Clean Vs Dirty Bare Feet

by Tania WL

If you have ever gone barefoot outdoors for any length of time, you know that getting your feet dirty is inevitable. Habitual barefooters can basically be classified into 2 groups: those who like having their feet dirty, and those who simply enjoy the freedom and the wonderful sensation of walking on different surfaces that going barefoot offers, but don't care for dirty feet. I belong to the former while my little sister Sharleen (a.k.a. Lynn), the latter.

girl with dirty feet
Getting your feet dirty is fun.
To take it a step further, those who like dirty feet, especially guys, think they are attractive, and they get "excited" looking at them if you know what I mean (I have to be careful with my choice of words here in order to keep this blog family-friendly, lol). While I'm not one of them, I have to admit sometimes it's fun knowing that some guys have a time of their lives staring at my dirty soles. Well, I won't go much more into it as that's not what this blog is about. But you can read my previous post: barefoot in the library and see what I mean.

I like having dirty feet because it shows others and reminds myself that I am an avid barefooter who is also care-free. Besides, it makes me look "different" and I love being different. So I don't wash my feet very often. I also go to bed in dirty feet which used to drive my mom nuts! :)

My sister Lynn on the other hand, does not like having dirty feet. Actually, being a habitual barefooter herself, she doesn't mind getting her feet dirty while she is outside as she herself said, "it comes with the territory." But inside the house, she prefers to keep her feet clean, especially when she goes to bed. She also thinks clean soles look better, and can't really understand why some people find dirty soles attractive. Well, to each their own, right?

But even her soles have never been squeaky clean since she became a regular barefooter, for it's virtually impossible to have your soles completely clean. There's always a few dirty spots that remain unless you use sandpaper or something, haha!

Lynn and I would often argue about clean feet vs. dirty feet. She told me I was gross for not washing my feet very often, for only God knows what we step on outside with our bare feet.

Washing feet in the lawn. Get 'em clean, baby!
She used to wash her feet every time she came home before entering the house. I told her she was becoming a clean freak like mom, and she didn't like that.

"Don't even compare me with mom! She won't even walk barefoot indoors!" she replied vehemently, and I just laughed.

You see, we are actually best friends, and enjoy having little fights like that every now and then. I'm not sure if what I said had an impact on her, but she later became less anal about it, and now she lets her feet stay dirty if she knows she will be going out again later in the day.

When I asked her about it she said the reason was to conserve water. We both are environmentally conscious, so I'm cool with that reason.

She still washes her feet at the end of the day though, and would never go to bed with her feet dirty. Well, I shouldn't say "never" as there have been a few exceptions. Like one night she came home pretty late and was totally exhausted that she just jumped into bed immediately without washing her feet (read about it here).

The next morning when I saw that she had slept in her dirty feet, I couldn't help laughing, and I had fun giving her a hard time about it. I told her she should eat her own words. As usual, she made faces and stuck her tongue out at me when she lost an argument. She said she was really tired that night, and wouldn't make it a habit. Uh huh...but it happened at least a couple more times, right sis? :p (You can read about one of those instances here).

Well, you know what? The good thing about being a barefooter is that you have a choice. If you like dirty feet, then keep them dirty. Otherwise, you can wash them as often as you like (at the risk of being labeled "clean freak," haha just kidding!). None of us can really say that one is better than the other. It's a matter of preference.

Jonathan was going through the old guestbook comments on his site and found an interesting one about dirty feet:

As regards dirty soles: remember that the body (feet included) should reflect the glory of God as we are made in his image. Does a "dirty" mind do that? Does a dirty torso do that? Do dirty feet do that? If the answer is NO to all the above questions, then feet must also be washed regularly as was done also in biblical times. Not only is this refreshing to do but also honouring their beauty.

I don't necessarily agree with the above comment, as I'm not religious, but it's an interesting perspective nonetheless. Lynn says she only agrees with the last sentence, i.e. it's refreshing and it keeps your feet looking nice.

