Renee Zellweger makes people wear hospital booties at her house

Renee Zellweger
Renee Zellweger is said to be so paranoid about dirt and bacteria entering her home that she insists that all visitors don hospital booties before they step foot inside. This story comes from Star Magazine, so it could be a load of crap, but it’s so random and unlike a typically fabricated story that it seems like there’s some credence to it:

Renee Zellweger… is so worried about hygiene, she asks everyone who enters her house to put hospital booties on their feet – even if they’re wearing socks! “Renee believes that shoes are frequently contaminated with dirt and dangerous bacteria,” an insider tells Star. And while Renee’s friends think it’s over the top, “they end up having a laugh when they go sliding around on her slippery floors!”

[From Star Magazine, print edition, July 27, 2009]

A lot of people are going to say Renee is strange and a germ-a-phobe, but as an American living in Germany where this is normal I have to disagree. It’s considered rude here to leave your shoes on when you go to someone’s house and most people have guest “house shoes” or slippers for people to use when they visit. I found this hard to get used to, but now it’s become kind of a habit. This isn’t just a superstition – shoes really can bring a ton of bacteria and disease into the home.

We looked at a home last week where the realtor brought those blue hospital booties with him and we all put them on so we wouldn’t get anything dirty. A guy from the phone company came over yesterday and he insisted on taking his shoes off even though I told him not to bother. It’s just what they do here, and is a definitely a cultural difference. Renee’s request may seem anal for American culture, but she’d be right at home here in Germany. Maybe she should move here and date a hot German guy who is just as concerned about cleanliness.

Renee Zellweger is shown at the 69th Annual American Ballet Theatre Spring Gala at the Metropolitan Opera in NY on 5/18/09. Credit: Wild1 / PR Photos

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31 Responses to “Renee Zellweger makes people wear hospital booties at her house”

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  1. caitlinsmommmy says:

    I’ve never given this that much thought before, but I think I’m going to start doing the same… more to cut down on dirt tracked in (and thus the need to constantly sweep my hardwood floors!) rather than due to a fear of germs.

  2. PrincessJay says:

    I don’t see a problem in this. It’s being healthy, plain and simple. I have plenty of friends that do this and I live in Philadelphia.

    P.S.-Doesn’t she look downright evil in that first pic? Almost demonic.

  3. OXA says:

    It could also be for allergies, all that pollen and stuff outside being tracked all over your home can be of concern to many people.

  4. Claude Yoola says:

    I’m Canadian and shoe removal inside the home is the norm here too. It’s considered rude and slobbish to leave your shoes on inside someone’s house. Everyone removes their shoes including delivery/service people, although some companies issue booties to their employees as a courtesy.

    I know plenty of Americans who have this rule but I understand it’s not the norm. Some Americans who aren’t used to it seem to find it anal and even faintly revolting – one man I spoke to about it thought it would be disgusting to have to smell people’s unshod feet around the house. I pointed out to him that keeping one’s feet encased in shoes for hours is a cause of foot odour, while even shoes with no visible muck or dirt on them are indeed filthy after even one use outdoors. He decided to try taking his shoes off at home and after a few weeks no longer had foot odour. After that, plus seeing the difference it made in helping keep floors and furniture clean, he and his wife adopted the custom themselves. It’s simple common sense, really.

    And yes Renee looks ridiculous in that first photo.

  5. bored says:

    Where I live, people remove thier shoes in the entrance before going further into the home. Is that not how it’s done in the US?

  6. bros says:

    Ive noticed that on the east coast it is far more common to leave your shoes on than on the west coast. I grew up in alaska and we all removed our shoes in the mudroom of anyone’s house before entering because everything was always muddy because of non-paved roads, etc. however, now living on the east coast, i have to ask people to please remove their shoes sometimes when they come over, which I find gross. I lived for a while in korea and china and no one would EVER walk into a house with shoes on because most living is done on the floor in these countries. people wear indoor slippers and when guests come over, they are provided slippers. restaurants, you take your shoes off before stepping onto the platform and sitting cross legged to eat. people sit and sleep on the floor in asia, and so cross-contamination would not work. also, floors in korea are usually heated because of this. there is always a little ante-room where everyone’s outside shoes are stacked and the indoor slippers are put on. the floors are extremely clean and washed almost daily!

