No Shoes Indoors

Finally, you arrive in Sweden.

Maybe you’re meeting someone—maybe an old friend. A friend who could be more than a friend. A lover.

You’re welcomed at the airport, and on the trip towards his or her home, you’re almost shaking. It could be the tiredness, the effects of the long flight, the rough-edged emotions that can’t be quieted at this particular moment.

You recognize these feelings. Excited. Nervous. Overjoyed. You’ve felt them before, but never like this.

Then you arrive, your friend helping you carry your bags up the stairs and over the threshold. You stumble through the door and into the living room, eager to see the pristine white walls and Ikea-dominated apartment you’ve heard so much about.

And then you hear your friend’s voice, but it sounds different—harsher than before.

Where the hell do you think you’re going with your shoes on?

No Shoes Indoors

Swedish people have pretty strong feelings about walking around indoors with your shoes on. In short: don’t do it.

If you really want to question this fundamental rule of behavior, be prepared for the looks you’ll get: bewilderment, horror, and—most of all—disgust. When I confirmed that yes, in the United States, we do wear shoes indoors, one of my friends gave me a look that inexplicably called to mind the image of healthy green plants withering and disintegrating away into brown crumbles of nothingness in hyperspeed. It was frightening.

Don’t believe me? There’s even a YouTube video heralding the benefits of taking off your shoes.

There are two kinds of people in the world: the shoeless and the shod

Starting with moi, a member of one of the shoe-wearing tribes. In the US, it’s totally normal to wear your shoes indoors. Weather permitting, of course—if it’s wet outside, obviously you’re going to take your shoes off. For the most part, however, you can wear your shoes just about anywhere you want: indoors, in people’s bedrooms, even in the bathrooms. I never really thought about it until I moved to Europe.

When I lived in Austria, I quickly learned that there was a totally different approach to indoor footgear. Everywhere you went, you were expected to take off your shoes and put on one of the many pairs of slippers (nearly always Ikea brand, incidentally) stored by the door. This was true even in my workplace—we all took off our shoes at the door and wore slippers for the rest of the day.

Austria’s a little strange, though. Despite the “no shoes indoors” rule, many workplaces still permit smoking indoors, which I still can’t believe. I concluded that the shoelessness situation was one of many things that were a little topsy-turvy in that part of the world.

You can tell it’s an American party because… Photo: Kate Reuterswärd

Then I came to Sweden, where I discovered that Austria is not an anomaly at all. In fact, it is just one of the many shoeless nations in the world, a group that also includes the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Thailand, Korea, and Japan (as well as potentially the rest of East Asia and Eastern Europe, but I couldn’t confirm it).

On the other hand, the shoe-wearing nations seem to be made up of all the Anglo-speaking countries, plus, according to unverified sources, Mexico, Brazil, and presumably the rest of South America as well.

Why?

The shoeless and the shoed nations use basically the same reasoning to arrive at completely opposite conclusions.

The author of an article in the Daily Mail (UK) claims that it’s totally rude to ask people to remove their shoes at the door, as it will make them feel vulnerable (potentially exposing bunions and/or stinky feet) and ruin their outfit. She even quotes a podiatrist as saying, “It’s more hygienic to have [visitors] keep their shoes on, especially if they are not wearing socks or tights.” Plus, there’s always the chance that your host’s dog will make your favorite shoes into its newest chew toy… not a desired outcome.

We’re nothing but shoeless fools… Photo: Kate Reuterswärd

To champion the other side, there’s an entire blog called “Shoes Off At The Door, Please,” whose entire reason for existence is promoting indoor shoelessness. For all I know, this blog is taught, line-by-line, to all Swedish children as soon as they come out of the womb, if not sooner.

The blog’s mission statement lists the dangers of shoed visitors as including but not limited to dirty carpets, scratched hardwood floors, the transfer of toxins to the interior of your house, an uptight environment, and unhealthy feet. (Visit the website to read “37 Reasons Why You Should Have a Shoes-Off Policy” in the sidebar on the right hand side of the page.)

I’ve been Swede-ified

More than anything, I’ve been pretty amused by being able to horrify the Swedes around me just by saying that I used to wear shoes indoors. What can I say… we Americans are living on the edge.

