Let Kids Go Barefoot During the Summer?

Updated on June 10, 2013
J.D. asks from Seattle, WA
30 answers

I know this is silly! Just thought I'd ask anyway. My kids (7, 5 and 3) have always worn shoes whenever they go outside and we take them off and put them on a shoe bench right inside the front door (i.e., we don't wear shoes in the house in order to keep the floors clean). A few weeks ago a neighbor child was playing in our backyard and told my kids how fun it is to run around outside barefoot and now they love to do it and are pretty much refusing to wear shoes outside at all. The problem is that they get filthy and so I have been making them wash their feet when they come in before they roam around the house and asking neighborhood kids to do the same when they come inside my house to play. We have off-white carpets and I do not have the time or will to clean them every week. But I also don't feel like nagging the kids to do this multiple times a day all summer and I feel funny about asking the neighborhood kids to do it. So I am just wondering what the rest of you do. Do your kids wear shoes outside? Has it ruined your carpets? I'm not a neat freak, really, and I want to be laid back and just let my kids have fun. We just won't be able to afford to replace the carpets for a long time so I am reluctant to let them get trashed.

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So What Happened?

Thank you for all of these great responses. Keeping baby wipes by the door is brilliant! I think I will try that next. We are eventually going to replace the carpets with hardwoods but that project is not the highest on the priority list right now so it will be awhile. Thanks again..I wish you and all of your kids a happy summer :-)

Featured Answers



answers from New York on

Guess I never really thought about it. Sometimes shoes on sometimes barefoot. We have some carpets and when ne carry clean them. We have an excellent carpet cleaner machine. We just kind of always went with the flow. If feet were muddy they got washed before coming in but if just dusty never thought about it.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

First, I LIVED barefoot in the summer as a kid. That's like a rite of passage, lol!!!

Instead of a bucket of water sitting out all day (which will harbor mosquito larvae and bacteria), why not put baby wipes and a small trash can by the door so they can wipe off their feet and then toss the wipes? You can get a huge package of cheap wipes at Walmart (like almost 300) for around $4. That way they use a fresh wipe each time and not sticking their feet in a dirty water bucket.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Summer time = bare feet at my house...we have a pool and the kids are always barefoot, when we go somewhere they just slip on their flip flips/ thongs/ slides/ Toms!

5 moms found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Columbus on

Just keep a box of baby wipes by the door and let them use those.

14 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i just cannot for the life of me imagine NOT going barefoot in summer.

13 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I don't have that much carpet downstairs but I never ask anyone to remove shoes in my house.

I believe in being who you are... If you want to be barefoot and free ( as I usually am) go for it. I clean my house regularly and routinely and see no need for new carpet sooner than needed because my guest wear shoes or not.

I'm just not that uptight. I keep a clean house and if my guests wants or feels the need to remove shoes, go for it but it is not a "rule" at my house.

I want my guests to be themselves, enjoy their visit and not freak out that they may have dropped a spec of dirt on the floor. I am barefoot most of he time, especially Summer in TX.

There are things much bigger in my mind to worry about than someone having bare feet and walking on my off white carpet.

I suppose if its that big of a deal to you, put a wash bin outside your door with towels for your guests. I'd be a little freaked if I came across someone that anal!

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Summer is about not wearing shoes...it's like going to the pool....a defining feature of summer.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

In Hawaii, people do not wear shoes in the home.
It is customary and how it is here.
But many go barefoot outside too. Adults included.
That is their choice.
They go barefoot wherever. Even in stores.
My kids go barefoot at times, in OUR, yard.
My carpets don't get dirty. Our carpet is off white.
My kids brush off their feet if they were outside, before coming in the house. We have a mat, right by the door to do this.
I also routinely shampoo our carpet and vacuum.

But, if at other places/parks/stores etc., my kids where slippers. ie: flip-flops or shoes. Especially at this one park we go to, because stray cats are there and people routinely bring their dogs there to walk and poop and they do not pick up their pet's poop.... and I don't want my kids getting worms/parasites/hook-worms etc.

Its just common sense.

If we have kids over at OUR house, and we do very often... *I* tell the kids, to wear slippers outside and to wipe their feet when they come in if they did not.
I tell them this, even if their parents are here too.
Its my house.
They are guests.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

When I was growing up in Hawaii - my mom made us wear shoes - flip flops - because the sand could get really hot and people would bury their fires and cigarettes....so she didn't want our feet getting burned.