  7. Claude Yoola says:

    @ Bored – ever watch American house-hunter-type shows? The real estate agent and buyers walk through people’s home with their shoes on. Even American sitcoms show people laying on beds or sofas with shod feet. As I said above, many Americans do remove their shoes inside their homes but it doesn’t seem to be a cultural norm as it is in Canada or Japan or other countries.

  8. Trace says:

    Removing your shoes in the house is the norm in Asian cultures. I think it’s common sense; why would you want all that dirt and grime tracked all over your floors and carpets?

  9. Jane Q. Doe says:

    I’ve noticed it’s becoming more of a trend to take off your shoes when entering someone’s home. Especially here in the Southern US, when kids (and adults) are used to being barefoot most of the time anyway.
    Rene does look odd in those photos.

  10. DivaStar says:

    When you come to my house you have to take your shoes off.

  11. TaylorB says:

    I agree with Bros, I live in MN it is snowy and or muddy 7-8 months out of the year, not to mention the sand and road salt on the soles of your shoes will ruin the carpets/floors. As for the booties, that is actually very thoughtful to offer them to guests; keeps your floors clean and the guests feet warm/clean as well.

    I was recently in an airport where they were kind enough to offer passengers sanitary booties in the security line, so that when you took off your shoes to be checked you didn’t have to stand barefoot or in stocking feet.

  12. Giz says:

    That’s not so far fetched. My mom was originally from the southern U.S. but we grew up in NY, so we were raised to take off our shoes before entering the house. We continue to do it out of habit and do the same when entering other homes, whather asked to or not.

    People shouldn’t feel offended when asked to remove their street shoes, it’s not any different than people ask guests not smoke in their homes. Like it or not, it’s just respect for another person’s home and property.

    Also isn’t this done is some Asian cultures?

  13. tooey says:

    I never thought about this until my son had a friend from South Korea (we live in TX) and you would have to take your shoes off at the front door. At first it seemed wierd, but when you think about everything your shoes step in, especially if you are unfortunate enough to have to use a public bathroom, ugh! I could totally incorporate the no shoes idea, though I wouldn’t use hospital booties!

  14. boo says:

    Ja ja! I get that. Keeps your house so much cleaner and wood floors unscratched.

  15. Bina says:

    Also, Renee is of Swiss German descent so maybe she learned the habit from there.

  16. wow says:

    she poses tooooo much to be as down-to-earth as she tries to come off.

    also, she has bulemia face and a skinny body. WHY is she doing bridget jone’s diarrhea 3? It’s just asking for trouble with her eating disorder.

    Also, BJD 2 SUCKED.

    she’s incredibly talented tho

  17. pebbles says:

    my kids have been taught to take their shoes off before coming in the house….but i feel uncomfortable asking guests to do so? is that strange?

  18. the original kate says:

    love that dress but renee’s poses are a bit freaky. as for the shoe debate, i think it’s fine to ask people to remove their shoes – it isn’t that uncommon. my bff is korean and she has a little shoe rack by the door for guests to place their shoes. but i think the hospital bootie idea is a bit much. i hate wearing shoes (and especially socks) so i’m always barefooted inside, even in winter. i don’t care if people wear shoes or not in my house – i have two big dogs so muck is always getting tracked around anyway. maybe i should put the booties on the dogs!

  19. Ally says:

    I find it really rude to ask guests to take shoes off. As the host, it’s your job to make them comfortable, not the other way round. Yes, shoes are germy, but all you have to do is mop & vacuum after the guests leave.

    It’s degrading to the guests and to the evening… nothing classy ever happens when everyone is in their socks (or hospital booties)! (Picture James Bond navigating a soirée in socks; or a Noel Coward-type dinner with all-socks under the table. Shudder.)

