What Shoes to Wear on Carpet?

As professional Nashville carpet cleaning company, we’re often asked what type of shoes are to best to wear on carpet, if any. It’s an important question as even house slippers, as harmless as they seem, can permanently stain oil-based fibers. We call this the dreaded black sole shoe stain and it’s hard to remove.

So what’s with the picture of my sailing shoes turned house slippers? All sailors know that the wrong shoe will mark the topside of a boat. This is the same with carpet fibers. Sailing shoes cannot mark the hull nor carpet fibers. I mostly wear these boat shoes around the house save for taking trash out, but they do a good job not staining carpet fibers while keeping my feet warm.

What Not to Wear on Carpet

Nowadays, most black soled shoes contain rubber, dye and carbon. The carbon not only makes the shoe sole last longer, but also makes the residue nearly impossible to remove from oil-based carpet. Fibers such as polyester, olefin and polypropylene love these shoe stains because oil loves oil. Anything with an oil-based sole will stick to oil-based carpet fibers, and after a while it can impragnate itself into the fiber causing permanent discoloration.

Any shoe type, from house slippers, flip-flops to dress shoes, anything with a black sole is capable of staining oil-based carpet fibers. We see this a lot on stair treads, traffic lanes and where people turn or pivot on carpet. I once had a customer standing in her flip-flops asking me why her stair treads had black on each tread where she steps. I jokingly said it’s because someone in her home is wearing flip-flops with three large jewels on the top of each flip-flop as I described what she was wearing.

Black sole shoe stains are darker than carpet soiling. The best way to describe it is that it’s a dark grey and best and black at worst. You typically see these stains in trails that lead to one side of a sofa, bed or to a husband or wife’s walk-in closet. The culprit is to point out.

What to Wear on Carpet?

  1. 100% White Cotton Socks The best item to wear on your carpet is 100% white cotton socks. Cotton socks absorb the oils from your feet instead of letting your carpet absorb it. Oil is one of the most prevalent soils found in carpeting caused by bare feet, airborne cooking oils and pet dander. Cotton socks keep your carpet in the best shape because they’re easier on the fibers, opposed to my sailing shoes, they absorb your foot oil and they absorb airborne cooking oils so there’s some cleanability.
  2. Boat Shoes As shown above, boat shoes will not dye the carpet or allow the sole to stain oil-based fibers. This option keeps your feet form, comfortable with no traffic stains
  3. Bare Feet This is not a good option as the oils in your feet causes carpet to become sticky and resoil quicker, but going bare foot is still far better than wearing house slippers with black soles.

Keeping Your Carpet in Top Shape

Choosing what to cover your feet with on your carpet could save you thousands of dollars when it comes to making your carpet wear longer. Granted, boat shoes can be rough on the fibers as they’re a bit grippy, but they will not stain the fibers. Wearing white cotton socks in the best as it not only absorbs oils but somewhat cleans your carpet as you walk on it.

Black sole shoes stains are very common and very hard to remove. We have found that the only way to remove a majority of the shoe stain is with a natural solvent found in oranges and lots of elbow grease. Disclaimer: I’m confident wearing any shoes on carpet voids the warranty, so wear at your own risk.

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