Back in May we instituted a shoes-off policy in the house, per doctor's orders for me. Now that we've lived with it for 8 months, we've decided to make it permanent. My doctor said that most of the dirt and pollutants in your home are carried in on shoes, so shoes off to keep those to a minimum. Turns out he was all too right. I know I've become your resident germophobe, but seriously, this is pretty crazy:
"The EPA estimates Americans spend 90 percent of their day indoors, where air is, on average, two to five times more polluted than outdoor air-and exposure to contaminants in your home can exacerbate allergies, asthma, and chemical sensitivities. When you come in from outdoors and don't remove your shoes, you track in mold, lead particles, dirt and dust, lawn chemicals, pesticides, and fertilizers...or trace amounts of excrement from neighborhood pets."
So now I've been combing the internet to find polite ways to tell people--when they finally CAN visit--that they have to take their shoes off at the door. It's a very interesting process because there seem to be two kinds of people: those who are surprised I'm even wondering how to ask because who *wouldn't* take their shoes off before walking all over your house? and those who believe that I can pry their shoes off their cold, dead feet. I recognize that there are psychosocial aspects to asking people to remove their shoes. For men shoes can indicate status, provide height, provide a way to not feel "naked." For women, shoes are often an integral part of an outfit, without which we feel half-dressed. I get it. But I figure with advance warning everyone can get their heads around it. Especially since I'm not saying, "Gee I have such nice rugs I don't want you to get dirty." I'm saying, "Please. I have such nice stem cells that I'd like to keep nice." So I think I'm settling on buying a nice bench with shoes under it at the door, with one of those tasteful signs reading, "Shoes Go Here" or something similar, as well as giving people a heads-up at invitation time. For my part, I always assume it'll be shoes-off at people's houses, so I make sure my stanky feet are either under wraps or are looking like I just stepped out of a spa.
In any case, once your shoes are off, I do promise to not make you sit on a plastic-covered couch. :)