When it comes to the shoes on/shoes off issue, though, I can’t say that I have a strong opinion one way or another. For the most part, I’ve gotten used to Sweden’s shoeless ways, and taking off my shoes as soon as I enter someone’s house feels like second nature now.

A few weeks ago, I went to a holiday party thrown by the American Women’s Club of Malmö, and our hostess (American, naturally) invited us to wear our shoes inside. Finally! At long last! And yet, I realized as I went back to the hallway to put my boots back on, I was kind of freaked out.

Not because I was disgusted by the idea, but because I started to get really worried that I would get our hostess’ house dirty. I might even **GASP** scratch her hardwood floors. (People take their hardwood floors really seriously over here, and I am so not going to be the girl who destroys it all with one unlucky high heel.)

My main complaint with the no shoes indoors policy? Not being able to wear awesome heels to parties. Photo: Kate Reuterswärd

By the end of the party, though, I was over it again. Shoes on? Shoes off? Who cares.

So, welcome to Sweden. Relax, kick back, and pack your best socks.
The shoes are coming off.

  • Stkhlmsyndrome

    As an American girl with a Swedish boyfriend who’s looking into what my life would be as a sambo, I just want to say: TACK! Thank you for taking the time to post! Getting a small glimpse as to what my life might look like some day is incredibly inspiring and hopeful! You really “hit the nail on the head” with some of your observations, and I often find myself in hysterics, attempting to read snippets out-loud to my älskling. You guys rock!

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate Reuterswärd

      Thank YOU! Comments like this totally make my day! Good luck with everything related to the move!

  • Alice In Actionland

    Once I was invited over to a Chinese grad student’s apartment for Chinese New Year. Apparently the custom in China (or his mom’s house) is to be shoeless inside, but wear flip-flops in the kitchen. This young man took this custom so seriously that even though his tiny kitchen was just an extension of his tiny dining room, he slid his flip-flops on and off religiously. So he’d take two steps, slip on the shoes, retrieve something from the kitchen, turn around and take another two steps, slip off the shoes, then bring the food to the table. Back and forth, back and forth. It was very amusing! But he was a wonderful host and it was a DELICIOUS meal! :-)

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate Reuterswärd

      Hahahha awww, poor guy, having to run back and forth like that! That’s pretty cool that he stuck with the tradition, even outside his own country and even when it was so inconvenient.

  • Anders

    Regarding the Daily Mail article, I refuse to take house holding advice from someone with separate taps for hot and cold water.

    • Monica-USA

      So what is the big deal that we have separate hot and cold water taps?

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate Reuterswärd

      Haha… is it that strange?

      • Anders

        I’d say so. To be clear, I mean these: http://pim.famnit.upr.si/blog/index.php?/archives/22-British-taps-1.html. Seems like an anachronism.

        • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate Reuterswärd

          Yeah, you’re right… can’t remember the last time I saw those. I thought you were talking about something else at first. The separate taps drive me nuts! Like the blog post says, there’s no way to wash your hands in warm water.

  • Cecile Pham

    Oh man, only heathens wear their shoes inside! Tracking mud and dirt all over the place. Which is ironic cuz that’s what you would assume Vikings would do. Coming from an asian household, I was raised on the firm no shoes inside policy. And honestly, if i could, I’d have my little dog wear shoes outside so her paws would be clean when she was inside. :) but I guess that would be WAY too anal retentive. On the flip side…you raise a strong point about being all fancies up with no stems to match. Hmmm. .

    • Veronica

      haha our dog gets her paws cleaned of with a towel that is hers everytime she has been out…. I dont think it anal ;) she likes to play on the ground and run around in the gras and sometimes mud so… And we have carpets right inside the door to catch residue and also around the cat litterbox so the cat will not drag in anything from there either..

      • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate Reuterswärd

        Awww, that’s cute!

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate Reuterswärd

      First the salt licorice, now the shoes… Maybe Asians are Swedes in disguise. Or vice-versa. Haha!

  • Cecile Pham

    PS. You guys look hotty mc hots all gussied up! Miss and love to both of you.

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate Reuterswärd

      MISS YOU!

