Tradition of removing shoes in home

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A Japanese genkan with removed shoes

In many cultures there is a tradition of removing one's shoes in the home and places like church, temples and schools.

In the world[edit]


Germany, Austria, and Northern Europe[edit]

In Northern Europe and Austria, it is generally considered rude or unhygienic to keep one's shoes on when entering a house, in particular boots or outdoor walking shoes. There may be exceptions, especially when it is a short visit where it is not necessary to enter the interior rooms of the house or flat. Dress shoes or other shoes worn with formal wear are usually accepted, but those are generally not worn outside; the custom is to bring shoes for indoor wear in a bag and put them on when outdoor clothes are removed. This custom is also common (but to a lesser extent, except for Bavaria) in Germany.

UK, Ireland, Netherlands, Belgium[edit]

In the Netherlands and Belgium, people usually don't wear shoes indoors, unless having visitors. In the United Kingdom whether shoes are taken off is at the homeowner's discretion and both options are common. However, it is uncommon for people to walk around barefoot. In Ireland however it is very uncommon to take one's shoes off when entering a house, especially for visitors.

Southwestern Europe[edit]

In Italy (with the exception of the region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia), France, Spain, and Portugal it is normal entering a home with shoes on. They can be removed only in rare cases, as for a wooden floor.

Eastern Europe[edit]

In Eastern Europe, including all Slavic countries (Russia, Ukraine, Poland, etc.), Hungary, Romania, and Moldova, most people will take off their shoes at home and will expect visitors to do so, unless it is a formal meeting or a social event. When in doubt, people will usually ask if they can keep their shoes on. When at home, some people will walk barefoot while others will wear slippers (this often depends on the type of floor covering, e.g. carpets vs wooden floor). It is common for schoolchildren to have a special pair of shoes for wearing at school, especially in winter. Some people will have a special pair of shoes for wearing at work, especially in winter. In restaurants, shops, theatres, and museums shoes are not taken off. Shoes are not taken off in churches.

Southeastern Europe (Balkans)[edit]

In Southeastern Europe (former Yugoslavia, Albania, Bulgaria, Greece), people traditionally remove their shoes and either walk barefoot or wear indoor slippers at home, especially in winter. Shoes are kept on in churches, as well as most other public indoor spaces, but they are removed in mosques.

In Turkey, most people traditionally remove their shoes before entering any house, although the practice slightly seems to disappear in major cities. Summer houses may be an exception where the carpet is rarely used in these homes. Students or employees never remove their shoes before entering their buildings (schools, workplaces, etc.). The only practice of removing shoes outside the home is before entering "inside" the mosque; however, people never remove shoes when in a mosque's courtyard or garden.

In some parts of Serbia, keeping one's shoes on indoors is frowned upon as rude and unhygienic, and visitors that venture beyond the entry hallway are expected to remove them. It is considered good manners for the host to provide their guest with indoor slippers, especially in winter. However, it is often inconvenient for deliverymen to remove their shoes, especially if carrying heavy items. To ensure hygiene is not compromised, rugs and similar floor coverings are moved out of the way beforehand, and the route the deliverymen are expected to take is covered with newspaper or similar, to protect the floor, which is then cleaned afterwards. Preschool classrooms are invariably carpeted, to facilitate play, so indoor shoes are an essential school item. Schools generally require for these to be closed slip-on or zippered shoes, designed for indoor use. From the first grade onward, outdoor shoes are kept on. Outdoor shoes are also generally worn at work, but some workplaces may allow, or even require, their employees to either wear indoor footwear, such as slippers, or regular outdoor shoes which are not worn outside.


India, Thailand, Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Japan, Singapore, Indonesia, Laos, Cambodia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan and China as well as many other Asian countries follow this tradition of removing shoes before entering a house.

In Pakistan, Afghanistan and other countries where having carpeted rugs are common, it is necessary to take one's shoes off for this.

In China when you enter homes, you also put on indoor slippers after taking your shoes off. It can be the fabric kind in the winter and the plastic/rubber kind in the summer.


In Iran, this is a widespread tradition. Cleanliness of a home is very important for families. It is also common to remove shoes in kindergarten schools and, although rarely, in some small private businesses.


Only some Israelis remove their shoes at home. During the Priestly Blessing in the synagogue, the kohanim (priests) will remove their shoes.


In India, it is the widespread norm to take shoes off when entering the home. It may even be considered rude for guests to keep their shoes on inside the house.


In Vietnam, it is a custom to remove shoes before entering any house or flat. It is also common to remove shoes in kindergarten schools and in some small private businesses.

Arab world[edit]

In the Arab world, no shoes are allowed indoors, as the shoes' soles are seen as dirty and unsanitary.


Nearly all the houses or apartments in Thailand require removing shoes and place them in front of the main door to enter. You also need to remove your shoes to enter some buildings in Thai temples, especially in Ubosot. Kindergarten schools and some buildings in old elementary or high schools also require students to take off your shoes as well.

However, in some houses or schools, slippers are allowed to use, but those are not allowed to use outside the buildings, as well in some restrooms there are provided sandals for changing before entering restrooms to keep it clean.


United States[edit]

In the United States, taking shoes off indoors is not a tradition within the Continental United States, but is considered expected in Hawaii and Alaska. It is also more prevalent in the North East due to poor weather in the winter, as well as in the Pacific Northwest, with standards differing from household to household. This is especially the case during rainy weather, when one's shoes could easily get very muddy, wet, or dirty. However, removing of shoes is common among certain immigrant communities.


In Canada, it is generally the rule to take off one's shoes when entering a person's home, although exceptions do exist.

Elementary schools usually require students to have indoor shoes to change into to wear indoors and a place for students to leave outdoor footwear. Outdoor shoes are worn in high schools

Some specialized medical facilities require patients to remove shoes in order to maintain cleanliness.

In office settings, workers usually wear indoor shoes in the winter. However outdoor shoes are worn in office settings in the summer.

See also[edit]