city centre in London or anywhere similar and seen the amount of shit on the road? People spitting, gum, dog shit etc. So why would anyone want to walk that shit through their homes and pass on disease?? You fucking prick.

  • 47 MoeCa // Jun 29, 2010 at 10:30 am

    The first time I wore shoes inside a non-asian household was when I was five… and it was incredibly odd … I didn’t know what to do.

  • 48 missy // Jul 11, 2010 at 10:28 am

    First of all, Hygiene. The shoes will bring all germs. What if you stepped on the spit which someone has TB? Can you see those? Absolutely not. How often do you wash your carpet?
    Even your hands are very dirty! You think your hands are clean because you washed them. Problems you can’t see the germs or bacteria.
    Secondly, Laziness. Take off shoes or put them back on is annoying. Don’t make an excuse over the culture.
    Don’t you shower before you are invited to someone’s house!
    Of course, yes.
    Thirdly, culture. Yes Asians respect the other.
    They are not rude to the other if they know what to do. I could understand if they don’t know, but
    what annoyed me, they don’t bother taking their shoes off, even if I mentioned it to them.
    How annoying it is and rude they are!!!
    They should stop their shoes on indoor.

  • 49 huu // Jul 13, 2010 at 10:55 pm

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  • 50 IAM_EASTASIAN // Aug 11, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    I purposely put at least 4 pairs of shoes outside the house before guests come over, so far all of them get the hints and always take off their shoes before they enter the house. Very Asian of me, if you include the passive-aggressiveness too.

  • 51 ciao // Aug 29, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    our mom makes us take off our shoes. but even if she doesn’t tell us i think i still would because i am so used to taking off my shoes while inside the house. it’s something i don’t really notice but if it was some other person they’d probably think that it’s a weird tradition.

  • 52 Liz // Sep 3, 2010 at 9:16 am

    I’m white but I don’t know why everyone thinks this is a racial thing. It is a cultural thing. I know plenty of Asians who wear their shoes in the house. Some even *gasp* put their shoe-d feet up on the furniture. Many Europeans wear their shoes in the house not just the British. I have never met a black person who makes it mandatory to take shoes off at the door or who even follows that rule themselves. My former roommate (black) never took her shoes off. I probably wore my shoes less than she. I hate walking around barefoot. I can handle sock footed, but only if my socks are brand new and super white. I don’t want to look at discolored or stretched out socks at the end of my legs. I would rather look at my pretty shoes that I have carefully chosen. I love the feeling of my feet being snuggly in my Ugg boots or my tennis shoes. If I am wearing heels I will take them off and put on warm boots. It’s like a cozy sweater, for your feet. I hate slippers. They are annoying and don’t comfort very well.

    If my shoes are muddy or wet, I take them off. If not, what’s the point. I don’t lick the floor or eat food off of the floor so it doesn’t matter if my dirty shoes touch the carpet. Everyone is so afraid of dirt. Do you take your shoes off at work? You spend a lot of time at work so I feel like if you take your shoes off at home you should also take them off at work, or in your car. Trying to avoid dirt and germs seems to be a bit ridiculous. We live in a dirty world and our immune systems adjust accordingly. Besides, germs die quickly without a host. So unless you literally step on the ground and immediately lick the floor, the germs aren’t gonna get you. Also, about the hobo urine… urine is clean. You can drink urine. It wouldn’t be the urine that would be gross, it would be any bacterial growth that formed from the urine’s presence but that would probably be wiped off your shoe from further walking before you reached your front door… unless the hobo is peeing on your doorstep. If he is, maybe you should move.

    Plus, I think feet are disgusting. I don’t want to look at someone else’s gross toes and feet while I’m trying to eat or something. I’d much rather look at their shoes.

    My new roommate (Asian – Japanese) has requested that I take my shoes off when I come inside. Since he lived at this apartment first, I am willing to oblige. That would be a stupid argument to have with a new roommate. However, I will be putting my clean “house” Uggs on as soon as I remove my “dirty” shoes because I just can’t imagine living without my shoes on.

  • 53 ugo // Jan 23, 2011 at 4:47 am

    please where can i locate the companys that produce essential balms+playing cards+table tennis +hair thread in china

  • 54 bn // Mar 1, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    dumbass.

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  • 56 Elena // Apr 12, 2011 at 11:20 am

    Italian here. We do not take off shoes after entering into an house.

  • 57 Mai // May 18, 2011 at 7:00 am

    In our household, we leave the outdoor shoes outside and have slippers used only for the indoors. Back then, we’d do this custom of not wearing shoes inside.

  • 58 O.O // May 19, 2011 at 9:45 am

    My household in America is the same as Mai, we walk inside the house with our shoes, take them off, put them on a shoe rack and wear slippers…are you saying that there’s people who actually wear thier shoes ALL DAY in their homes?! Cause THAT’S strange! o.o

  • 59 Carla // Jun 24, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    As a white U.S. American who doesn’t remove shoes when entering homes – and who doesn’t know anyone in the area who does – I want to point out that I don’t think some of the posters realize that “we” don’t just walk around all day in our homes with shoes on. Basically, we don’t view the doorway as a “no-no” line for shoes – we might walk around in them for a bit, but when we sit down at the computer or before a meal, they’ll be kicked off at some point.

