How to Safely Share a Bathroom during a Pandemic

When living with others, there’s a chance that either you or one of your roommates needs to isolate or quarantine, and will need to figure out how to share a bathroom safely.

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

Daily Best Practices

Whether you are using a shared bathroom at home or in the dorms, or a public restroom, remember these basic tips:

  • Always wash and dry your hands after using the bathroom. Wash hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.
  • Keep the bathroom clean and disinfected on a regular basis.
  • Limit the amount of time spent in a shared or public restroom.
  • Wear a mask in a public restroom.
  • Avoid using your phone with unwashed hands.

Sharing a Bathroom in the Home  

If someone within your home is isolating, talk with your roommates about how you are going to share the bathroom safely. The CDC recommends to wait as long as possible before using a shared bathroom and to wear a mask while using the bathroom. 

    • Clean frequently touched surfaces in-between use. 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. 
    • Keep a separate set of towels for each person to use within your household. This helps to avoid sharing personal items.
    • Flush the toilet with the lid down whenever possible because to prevent the virus from becoming airborne. 
    • Increase ventilation by keeping a window open or fans on.  
    • Develop a shower schedule with your roommates. Doing so will ensure that the shower is completely dry in between each use.

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. 

Shared bathrooms are cleaned and disinfected on a regular basis in the residence halls by a general maintenance worker. However, if you want to be extra safe you can protect yourself further by bringing disinfectant wipes with you. 

    • If possible, flush the toilet with the lid down to prevent the virus from becoming airborne. 
    • Use your personal sink whenever possible as several residence hall rooms have their own sinks.
    • Avoid setting personal items in the shower or sinksuch as your toothbrush. Or consider bringing disinfectant wipes with you to clean the surface before getting ready.
    • Need to shower? Assess the situation before jumping in. If more than half the showers are being used, consider waiting and showering at a later time.
    • Remember to always wear shower shoes when using a residence hall shower. This has always been the norm because it protects yourself from picking up germs.  
    • Bring personal shower supplies in a shower caddy or Ziploc bag. 
    • Bring a robe with you when showering so you can get dressed and ready in your room. This helps to limit the time spent in the shared space. 

Sharing a Public Bathroom 

The biggest risk with using public restrooms is that we don’t know when they were last disinfected, how many people have used it, and if anyone that has used it–has symptoms or has been exposed to COVID-19.

When using a public bathroom, such as in between classes on campus or during a long shift at work, keep these tips in mind to help minimize the risk:

    • Always wash and dry your hands after using the bathroom.
    • Limit the time spent in the bathroom.
    • Wear a mask while using.
    • Avoid using your phone with unwashed hands.

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