Dirty shoes are the bane of every housekeeper. The fact is, shoes collect and hold more debris than bare feet! They are also harder to clean. I have tested this thoroughly. 🙂 But shoes will be worn by most people at least part of the time, for various reasons. The trick is to set up a system so that the shoes, and dirt, are left outdoors.
My shoe system begins with a shelves in the garage, next to the door through which the family comes and goes 99% of the time. They are simple shelves, slapped together without any fancy joints. Once, 30 years ago, one was the first book shelf in our first apartment, covered in sticky shelf paper. The shelf paper has disintegrated over time. The second shelf is left over from a remodel at this house 18 years ago, and has transitioned from toy shelf to shoe shelf. It has higher clearance for work boots.
The shelves are just deep enough for average to large footwear. Our shoe sizes currently run from 10 women’s to 14 EEEE men’s, so you can see what I mean by large. Each person gets to choose 3 pairs of footwear, plus one pair of boots, that they think they will use the most. Except for my husband. He likes to keep many pairs of old, worn out tennis shoes in the garage. He doesn’t move them often, so it’s easy to stack them out of the way.
We occasionally go to the effort of using a permanent marker to label the specific locations for each person’s shoes. Since the kids are older now, and only 3.5 of them call this their residence, it is easy to just ask them to take some care to put their shoes back in the same slot they took them from. We try to avoid stacking shoes, as it decreases the likelihood that things will stay in place. However, if there is a pair that is hardly ever used, and the wearer is willing to get their hands dirty to make the exchange, I will allow it.
I like to be able to slip on my footwear using my hands as little as possible. This means that it is important that the shoes not be squished together or sideways on the shelf. The people who are home the most get to use the spaces on the shelves closest to the door, which means I get the closest one. This can be conveniently forgotten by people, but I don’t have to remind them too often… The work boots are not needed as often, so are kept further from the door.
There is a category of shoes that are not worn much at home, but tend to be dirty, like soccer cleats. These are to be taken off at the door and carried to the owner’s closet. Some of them are kept in plastic grocery bags, both for cleanliness and organization. The bags make it an option to hang the shoes from a hook or nail in the closet, too. All dress shoes are kept in personal closets.
About once a year, it is necessary to review the shoe shelf. Kids’ feet grow. Shoe preferences change. People adopt a predominantly barefoot lifestyle… Shoes that are too worn out need to be discarded. People forget what shoes they have as seasons change. Some visitors leave shoes and we can’t identify the owners! I take all the shoes off of the shelves and ask everyone to make shoe decisions. This is also a good time to clean off the shelves. A clean and organized shoe shelf is a great way to begin the new year!