Does it matter where you keep your shoes?

In most Asian cultures it is common practice to remove your shoes before entering a home. This is because it is well understood that low level energies tend to sink to ground level, and some of these inevitably get stuck to our shoes as we walk around.

Their thinking is: Why on earth would we want to trample a whole mish-mash of physical grime and unwholesome energies through our home when we can simply remove our shoes at the door and leave the dirt and energies outside where they belong? They do no harm there. The problems only start if you bring them inside.

Somehow this innate wisdom about shoes has not passed from East to West. The current fashion for cream or beige carpets means that some western households do have a shoes-off policy when entering the home these days, but this is more to avoid marking the carpets than because of any energetic awareness.

Of course, leaving your shoes outside your front door is not the most sensible option anywhere in the world. They tend to get stolen, rained on, heat-baked, chewed by dogs, or worse. So is there a better solution?

My personal favourite is to have a shoe cupboard somewhere just inside the main entrance so you can take your shoes off as soon as you enter and store them hidden from view. Why hidden from view? Because arriving home to see a jumble of shoes on the floor or on an open rack does not uplift your spirits or create the most welcoming sight for you or your guests.

As any feng shui consultant will tell you, when it comes to entrances, first impressions count, and your main entrance is one of the key areas of your home to get right. Whatever your senses are greeted with when you first enter sets the tone for everything that happens there, and shoe clutter does not create the best visual, olfactory, or energetic effect to benefit you or anyone you live with.

However, in many homes there’s simply no space to have a shoe cupboard close to the main entrance. So what can you do about that? The next best solution is to take your shoes off when you enter and carry them to where your shoe cupboard is, which can be just about anywhere except your meditation room (if you have one) or your bedroom.

‘Oh no!’ some of you reading this may be saying at this point. ‘I always keep my shoes in my bedroom. There’s nowhere else to put them.’

This would be an absolute no-no in most Asian countries, but it’s all too common in the West. There may be little you can do about this in your current home, but if ever you move you can certainly put a shoe cupboard near the front door firmly on your wish list. In the meantime, here are some tips to help mitigate the effects of storing shoes in the bedroom:

  • Keep them inside a closed cupboard rather than out in the open
  • Don’t keep them under your bed or close to the head of your bed
  • Create an organized storage system rather than throwing them into a heap
  • Have regular clear-outs to get rid of any shoes you never wear

If you’ve always worn shoes inside your home, there will be a gunky layer of energy at floor level that probably feels normal to you, and it won’t make a heck of a lot of difference if you stop wearing shoes now or not. But if you make a fresh start by cleaning your carpets and washing your floors, and especially if you space clear your home too, then a no-shoe rule will make a difference that is tangible. You’ll wonder why you never thought of it before.

Interestingly, while writing this article, a telephone engineer turned up to repair our line, and all I had to do was look at his shoes and he instantly got the message and took them off. I thought perhaps this might mean this behaviour has become more commonplace than I  thought, but it turned out to be a simple case of beige carpet syndrome that had conditioned his response. Ah well, every bit helps.

Copyright © Karen Kingston, 2014

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21 Responses to Does it matter where you keep your shoes?

  1. Erik says:

    dear karen,

    great article – thanks a lot!
    we’re about to move into our new home so this is definitely something we’ll have to keep an eye on (entrance area, show cupboard and so on…).


  2. Riitta says:

    Hello Karen
    Here In Finland we use to take our shoes off when we come home. So do our guests, too. In all houses and homes we also have places for shoes near to the outdoor. Here it is only practical because we have four seasons. Autumn with rains, winter with snow and spring often with rains, too. And we Finnish women work outside home, so we have no time for cleaning all the time.
    Best regards
    Your reader Riitta

  3. Alex says:

    We are in a particularly wed and muddy part of England so removing shoes is essential. We created a space by our Kitchen entrance with a bench and shelves above it. Our slippers and everyday shoes go there and we have a separate space for boots. So when we get in it is very easy to quickly change from shoes to slippers. The same applies to guests. It very welcoming to create a relaxing and inviting space to take off shoes.

  4. Eleanor says:

    Interesting that Karen’s telephone engineer was willing to remove his shoes! I have discovered that British Gas engineers have specific instructions NOT to remove their shoes. However they do seem to bring with them some plastic shoe covers to fit over the shoes, although they might forget to bring them in and grumble about having to go out to the van to get them! I wonder whether that would improve the energy situation, or only save the beige carpets!

  5. Angie says:

    While the idea of ‘stagnant energy’ being brought in on shoes does sound horrible I would warn against asking the trades to remove their shoes before doing any actual work in your home. Even moving a piece of furniture can have a disastrous effect on someone’s toes if an accident occurs. Very often the trades wear sturdy toe capped shoes for good reason. It is possible you may be held responsible for any accidents occurring; slipping on wooden floors or on the stairs, dropping tools or pieces of equipment on their feet. I recently tipped a casserole of boiling liquid on my feet while cooking and suffered second degree burns – I shall never again go into the kitchen without shoes on! So please let your tradesman wear his/her shoes and offer them those paper shoe covers if they have mucky boots

  6. Angelica says:

    I smh as I read this because I have well over 50 pairs if shoes. 30 of which I wear regularly (every month). I keep them in the boxes (like new) in the top shelf of my bedroom closet. Sneakers are on the closet floor and the rest are on the floor in the closet of the bedroom my son sleeps in. I haven’t a clue where would be an appropriate space to store them.