    I agree with other posters that it can be considered rude and assuming to take off your shoes when entering someone else’s home in this area. The previous poster who mentioned that it seems like the person taking off their shoes is getting too “comfortable” meant it not literally, but metaphorically – getting “too comfortable” is a phrase that means (to Americans, at least) that a person is assuming too much familiarity. Unlike actually getting physically comfortable, getting “too comfortable” can be a bad thing.

    I’d also like to point out that in the States, most places are very, very strict about requiring shoes. I myself love to go barefoot, and once in high school I got in trouble for walking around the halls with no shoes. When I quizzed the principal about what was so wrong with the practice, he told me shoes were required in school because if I caught something such as Athlete’s Foot from the floors, the school would be responsible. So, in America, it’s viewed as filthy to touch things with bare feet that other people have touched with bare feet – as is furthered evidenced by shoe stores here, which provide stockings for customers’ use before trying on shoes (if the customer isn’t already wearing socks).

    Lastly, I’d like to point out that with the States being so young, the infrastructure tends to be quite modern and sterile. Most streets have adequate drainage, and designated, well-maintained sidewalks. In many places, homeowners can be fined for failing to fix damaged sidewalks in front of their homes, and dog owners can be ticketed for not picking up their dogs’ poop when out on walks. All of these things add up to a more clean city center. In my travels to Europe, SE Asia, and Central America, I have tended to find that poorer and/or older cities have dirtier sidewalks, or no sidewalks at all. Inadequate drainage leads to muddy, stagnant water in the streets, animal traffic (virtually non-existent in the U.S.) adds to waste, and often streets and sidewalks are overburdened with pedestrian and vehicle traffic.

    I say this not to be rude, but to make the point that most areas of America tend to have newer, more up-to-date, and more population-appropriate infrastructure than many cities that were built hundreds or thousands of years ago, for needs other than our modern ones. So with cleaner streets (in many cases), Americans tend to worry less about tracking animal poop, diseases, germs, etc. into their homes on their shoes.

    Further, U.S. Americans (especially in the spread-out MidWest, where I live) probably walk the LEAST of any other geographical group. To be honest, most of us spend much of our travel time in our cars, not walking down the street. I say all this to point out that to me, and the people I know, it’s not “disgusting” to wear our shoes around our homes. If we lived in an area strewn with gutted fish, or with dirt streets, or with frequent flooding, or with waste from packs of stray dogs, well, I’d think differently before walking into my house with those shoes.

    Frankly, I think it’s rude to call people with different traditions than your own “disgusting,” which is what a lot of people have referred to us indoor shoe-wearers as being.

  • 60 Anon. // Jul 25, 2011 at 1:34 am

    Funny how every household that I’ve visited (Asian or not) expects me to take my shoes off.

  • 61 Rinnie // Aug 2, 2011 at 1:36 am

    Here in the South, a lot of us don’t wear shoes outside either. :/

  • 62 Girl Here // Aug 5, 2011 at 2:00 am

    What? This isn’t normal? I wish more white/black Americans would do this…

  • 63 Jon // Sep 25, 2011 at 4:47 am

    I’d like to chime in if this hasn’t already been mentioned, but it is usual to sit, lounge, or sleep on the floor in an Asian household. This is how I saw why it made sense for it to be as clean as possible, especially sleeping – on a straw mat of course but still. Also, addressing the bare feet thing, what about using house slippers?

  • 64 Bobby // Nov 10, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    Funny how they’re so concerned about their precious floors, but it’s okay to ask guests to put their feet in slippers that have been used by who-knows-how-many people.

  • 65 toro // Dec 1, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    I think making people take off their shoes off is either 3rd world (poo really is on your door step) or a host’s power play. Assuming your house is not riddled with dust mites and bacteria is funny. If you are on this Earth you are swimming in invisible muck no matter where you are. Anyway it is just a matter of time before the soy sauce has spilled on the white carpeting- life is that way…

  • 66 Foxylady // Feb 12, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    My family are well trained to take their shoes off when they come in and put their slippers on. Close friends and family have their own pair to wear when they visit. I’m in the uk and find that most Brits wear slippers around the house, but not everyone will admit they do, especially guys. That’s the British for you .

  • 67 Mimi // Feb 27, 2012 at 4:01 am

    I’m a black American and I ALWAYS take my shoes off before entering the house. I’m pretty sure my mom would murder me if I didn’t. :/ Maybe it’s a regional thing?

  • 68 ilovehorseyrides // Jun 9, 2015 at 4:07 pm

    My family’s Asian and my parents make us wear flip flops in the house

  • 69 ilovehorseyrides // Sep 26, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    @FoxyLady: In my family, only people who live in the house are required to wear slippers. Guests are allowed to go barefoot

  • 70 Mr king // Apr 14, 2016 at 9:23 am

    White people clean their house every day and wash the floors. Chinese people take off their shoes but never clean their homes which are usually dirty and filthy so their claim about taking shoes off is ridiculous. Clean the house and it won’t make a difference. Also if the floors are dirty who cares nothing is touching it except your feet and white people wash the floors constantly. Chinese never wash their floors or streets or neighborhoods it is much dirtier overall than white homes or neighborhoods. So the wearing shoes at home thing is a red herring.

  • 71 Thomas // Aug 14, 2016 at 9:22 am

    Entirely wrong to pin shoe wearing indoors on white folks. It’s a regional thing. Northern Europeans, non-Anglos, typically don’t wear shoes indoors. Especially not anyone with a Nordic background.

    Shoes inside are NASTY, and I’m whiter than anyone.

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