When we were in grass? HECK YEA!!! Watch out for dog poop!! :)

If you are concerned about your carpets? put a tub of water and some towels outside the back door and let the kids rinse their feet off before they come in!

Have fun!!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I live on a farm, and encourage my kids to go barefoot as I did when growing up. If their feet are filthy, I get them to wash them before coming inside. We don't have the carpet issue though.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

2 good options-

slippers or indoor only flip flops at the door for them to switch into

a tub of water and towel outside the door for them to rinse off with

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Erie on

That's why we ripped out the carpet. With four active kids, I didn't want to spend all my time cleaning carpeting. That and I love hardwood floors :) Your other option is to cover your carpet's high traffic areas with throw rugs or area rugs, depending on the size. If you buy smaller rugs without the foam backing you can wash them in the washing machine.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

We live in a townhome so we have to wear shoes outside since it's mostly concrete!

However, if we're at someone else's house we follow their rules. I.E. If their kids are going barefoot in their yard, then sure, why not!

As for your situation, can you limit "barefoot activity" to say a particular time of day so they only have to wash their feet once?

Or...why not just pass on the washing of the feet and put socks on them before they come in. Much easier to wash dirty socks than carpet.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

I hope you know that there is also the issue of cuts and abrasions that can get infected, warts and worms that can invade feet from going barefoot outside...

Stop feeling funny about asking the neighbor kids to wash their feet. THEY aren't going to pay for your carpet. All these kids can have plenty of fun after they wash their feet. Being laid back is one thing. Allowing your carpet to be trashed is another. Not only does the carpet get stained by dirt, the dirt gets ground into the carpet and you can't get it all out. It wears the carpet down and makes it look awful.

My kids DID (and do) wear shoes outside. We do not wear shoes inside at all. When kids came over to play when my kids were little, they went by MY house rules, whether it meant shoes off, clean feet, no swearing, no jumping on the furnture, etc. Just because I wanted them to have fun didn't mean that they could run wild in my house. And no, they weren't allowed to ruin my carpets, either.

If you want to let them go barefoot, that's one thing. But stand firm on clean feet.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Salt Lake City on

You could always meet them at the door with a washtub and a towel. That's what I've done when we've lived in good barefoot places. And I don't think it's strange to ask neighbor kids to give their feet a quick wash before stepping on the off-white carpet. Just explain once and if they don't want to do it, they don't come in.

At my house, we take off our shoes when we enter the house. It's a house rule that everyone respects, even my guests, and it means that my hardwood floors do not get dirty as quickly.

Right now my kids don't go barefoot outside at my house, but that's because I have five beehives in my back yard, and don't want anyone getting accidentally stung on the foot.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I usually have my kids wear sandals. There are times when they are barefoot, but in our yard we get a lot of wasps and bees and sometimes they are just sitting there on the ground, so I don't want them to step on them and get stung (I did that when I was a kid). I don't freak out about not wearing shoes or sandals, but I sweep the floor daily and mop weekly so our floor is pretty clean anyway

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

My parents kept a footwash bucket and towel at our back door during the summer so we could clean our feet before we came inside. They aren't good housekeepers, but the obvious dirt, mud, and grass was not allowed inside.

My kids do wear shoes outside, as a few summers ago our glass patio tabletop shattered into thousands of pieces in our long grass, and I am still not confident that all of it has been cleaned up. I also don't let them go barefoot at the park because of the types of stuff I have found there (and we live in a pretty nice suburban neighborhood), which includes used condoms and of course, tons of goose poop. We'll save barefoot for the pool and beaches.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Most of the time I want DD to wear something on her feet. Parks can have goose poop or glass. Even our own walkway can be too hot for bare feet (as she discovered the other day). I buy her a new pair of flip flops every year so she has something quick to put on her feet. She can be barefoot at the pool or other specific places, but I wouldn't let her run the neighborhood barefoot.

Even if you feel you have to nag the kids, do it. Set the precedent that in YOUR HOME people take shoes off and if they have dirty feet, they wash their feet.

And if your kids don't obey, then they can clean carpets as a natural consequence. If the neighbor kids don't obey, then they can keep their grungy feet outside.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

my kids are bare foot more often than not, in and out. It bothers me when they go from outdoors to my sofa! I have no doubt it contributes to dirt in my house, but since we are due for new carpet anyhow, I let it slide.

