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Leave Your Shoes by the Door

by Tiffany in A Green Home

A source of clutter my in my home that has long bothered me is the shoe rack inside our door. Rather than tucking the shoes neatly inside an available space my kids usually just throw them into a pile on the top shelf until they spill onto the floor. The shoe rack was a step up from the basket we used at our old place but that was cluttered and messing looking too. I am still looking for a way to hide the shoe clutter but we won’t budge on having that designated space because the shoes come off first thing after entering the house. And while it does keep mad searches for shoes to a minimum we do this to keep nasties out of the house.

When you walk around inside the house with shoes you just wore outside you are likely bringing with you dust, dirt, lawn and garden pesticides (even if you don’t use them yourself), industrial toxins, animal feces, dust mites, and allergens. The dust and dirt is reason enough for me to make sure we are all taking off our shoes when entering but the idea of pesticides all over our floor when we already try to minimize this my nixing those products, is kind of scary. A report from a few years back called The Door Mat Study also shows us that lead contaminated soil from outside the home is being transported into our homes in the form of lead dust. I have also heard that somewhere between 80 and 85% of the dirt in our homes was brought into the home via our shoes and considering what we may have stepped on, that is just gross!

Our first line of defense is a good door mat where all family members need to wipe their feet. It is pretty easy to find ones made of recycled materials like tires or even flip-flops. Scrape or shake off as much of the dirt and dust from your shoes as possible. Then the second line of defense it to take your shoes off and keep them somewhere near the door so you never have to trek around the house in shoes. A simple shoe rack or even a shoe bench which also has seating is nice. To ensure space we have to rotate the shoes between seasons because few benches can handle everyone’s summer and winter shoes all at the same time. And we have to remind our kids that roller blades are not meant for this space… put those in the garage or carry those up to your room… do NOT roller blade to your bedroom!

When you have visitors it is up to you on how to handle this. You can ask them to remove their shoes or let them wear them in the house. We usually make exceptions for visitors. Babies and little children can be used as a great excuse to ask people to remove shoes though, aka “We would appreciate it if everyone removed their shoes.. we have a little one who likes to crawl on the floor and we want to keep it clean.” That same study I mentioned earlier claimed that a door mat and taking shoes off got rid of 98% of toxic dust over a 5 month period. Now if only I could keep the shoe area from looking so cluttered!

How do you handle the shoe situation?

leave shoes by door cleaner indoor air

  • Anna

    I am wondering if having some kind of wet wipes at the door to wipe the bottoms of visitor shoes would remove enough of the pollution from the outdoors.  I have a problem when I go to someone’s house and have to remove my shoes since walking around the house without my orthotics for even a short period of time will cause me to be in pain for days afterwards.  Sometimes I will remember to take a pair of inside shoes with me but when I forget I’m often very uncomfortable trying to make a decision to leave them on  or take them off to comply and then deal with pain afterwards.  Just recently thought of the idea of carrying some wet wipes in my purse for times I don’t have my indoor shoes with me.  What do you think? 

    • I think it would definitely help. It would be good for people to have those available to guests who may be uncomfortable taking their shoes off. 

      • Connie

        Another idea for guests or folks with orthotic adjustments in their shoes (I understand all about foot pain, especially when I don’t wear mine).  You can leave a cute lidded basket with hospital booties to slip on over your shoes.  That helps keep shoes covered but still allows them to wear their shoes. They are also great if you are just running in and back out quickly.  These booties are also great for service personnel that are working in your home and possibly tracking in dirt and other unknown material and debris.  The down side…they are certainly not a fashion statement.

  •  great post! Using for sunday surf. We always take off our shoes, but I never thought of it this way! Very scary!

  •  We can’t make the dogs get all the stuff from outside off *their* feet (though theirs are cleaner than ours, as they don’t walk around on local sidewalks, and we have no pesticides or other chemicals in our yard), and I’m barefoot outside as often as not, and our floors are a combination or hardwood and random area rugs and runners, so we just don’t worry about it. We sweep and vacuum, and let that be enough.

  • Lori Alper

    We are a shoeless house and have been since my kids were born. We leave all of our shoes at the door-inside the garage. We have a small ledge that naturally lends itself to shoe removal.  Most visitors are very respectful and take off their shoes.  Occasionally someone will stop by and keep them on-I always feel a little uncomfortable asking.  I have toyed with the idea of putting up a cleverly worded sign.  

    • Lthommen21

      we have sign we got when on vacation in Maui. Mahalo for removing your shoes.  Hung it over the door bell.  Works pretty well except for my father in law :-)

  • Cindy @ OnePartSunshine

    We are definitely a no-shoes house.  I use a washable door mat so I can regularly wash out the gunk that builds up.  And I put a bookcase next to the door for shoe storage.  It is hard to ask guests to take off their shoes.  I have had an especially hard time with service professionals.  But they always do it!

  • oh the challenge of teaching kids and husbands to leave shoes by the door! My problem is that once I get them to actually take shoes off, they run around outside barefoot, thereby missing the point entirely. You can take shoes off, but you can’t remove your feet. LOL! So I just vacuum and sweep daily and hope for the best. At least we have no carpet, so the floors actually get clean.

  • Alicia Bayer

    We have a shoe basket on our back porch.  It’s a tall decorative basket with a lid that’s meant to be a hamper, I believe.   It’s for the family shoes, other than my husband, who is disabled and needs to be sitting down to get his shoes on and off.  We don’t tell guests what to do with their shoes, though.

  • Karen Madsen

     We have a tiny apt with a closet right next to the front door. We eliminate shoe clutter by using a hanging shoe organizer inside the closet. The shoes we wear the least are in shoe organizers in our bedroom closet. So far it’s working pretty well!

  • Laura Kaeding

    We have a shoe rack that holds each person’s shoes on a different shelf. It gets a little cluttered on the bottom shelf (my 7 y/o daughters) but otherwise it’s pretty good.

  • Linda Cina

    We have a set of shelves. Shoes for the five kids go on the shelves. Diaper bag and basket for smaller stuff (keys, discarded hair clips, etc) on top. In the pic my husband’s hats were stacked on the shelf but now they are all on hooks hanging on the wall above the shelves. I even included extra hooks for the kid’s sun hats. Oh, and I added a hook on the top edge of the shelves to hold my black tote that has our baby wrap in it.

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