I don't normally blog about work, but for a few years I've had a feeling that we (i.e., Westerners) were doing something wrong, and my time cleaning carpets for Stanley Steemer has only confirmed my initial suspicion.
ATTENTION, ALL OF WESTERN SOCIETY! The multitudinous peoples of Asia have it right: We should be taking our shoes off before coming indoors.
In the four months I've been with Stanley Steemer (which are among the busiest of the whole carpet-cleaning calendar), I have cleaned carpets in probably a thousand homes. Maybe more, maybe slightly less. But in all that time, I can only recall doing one job in an Asian person's house. Maybe two, if you count Indian people as Asian.
I'll admit, part of the reason for the disparity is due to the fact that outside of Ann Arbor, there aren't a great number of Asian-Americans in southeast Michigan. But demographics alone cannot account for a difference so massive. In my professional opinion, I feel that the reason Asian people need their carpets cleaned so rarely is simply because they don't wear their dirty shoes around the house. They either wear slippers or they go barefoot.
Really, there is no good reason to wear your shoes indoors. It's slightly more hassle to take 'em off, but in the long run, you'll have to pay for carpet-cleaning much less often. Asides from being cleaner, your carpets will look better in the meantime, since slippers and bare feet are far less abrasive than rubber soles.
Taking off your shoes before entering a home just makes sense. In fact, it makes sense for entering just about any building. Think back to your days in the public schools (assuming you even need to think back at all, in the case of younger readers). Remember how, in winter, the soundtrack of the entire day was "wet shoes squeaking on tile floors"? Even if you weren't trying to make noise, the simple act of shifting your weight in your chair could set off a loud, grating squeal in an otherwise quiet classroom. Some kids liked to make those noises on purpose, all day long, thinking they were being clever or subversive. For months at a time, the entire floor of the main entrance to your school would be submerged under a shallow lake of cold and dirty water, no matter how much time the janitor spent mopping it up.
But that never happens in Japanese schools. You know why? Because all students stash their gross, wet, smelly, dirty, worn-down, black-rubber-soled, dog-poop-encrusted outdoor shoes in little cubbyholes near the entrance at the beginning of each day, and immediately put on a clean pair of shoes which are only ever worn indoors. The end result is that the floors in Japanese schools are never wet, an no-one has to worry about accidentally setting their books or papers down in a puddle of melting snow, or slipping and falling into dirty foot-water.
Really, there's no reason not to take your shoes off when coming indoors. I'm not suggesting that you should always carry a set of "indoor shoes" with you; if no one else is doing it, your indoor shoes will wind up just as dirty as your outdoor ones. But honestly, we as a society should change this cultural habit. It costs us extra time and money to clean our floors more often, and that's time and money that could be put to better use. The change will be slow, and not many people will go for it right away, but as the saying goes, "Change starts at home."
So make a change, and save yourself a little money!
Trust me on this one. I'm a professional.