Please Remove Shoes Before Entering

When I arrive at home, I take off my shoes. When I visit my grandma, I take off my shoes. When I go to a friend’s house, I take off my shoes. When entering someone’s house, the first thing I … Continued

When I arrive at home, I take off my shoes. When I visit my grandma, I take off my shoes. When I go to a friend’s house, I take off my shoes. When entering someone’s house, the first thing I do: look for a place to put my shoes.

I’m so used to it. And for many of us, it’s not even a question. We just do it automatically. We even put a little shoe rack by the door, so it’s obvious where the shoes should go. So why is it that Asians tend to take their shoes off when entering a residence? Who else does it?

For one thing, it’s cleaner.  Think about all the surfaces your shoes come into contact during the day. The sidewalk, the parking lot, public bathrooms…not exactly some of the cleanest places on earth. Taking off your shoes  keeps all that dirt, grime, and germs outside where it belongs and not tracked all over the house. So it only makes sense.

Secondly, it’s tradition. Asian parents teach their children that it’s polite to take off your shoes when entering someone’s house. We learn this custom when we’re young, remember it, continue to do it, and eventually teach it to our own kids.

It even coincides with the weather! Many Asian countries are very close to the Tropic of Cancer ( the latitude 23° 26′ 16″ north of the equator), which receives extreme sunlight. Warmth and humidity make it not-so-fun to have shoes on. Imagine the hottest day of the year. Would you rather have shoes or flip flops on? Exactly. Confining your feet inside shoes isn’t all that comfortable when it’s hot. This helps explain why Asians have gotten used to shoe removal before going indoors.

Lastly, it’s generally comfortable. It’s not like we wear shoes to sleep. That wouldn’t feel comfortable at all. Likewise, the less time we spend wearing shoes, the more comfortable we are. Ever hear the saying “my dogs are killing me!”? It means that your feet hurt and you want to take off your shoes and relax.

Not wearing shoes could even have benefits. Shoes can lead to deformed feet, especially for women who wear ones with pointed toes.  And for runners, running barefoot may be better on your joints and heels.

It is not only Asians that do this. The custom of taking off shoes is also practiced in Turkey, Scandanavia, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. Do you know of any other cultures that do it?

If you love this custom, check out the facebook group “Please take off shoes before entering…” at

  • Jennie Le

    I love my showcase of shoes. Great article! Love the fun topic :)

  • James Xu

    I love my shoes so much I wear them 24/7. The only time I take them off is so I can put on another pair. I wear shoes at school, at work, at home, when sleeping, when swimming (wearing flippers), in the shower, etc. Great article by the way.

  • Amy

    Middle eastern cultures do it like iranians, etc.

  • Celia Gong

    Cute article about shoes! But I do take my shoes off to put on another pair: slippers :P

  • Matthew C

    It is a great custom.

    I have an whole blog about removing shoes in homes: Shoes Off at the Door, Please You might like to take a look.

    • Amanda

      Thanks, Matt. I love it!

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  • Kimberly Truong

    Interesting article! Although, with the changing times, not only Asians take off their shoes when entering a home, and not all Asians take off their shoes when entering homes. No one in my family takes off our shoes when we come into our house. In fact, each of us has our own place to put our shoes in our own closets, and we don’t do so until then. When someone new, who is Vietnamese, comes into our house, some keep their shoes on because they notice that we’re all wearing shoes, and others leave their shoes by the door. Sometimes my dad doesn’t notice they’ve taken their shoes off until a little later and he pushes him to the front door to put his shoes back on, because he doesn’t believe in obligating others to take off their shoes in another person’s home. It’s a comfort thing. However, you should never be TOO comfortable in another person’s home unless invited to be. There have been times when I’ve been in a Vietnamese house and I leave my shoes on because it’s rude to seemingly kick off your shoes and put your feet up in another’s home. I’ve had people look down at my feet with wondering eyes, but in the end don’t say anything at all. I was taught to keep my shoes on in other people’s homes and that it’s okay to wear shoes in your own home.

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  • Ian

    Enjoyable article and explained a lot as currently staying in Saigon. However I am from the UK and would state the removal off shoes before entering homes is not usual.

  • Dave

    In Canada, too!