Shoe-free homes are a tradition in cultures around the world for both religious and hygiene reasons. Residents and guests take off their shoes and immediately put on slippers intended for inside use only. In some US homes, it’s a trend that’s catching on–an effort to keep dirt and germs out and protect investments in flooring. But will wearing shoes inside really ruin my carpet and hardwood?
Is Removing Shoes a Must?
Studies show that when we wear shoes inside the house, we bring in plenty of dirt and germs. The good news is, the germs you bring in on your shoes aren’t likely to make you sick. But outside dirt and wear and tear can have an impact on your flooring. Removing shoes can help prolong the life of your carpet or hardwood flooring, but it’s not a must. There are plenty of steps you can take to keep carpets and hardwood in great shape, even if you and your guests prefer to keep shoes on. Many families find that those good intentions fall by the wayside when kids and pets are involved. Remember: pets can’t take their shoes off, so we still have to deal with dirt and scratches from our beloved fur babies.
How Can I Protect My Carpet From Outside Dirt?
The World Floor Covering Association offers excellent advice for keeping carpets clean, even if you’re in a shoe-friendly home:
- Wipe your feet: having a mat available at frequently-used entryways can cut down on mud and dirt that gets tracked in.
- Buy a high-quality vacuum and use it regularly. Sucking up dirt right away keeps your carpet from getting matted.
- Invest in professional carpet cleaning on a set schedule. Professional carpet cleaners have the knowledge and professional equipment to get your carpet far cleaner than DIY or portable options. Professional cleaning can help extend the life of your carpets and rugs.
Should I Go Barefoot On My Carpet?
While outdoor shoes can track in dirt and germs, bare feet leave moisture and natural oils on carpet. Residue from your feet can build up and attract dirt. If you want to protect your carpet, socks or clean rubber-soled slippers are the way to go. In many cultures, homeowners leave indoor slippers at the door and get into the habit of changing when they arrive. You may want to have a designated space for outdoor shoes so you don’t wind up with a messy pile of footwear.
Will Shoes Damage My Hardwood Floors?
One of the primary reasons homeowners pay more for hardwood is durability. In most cases, wearing shoes inside won’t hurt your floors as long as you stay on top of a gentle cleaning routine and invest in professional polishing and refinishing as needed. However, there are a few considerations to keep in mind:
- Water is even worse than dirt on the hardwood. Wet shoes can cause your hardwood floor to warp, so you’ll want to remove wet or muddy shoes before walking on the hardwood.
- High-heeled shoes can cause dents in your hardwood, so think about removing those stilettos before hitting the hardwood.
- Pets will continue to track dirt and scuff and scratch hardwood, whether or not their humans take off their shoes, so routine cleaning and maintenance are essential.
How Can I Keep Footwear From Damaging Hardwood Floors?
Gentle routine cleaning is the best way to stay on top of outside dirt. Excellent maintenance combined with professional care as needed will keep your hardwood floors looking great–shoes or no shoes.
- Use a dust mop or vacuum designed for hardwood floors to remove dry dirt weekly or every few days.
- Use a designated hardwood cleaner for periodic wet cleanings and be sure to follow care directions from your manufacturer and installer.
- Invest in professional buffing or polishing using safe buffing pads and approved products.
- If your hardwood flooring has a polyurethane topcoat, you can refresh that topcoat every few years. It’s less expensive than a complete refinishing and offers a fresh, polished look.
- If your floors are heavily scratched or stained, it may be time for refinishing. Refinishing includes removing finishes, sanding, applying a new finish, and refreshing the polyurethane coating.
Shoes On or Shoes Off: Keeping Carpets and Hardwood In Great Shape
In a nutshell, swapping out shoes for indoor slippers can protect your carpets and hardwood. It doesn’t hurt to leave a mat at the door for outdoor shoes and encourage guests to stay in socks if they’re comfortable. But it’s not an option that works for every household. With proper maintenance, you can keep your carpets and hardwood looking great, whether you’re a shoes-off home or not. Loudoun Valley Floors and our sister company Loudoun Carpet Care have kept Loudoun’s hardwood and carpeting looking gorgeous for decades. Our team members are hardwood refinishing experts, bringing new life to flooring that is worn or damaged and has lost its original luster. Dents, scratches and even gouges can be erased with professional sanding and refinishing.
Loudoun Carpet Care offers a trained and certified staff, along with state-of-the-art truck-mounted equipment that provides ten times the cleaning power of a portable system. We offer hot water extraction or steam cleaning and add in sanitizing and disinfecting services. Loudoun Carpet Care also offers professional buffing and polishing for your hardwood floors. Buffing removes scuffs and minor scratches and leaves hardwood floors fresh-looking and clean without the expense and downtime of a total refinishing.
Shoes on? Shoes off? It’s your call. With routine maintenance and professional care as needed, you can keep your carpets and hardwood looking terrific for years to come.