Monday, December 3, 2012

Take off your shoes!

I don’t usually write about little things about Sweden mostly because I have been here for so long that I don’t notice them anymore. But one of the first things everyone always comments about upon visiting Swedes -- if you are from the US anyway-- is that everyone takes off their shoes when they come inside.

It is considered rather rude to enter someone’s house with your shoes on.

My FIL will snap at you if you cross outside of the mudroom ‘Really? Why do you need shoes here?’

But the truth is, in the US we didn’t wear shoes in my house either. And when I lived with friends I spent forever trying to convince them to take off their shoes too (salty winter boots were the final convincing factor with my last roommate, who should thank me as she is now also married to a Swede—good practice!).

Wearing shoes inside means tracking in all of the crap that is on the streets all over your home. It is just pretty gross.

And you don’t have to vacuum as much.

You always know where your shoes are! And your kids shoes! No running around looking for mismatched shoes – I spend enough time looking for socks.

There are a few downsides-

You need to double check your socks. It is rather embarrassing to be caught with holey socks while out visiting.

You cannot look cute in heels at a party (or if you want to wear heels indoors, the proper thing to do is to bring them in a separate bag and put them on indoors).

It is really hard to organize the mudroom – I keep trying to find a way to make the entrance of our house look cute. But really it just looks like a den of shoes. I think I will have to give in and buy one of those Ikea shoe holders  that closes up, but they just seem so impractical to me – especially at this time of year.

But really I cannot imagine why people insist on wearing shoes indoors. It is clunky, uncomfortable and rather dirty. I mean, you don’t put your shoes on your sofa or bed do you? You have to kick them off sometime? Or? 


  1. Since we moved to Sweden our apartment is much cleaner because we also take off our shoes.

    I do however notice that the last word/sentence is also something very Swedish and can't help myself doing it also.

  2. We are in the UK and we change from shoes to slippers and we prefer that our guests do the same

  3. Maybe this is the best thing with Swedish people that we take off our shoes indoors:-)

  4. Yes to Mark - we wear slippers and often if I go to visit a friend I will take my slippers with me - or go in socks. However, I have noticed that in the summer many people don't bother to take off their shoes because they are dry and relatively clean, and sometimes when I go to take off my shoes house owners will say 'Don't bother!'. Ultimately though I think most of us just wish our guests to feel comfortable and do as they wish.

  5. Saying all this as an American living in Sweden:

    We have big dogs that track stuff in, so our house is absolutely not cleaner for taking off the shoes. And I have no problem keeping my shoes on for a bit after we come home, though dagis has trained my older child to take them off immediately. But no, I wouldn't wear shoes on my bed. However, I love love love it when I am visiting people in America or in Sweden that let me keep my shoes on inside. I still think it is kind of tacky and awkward to wander around people's houses in my socks, even if they think it is fine. It's too personal or something. Just how I was raised!

  6. @Mark & Jane - I like the slippers idea, seems a bit more comfy than going around in socks. When I lived in London I was a poor college student and so shoes stayed on, but probably just because of our situation!

    @Monica - I dunno, I'm pretty fond of Swedes for lots of reasons (well in general anyways) although the shoe business certainly doesnt' hurt I think you have a few other things going for you as well.

    @antropologa - interesting, as I said I grew up with no shoes indoors in our house-- altho my Mom later confessed it was because she hated looking for kids shoes all over the house when we were getting ready to go to school so it was mostly for that reason -- so I always feel really odd wearing shoes indoors--- but I get that it is weird if you aren't used to it. I feel uncomfortable during summer when I take my sandals off and am barefoot --- like there might be fungus going around or something gross... then I am not quite sure what to do!

    1. We recently spent a few weeks in Budapest staying with my partners family. As we do at home we changed from shoes to slippers at the door. This did seem to be more or less the norm in Budapest.