  7. Fredrik says:

    Here in Sweden we always remove our shoes and have plenty of space at the entrance for doing so. Walking with shoes in a Swedish home is like swearing in church. I like the shoe cupboard idea. I mentioned it to my mum. She dismissed it, and told that it’s necessary to have the shoes on an open rack to let them dry, especially during the winter when we have more and larger shoes and walk with them on snow. I hope there is a solution.

  8. Christina says:

    It’s plain common sense really, isn’t it, not to bring all the crap from the street (from dogs, cars, etc.) indoors.

  9. Sian B says:

    I’ve put a notice on door asking people to please remove shoes!
    I live in muddy countryside!!
    I still want to find a place to put them. Planning on a simple wardrobe for coats and shoes near entrance to keep it all clutter free!
    Some of my friends kids automatically take theirs off!
    I have taken my shoes and boots out of the bedroom permanently after taking the last Fast Track Clutter Clearing course, although my ugg indoor boots sneak in. So cold. Hard to take them off!
    And I pass on my old shoes when new ones come in!!

    • You may be interested to know that ugg boots originated in Australia, and are only ever worn indoors there. Aussies find it very strange to see people in other countries wearing them outdoors. It’s the equivalent of going to work in your slippers!

      • Elena says:

        Indoor shoes should only be worn indoors. And beach slippers only at the beach or swimming pool. Four years ago, I seriously damaged my left foot while shopping in flip flops! Unfortunately, I am still in terrible pain today and have spent a fortune on treatment. Therefore I can only point out to the importance of wearing the right shoes for the respective walk.

  10. Rachel says:

    Back in the 1990´s, submerged in a yuppie culture of excess, I used to have over 90 pairs of shoes (and matching bags) which dominated my wardrobe. I have now managed to get down to 24 pairs which includes everything – slippers, walking boots, sandals, the lot. I still feel it is too many really when I only have one pair of feet ! All the same, I am pleased that with the small space I have available I have managed to store outside shoes on two shelves in my entrance where there are just 7 pairs in 2 neat rows, and the remainder are in my wardrobe behind closed doors, most of them on a specially designed shoe rack. They are neatly kept and don´t smell, which is the main thing I think !

    As for dog dirt – I have three dogs who live inside, one who is elderly and incontinent, bless her, so this is currently a much more pressing issue than my smelly feet !!! All the same, I remain hopeful that I will manage eventually to let go of the obsession with shoes ! My dear father died leaving one pair of shoes behind which were virtually brand new and one pair of slippers. I am aiming for this kind of simplicity in all things… Blessings and many thanks for your work

  11. Sheila says:

    What about keeping shoes in a closet off the bedroom with the door closed? will that work ?

    • Hi Sheila – This is better than keeping them in your bedroom, and it will be better still if you carry them there rather than wearing them between your front door and the closet.

  12. Cynthia says:

    i feel for Elena (2/23/14), who seriously injured her left foot. i have plantar fasciitis (PF), which is an inflammation of the bottom(s) of one or both feet, especially in the heel area. because i have PF i have to wear shoes every time i get out of bed. so i must keep them by the side of my bed. i can’t walk barefoot at all.

    however, these shoes are worn only inside my home. i’m going to move my other 4 pairs i can wear into my bedroom closet and get rid of any other shoes i can’t wear.

    i would not wish PF on anyone. i live in the US, where i used to work as a nurse. PF, along with chronic migraines, ended my nursing career earlier than i intended. but i’ve been gradually working on clutter clearing. i’ve also taken up yoga, which among other things has helped my feet. and in our next home, i plan to have a closed shoe cupboard and get my family and visitors to take off outdoor shoes and don indoor shoes as soon as they come in.

    thank you for your book, “CLEARING CLUTTER…” and also for your newsletter.

  13. Alison says:

    Dear Karen,
    How would one best tackle the shoe-removing issue with guests? A lot of my friends happily remove their shoes and some even bring their own slippers, but I usually feel a bit awkward with new folk and asking them to remove their shoes (probably just a self-confidence issue!). In winter here (north east Scotland) the floors in my house are quite cold and I had toyed with the idea of buying some ‘guest slippers’.
    Kind regards,
    Alison :-)

    • If you have guests coming to stay with you, you can warn them in advance to bring slippers because you have cold floors. If they are just visiting for a few hours, guest slippers is a great idea. If you google “guest slippers” you’ll find quite a few options.

  14. Hannah says:

    I wish I didn’t feel so bad asking other people to take off their shoes. Friends get it easily when we come in together and I take off my shoes, but workers? I have always felt too bad to ask them…

    • Since beige and white carpets became so fashionable, most workers are used to being asked to remove their shoes. The telephone repair guys who came to our house recently even had disposable over-shoe covers they could wear because they come across this so often.

  15. Ajay says:

    I live in an apartment and I have a closed wooden shoe-rack placed right in front of the entrance door. So when I open the apartment door, the shoe rack cabinet on the front-right, placed against the right wall of my living room (my entrance door is in the Helpful people area of Bagua). I am facing issue with my career advancement and out nfo frustration I resigned from my job 3 months back. PLease advice.

    • I don’t offer feng shui advice from a distance because there are too many aspects that need to be checked that cannot be done from afar. But I can tell you that if your shoes are in a closed cabinet, that’s the best way to store them, so there is no reason for you to be concerned about that.

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