I keep crocs on the back door porch for them to put on for outdoors, but they don't always do it.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

We have the same "no shoes in the house" rule and I agree that summer become tough because we often wear no shoes (or just flip-flops) outside, so everyone's actual FEET are dirty. We live in a 3-level townhouse with every inch covered in light beige carpet including the stairs (which are a pain to clean).

One solution we've used is to have a pair of "summer slippers" at the door where we leave our shoes. Basically a pair of indoor only flip-flops, or house shoes (rather than warm winter slippers) that we put ON when we come in the house. Since they never go outside, they keep the carpets clean. :)

Our new house is all wood floors, so i'm hoping to be a bit less anal about the dirty feet...we'll see.

Good luck,

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

We often go barefoot outdoors, but we don't have carpet. We also don't wear shoes in the house. I have a friend who has carpet and she doesn't allow bare feet on her carpet. Either you wear socks, or you put on slippers. My sister lives at the lake and she makes anyone coming from the beach into her house wash their feet on the deck. Anyway, in your case I would have anyone coming into the house wear slippers. Keep extra slippers in a basket by the door.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Keep a little kiddie pool and towels by the back door.

My kid spends the whole summer barefoot and so did I as a kid. Just budget to have the carpets cleaned as soon as school starts up again to deal with anything that slips through into the house. Or buy some cheap plastic carpet runners for the stretch between the back door and the bathroom.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I think what you are doing (shoes outside or wash your feet when you come in) is fine. DS and I both are barefoot most of the summer. We have mostly hardwood floors so it is not a real issue for us.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Everybody is different J.. I purposely have no carpet at all so that the floors can be easily mopped. I ran barefoot as a child and allowed my kids to do the same, but here in Texas it get's too hot quickly so the problem wouldn't last long.

In your case do what works best for you and your house!

I want to add something. Not allowing people to wear shoes in your house is a very GOOD thing! I have not done it but it is actually safer for your children as chemicals are tracked into your home from shoes.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I've lived in Texas my whole life and always go barefoot as long as possible (about this time of year the concrete and pavement get WAY too hot for barefeet...like frying an egg on the sidewalk hot!)

As for your house, your rules! I don't blame you at all for not wanting dirty stinky feet on your white carpet...so tell the kids to either wear flip flops or they will have to take the time to wipe down their feet before they come inside.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

my kids go barefoot, wear flip flops and get filthy feet - I just tell them to wash their feet. But, I have hardwood floors, not a white carpet.

My suggestion is: The kids are used to sitting on the bench when they come in to take their shoes off - so, put some wipes by the bench and a basket for garbage, ask them to wipe their feet before coming in.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

I like the baby wipes idea - I'm going to borrow that one!

I'd be barefoot all the time, if I could (safely). We keep a rug by each door, and that's generally enough.

We also have a light beige carpet. Easy enough to spot clean if something gets tracked in - just use a little oxyclean and rinse with a clean cloth. An old sock works, and then you can just throw the sock away when you're done. But really, by the time you walk across the concrete sidewalk and through the grass and then rub your feet on the mat, vacuuming works pretty well. We've been in the house ten years, and people are surprised to hear our carpet is original to the house. (We're saving for hardwood floors, but things keep coming up....) But then, we have no dogs or cats who are ALSO tracking things in!

Incidentally, the "No shirt, no shoes, no service" signs are NOT a health code thing - it was an effort by businesses to keep hippies away. So you really could go barefoot out and about, if you were so inclined. Most business have given up the old signs. (Personally, you never know WHAT sorts of things are on the floors in public spaces, though, so I don't even let the kids go barefoot on the playscapes in McDonalds or whatnot - socks or no play for us! You should see how nasty the socks get....I don't want that junk on their feet! No, thanks barefoot outside, though, is different in my mind - nice, clean grass or good, honest mud for us!)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

We do the same thing when we play outside barefoot- wash feet before coming in. It's not a big deal and I'd also rather not spend all my time cleaning carpets instead of feet.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

My daddy refused to allow us to go barefoot inthe summer because he thought it made women's feel grow wide and long. It did! I wear a 9W. However, I love my grassy yard and when its hot I do all my yard work in flipflops or barefoot.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I'm barefoot year round; it still drives my dad nuts! My boys are much like me, but my husband always wears shoes. He's from up north, and my boys and I are Texans, so maybe that has something to do with it. Anyway, we have wood floors in most of the house, and I swiffer all the time, so the dirt doesn't bother me. Shoes bother me more. ;)

1 mom found this helpful
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