How to Self-Isolate in a Shared House or Apartment

Published April 14, 2020
Woman in bed with the flu

Self-isolating isn't easy, especially if you live in a shared house or apartment. Knowing how to self-isolate in a shared house can make sure that you or your roommates avoid getting sick from illnesses like the coronavirus or influenza. Learn measures that you can take to isolate yourself while sharing a space with others.

Self-Isolation From Roommates Using Guidelines

Living in a shared house can be hard. Living in a shared house during the cold and flu season can be a nightmare. With new pathogens popping up like COVID-19 and H1N1, it's important to make sure that you and everyone in your home are taking the right steps to self-isolate. To ensure that you or someone you live with doesn't spread disease, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offers some great guidelines to keep yourself healthy. Most importantly, you'll want to set out guidelines for your roommates in case anyone does get sick to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Clean and Disinfect Kitchen & Bathrooms

If you have your own bathroom in a shared house, you are one of the lucky ones. However, many roomies need to share both a kitchen and bathroom. If you or one of your housemates is sick, it's important to clean and disinfect any area before you touch it. Many germs can live outside of the body for several hours to days, depending on the surface. You'll also want to wipe down all the surfaces that you touch with disinfectant, especially if you're the one sick.

Woman cleaning table with disinfectant spray

Set a Schedule for Using Shared Areas

You might also want to consider setting up a schedule for using shared areas like the kitchen or bathroom. For example, you might want to set a showering schedule with the sick person using it last then the room can be disinfected. For areas like the kitchen or the laundry, if it's impossible to avoid others, make sure to maintain a safe distance (about 6 feet) from one another and wear a protective mask over your face.

Disinfect "High Touch" Areas

Disinfecting will be key to avoiding the spread of the disease. This is especially important when it comes to "high touch" areas like:

  • Toilets
  • Doorknobs
  • Bathroom and kitchen fixtures
  • Remotes
  • Counters
  • Tables

Prior to touching any of these areas, you'll want to ensure that you properly disinfect the area. If possible, you'll want to touch or be in "high-touch" areas as little as possible. This means that other than going to the restroom or making a meal, you'll want to spend the majority of your time in your room.

Mature woman wiping down a doorknob

Self-Isolation in a Shared Room

If you share a room with someone, trying to stay away from one another is going to be difficult. If your roommate gets sick, the well one might want to consider camping out in another room until the person is better. However, if this is not a possibility like in a dorm room, it will be vitally important to use personal hygiene practices often and keep your area disinfected. This will include nightstands, dressers, closet handles, etc. Additionally, you could consider using clothesline and blankets or room dividers to divide the room to provide a barrier between you and your roommate.

Do Not Share Household Items

You and your roomies might be used to sharing your stuff, but during self-isolation, you'll want to avoid sharing things as much as possible. This means that you'll want to:

  • Always clean and sanitize any of the dishes you use.
  • Designate specific dishes to yourself and your housemates if possible.
  • Keep your towels, bedding, blankets, etc. separated from your flatmates.
  • Disinfect keyboards, computers, tablets, phones, etc., prior to and after use.
  • Pack up bathroom items like brushes, toothbrushes, soaps, etc., and take them with you every time you go into the bathroom.
  • Do not leave any of your personal items in a shared space if possible.

Use Personal Hygiene Practices Often

Wash, wash and wash your hands. Most germs are spread by your hands. It's important to properly wash your hands every time you might come into contact with a contaminated surface. In addition to just washing your hands, you'll want to make sure that you:

  • Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose and mouth as much as possible.
  • Use gloves to clean any contaminated surfaces and dispose of them quickly.
  • Keep 6 feet away from anyone that might potentially be sick.
  • Sneeze or cough into your elbow or a tissue and dispose of it quickly.
  • Wear a mask around others if you are ill, this could even be a simple homemade mask to stop droplets from spreading.
Man coughing at his elbow

Staying Isolated in a Shared Apartment

It's not easy to self-isolate. But knowing how to self-isolate in a shared house can be a nightmare. Making sure that you and your roommates are on the same page and everyone knows what to do in case you need to self-isolate can ensure that everyone stays healthy and happy.

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How to Self-Isolate in a Shared House or Apartment