  • http://twitter.com/AnnicaSE Annica

    I’ve always wondered about this. About Americans wearing shoes indoors. I mean WHY? Walking around barefoot is heaven! And why wear shoes when you don’t need them?

    I do wear them indoors when I’m cleaning my apartment though. And at work. But I wear shoes that I haven’t worn outdoors, and that’s ok in Sweden. You can even wear high heels at parties – as long as you didn’t wear them when you arrived. ;-)

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate Reuterswärd

      I don’t know! I think that when it’s something you grow up with, you don’t question it that much! I think walking outdoors with bare feet is heavenly, but then I have to wash them before I come inside, and I think having shoes on is sort of like a security thing. Thanks for reading! :D

  • http://shazzerspeak.com/ Shazzer

    Great post! I have always had mixed feelings about this that are primarily situational. In my own home and in the homes of friends, I’m quite happy to go shoeless. But once the social occasion becomes even slightly more formal and/or involves people whom I am perhaps meeting for the first time, I am far less comfortable. Not because I worry about hygiene (other people’s or my own), but because 1) I’m short to begin with and even shorter without shoes, and 2) I have very wide, odd-looking feet, even when covered with nice socks.

    Also, the argument that the no shoes rule prevents dirt from being brought indoors is completely lost in households with pets, whether it’s a dog that goes in and out several times a day or an indoor cat that paws around in a litterbox. And there are A LOT of Swedish households with pets (especially dogs).

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate Reuterswärd

      I’m 5’7″ (still no idea what that is in meters), so I’m right in the middle of the pack height-wise. I had never really thought of the fact that being short might make you feel uncomfortable. And if it makes you feel better, I’ve never really noticed anyone having odd-shaped (or beautiful-shaped) feet. Smelly, yes. But shape, no.

      Sabrina Shim, the Sweden.se fashion blogger, suggested novelty socks as a conversation starter. Maybe that might be one way for you to own your shoeless feet!

      • Anonymous

        5’7″ is roughly 168 cm. And as you said just about average for women (here at last)

  • Helga van Leipsig

    Hej Kate,
    As a Dutch girl who lived in Sweden I indeed do know this custom. But it was at parties where I was totally normal to change your outside shoes for inside pretty shoes that matched your outfit. But I was also happy to leave the big clumsy comfortable shoes that kept me warm in the snow at the doorhall.
    And for you information, in The Netherlands you don’t have to leave your shoes at the door when you go inside.

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate Reuterswärd

      So interesting! Thanks for the correction about the Netherlands!

  • Veronica

    Ok The shoes issue – way more intresting than my exam studies… ;) so shoes at parties… There is a gettaway here; you are permitted to wear shoes inside, but not the one you just came of the streets in. Bring a pair of exchange shoes (but if there is any chance the host/hostess has wooden floors leave your stilettoes at home). I do it sometimes, my mum does it allways allmost, there is even special shoebags for this. That way yo can walk over in comfy shoes if you want an put on your nice ones after entering the door, Dry clean and beautifull.
    All kinds of shoes are ok for this as long as the heel is broad enough not to make marks in the floors. Even men are ok to bring shoes to change in (but they are usually too lazy ;) )…
    Vett och etikett… ett komplicerat ämne ;)

    • http://www.facebook.com/caryseganwyer Carys Egan-Wyer

      Great information! I am short and hate being shoeless at parties!!!

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate Reuterswärd

      Haha woohoo! Distracting Veronica!

      Thanks for the good tips! Som du sa, vett och etikett… it’s a long and painful journey of 1000 awkward mistakes!

  • http://www.facebook.com/caryseganwyer Carys Egan-Wyer

    Brilliantly insightful, as usual. I couldn’t agree more.
    I felt really strange at home in London this Christmas tramping all over the house in my shoes…even the bedroom!

    On the flip side, I had two Swedish paramedics come to my place this week on an emergency call (all okay in the end) and they wiped their boots for about two minutes each and looked very uncomfortable about not taking them off!!!! Never mind the footprints, my boyfriend is possibly dying!

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate Reuterswärd

      Carys, you’re too kind! Thanks so much for reading.

