Do Bare Feet Damage Wood Floors?

Wood flooring not only adds a certain kind of warmth to your house, but can also increase the value of it as wood floors continue to be fashionable. However, they are prone to certain kinds of damage. 

For example, certain kinds of moisture and oil from your body can cause problems for a wood floor and its finish layer. While there are other factors that can cause greater damage to your floor, walking barefoot on a wood floor can lead to some issues. However, if you care for your floor properly the damage will be minimal. You may be tempted to use Windex for quick cleaning of your floor, but find out how to it may warp it due to ammonia!

Do Bare Feet Damage Wood Floors?

Just like skin all around your body, your feet produce a small amount of oil. This oil can stick to the floor over time if you walk across it barefoot. This oil is what keeps skin supple and flexible, but can cause marks on the finish of your floor that need to be cleaned up. However, it doesn’t cause long-term damage and has a minimal impact on your floor.

Feet vs shoes: which is worse?

Shoes are definitely more of a danger to your wood flooring than walking around barefoot. This is because shoes have weight and edges that can damage finishes, and are more capable of tracking dirt and grime onto the wood. If there is dirt present on the floor already, more dirt just grinds it further into the wood.

Socks are probably a happy medium, but bare feet will definitely cause less damage than shoes.


Your wood floors will definitely benefit from refinishing after a few years. Refinishing is the process of sanding away the old layer of finish and replacing it with a new layer of protection. 

You can use your wood floor a day after the new layer of finish is painted on, but try to be gentle when you walk on it. However, it’s best to not return furniture to the wood floor for about two weeks. During this time you should only walk across your floor wearing socks, otherwise you could damage the sensitive finish that is still drying.

What can I do to minimize the damage caused?

The best way to minimize damage caused by bare feet is to lay mats and rugs in key areas so people will be able to wipe their feet before they step onto the floor. This removes oil, moisture and dirt that can gather on bare feet. It’s also best to always wear socks when walking across your wooden floor to avoid small marks that result from bare feet.

Do woodfloors damage my feet?

Another question to ask of course is, are wood floors damaging to feet?

Many cultures practice shoe-free homes, but is going barefoot at home a habit we should all be adopting? For the sake of your wood floor, definitely not. But from a podiatry perspective, the answer is also no. This is because walking around the house barefoot could lead to our feet developing different types of structural injuries.

Our feet were made to walk on softer, more natural surfaces like sand and soil, not polished hard ones, so we may very well be damaging our feet while wandering around the house barefoot.

Our footprints allow the natural ground to accommodate the contours of our feet. The softer ground gives way to our heel at foot strike, allowing the outside of the foot to sink into the surface. This supports the inside of our foot at the same time, and the collapse of our arch.

Many household surfaces – such as wood floors and tiled floors – are heard, and walking around indoors without shoes puts pressure on your feet, causing the arches to collapse. This creates a ripple effect, putting pressure on different parts of our body. Pronation is the rolling of our feet inward, and is what allows our feet to support our body weight. 

Walking around barefoot means we pronate for longer, altering the biomechanics and distribution of pressure and weight across the foot. This imbalance may lead to the progression of underlying foot deformities like bunions and hammertoes, as well as lead to painful conditions associated with too much pronation like arch and heel pain, shin splints, posterior tibial tendonitis, and Achilles tendonitis.

Surprisingly, shock absorption is not the answer to conditions associated with misalignment of the feet and lower limbs. These shoes are of course comfortable, but they’re also very flat which leads the feet to over-pronate. 

Walking barefoot at home when you’re older is also not ideal. For example, women over 50 lose the fat pad in the balls of their feet which diminishes the cushioning. This change hinders your ability to protect your knees, hips, and lower back.

Meanwhile, a study by the Institute for Aging Research of Hebrew Senior Life also found that walking around the house without shoes can actually contribute to falls among older people. Many of these falls resulted in serious injuries such as fractures, sprains, dislocations, and pulled or torn muscles, ligaments or tendons. 

The findings concluded that older people going barefoot, or wearing socks or slippers in the home were at a significantly increased risk of falling at home. The study advised that older people should wear shoes at home whenever possible to reduce their risk of falling.

Your floors may be clean, but can never be completely germ free. Walking barefoot indoors exposes your feet to potential infections caused by bacteria and fungi. These organisms can infect the skin, before infecting the nails, causing them to thicken and then become brittle. Infected nails also become discolored. These are not only unsightly conditions but also contribute to an unpleasant odor.

So what to do? Socks really do seem to be the best way to prevent your wood floor from being damaged by the natural oils in your feet, as well as protecting your feet from bacteria.

For older people, a good pair of indoor shoes that are regularly cleaned may be the solution. If you change into them when you get home, hopefully this may reduce the damage done to your wood floor while keeping you safe from falls.