How to Safely Share a Bathroom during a Pandemic

Having a personal bathroom is ideal because it provides the most amount of protection against contracting COVID-19.  

On the other hand, sharing a bathroom with others is considered a form of close contact. This means that if you share a bathroom with roommates, co-workers, or others, there’s a higher chance of getting the virus.   

If you do have a personal bathroom, remember to clean frequently touched surfaces on a regular basis. Avoid sharing your personal bathroom with others, including those you live with, and keep a set of towels and wash cloths for only you to use. 

But we understand that having a personal bathroom while attending college may be unrealistic, so here are some tips for safely sharing a bathroom with others. 

Sharing a Bathroom in the Home  

Whether youve decided to stay home with your family or returned to campus to live in an off-campus apartment or house with your best friends, there are still risks involved when you share a bathroom.   

Clean frequently touched surfaces daily or after each use if you are living with someone who is isolating or quarantining.  

Frequently touched surfaces may include, but are not limited to, the toilet seat, flush, sink, sink faucet, soap dispenser, light switches, cabinet doors, and doorknobs. Make sure to use aEPA-approved product that disinfects against COVID-19. 

Keep a separate set of towels for each person to use within your household. This means avoid sharing bath towels, hand towels, and wash cloths with your roommates. 

Flush the toilet with the lid down whenever possible because this will help prevent the virus from becoming airborne.  

Does your bathroom have a window? Keep it open to increase ventilation.  

Develop a shower schedule with your roommates. Doing so will ensure that the shower is completely dry in between each use. Showering on a regular basis can also help bring back some normalcy into your life.  

Remember to shower when returning home from work or school.

Sharing a Bathroom in the Residence Hall 

Compared to sharing a bathroom at home, a residence hall has a larger amount of people using the same bathroom, thus creating a larger pool of potential close contacts. However, keeping yourself safe is relatively like sharing a bathroom at home. 

Shared bathrooms should be cleaned on a regular basis in the residence halls by a general maintenance worker.   

However, you can help protect yourself even further by wiping down the stall door, lock, toilet seat, and flush before and after use with an EPA-approved product that disinfects against COVID-19.  

Also wipe down the sink, faucet, soap dispenser, and paper towel dispenser. It is not recommended to use a hot hand dryer because it can project the virus into the air around you, so use paper towels instead.  

If possible, flush the toilet with the lid down to prevent the virus from becoming airborne. And if you’re flexible enough, use your foot (not your fingers) to flush! 

Use your personal sink whenever possible. Several residence hall rooms have their own sinks, so use the sink within your room for getting ready and extra hand washing. 

Avoid setting personal items in the shower or sinkespecially your toothbrush. 

Need to shower? If your residence hall doesn’t have shower schedules in place, analyze the situation before jumping right in.   

If more than half of the showers are being used at once, you may be better off returning to your room and waiting for more showers to open. The showers may be busier in the mornings and evenings compared to the middle of the day or afternoon. Find a time that’s comfortable for you. 

Remember to always wear shower shoes when using a residence hall shower. Doing so is the norm because it protects yourself even further from picking up more germs.  

Bring personal shower supplies in a shower caddy or Ziploc bag. Also bring a robe into the bathroom and get dressed and ready in your room to limit the time spent in the shared space. 

Sharing a Public Bathroom 

While running essential errands, you may be better off waiting until you get home to avoid sharing a bathroom with a large quantity of people.  

However, this may not be possible icertain situations, like during your long shift at work. Keep these precautions in mind while using a bathroom in a public setting: 

  • Wash your hands before and after going to the bathroom.  
  • Carry disinfectant wipes with you and disinfect the stall door, stall lock, toilet seat, flush, sink, faucet, soap dispenser, and paper towel dispenser before and after use.  
  • If possible, flush with the toilet seat down to prevent the virus from becoming airborne. 

Remember these tips to keep yourself safe. Hopefully you can feel some extra relief as you relieve yourself! 

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Amy Nelson

Amy Nelson graduated in 2020 with a degree in Art: I-Design. As a student, she worked with the University Marketing & Communications team as a writer and photographer. She was hired after graduation to support public health communications during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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