      And as for the paramedics… so glad your boyfriend is alright! That is so strange and kind of hilarious that the paramedics were so uncomfortable with the shoe situation. You’d think they’d have experienced it a few times before!

  • http://twitter.com/totallyampd totallyampd

    Here in Canada we always take our shoes off when entering a home, our own or when we visit. It would feel really strange to keep them on. Some people even change shoes at work, especially in winter.

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate Reuterswärd

      Hmm, interesting! I read a lot of perspectives online arguing for both sides. Just out of curiosity, where are you from in Canada?

      • Chris U

        Hey. I’m from Canada. Just searching this topic out of curiosity…. I live in Calgary, Alberta (Western Canada). No one ever wears their shoes indoors (certainly province wide, thinking BC is the same, haven’t been to too many homes in Eastern Canada). Here, for sure not in your own home, and never in another’s unless they expressly give people permission to keep them on. If you were hosting a party where you wanted people to stay formal say, you’d have to greet them at the door and specifically ask them to keep their shoes on, or at least letting them know you were okay with it “feel free to keep your shoes on” sort of thing.

        I always had to wonder where the lines are…I was hoping to find a map. Strange that this could be universal here, but presumably at some point a few hundred km (or miles) away it changes completely. If I hit the 49th parelllel does it instantly change? It seems doubtful. Actually I have some friends here from Montana…suppose I’ll quiz them

  • Monica-USA

    Ha,ha Kate! Nice article in our household I will ask people to remove their shoes. That is how we grew up. I have house slippers I wear around the house so this would be no big deal for me.

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate Reuterswärd

      Nice! Thanks for reading, Monica! :)

  • Alethia Meza-Santiago

    Here in Mexico we do wear shoes indoors at work and school – it’s wrong *not* to do it. At home, however, it’ll depend a lot on personal preference. I live in the northern part of the country, so many of us will go shoeless at home during summer, ’cause of the excessive heat. During winter a lot of people go around in slippers or just socks.

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate Reuterswärd

      Hey Alethia! Thanks for your comment. So interesting to hear what other people do… I wonder if the shoes on/shoes off thing is weather-related or something different! All best and thanks for reading!

  • http://blogs.sweden.se/work/ Kristin Lund

    Great post, Kate. I like the no shoes thing in theory and it definitely keeps the house cleaner…but I agree, it feels very weird to be all dressed up and then have socks on…Recently, I went to a dinner party and obediently took off my shoes only to find that all the other women had brought indoor, party shoes. Then I felt out of place…Plus, one of my feet hurts after walking barefoot for awhile and I do much better with nearly any kind of shoes. But how to say that to a host? Excuse me, these are medically necessary shoes? It’s a dilemma!

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate Reuterswärd

      Sounds like the prevailing rule is to bring an extra pair along! Plus, if it’s medical, I think you can say something. :) Good luck!

    • Zexionrocks

      If you gradually accustom yourself to walking around barefoot, such as around your own home, you’ll notice your feet getting stronger and better able to support themselves,, and it won’t hurt to walk around barefoot anymore. :)

  • http://annasviktiga.blogspot.com/ Anna

    First of all, Thank You for a wonderful blog! I’ve been reading it for a while and love it! It makes me understand that some of the things we do and customs we have are very odd to my american sister in law. They live in the States though, so I imagine that my brother have had several simular reflections over the years beeing a swede living in the States :)

    Secondly I just want to let you know what others already told you, that you are more than welcome to wear shoes inside, as long as you bring them in a bag and not on your feet! Especially when going to a more dressed up party you bring the shoes that belong to your outfit so you can look all nice and dressed.

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate Reuterswärd

      Hej Anna! Thanks so much for your comment! It will be very interesting to see what my husband has to say about living in the US someday–then it will really be payback time for all these blog posts! Thanks also for the party shoes tips… I appreciate it!

