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8 Things You Shouldn’t Touch in Someone Else’s Home

Follow this etiquette advice when visiting someone's house to keep your host happy.

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Cropped view of collector knocking on door with hand

A Hands-Off Approach

There are still plenty of other germs and bacteria that stick to surfaces, and you might be surprised by just how many things you touch and pick up without even noticing. It’s not always a matter of good hygiene — sometimes it’s just a matter of good manners!

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Modern style door handle on natural wooden door

The Door

Of course, you can actually touch the door. But you should never do so to let yourself into someone else’s home without being invited. Always knock or ring the doorbell, even if it’s unlocked, unless someone has expressly told you that you don’t have to. And please, don’t show up knocking earlier than expected — it could be a huge inconvenience to your host.

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Loft bedroom with lamp turned off.

Their Bedroom

As with most of the things on this list, avoid this unless you’re specifically invited. Try not to stray after your trip to the bathroom for a look around — it’s definitely off-limits if you don’t have permission, or go in without your host knowing.

Of course, there are exceptions. It may not be so serious an offense if you know the person well, or if they live in a shared living space, a studio, or an apartment with limited space. And on that note, it’s best to wait until you’re invited to sit or relax on someone’s bed.

Many people also find a bedroom convenient to store coats when guests are coming over. Just wait until they offer instead of assuming it’s OK.

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Welcome home doormat with open door

The Floor — With Your Shoes On

Depending on personal preferences or cultural norms, many households have a no-shoes-inside policy. Take the tip from your host. If they’re wearing shoes in their house, you can probably assume it’s OK for you. When in doubt, ask what they would prefer.

Another place you shouldn’t put your feet? On the couch or coffee table.

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beautiful house, interior, view of the kitchen

The Refrigerator and Cupboards

This one might sound like it should go without saying, but some might not realize just how rude it is to help yourself to someone else’s food.

If you’re hungry, let your host know, or suggest going out to eat. If you’re staying for a long time, your host will probably prepare and shop for food accordingly, but it’s a good idea to offer to bring or buy some groceries yourself. And if you came for dinner, eat what’s been prepared for you, and offer to bring a dish or wine to share.

If you have a restricted diet, let your host know beforehand and prepare a dish to bring if it’s difficult to accommodate. Offer to help cook, then lend a hand with the dishes and cleanup.

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Two modern windows with uv protection curtain on white wall, outdoor view

The Windows or Thermostat

Always let your hosts set the thermostat temperature. It’s their house, after all, and they’re the ones paying the bill for it.

If you’re really too cold, ask to borrow a sweater, or extra blankets if you’ll be staying overnight. Too hot? Suggest an activity to help cool off, like going to a place with air conditioning. If you have a medical condition that makes you particularly sensitive to heat or cold, always inform your host ahead of time so you can plan accordingly.

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Drawers and Cabinets

This one is definitely invasive of your host’s privacy. Don’t go rummaging for anything that’s not in plain sight or in the rooms your host expects you to be. You might find it tempting to snoop, but the medicine cabinet is certainly off-limits.

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Two letters sticking out of a letterbox on a white door, space for copy

Workspaces, Mail or Bills

To go along with the last one, it’s always best to avoid snooping. In some homes, a guest bedroom might also double as a home office, so steer clear of storing your things in these spaces. You have no idea how they organize their things, so try to leave it as is.

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The WiFi

Avoid asking for the WiFi password unless you’re a long-term guest or a frequent visitor. If you’re asking at the beginning of a dinner party, it’s sending the message that you’d rather be on your phone. Try to stay off your phone as much as possible to maximize quality time when you’re visiting.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest