Shoes on or off indoors? Fear of germs settles the long-running debate

With everything from E coli to heavy metals and petrochemicals on the soles of our shoes, western etiquette is changing

Shoes on or off indoors? It’s a long-running debate and one those in favour of removal appear to be winning – thanks to a greater awareness of germs. British and American etiquette takes the lead from Asian and Scandinavian culture as guests at dinner gatherings and house parties are increasingly leaving their shoes at the door.

Experts attribute the change to younger people being increasingly conscious of germs. Gabriel Filippelli, professor of earth sciences at Indiana University, says the first time he encountered this was with his son and his girlfriend, who live in Chicago and have a no-shoes policy at home. “Friends’ kids also have this. I think it’s inspired by an increased awareness that the bottom of your shoes are really gross.” He too now operates a strict shoes-off-at-the-door policy.

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