      All best! Kate

  • Anonymous

    I am all for what makes my guests feel comfortable. Remove your shoes or not. If not, I trust you are clean and considerate enough not to track dirt and mud across the floors. Here in Canada my experience has been most people share my approach. We are not too hung up either way. I teach elementary school and our students have a pair of indoor shoes that they put on when inside the school, then at recess or going home they switch to their outdoor shoes. Except now in our beautiful snowy winter, they wear their boots and switch to their shoes when in the class. As for the teachers, in good weather we wear street shoes all day long, but now we bring shoes to work to put on after taking off our heavy winter boots. BTW I really enjoy your blog. I love Sweden (especially Stockholm). I am interested in how similar (or not) life there is to life in Canada, and following your blog helps me to learn.

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate Reuterswärd

      Hey! Thanks so much for checking in–very cool to hear what other people around the world do. It’s been interesting to hear from so many Canadians as well! Who knew there were so many differences between you all and us Americans? :)

      All best, and thanks for reading my blog!

  • Anonymous

    We are a shoes off house. i have found that here in the UK that most people take their shoes off at the door. we all wear slippers around the house. i would never walk into someones house in my shoes unless specifically asked to do so.

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate Reuterswärd

      Very interesting! Thanks so much for reading :)

  • Enrique

    Hi there Kate, well I am Mexican and living in Sweden for some years now. This shoes-off thing has been a constant concern for me ever since I got here. My wife and I we´ve been having some arguments about it since she is Swedish and my posture has been radical: “You do what you want and I do what I want.” Proudly, I can tell you somehow I feel maybe one of the few (perhaps the only one) in Sweden who has not fallen for mental impositions here and that is certainly a topic to be discussed as well… I do not take my shoes off simply because I do not believe in that.. I grew up that way and I have been reading some stories and blogs regarding this for a while and there are some interesting points of view. One suggests that is better to prevent a broken toe than to have a pristine carpet… But the one that called my attention more is actually a comment I read somewhere from a girl saying some elder relatives came to Canada for a visit and they refused to take their shoes off arguing that shoes can really help to prevent the elderly from falling and breaking a hip. All the comments I have been reading about this topic are usually based on sargent-like mothers trying to impose things to their kids (husbands as well-pathetic) and how threatening they could get if someone dares to DISOBBEY their house RULES. And then I ask to myself: Why would I even want to go to a place where a RULE has to be imposed on me?? Anyway, to analyse the cultural matters here sounds inviting so I must say I have been finding (through my wife) people in the old days in Sweden – the working class mainly – they used to work all day at the fields bringing dirt and even cow residuals to the house and since most of the Swedish people were laborers this custom started get going… The elite in Sweden was a minority and we also found descendats from the elite people in Sweden are the only ones today who refuses to take their shoes off (very few nowadays) Now, if you ask an Englishman to do so, he will immediately refuse to take their shoes off because of etiquette and elegance and they happen to be the pacesetters when it comes to that… What it is interesting to me is how changeable and influenceable people are these days… Since when to take your shoes off started to be seen as a way of etiquette or good manners, it seems to me the conceptions have been transformed and some laborers (Swedish society) since they have been growing economically during the last 50 years now they think they are the modern aristocracy of today imposing their new rules and impositions… Just to add, true etiquette and manners are based on the code of no-imposition… and this is how a true educated person will be distinguished from the rest… The typical Swedish average woman screaming at her kids histerically (shoes off-shoes off) is the classical example of non educated people with a good salary and pretending to be a Countess… It certainly reminds me of the new riches from many countries. But the way in which you treat your guests is the level of your education and it is easily distinguishable, at least in Sweden. Is funny, but people pretend so much here and think so much of themselves that I cannot help to notice all of these pseudo-aristochratic wannabe’s just laying all day long in a coach watching TV with their feet up.. So disgusting, and that is the same kind of people who brags and advocates the shoes off ridiculous thing… Funny as it is, but good manners are achievable only at home, through generations, not through a system or a collective brainwashing view… There is a phrase in Spanish “aunque la mona se vista de seda, mona se queda” “even though the monkey is dressed in silk, is still a monkey” so my advice: people, be yourselves and really don’t let anyone to impose stuff on you, we mnust have our own criteria and if they don’t welcome us there, who wants to be there anyway!! Vivre la resistance!!!

    • Ericksonmichele39

      Que la cancion! Cada pais tiene costumbres que no todos van estar de acuerdo. En vez de resistir y hacer el rediculo, lo mejer es ser educado y dejar los zapatos en la puerta.

