How to (Politely!) Ask Guests to Take Their Shoes Off

Updated: Oct. 12, 2022

These simple tips will make all the difference when asking your guests to take off their shoes.

Everyone has different policies about wearing shoes at home. While some may not be bothered by it, others may have their reasons for banning shoes indoors. Cultural reasons can be a part of it, as well as sanitary reasons; shoes can actually be a breeding ground for bacteria, picking up toxins and dirtying up your previously clean floor. But does it seem rude to ask your guests to take off their shoes?

If you’re wondering how to ask guests to take off their shoes, don’t fear—there are a few polite ways to do so and avoid the awkward tension. All it takes is a few tweaks to how you let guests in.

How to Ask Guests to Take Off Their Shoes

While guests tend to follow typical guest etiquette when coming into a home by asking if their shoes should come off, for others, asking may not seem as obvious—especially if they are used to living in a home where shoes can stay on their feet. If you find yourself in this situation, here’s how to ask guests to take off their shoes. Politely, of course.

Create a comfortable space to take off their shoes

When guests first come in, having a space where shoes and coats come off can be an easy indicator to show your guests that this is a policy within your home. So plan around where you invite your guests to come into the house. If it’s a mudroom or a foyer area, have some comfortable seating arrangements for people to easily take off their shoes.

Another easy queue for your guests can be having a place to put the shoes. If you have a shoe rack or a place where shoes tend to go, and they see that shoes are off and tucked away, your guests will likely pick up on the fact that this is a shoe-free home.

Lastly, adding a welcome mat at your door can also be an indicator for your guests that you value clean shoes within your home.

Let guests know when they walk through the door

However, while these cues may be easy indicators for some, they may not work for all—so you can make it extra clear with your guests when they walk through the door. After opening the door and welcoming them in, you can follow it with “We have some space on the rack for shoes,” or “There’s a comfortable bench just inside where you can take off your shoes.” This way you are communicating to your guests what you expect from them moving forward, without making it seem rude.

Offer up comfy alternatives

While having shoes off in your home may be custom, for others, it may not be comfortable to have their shoes off in front of others. If this is the case, you could always offer up extra comfortable slippers or socks for guests who would prefer to have something on their feet. This is also a great etiquette tip for guests staying in your home overnight.

Let them know before your gathering

For guests that are coming over for the first time, you could also let them know before having people in your home that you are a shoe-free home. To keep this polite, you could follow it up by saying that comfortable slippers and socks are more than welcome, and your guests can bring those items if they desire—or borrow some extra that you have in the house.