Why Do Chinese Take Shoes Off In House? Reasons Explained

Last updated on February 11th, 2022 at 07:29 pm

If you are an American or European and visiting a Chinese home, you will be surprised to see heaps of shoes and boots stored right on the entrance. And the thing can get even more shocking when Chinese or Asian people ask you to take off your shoes before entering into their homes. In fact, Asian people, including Chinese, have developed a culture of taking their shoes off in the house, and it seems to be a deep-rooted culture carried for thousands of years now. 

But why do Chinese take shoes off in house? Also, why will most Asians remove their shoes at the entrance of their house?

The reasons are surprising. Firstly, Chinese culture believes that wearing shoes from outside to inside brings bad luck for them. Others believe that taking off shoes at the entrance is helpful to maintain cleanliness and hygiene inside their house. 

Nonetheless, removing shoes before entering the home for Chinese and Asian people is traced back to their history, philosophy, and even superstitions. Also, modern-day sciences have found that taking off shoes outside the home removed filthiness from the indoor space. 

Thus, we will look deep into these historical, philosophical, and scientific facts to find the exact reasons why Chinese people don’t wear their regular shoes inside. Also, do they use a pair of shoes or sandals for their indoor use only?

Continue reading our article to know the answers to all these questions. 

Why Do Chinese Take Shoes Off In House

Why Do Chinese Take Shoes Off In House?

When you visit a Chinese home, you might have been asked to remove your shoes before entering their home. Although it is highly shocking for European and American people, it is common for most Asian homes, including Indian, Bangladeshi, Korean, and even Japanese. 

But why do Asians take their shoes off when entering a house?

The answer lies deep in the culture, cleanliness practice, and superstition of Asian peoples. Also, there are scientific proves of multiple benefits of removing shoes outside the home. 

The Chinese historical aspect:

You may imagine that removing shoes outside the home is a pretty new culture for Chinese and Asians. But, it might come as a shock to you when you find that the history of removing shoes outside home dates back even before Christianity. 

Yes, researchers have found that the Chinese culture of taking off their shoes can be traced back to the Zhou dynasty. Zhou dynasty reigned in the Chinese midland from 1046BC to 254BC. The origin developed during the Zhou dynasty as people needed to remove their shoes and socks before entering the courtyard of their superiors and lords to meet them. 

It was a system of showing respect to their lords and superiors. Gradually, it became part and parcel of Chinese people from the upper classes to the lower classes. But it didn’t develop as a way of showing respect to lords, superiors, and elders at home and courtyard. 

If you see closely, many Asians prefer eating on floors. Many Asians follow this tradition even these days across the globe. 

Thus, removing shoes before entering their home also helps in maintaining hygiene. It helps them keep the floor clean and dust-free so that they can eat on the floor. 

But there’s a catch of this history. 

The tradition of removing shoes for hygiene in Chinese homes started declining when the Han dynasty invaded China during 220AD. Han dynasty was seriously affected by northern and western invaders. These invaders brought high chairs and tables and introduced them to mainland Chinese people. As the Chinese adopted the high tables and chairs pretty fast, the necessity to maintain the hygiene of the floor was useless for eating on it. 

However, the tradition came back among Chinese people during the early 19th century when a cultural movement swept across the country. The Chinese were searching for their culture and tradition that they forgot due to western influence. Since then, the practice of removing shoes outside their home came back strongly and is now maintained in every home. 

The modern-day tradition:

When you look at the flooring of Chinese and other Asian homes, you will see wooden floors along with expensive carpets. Since the wooden floor is prone to scratching, they often eliminate all chances of causing scratches. On top of it, wearing shoes inside the home meant it would ruin the carpet quickly. 

Therefore, Asian people prefer not to wear shoes inside to protect their floors from damage. It also helps them to maintain the cleanliness of their carpets. It is even more prevalent in Persian houses as they often have the world’s best Persian carpets at their homes. 


There’s a long-running superstition that too helped in this culture for Chines to remove shoes before entering their home. Many Chinese people believe that wearing their shoes inside the home will bring bad luck from outside inside their home. Thus, they will take off their shoes and store them outside the home. Usually, they will place a shoe rack at the gate, securely store their shoes there, and enter home afterward. 

Asians Take Their Shoes Off When Entering A House
Asian Women Take her Shoes Off

Why Do Asians Take Their Shoes Off When Entering A House?

We have seen the reasons for the Chinese not wearing their shoes inside their home. But why do other Asian people follow the same tradition?

Well, it is a way of maintaining hygiene at their home. Early Asian roads were muddy and filthy. So, when Asian people entered their home, they would take off there to not carry the outside filth and dust inside the home. It helped them to keep the floor clean for a long period. Also, Chinese, Arabic, Persian, Korean, and Indian people prefer eating on the floor with their families and friends. That’s why it was necessary to remove their shoes outside, so they don’t carry bacteria and viruses inside the home to gallop it with their food. 

In the Arab world, it is strictly prohibited to wear shoes indoors. It is part of their Islamic culture that suggests removing shoes before entering the mosque. Thus, it eventually became a staple for their homes too for maintain cleanliness since they will offer prayers on the floor. 

There’re specific places to store indoor and outdoor shoes for different uses in Japan. The outside location where they keep their shoes in the gateway is known as Genken. There’s also an indoor place named Uwabaki where they would store their indoor slippers. 

It is even considered rude for visitors to wear their shoes inside the host’s home in India. So, you need to take off your shoes while visiting any Indians, unless you want to be rude. 

Walk Bare feet
Walk Bare feet

Do Asians and Chines Walk Bare feet Inside home?

We have discussed that almost every Asian person does not wear their outdoor shoes inside their home. It might prompt you to think that Asians walk barefoot in their homes. 

Although it was a pretty common practice during the late medieval and early modern days, Asians use separate slippers and sandals to wear inside their home. They will keep it exclusively for their interior uses. 

While it helps them maintain cleanliness at home, it also protects their feet from dirt, filths, sharp objects, and other materials that can hurt their feet. Henceforth, modern-day Asians will use slippers and sandals inside their home. But, it is an incident you will find mostly in towns and cities. 

Villagers in Asia still prefer not to wear shoes, slippers, or sandals inside their homes. It could be partly due to their poverty since most people in the countryside can’t afford another pair of slippers or shoes exclusively inside the home. 

Now It’s Time You Follow It 

Europeans and Americans mostly wear the same pair of shoes or sandals for indoor use that they will wear outside. But, it’s high time you change this trend and follow Chinese and Asian people. 

Yes, you might ask, “Why should I follow the tradition of not wearing shoes inside the home?”

Well, think about the COVID and pandemic condition. Research has shown that Coronavirus would easily come inside your home through your clothes and shoes. Therefore, you could avoid a lot of unwanted substances from entering your home by removing your outdoor shoes before you enter the home. It will help you maintain cleanliness and lower the chance of bacteria and viruses, including Coronavirus entering your home. 

If you want to enter your home with the same outdoor shoes, at least soak them lightly on antibacterial liquid. It will ensure that there’re no germs underneath your shoes. 

Final Words

We have discussed the reasons why do Chinese take shoes off in house. It is part of their culture and maintaining cleanliness. The culture, however, had ups and downs since it has seen iterative breaks during medieval times. Nonetheless, during the cultural movement in China, the culture of not wearing shoes inside the home came back strongly, and it has become a part of Chinese and Asian etiquette these days. Nowadays, it is also crucial to avoid germs from entering the home during the pandemic.

Related Information you might like to read: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tradition_of_removing_shoes_in_the_home_and_houses_of_worship

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