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cultural differences 11: house shoes

April 18, 2010

Most Germans don’t wear shoes in their homes. We take our shoes off when we get home and put on slippers called “house shoes” – shoes that are only worn inside the house. A lot of people have a rack or place next to the door where you put your shoes.

To be polite, guests take their shoes off too. Sometimes, they are given house shoes to wear.

I’m not sure how or why the house-shoe tradition developed. Maybe some clever German housewife didn’t want to clean her floors quite so often. And I hear from an outsider’s point of view, Germans are “obsessed” with keeping their feet (and necks, apparently) warm, so running around barefoot or in socks is out of the question.

Does any of you own house shoes?

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6 comments

  1. Yes, I own house shoes – dark blue Birkenstocks 🙂
    But I don’t have to tell you that there are other cultures who are much more into the “no shoes are allowed in my flat” thing.
    From my experience with us Germans only good friends take off their shoes when they come to visit. I wouldn’t even ask our neighbours to take their shoes off when they visit us.


    • Hehehe. I own dark blue birkenstock-like house shoes too — my summer houseshoes.

      You’re right. We’re not anal about visitors taking off their shoes. It seems we only expect it of closer friends.


      • Heh. What is it with the blue Birkenstocks? I wear mine inside and outside though. I’m usually a barefoot/socked person at home.

        I also only make friends take their shoes off. Instead of house shoes I offer knitted socks, I have a stash by the door. I know a lot of people who offer knitted socks to their visitors and I also have a lot of friends who in the winter just have a pair of knitted socks in their backpack and use them when needed.


  2. I previously lived in the Seattle area, which sees many days of rain. My home had white carpets and hardwood floors, so I immediately learned to switch from my “outdoor” shoes to indoor slippers as soon as I walked in the door.

    Now that I’m back in Los Angeles, I fell out of this habbit, which I don’t think is good, since my carpet now has whatever I’ve stepped into, on it. So I no longer feel comfy walking on my carpet barefoot after a shower. Umm, does this admission qualify me as needing medication for OCD?!


  3. In my professional opinion, no medication is needed 🙂


  4. Ah, knitted socks. I offer those to guests too. 🙂



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