Should You Offer Slippers to Guests? Viral Debate Divides Opinion

Many of us will be getting ready to welcome friends and family into our homes for festive celebrations over the Christmas period. But a question about the dos and don’ts of asking visitors to take their shoes off has started a viral debate about a host’s responsibility to their guest’s comfort.

In a post on Mumsnet on Tuesday, user pairofrollerskates shared that they thought homes with a “no outdoor shoes” rule should provide slippers for guests. The comment has sparked wide debate with over 500 replies.

The poster asked: “Am I being unreasonable to expect no outdoor shoe households to provide slippers?” Before clarifying: “When you turn up for the first time at someone’s house to be told ‘please take off outdoor shoes‘ at the door, surely something should be provided rather than expect visitors to pad about in bare feet or socks.”

Woman removes shoes to wear slippers
A file photo of a woman entering a home, removing her shoes and stepping into indoor slippers.
maruco/Getty Images

In many parts of the world, it is either a custom or simply considered polite to remove your shoes when you enter a home.

But a YouGov poll of 4,424 Americans revealed that people are more split on the issue. While the majority (87 percent) of Americans will take off shoes in their own homes, 50 percent said they would not expect their visitors to do the same.

Older millennials (aged 25-34) and those aged 35-44 reported the highest rates of shoe removal at 90 percent and 89 percent respectively, while slightly more men (52 percent) than women (49 percent) will ask visitors to remove their shoes.

On Mumsnet, users were quick to react and share their thoughts—with many suggesting that asking for alternative footwear at someone’s home is unreasonable.

“What is wrong with just wearing socks indoors? I would not expect to be provided with slippers and actually wouldn’t like it personally,” said one commenter. While another agreed: “I’d rather just wear my socks than some slippers that had been worn by god knows how many people before me.”

Should You Remove Your Shoes in Someone’s Home?

Etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore told Newsweek: “It’s polite to ask, “Would you like for me to remove my shoes?” Don’t assume but always ask. Protocol on removing one’s shoes is regional as well as cultural. When in doubt, ask. Otherwise, abide by the host’s rules.”

“I always take my slippers when I visit people’s houses for socialising,” said one commenter. “Can’t bear chilly feet.”

“I have a friend who provides not only indoor slippers but outdoor/garden slippers too,” said another reply. “She has a massive basket of each in a range of sizes. I love it because they are nicer than my old ones.”

Should You Provide Indoor Footwear for Guests?

Whitmore agreed that providing the option of alternative footwear was a good idea as a host: “It’s a nice gesture for the host to provide footwear to guests who are asked to remove their shoes. This is for safety and sanitary purposes.”

But many were not convinced by the idea of communal footwear, with commenters suggesting they would rather just wear socks.

“What’s wrong with walking around in socks? Bare feet sure, but I can’t see the issue with socks. Better that than communal guest slippers,” said one commenter.

Another Mumsnet user wrote: “Communal slippers. Gross.”

“I think providing shared slippers is odd,” agreed another reply. “No shoes means wander round in socks.”

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