Yes I am “that Mom” who asks people to take their shoes off when they come over.
From my friends I get quiet compliance with some acknowledgements of similar requests. From the generations before me (read: parents and in-laws) sometimes I get rolled eyes, requests for reminders to bring slippers or flat out refusal to cooperate.
I asked my own Mom who diligently brings her slippers to my house or borrows mine, but does wear her shoes in her own home why the cold shoulder to my no shoes in the house rule. I got a list of reasons, but sore feet and a disbelief that it really matters topped the list. I get the sore feet, hole in the sock, my outfit doesn’t work without the shoes and I’m really short excuse but the fact is, taking your shoes off in the house does cut down on a host of disgustingness that I can do without.
I guess it all started when my first born was spending more time on the floor than not and I was spending more time cleaning the house than not. I thought about what really comes strutting in on those shoes we wear around the house and I almost got sick (or maybe it was just morning sickness from baby #2). We always took our shoes off when lounging around but didn’t have a stead fast rule about no shoes in the house. I did some poking around on the internet and found some not so appetizing facts about the “stuff” your shoes track inside.
The following is from the Healthy Child website:
The professional cleaning industry estimates that we track 85% of the dirt in our homes in from the outside on our shoes or paws of pets. In a recent warning about lead exposure, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) specifically recommends that shoes remain outside the house. According to a report called The Door Mat Study, lead-contaminated soil from the outside causes almost all the lead dust inside homes. It notes that wiping shoes on a mat and removing them at the door cuts lead dust by 60 percent. The study explains that limiting the amount of dust and track-in may also help reduce exposure to lawn and garden pesticides, wood smoke and industrial toxins, mutagens, dust mites, and allergens.
Isn’t that enough to get you to at least do some power wiping when you come inside? The pushback I have read and heard is that, while taking your shoes off is all well and good, it isn’t the end all be all that one might think. Agreed but isn’t it a start?
The same people go on to comment that those requesting the shoes be left at the door probably clean their house with cleaners comprised of very harmful chemicals and coat their lawns with pesticides. Maybe, but don’t count on it. My husband and I agreed to forgo harmful pesticides on our lawn and we only buy harsh chemical free cleaning supplies. True, our lawn won’t be on the cover of Better Homes & Garden Magazine anytime soon but there are some pretty great products out there now that do the trick. As far as cleaning supplies go, vinegar is the answer to most of my problems. Just check out www.vinegartips.com for their 1,001 ways to use it.
So it takes a little effort and some of these less harmful products are still overpriced, but isn’t it worth it for your health and your kids health. Still need a little encouragement? Check out this fun blog, Shoes Off at the Door Please, that is entirely dedicated to taking your shoes off indoors.
Whether you have immediate family take off their shoes indoors or decide to throw caution to the wind and endure the rolled eyes and side comments, know that taking shoes off indoors does more than reduce your cleaning time. It can improve you and your families health but cutting down on the harmful (not to mention disgusting) things can sneak in via your shoes. So set up a shoe tray by the door and start by asking your kids to take off their shoes at the door and move from there. When friends come over ask them, have slippers and clean socks available for them and if they refuse.
And just remember, it isn’t a friend you are trying to keep out of the house, it's dirt and let it go.