Why Do White People Wear Shoes Indoors?

For many of us who live outside of the US, wearing shoes indoors might seem strange. When visiting someone in the US or Canada, or even while watching TV shows, you’ll notice that the characters always have their shoes on inside. But why is it so common for white people to wear shoes in the house? And are there any advantages to doing so? In this article, we’ll explore the reasons behind this practice.

Is It Common to Wear Shoes Indoors?

Wearing shoes indoors is not necessary for Asian people due to cultural reasons. They consider shoes to be dirty and meant for outdoor use, so they always remove them before entering a house. This practice is prevalent in Asian countries such as Vietnam, China, Japan, Korea, and others. Homes in these countries are viewed as sacred spaces for personal activities and worship, so keeping them tidy and clean is important. Wearing shoes indoors is considered disrespectful in these cultures.

On the other hand, in most Western countries, it is very common to wear shoes in the house. Take a look at the map below:

Map of countries that wear shoes indoors

Why Do White People Wear Shoes Indoors?

There are several reasons why white people wear shoes indoors. Let’s explore the most common ones:

Cultural and Traditional Aspects

Humans naturally follow traditions. If we were born in a country where wearing shoes inside the house is the norm, we would do the same. In Europe and the US, this practice has been ingrained in their culture for centuries. The exact origin of white people wearing shoes indoors is unknown, but it dates back several centuries. Historical research suggests that people in medieval Europe started wearing shoes indoors as a preventive measure against diseases like the plague. Over time, it became a cultural tradition that continues today.

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The British maintain this tradition the most. They have doormats outside their houses to wipe off mud and dust before entering. Some experts believe that psychology also plays a role, as the British prefer to keep their feet hidden from public view. Taking off shoes indoors can also lead to unpleasant odors. However, in modern times, many people in the US and Canada wear slippers or flip-flops inside the house instead of the shoes they wear outside. Asking guests to remove their shoes is uncommon, as indoor shoes are usually provided.

Protecting Feet from Slips and Cold

Regardless of the floor material, it can be slippery for some people. If there are elderly individuals living in the house, it’s necessary for them to wear shoes indoors at all times to prevent slips and potential injuries. Wearing slippers or sandals indoors is a good idea.

A study named “Going barefoot in the home may contribute to elderly falls” published in Science Daily revealed that 52% of older people who walk barefoot on slippery floors experience falls. Wearing shoes reduces this possibility to 20% and lower.

In regions with cold winters, such as areas with brick floors, wearing shoes indoors helps prevent cold feet. By wearing shoes, white people can protect their feet from the temperature difference between the cold floor and their feet. Moreover, wearing shoes indoors is believed to maintain hygiene, as floors are not always clean. Walking barefoot inside exposes people to viruses and bacteria.

Preventing Infection

Wearing shoes indoors also offers protection against insects, including ants and termites. Additionally, it provides confidence while walking around the house and helps remove dust and debris.

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Many countries discourage wearing outdoor shoes inside to prevent the spread of bacteria. A study conducted by the University of Arizona found that more than nine different types of bacteria are commonly found on the soles of shoes. A new pair of shoes worn for only two weeks can contain over 440,000 units of bacteria, some of which can cause E. Coli infections. The possibility of transferring these bacteria to the floor and tiles is as high as 90%.

Supporting Feet Structure

Our feet are naturally designed to walk on soft surfaces like sand, soil, and grass, as these surfaces accommodate the foot’s shape. Indoor floors, however, are hard and flat, making them unsuitable for prolonged barefoot walking. Experts and doctors suggest wearing shoes indoors, especially for individuals with high arches, to prevent structural injuries. Walking barefoot on hard surfaces for extended periods can cause stress not only to the feet but to the entire body.

People with foot conditions should opt for proper footwear instead of just relying on comfy slippers, as they do not provide sufficient foot support and are only meant for shock absorption.

Cushioning and Comfort

Another major reason why white people wear shoes indoors is for cushioning and comfort. Psychologist surveys suggest that wearing the right shoes indoors helps people feel good about themselves. Changing into indoor shoes marks a shift in mentality that promotes relaxation and coziness.

Wearing shoes indoors also boosts confidence and comfort within one’s own home, promoting self-care. After a long day at work, putting on comfortable shoes can feel like a treat. It’s important to choose breathable shoes to prevent sweaty feet, as moisture can lead to the growth of bacteria and fungus.

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The only challenge with wearing shoes indoors is the need to change them frequently to prevent odors. Cushioned shoes are recommended as they provide better support for walking on hard surfaces and help reduce the impact on feet.


Wearing shoes indoors is a common practice among white people. Apart from cultural aspects, it also offers health benefits. So, the next time you visit a Western country, pay attention to their shoe-wearing customs and consider following suit.

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