In Turkey, our current country of residence, everyone takes off their shoes before entering a home. Everyone. This is the case in most countries I've visited, in fact, including Kosovo, where my husband and I lived several years ago.

When you take off your shoes, you’re keeping the outdoors that have crept onto your soles relegated to the front door. You’re coming in to relax. You’re telling guests to make themselves at home.

Most practically, you’re keeping your floors cleaner.

When my husband and I moved back to the States after living in Kosovo, the whole taking-off-your-shoes-at-the-front-door had become so habitual we kept at it. It really does make cleaning easier, and let’s face it – it makes a lot of sense.

We’re reminded how un-American this idea is when we have guests coming from the States – they’re always forgetting to take off their shoes. We don’t really mind, and of course we’re not offended, but many of our neighbors here just don’t understand this American mentality. “How do Americans keep their house clean then?” my neighbor asked one time, after confirming with me a rumor she’d heard that Americans wear their shoes indoors.

I recommend trying out this habit of taking off your shoes before entering your house. Make a convenient spot near the front door, or just outside it, for people to place their shoes.