I am sorry to admit that I have always been one of those people who rolls my eyes and whispers something snarky like, "Do they think we're in Japan?" when someone asks me to remove my shoes before walking into their home. Usually my shoes are carefully chosen to compliment my outfit, and, since I started running, my bare feet don't always look their recently-pedicured best (let's just say I'm currently down a toenail), so taking off my shoes can be sort of embarrassing and unpleasant. Both JM and I grew up in houses with a shoe-on policy, and I actually blush a little bit at the mere thought of asking guests to take off their shoes.
But, as is frequently the case with "unshakable" beliefs, I am beginning to suspect that I might be wrong on this one. Now that I'm fixing up and cleaning my own home, I see the dirt we track in first-hand when I sweep and mop, and I'm beginning to notice the wear-and-tear that shoes are having on the wood floors we had pristinely refinished just two years ago. Here are just a few of the (very) compelling reasons to suck it up and remove your shoes in the house (no matter how cute they are).
Ladies and Germs: To some extent, if you live in a crowded city, you have to be willfully ignorant about how surrounded you are with filth. Just to touch the support bar in the subway, or to ride the bus during flu season requires a certain amount of blind (stupid) faith. But when you walk on streets where people spit, and dogs pee and poop everyday, you are literally walking that bacteria into your home. I would like my apartment to be a haven from, not an extension of, the dirty world outside.
Chemical Brothers: In addition, due to the constant construction that takes place in the city, we frequently walk through chemicals and particles (think asbestos) without even knowing it. Then that stuff gets stuck in your shoe treads, and you shave a few days off your lifespan when you breathe in (okay, maybe that's a little dramatic, but you get the picture).
Ready to Wear: Even if you live in the countryside where there are no germs, and no chemical materials floating around, and only good healthy dirt everywhere, even the cleanest dirt is still dirty. Ultimately, no matter how much you sweep, vacuum and mop, dirty shoes will ruin your carpets and scuff your floors.
Pollen Counts: During the spring, I get nasty, terrible allergies. I find that the more often I vacuum, sweep, and dust the house, the better (well, less bad) they get. I'm pretty sure the same principle would apply were I to just not bring the particles into the house in the first place.
So what is a reformed podophobic to do? Here's my plan. I'll start this process for JM and me- we don't have much space in our entryway, but on the landing outside our apartment door, I'm going to create a little shoe station (after an Ikea shopping spree, natch). I'll set up a shelving unit with baskets full of cute slippers, socks, and shoe covers (for workmen or other people who won't take their shoes off)- as an added bonus I'll be able to use the baskets to store wire hangers and old newspapers until recycling day. I'm going to cover the area with a cute rug and a add a cute stool for sitting while you swap your shoes. I'm going to keep disinfectant wipes by the door so that even Skipper gets her paws cleaned before she steps over the threshold. And if a guest shows up and walks into the house still shod, I will say... absolutely nothing. I'll just do a better job of mopping the next day. Now, I've just got to figure out how to deal with the dog hair. Saran Wrap?
1. EO organic sanitizing wipes, $22 from drugstore.com; 2. Woven cotton rug (2x3), $28, from Dash & Albert; 3. Woven grass slippers, $9, from Pearl River; 4. "Branas" basket, $13, from Ikea; 5. Industrial shoe covers, $25 for a huge box from Amazon.com; 6. "Expedit" shelving unit, $69, from Ikea; 7. "Nils" stool, $39, from Ikea.
What is your household shoe policy- "No Shoes, No Service" or "Shoo, Shoes"?
photo credit: Martha Stewart
11 minutes ago