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate Reuterswärd

      Wow! Enrique, you sound ready to write your own blog about the Swedish experience! Good luck with the resistance! :)

    • TheCobbler

      I think you sound more like a hypochondriac in that statement than someone braving an already defeated dumb idea. …Breaking their hips? Are you serious? They might as well walk around with helmets and outer jackets and gloves because it keeps them warm.. saves electricity and all that.

      There are some very, very, let me emphasize it one more time, VERY good reasons to not wear shoes inside. Let me start from the top:…

      Dog poop! Yes, you might be unlucky and you will never properly get it off your shoe when you first wash it… and why wash it if you only use it outside anyway.. just wipe it.

      Along the lines of dirt, a walk in the city and god knows what you have been stepping in… walking with shoes inside? well you might as well lick the floor at the next shopping mall you enter. Same sh*t..

      Along those lines again. Let me just mention that overall household hygiene, something nicely coupled with life expectancy is observed to be better in homes were the owners take of their shoes at the entrance… (Japanese people, even have their own space for the shoes called genkan).

      Unhealthy foot-hygiene and bacteria culture. If you walk in your shoes all day, even inside, your feet will eventually acquire a quite ugly tinge and because of the nice closed airspace inside your shoes you will more often than not end up experiencing some kind of fungi growing on your feet.

      Swelling feet. Same as the above. Feet are supposed to be able to breath (yes, even feet breath). Enclosing your feet for too long will have them swelling (mind you feet swell anyway, but wearing shoes all the time just makes it worse.

      And last but not least, humans were not born with shoes on their feet… we were born barefoot (yes, I even advocate not wearing socks either). Wearing shoes will help unbalancing your body structure and make your knees weaker.

      That said, it is just ridiculous to go “oh no, you must take off your shoes at this party…” Not even us barbarian people living in Norway do that (hah Swedes are the barbarian ones). Once in a while wearing shoes inside does not hurt. On the contrary it might make for a nice change. However making it a daily habit to not take of your shoes is just pure ignorance. Do yourself, no, do your wife a favor and start taking of your shoes. Even if it hurts your proud “self” a little…

    • Anonymous

      I agree, I feel the same way when people try to stop me from pooping on the floor. Why would I even want to go to a place where a RULE has to be imposed on me? True etiquette and manners are based on the code of no-imposition.

    • http://derpanese.myopenid.com/ Derpanese

      Would you lick the sidewalk? No.
      Would I lick my floor? Ok it’s not that clean, but I wouldn’t be afraid of doing it and I want to keep it that way. I absolutely HATE the feeling of dirty things. I can’t stand it.

      So clean floors please.

  • Jot1956

    Okay, kind of hard on those of us who have broken arches and are in actual pain without the arch support offered by a orthotic and a shoe …. What are we supposed to do?

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate Reuterswärd

      A bunch of commenters have said its ok to bring a pair of “indoor shoes” along, but I guess it’s kind of difficult when you have fitted orthotics, so I’m not really sure. Hope a Swede chimes in here with the answer!

      • http://shazzerspeak.blog-city.com Anonymous

        Just an observation, but while I regularly see women bring a pair of “indoor shoes” to a party or social event, I’ve NEVER seen a man do it.

        • semiswede

          My in-laws are Swedish and they both bring a change of shoes with them.

    • Zexionrocks

      Try getting used to walking barefoot gradually, arch problems are almost always caused by the weakening of the arches due to constant arch support. of course, being barefoot is not the solution to all problems, and it may not work for everyone, but it does keep the arch healthy, instead of letting it waste away like any appendage would if kept in a cast all the time. So do a little experimentation, and go with what works best for you.

  • Pingback: 20 Ways to Annoy a Swede: Part I (#1-10)

  • http://livesofwander.com/ Theresa

    My husband (who is half-Swedish) and I usually don’t wear shoes in our house. He because he was raised that way and me because I find shoes uncomfortable. However, I would never tell my guests to remove their shoes. When they ask (which they sometimes do because they see our shoes by the door), I tell them to please do whatever is most comfortable for them. Shoes on/shoes off, I don’t care. My guests’ comfort is much more important to me than my floors. I have a mop. I have a vacuum. Scratches give character. That’s my theory at least. And I definitely agree that no shoes when dressed up is odd. Even I put shoes on in my own house when we’re hosting a dressier event!

