Even if you have a no-shoe policy in your house, there will be times when you need to dash inside with your shoes on for one last thing, or when a handyman or repair person needs to wear work boots indoors.
For these situations — and for shoe-on houses — doormats are essential.
“With a good brush and stomp, doormats can prevent debris, wet snow and dripping rainwater from entering your home,” says Lindsey Handel, a buyer for the garden and home store Terrain in Pennsylvania.
Doormats may help with a comprehensive allergy-fighting plan, too, says Stephen Kimura, a board-certified allergist in Pensacola, Florida.
“If you’re going to wear your shoes in the house, at least wiping them is going to help some. We’ve got pollen season now year-round, so these measures are important,” Kimura says.
Kimura’s family doesn’t wear shoes indoors, but they do have inexpensive washable cotton mats with rubber backings at each door to catch crud and set shoes on.
The right doormat for your house depends on whether it will be completely exposed or under a covered porch.
For exposure, Handel recommends coir; for covered exposure, she says you can go for a less-durable jute-and-coir mix. The best thickness depends on whether the mat is inside or outside.
“It’s nice to have a softer and thinner rug inside and a more bristly, durable one outside,” says Joy Cho, of California design studio Oh Joy.
Although Cho, with two children, has a no-shoe policy at home, she considers doormats a “decorative and a fun way to greet guests” and help catch dirt, water and snow before shoes are placed inside the door. If you have one main entry, Cho says to go “with one you really love that makes a statement or has a fun greeting.”
For secondary entries, she suggests coordinating the look of those mats. For interior entryways, she recently designed some washable interior entry rugs for Lorena Canals.
For exterior doors, she likes vinyl Chilewich mats, which are mold-, mildew- and chlorine-resistant, with a water-blocking, slip-resistant vinyl backing.
The company’s latest design, Simple Stripe, has a functional stripe made of PVC yarns that scrape away debris.
Terrain’s Handel says that in most climates the fiber coir, made from coconut husks, is best for exterior doormats that are exposed to the weather.
“The thicker and scratchier the doormat you can find, the better” for scraping off dirt, she says.
She prefers a knot-patterned weave doormat for its classic look. These can be found almost everywhere, including Home Depot, which has the Entryways Knot-Ical handwoven coconut-fiber doormat.
In the Midwest and Northeast, doormats need to be winterproof. The Chicago-based co-founders of the Everygirl Media Group, Alaina Kaczmarski and Danielle Moss, both use coir doormats to dust off the snow.
“The bristles absorb moisture and actually catch the snow as you brush your feet off,” Kaczmarski says. Coir doesn’t always last past a season, but she says it’s worth buying because coir is best at snow removal.
Kaczmarski and Moss like coir mats from Williams-Sonoma, such as the French stripe doormat. For a multiseason mat that can handle whatever winter throws at it, try a lobster-rope mat, says Lisa Myers, owner of home-goods store Capers in Seattle.
“They work to shed the water and they have a little bit of coarseness to the rope that takes the dirt off,” Myers says.
She highlights the Rope Co.’s doormats, handmade in Maine by fifth-generation lobstermen.
“They’re super durable. I had a similar one for many years, and I just hosed it down and it keeps looking great. I’ve used rope mats on several projects, usually beach or summer homes,” says Josh Linder, owner of Evolve Residential in Boston.
They are “a fun first peek into the interior of the home, but also are incredibly rugged and well wearing,” he says. “Rope, made for the oceans … is intended to take a beating.”