There seems to be a habit that polarises people neatly into two groups – the house proud and the relaxed homesteaders, or the neat freaks and the grubsters.
That habit is this – whether or not you take your shoes off indoors and, more interestingly in terms of social etiquette, whether you take your shoes off when entering someone else’s house.
|Muddy shoes in the porch, where they belong|
My dear mother, who for years has insisted that shoes be removed on entry to our family home recently remarked that I was fussy because I made Ieuan take off his muddy shoes to walk across the kitchen carpet tiles.
When my parents visit, knowing my aversion to muddy footprints (and given the local dog-walkers apparent amnesia when it comes to poo bags), far worse substances being deposited on the little carpet we have left, they bring their own slippers.
I know that there are some who think it is the height of rudeness to be asked to remove their footwear on arriving at someone’s house.
I think it’s just good manners to offer to do so.
If someone has taken the trouble to vacuum and sweep the floors so that their home is clean and welcoming, why on earth would you want to spoil their efforts by walking in untold types of yuk from our pavements?
This is even more important when there are children in the house.
Now I can quite understand if you work with animals, or outdoors, or you live in a house very similar to Longleat, then you may be quite happy to keep your boots on, but in the average family home I just don’t get why anyone would think muddy footprints make a place more des res.
Mind you, I once attended a business meeting with the senior partner of the law firm I was working for at the time where the client (a leading estate agent in the Vale) lived in a huge and immaculately cleaned house featuring gleaming wood floors and white carpet.
We were asked to remove our shoes by the housekeeper which rather (if you’ll pardon the pun) floored us.
It was not the fact that we were asked to take our shoes off that was the problem, it was that we both had holes in our socks.
So since I’m the one who does most of the vacuuming and endlessly chases crumbs and fluff with my trusty dustpan and brush, I don’t feel remotely guilty for asking people to take their shoes off.
If you come visiting, best make sure there are no holes in your socks.
And lest you think I’m being too pernickety there are some very good reasons to take your shoes off, researchers at the University of Houston found that around 40% of shoes were carrying the highly unpleasant “C.diff” bacterium, (Clostridium difficile), whose spores are difficult to treat as they can live on dry surfaces for a long time.
The study found that the C.diff spread from shoe soles to other household areas such as toilets, tops and surfaces – wherever, in fact, floor dust could be found.
C.diff is resistant to most antibiotics, making it very difficult to treat. It attacks the linings in the intestines, resulting in colitis.
Your shoes may also bring in E.Coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae which can cause severe damage to the lungs and lead to pneumonia.
Where do you, um, stand on this issue? Slippers on everyone!