The following section was moved from an article that Lynn wrote (A Day in the Life of a Barefoot College Student) as we agree that it fits the topic here better.

I don't mind getting my feet dirty as its part of being a barefooter but unlike some people, I don't find them attractive.

To me attractive soles are clean, pink, and soft (just like in the picture above) but I can't have them if I go barefoot all the time. So I usually get a pedicure like once a month and then take a break from barefooting for like a week.

During that time I wear flip flops everywhere outside the house and put lotion on my feet every night before bed so they look nice and smooth. A week is about all I can stand though, as my soles long to touch the ground again, lol.

Another update
Time and life circumstances change, and so has Lynn's attitude about having clean/dirty feet. You can read all about it here.

Enjoy going barefoot? Check out this book!

Credit - Photographer: D. Sharon Pruitt with CC BY-SA 2.0


  1. Sharleen1:20 PM

    Your right, I did go to bed without washing my feet a few times but that's because I was f'ing tired after a full day of activity. One of those times I was also having a cold and didn't even bother blowing my nose before going to bed and I got snot all over my face and pillow the next morning. Bet you didn't know that did you? How's that for revealing my dirty little secret? Have a magical day!

    1. eeew! and you think I'm gross? lol

  2. Jonathan (not of this blog)6:23 PM

    Getting dirty is fun. Not much of the 'excited' kind of fun, but boys playing in the mud driving their mom mad kind of fun. We're seriously deprived of that in this world obsessed with cleanliness. It's nice that barefooting offers plausible deniability, so people don't think you're crazy for that particular reason (hah!).

    That said, I keep my soles fairly clean so I don't have to worry where I place my feet. I could probably cut down on that because most dirt presently originates elsewhere. It also makes it easier to inspect my soles if I suspect a splinter or the like, or just to see how they're changing after just a few months of regular barefooting.

  3. Anonymous4:17 AM

    I prefer dirty feet. It looks better and shows off how much you've gone barefoot. I never wash my feet; I think it's weird to do that. People who do are clean freaks; it's not gross at all not to wash your feet since they soak in soap and water when you shower or bathe. I encourage everyone not to wash their feet, especially the bottoms. And good for you, Tania, for keeping your feet dirty and for posting this.

  4. Anonymous3:58 PM

    I would never walk around barefoot in public for various reasons.

  5. Anonymous10:46 AM

    I want to go barefoot, but it would be too embarrassing for me. I love getting my feet dirty.

  6. I go barefoot most of the time, but don't think dirty feet look good at all, anymore than I think our face looks good dirty, plus don't want to track dirt and debris everywhere. So I clean them in various ways around town like looking for puddles to walk in, or wet grass. Otherwise just wash them at night.

  7. Anonymous8:29 PM

    I walk barefoot all the time, other then at work. I like my feet clean, but cleaning them is done in the evening, I do nt go crazy washing them all the time.

    Visit my website about walking barefoot:

  8. Anonymous2:21 AM

    I am always barefoot, including at work. I rarely wash my feet, they feel and look better. Most of the time they are self cleaning. I travel all over the world and often have peolple say that they envy my resolve to never wear shoes. Some friends and family complain but I enjoy the freedom and the statement that my feet are my 'shoes'

    1. Haha, I certainly know what you mean by "self cleaning" ;) About the statement that your feet are your shoes, it reminds me of something I read in a book about Hawaii that one of the characteristics of a "kama'aina" (translated "child of the land" or local) is that you consider bare feet your favorite form of footwear :)

  9. Wow. Nice blog. You like going barefoot everywhere, but you live in Hawaii. On an island. Come to Europe BAREFOOT and see how fast your social life is going to be ruined. Especially in east Europe like in Bulgaria and Romania. Well I know that you are both in college or at work so from me this is your first and last warning. Nobody in this life is going to take you serious if you are barefoot all the time.