When you live with someone else for the first time, sharing a bathroom can get a bit messy — both literally, and in terms of boundaries. You both use the same space to shower, wash your face, brush your teeth, dry and brush your hair, get ready for work, get ready for parties, and catch up on gossip (look, bathroom socializing is a thing, OK?) You share toilet paper, and you share cleaning supply costs. But no matter how close the two of you are with each other, there are some things you should never share. You may already know that lipgloss can spread cold sores, but — surprise! — bars of soap can be war zones for germs. A toilet bowl alone can harbor up to 500 million individual bacteria cells (gross), and really commonplace things — like towels and toothbrush dispensers — can be problematic if you're not careful.
Of course, you can’t keep everything sterilized all the time (having a little bacteria around won’t kill you), but in case you’re looking to double down on some hygienic tips to make your life a little cleaner, I've got you covered. Whether you're sharing a bathroom with a new roommate, a sibling, or a significant other, here's how to do it without going completely insane.
1. Makeup and Toiletry Storage
Your shade of Rouge D'Armani Sheer Lipstick might be your favorite, but don’t let it become your roommate’s favorite as well. Sharing makeup is an easy way to spread disease — products like eyeshadow can lead to a little thing called conjunctivitis infection (otherwise known as pinkeye), which is never pretty.
Sure, you might be really tight with your roommate, but she can get her own beauty supplies. Rather than keep your makeup out in the open, which can lead to clutter and confusion, pack up your cosmetics into an airtight tupperware container and store them in a drawer and away from any windows (sunlight can damage makeup and make it spoil sooner). This makes it much harder to mix up your beauty supplies with your roommate's.
2. Watch out for those toothbrushes
Obviously, you know not to share toothbrushes, but it's also important to be mindful of where you store them as well. The American Dental Association recommends that you keep toothbrushes dry and in an upright toothbrush holder — just not the same toothbrush holder as your roommate. Having two toothbrushes next to each other increases the risk of cross-contamination.
3. Say No To Sharing Shower Gear
Yes, bathtubs are a source of relaxation for most, but they can be a source of some pretty gross stuff as well. Even something so simple as a bar of soap — a shower necessity we assume is the epitome of bacteria-stomping goodness — has a a few dirty secrets. According to one 2006 study, a single bar of soap shared between multiple people can play host to a whole slew of microorganisms that can lead to the spread of infection — and make you sick. If possible, try to use a liquid soap dispenser instead, or better yet, your own body wash, rather than a bar. In some instances, sharing really isn’t caring.
And while we're on the subject of things that are gross, the Center for Disease Control says that another easy way to get pinkeye is by sharing towels, so make sure your roommate and you each have a few of your own.
4. Periodic Cleaning
I get it — life can be hectic. But as you're cramming for tests, getting ready for work, and checking everything else off your to-do list, please, please, make sure you're taking a few minutes to do a little bathroom maintenance as well (this is one thing you actually can share with your roommate). Aside from the obvious wiping down of counters and scrubbing your toilet bowl, there are a few other things to consider. If your shower has a fabric shower curtain, make an effort to throw it into the wash every month or two so that mildew doesn’t build up. And, make sure to use an all-purpose cleaner pretty much everywhere, even to wipe down your walls, just to make sure all your bases are covered.