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate Reuterswärd

      Thanks for the comment, Theresa! I’m glad you linked to your website–the little bit I read through was really interesting. Looking forward to reading more! :)

  • Anonymous

    did you just call austria, the netherlands, norway and denmark eastern european?! proof that traveling a lot (or moving a lot) doesn’t necessarily mean that one really knows much about the region or culture.

    and what does smoking have to do with wearing shoes?

    and wearing shoes inside has nothing to do with living on the edge, it’s just disgusting! what is there even to think about? you step into traces of feces, spit, at least in larger cities probably urine and vomit, garbage, etc. and then you spread that around your house. sheesh.
    but knowing what at least bathrooms in toronto tend to look like, maybe hygiene isn’t something that is held with very high regard in north america in general? which is ironic, seeing as how at least some north americans tend to make fun of europe for being generally a “dirty” place.

    and those fancy parties – for god’s sake, i’m sure there are fashionable slippers or something for the extraordinarily vain people. and who has fancy parties at somebody’s home anyway? i find people usually go out for that. and not even in austria have i ever come across a bar or something where you had to take your shoes off.

  • Anonymous

    Haha, thank you for a great blog. I’m going to study in the USA next semester and I find it enjoyable to read what the americans will think about me and my Swedish culture. And I’m pretty sure that I will have a no-shoes-policy in my room at the university! :)

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate Reuterswärd

      Oh, that’s so exciting! Good luck to you! My husband and I have also made a very early agreement that when we move to the States at some point, we will also have a no shoes indoor policy :) All best!

  • Itzpfitz

    So. I just stumbled on this blog when I was looking up info about the Hundertwasser Houses. ? Ok, I’m really not sure how that led me to a blog written by an expat in Sweden, but I became so engrossed that now it is an hour past my dinnertime! No matter. I just wanted to say that the whole shoeless indoors thing is not at all foreign to Wisconsinites, Minnesotans and Washingtonians. I have lived in all 3 states, and ALL adhere to the “no shoes inside” policy. I found this amusing and somewhat puzzling, but adapted to the requirement in my adult years. (When in Rome…) All 3 of my kids were raised this way, which means there are piles of shoes next to every door! It really is habitual: walk in door = shed shoes. Everyone does it, without a second thought. Yet, after 25+ years, I am still slightly taken aback as I view the giant mound of shoes next to the front door when my kids have their friends over! Thankfully every shoe always finds it’s rightful owner.
    Thanks for a great blog!

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  • Matthew C

    Thanks for linking to my blog, Shoes Off at the Door, Please!

  • Sandro

    Dear Kate,
    it’s been very interesting to read your article. I am from Georgia (I mean the South-Caucasian one :) ), and I am a total advocate of the shoes-off-at-home policy – not only for hygienic/sanitary/comfort reasons, but also to point out a distinction between home and the outdoor environment. Shoes were invented to protect human feet from dirt, stones, etc, weren’t they? Then they aren’t just needed at home. Aesthetic reasons? They are nothing but pragmatic ones becoming a tradition. So, if there is no practical reason, then there can’t be any beauty) So, a shoes-off party is a good opportunity to show off one’s nice stockings or socks and well-pedicured feet )
    BTW, you and a young man in the picture don’t look silly at all. Both of you look very smart, nice, elegant – from heads to toes )

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  • http://www.primigi.org.uk/ primigi

    Shoes has something to do with our fashion statement. Shoes are need to be match with what we wear.

    • http://derpanese.myopenid.com/ Derpanese

      Yeah, I really think I should let you make my floors dirty and make me uncomfortable in my own house so you can make your little fashion statement which no one but you gives a flying fuck about.

  • zoya

    Thats an very unusual information. Thanks for sharing it.
    http://www.comfortor.de/home.html

  • http://www.primigi.org.uk/ primigi

    No shoes indoor; I think some will agree and some will not. In a special event you don’t have to put your shoes outside because your shoes is part of your lifestyle. It is also part of your whole personality.