  20. Claude Yoola says:

    @ Ally: Many Americans feel the same as you. In other countries, it’s the expected norm however and quite rude to track dirt and mud through another person’s home. As for classy soirees, people adjust. People are quite aware of the difference between reality and a James Bond movie or fiction. They have no such expectations and would be considered pretty silly if they did. Far from being degraded, people are already comfortable with the custom and thus they don’t expect to wear shoes in the home. So they just make sure their socks or feet are clean and presentable, it’s a given. The custom is not even noticed, much less remarked upon.

    Hosts in other countries are not expected to allow their guests to damage or dirty their home. Guests who do are not welcome and aren’t invited back. There’s as much social pressure on guests to behave acceptably as there is on the host to be hospitable.

  21. CeeJay says:

    CB, I really don’t think this is a “cultural” thing, more likely a individual household thing. We never wear our shoes in the home and our family and friends always remove theirs at our door. We live north of Chicago and I find that the practice (rather than “custom”) varies from house to house, but I still end up taking mine off most of the time. There are some deviations though since some people have medical or physical conditions that require they wear their shoes. I for one like the disposable booty idea better than buying “guest slippers”. If I don’t want bacteria and outside world germs in my home, why would I want to put my feet in a pair of slippers tons of other people have worn? Yuck!

  22. kh says:

    nothing weird about that. when i have guests over i insist that shoes are removed and provide slippers. for those that are stubborn and for maintenance-men etc. i stock over-shoe sanitary booties at home too!

  23. kh says:

    … what disgusts and weirds me out is people i’ve seen wear their shoes in bed, eeeew!

  24. Nony says:

    No shoes inside my house either, I have a shoe rack by the door and some slippers for people to use. I think hospital booties are a bit much though.

    For me it’s not so much a sanitary concern as that I just find shoes in the house big and clunky, and this is not really a noiseproof house so it helps keep the sound down as well.

    Most visitors know to take their shoes off; I won’t make anyone, but it’s appreciated.

  25. BB says:

    I think shoes HAVE to come off before entering a house, especially if you have babies or toddlers.

    I understand that many people say “what’s the big deal? just clean up afterwards!”, but what happens when you have a baby crawling or a toddler who plays on the floor most of the time? And we all know how kids touch stuff, then put their hands (or stuff) in their mouths…

    Do you really want people who may have stepped through streets, shops, public toilets etc. to step where your baby is crawling with their little hands?

  26. piedlourde says:

    Here in Sweden the majority of homes are shoe-free, except for bigger events such as a nice dinner or party where guests keep their heels/dress shoes on. I guess the latter scenario was what Ally was the most outraged about. 😉

  27. Suzy says:

    I live in a 4 level townhouse condo and in almost every room, I have a white, or near white rug. My kids are all grown up, so it doesn’t matter. They’re trained to not even think about wearing their shoes around the house. I don’t think it’s weird one bit. Who wants a bunch of mud, dirt and dust from someone that doesn’t give a crap about you, nor your house?

  28. Sarah says:

    I tell you it is a custom for some countries. Try to leave your shoes on in Sweden. Big mistake… total no go. But totally understandable! All of the snow-turned-dirty-water you don’t want to have in your flat. As for the Germans, I also would rather say it’s not a general habit. Some do it, some don’t. I know a lot of households who don’t ask you to take of your shoes.

    I also kindly ask my visitors to take their shoes off while I offer warm house shoes. I personally don’t like to have dirt all over my place and that just very easily happens. That is in no way rude to my visitors since I do take care of them and won’t let them running around getting cold feet or so!

  29. DivaStar says:

    I don’t find it rude to ask guest to take off their shoes, I ask the maintenance man, cable guy, whoever comes into my home…

  30. Shoe cover guy says:

    Renee is certainly not alone–more and more people are having visitors put on shoe covers, and more and more companies that go into peoples’ homes are bringing shoe covers along with them. In fact, some companies and individuals are using automatic shoe cover dispensers such as those found at Shoe Inn (

  31. Allison says:

    I have a no shoes rule in my home. After living in Ny, I think that wearing shoes inside is gross! Plus, I like taking my shoes off after a long day! I find that even if I mop once a week and sweep regularly my feet and socks still get dirty! So I created a foot pad that sticks to the bottom of your foot or sock, Footums.