Is It OK to Ask Guests to Remove Their Shoes in Your Home?

Were Ross and Rachel on a break? Was there room for Jack on Rose's plank? Was it rude of Carrie’s friend to ask her to take her shoes off at a party? OK, so we’ll never learn the answers to those first two questions, but we gotta know: Is it bad manners to ask guests to take off their shoes in your home? Or totally OK? Here, we look at both sides of the argument before turning to etiquette experts for the final verdict.

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pretty white hallway with shoes taken off
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Yes, You Can Ask Guests To Remove Their Shoes

It’s your home: You should do as you damn well please. (Because if you can’t be yourself in your own home, then where on earth can you?) Besides, the outside world is pretty gross. Cities are filled with all kinds of germs and nasties (oh hey, pizza rat). It doesn’t matter if your abode features brand-new white carpeting or linoleum peeling at the corners—it’s completely reasonable to request that guests don’t bring outside filth into your home.

woman removing her black high heeled shoes
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No, It’s Rude To Ask Guests To Remove Their Shoes

Imagine this: Cracked heels, chipped toenails and mismatched socks all on show while everyone sips rosé and politely pretends not to notice. (And that’s the best case scenario—let’s not even think about the potential for bunions, hammer toes and athlete's foot.) This is a home, not airport security. Sure, the outside world may be slightly dirtier, but there’s an easy fix—get a doormat. Besides, if you care more about the carpet than the company, then maybe you shouldn’t be inviting people over.  

woman sitting on sofa and taking off her shoes
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The Expert Opinions

Myka Meier, founder of Beaumont Etiquette, weighs in: “A guest (whether in a restaurant or a home) should always practice the customs and culture of the place that they are in. In other words, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask guests to remove their shoes.” But here’s the catch—if you ask a guest to take off their shoes, you should let them know beforehand or offer them a pair of house shoes to wear.

Patricia Napier-Fitzpatrick, founder of the Etiquette School in New York, says there is one notable exception to the rule: If you’re hosting a party where guests will be wearing suits and dresses, then the “no shoes allowed” rule is, well, not allowed. “For parties with a guest list that includes people who are not close friends, it is rude and inconsiderate to ask guests to remove their shoes before coming inside the house.” She continues, “The cost of having carpets and floors cleaned the day after the party should be factored into the cost of the party.”

Foot for thought.

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Executive Editor

Alexia Dellner is an executive editor at PureWow who has over ten years of experience covering a broad range of topics including health, wellness, travel, family, culture and...