  • http://www.kidsdesignerboots.co.uk/ kids designer boots

    While many kids want to spend every waking moment in sneakers, practically speaking, he may need other shoes as well. The trick is in finding shoes you’ll both like.

  • http://www.giantstrides.org.uk/ children’s footwear

    Acrylic gloves come in a variety of colors and patterns and are generally very inexpensive. Acrylic gloves can be great for kids who lose gloves frequently, or for a backup pair of gloves to keep in your car for emergencies.

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    thanks for nice posting, i will visit again.

  • Adrian

    Kate, Came across your blog today. You’re so lucky to be living in Lund!

    Here in Scotland there is a rural/urban divide when it comes to shoes off or shoes on. It seems that most city dwellers keep their shoes on, but most country people take their shoes off; probably due to it being quite a wet and muddy country (it helps if you wear wellies a lot of the time, too). I lived in Finland for a while, and they were quite strict about the shoes off thing too, but then many Finnish homes have a hallway or vestibule to keep the cold out, and it is really natural to dump your shoes there.

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate Reuterswärd

      Hi Adrian! So interesting to hear about the rural/urban divide in Scotland. It’s not quite that stark in the US, but it does seem really dependent on region now that people have commented here with their experiences from different parts of the country. Have you been to Lund? It’s a wonderful place to live!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/J2K6R325SNZI7C334EPSXMDGAQ Sidnei

    I come from Brazil, where just like in the US, we do wear shoes inside our houses, and I admit I love the Swedish habit of not wearing them in the house, both for sanitary and comfort reasons. I absolutely love Sweden and its culture, and sure will explore your blog a bit more to learn more about this amazing country. Thanks for the post!

  • Ana

    In Spain we don’t take the shoes off either so it was a surprise when, in my first Canadian house party, I was asked to leave my boots at the door. Specially since I was wearing patterned leggins and socks because I thought nobody would notice. I was mortified.
    It’s good to know they have the same policy in Sweden since I will be going this summer and I would prefer to avoid a similar situation.

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate Reuterswärd

      I know exactly what you mean. Glad I could help! More importantly – enjoy your trip this summer!

  • Megan

    I’m also Canadian, and I’m definitely of the “no-shoes-inside” policy. It feels weird to me to wear shoes inside, I always feel so uncomfortable when someone says it’s okay. On American television shows I always saw the characters wearing shoes indoors, and I assumed it was because it was TV, until I got older and learned more about the world and that (most) Americans do in fact wear shoes indoors. Different strokes I suppose, but still odd for me. Even for parties, it feels automatic to take your shoes off as soon as you enter.

  • http://derpanese.myopenid.com/ Derpanese

    Add Canada to the shoeless countries.

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  • CeeCee

    What a nice way to deal with a disparaging post. I enjoyed your article.

  • Bcol166703

    I really get annoyed when people can’t see that wearing shoes indoors is disgusting. Just think of what you may have trodden in on the way. You have filled your car up at the pumps and now have diesel/petrol and oil impregnated in your soles, then you walk across grass and picked up some animal urine and poo, then you walk across a road or path where someone has gobbed out his fluid which could well have any sort of virus in it, the list is endless. For pity sake have a bit of respect for people’s homes, they are the ones who have to live with the crap that you have deposited on the floors, they are the ones who have to spend time cleaning and disinfecting their floors and they are the ones who have to pay out for all of this cleaning and replacement of carpets. If the owners of a house do not wear their shoes indoors for whatever reason then the guest should respect that. I went into a house that wears shoes and when sitting down and crossing my legs I noticed that I had dried dog poo in the treads, lovelly.
    Why do you think when there is a foot and mouth outbreak on a farm you have to wash your footwear and vehicle tyres in disinfectant. I do not think we go far enough in the UK, shoes should be removed when visiting patients in hospital, or overshoes put on.
    I think it is just shear laziness not taking shoes off, after all you have got to take them off sometime to take a bath/shower or go to bed. Why not avoid all that damage before then by leaving them at the front door.
    Just look at peoples carpets who wear their shoes indoors as opposed to those that don’t. The former’s carpets have lost their colour and are an inground dirt colour which would not be out of place in a pub.