How to self-isolate if you live in a houseshare

Let’s be honest – there’s probably a little part of you that thinks self-isolation sounds a bit fun. Especially if you’re not showing symptoms and it’s just a precaution.

Picture it – staying snug inside your cosy home, working in your pyjamas, getting your food delivered, not having to interact with anyone or be sociable at all. Sounds kind of nice.

But with the majority of millennials renting and loads of us living in cramped houseshares, how do we self-isolate when we share a kitchen, bathroom and communal spaces with flatmates?

That’s all your surfaces, the door handles, the toilet seat, the mugs, the plates, the cutlery – all being used by lots of different people.

So what’s the deal if one of you has to self-isolate? Do the others still go to work? And are they putting people at risk if they pick up germs from home and bring them out into the world?

If you follow these guidelines to the letter, you should be OK to continue to go to work even if someone in your house is self-isolating. But always check with your employer to be sure.

The Government advice on self-isolation says you should stay in a ‘well-ventilated room with a window to the outside that can be opened, separate from other people in your home. Keep the door closed.’

Wow. Suddenly this sounds less fun.

So if you are living in a flatshare, you’ll have to stay in your room as much as possible. Here’s hoping you don’t have the box room.

Living in shared accommodation

The NHS has issued some pretty clear guidance on how to self-isolate if you live in a houseshare:

  • Stay in your room with the door closed, only using communal kitchens, bathrooms and living areas when necessary.
  • Avoid using a shared kitchen while others are using it.
  • Take your meals back to your room to eat.
  • Use a dishwasher (if available) to clean and dry your used crockery and cutlery; if this is not possible, wash them by hand using detergent and warm water and dry them thoroughly, using a separate tea towel.

Experts suggest using a separate bathroom from the rest of the household. But, if you’re not a millionaire and don’t have an ensuite in your tiny flatshare, you’ll just have to do a lot more deep cleaning.

‘If a separate bathroom is not available, consideration should be given to drawing up a bathroom rota for washing or bathing, with the isolated person using the facilities last, before thoroughly cleaning the bathroom themselves,’ reads the Government website.

Seperate yourself from your housemates

The official guidance is that you should be separate from other people in your home as much as possible.

So, no hanging out in the communal areas.

You should stay in a well-ventilated room with a window to the outside that can be opened, separate from other people in your home. Keep the door closed.

Only come out when necessary, and wear a facemask if one has been issued to you.

Use communal areas only when no one else is there, and don’t share plates, cups or kitchen utensils.

If there is a shared bathroom, make sure you use it after your housemates and deep clean it yourself after every time you use it.

‘Ensure the isolated person uses separate towels from other household members, both for drying themselves after bathing or showering and for hand hygiene purposes.’

When it comes to other communal areas, the guidance is to only use them when necessary, and wear a facemask when you are out of your room if one has been issued. You should also avoid using the kitchen while other people are using it.

Lonely, lonely times.

‘Use a dishwasher (if available) to clean and dry your used crockery and cutlery,’ adds the advice. ‘If this is not possible, wash them by hand using detergent and warm water and dry them thoroughly, using a separate tea towel.

‘If these recommendations cannot be implemented, then home isolation should be avoided.’

You shouldn’t share plates, glasses, cups, cutlery, towels, or bedding with anyone else in your home. After using these items, you should wash them thoroughly with soap and water – and keep track of which ones you are using.

So, really, less fun than we first thought.

If you’re not sure whether you should be self-isolating, check your symptoms and call 111 if you’re concerned. Don’t turn up at your GP if you’re displaying symptoms.

The safety of your housemates and the people they come into contact with really does need to be taken seriously.

So, if you are self-isolating, don’t be tempted to eat with your housemates or join in with movie night on the sofa. Hole up in your room until you’re definitely in the clear.

For the sake of a couple of weeks of boredom, it is definitely worth it.

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