How to Set Up Your Home for Self-Quarantine

Keep your loved ones safe by staying inside

a living room in an ohio home


Charlotte Couch


Jan 21, 2021

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Nowadays, it seems like the only thing people can talk about is the COVID-19 pandemic. The rise in infection rates and the growing possibility of a nationwide lockdown has put many people on edge. Grocery store shelves are quickly being emptied from worried shoppers hoarding supplies. Stores and restaurants are shutting down. No one knows for certain when things will start to get back to normal. As a result, thousands of Americans are starting to self-quarantine and socially distance themselves from each other.  

But what does self-quarantining entail? How can you do it effectively? What are you supposed to do if you think you might be sick? To help you out, we have assembled a comprehensive guide to setting up your home for self-quarantine.

Self-Observation vs. Self-Monitoring vs. Self-Quarantining

These terms are often used interchangeably, but they differ from each other in several ways

Woman sit on bed
You have probably heard the terms “self-observation,” “self-monitoring,” and “self-quarantining” thrown around lately. But what do they all entail exactly?


For starters, self-observation is something everyone in the United States should be practicing. This involves maintaining an acute awareness of your health. Making sure you aren’t developing a fever, cough, or breathing problems is important, especially if you are concerned that you may have been exposed to the virus. If you start experiencing these symptoms, you need to call your doctor or local health department.


Self-monitoring must be implemented for people who believe they may have come into direct contact with the virus. People should check their temperature twice a day to ensure they are not developing a fever while also staying alert for any coughing or difficulty breathing. Should they begin developing any symptoms, they will need to isolate themselves, limit contact with others, and contact their health care provider or local health department.


People who have tested positive for coronavirus must isolate themselves at home. Part of this ability to self-quarantine does rely on the honor system, but there can be penalties for people who break it. A family in Missouri found themselves in hot water after they broke their county health department’s instructions to stay at home. After one of the family members tested presumptively positive for COVID-19, the patient’s father took another daughter to a school dance. According to CNN, health officials could seek a court order and issue a formal quarantine for the family.

If you or a family member becomes infected with coronavirus, it is imperative that you isolate yourself from the rest of the household. You will also need to stay in place in your house and to avoid going anywhere you can spread the illness. Now is the time to calmly plan ahead and set up your household properly should you need to self-quarantine.

The Rules of Self-Quarantine

Sticking by these rules can keep your loved ones safe and help lower the curve

Women holding Cellphone
Self-quarantine requires some simple preparation.

While the idea of being in self-quarantine isn’t pleasant, it is important to prepare for it just in case. There are a variety of rules provided by the CDC you need to follow. Your local or state health department will also provide a detailed list of protocols to abide by should you or someone you are living with need to self-quarantine.

Here are the key rules the CDC needs you to follow:

  • Stay home. This rule is pretty self-explanatory. You need to stay in your house or apartment until you are told you can leave. This generally lasts for about 14 days, but it can vary on a case-by-case basis. If you need medical attention, call your doctor’s office or ER to inform them you have coronavirus before coming.
  • Avoid public areas and public transportation. This one is also pretty simple. Do not go to work, school, the grocery store, bank, laundromat, etc. You get the point. No one likes staying inside, but in order to flatten the curve and prevent the spread of the virus, you will need to. You will also need to stay off buses, trains, airplanes, and ride-share services including Uber or Lyft.
  • Stay away from other household members. Try to stay in a specific room away from everyone else in your household. If possible, use a different bathroom as well. At the very least, try to keep a six-foot distance between you and others. If a friend or a family member needs to drop off any food or essential items, they should deliver it to your doorstep.

Following these rules is critical not only for your health but for the health of everyone around you.

Setting Up a Work From Home Space

Create a designated workspace to stay focused

Desktop Computer
Working from home is a key piece of the self-quarantine puzzle.

Most companies are having their employees work from home for the time being. For many people, this is a jarring transition from a normal office environment to their home environment. You no longer have your own space designated for work. Instead of coworkers, you are surrounded by family members. Rather than working at a strict schedule, you have some more flexibility with when you start and finish.

Here are some steps you can take to make the transition as smooth and seamless as possible.

First, you need to find a space that can fit all of your necessary office supplies. If you are a graphic artist, you are going to need room for your computer as well as your artwork and notes. A consultant may need space for file cabinets. A business manager may need an area where he can privately take calls or video meetings. The workspace should also be quiet and at least semi-private. Sitting near the living room or kitchen can be distracting, especially if they are popular areas for household members to congregate in.

Lighting is another important factor to consider. Not only can natural lighting reduce headaches and eyestrain, but it can also help you become more productive. Don’t be afraid to add a plant or two as well. Research studies have found that keeping plants in your office can improve your mood and boost productivity.

Make sure this area, along with other places in the house, has good airflow. Turning on the air-conditioning or opening a window when the weather is nice can help ensure this.

How to Properly Disinfect Items and Keep Them Clean

Keeping a strict cleaning routine is key to staying safe during this pandemic

Floor Cleaning
In addition to self-quarantining, it's important to keep your home clean.

During your self-isolation, you will need to maintain the cleanliness of your surroundings. This includes washing kitchen items, towels, and bedding thoroughly with soap and water. You should also avoid sharing any of these items, as well as dishes, glasses, eating utensils, or cups with anyone in your house. Remember to clean high-touch surface areas, including chairs, tabletops, counters, doorknobs, keyboards, and bedside tables.

Researchers have found that the coronavirus can live on cardboard for up to 24 hours and up to two or three days on plastic and stainless steel. Household cleaners, such as sprays or wipes, are effective in disinfecting and cleaning up areas when used properly. For clothes, simply wash them with regular detergent and dry them at a slightly higher temperature than normal. This is usually enough to disinfect your clothes.

Cleaning and Disinfecting Tips

Cleaning and disinfecting are technically two different terms. Cleaning involves the removal of contaminants from an area while disinfecting aims to kill any pathogens left on a surface. The CDC recommends that citizens do a little bit of both. In fact, you should clean and disinfect your home on a regular basis if anyone has entered or exited it.

Cleaning and disinfecting is simple. Start by cleaning your high-use surfaces with cleaning spray and a hand towel. Make sure you remove any contaminants, dust, or debris from the surfaces. When you are finished cleaning, apply a disinfecting wipe or spray to the surface. You can find a disinfectant product online at Amazon or Walmart or at your local grocery store. Disinfectants that contain isopropyl alcohol or hydrogen peroxide are most effective against the virus.

If you aren’t able to purchase a disinfectant, you can make a homemade cleaning solution using household bleach. However, this solution should be used as a last resort as it may damage or discolor sensitive surfaces.

The formula includes:

  • 4 teaspoons household bleach
  • 1-quart water

You will need to pour both of these ingredients into a one-quart spray bottle before vigorously shaking it. Then, spray it on a surface and let it sit for 10 minutes. After the 10 minutes is up, wipe it away with a wet cloth.

Tips for Disinfecting Your Electronic Devices

Cleaning and disinfecting these devices can get a little tricky. For cell phones and tablets, use either a disinfecting wipe or a solution that contains 70% or more alcohol. Pay attention to the screen, buttons, and charger area where dust and lint tend to get trapped. If you have a case over the device, remove it, clean the device, place the case back on, and clean down the outside.

To disinfect your computer, wipe down the display with isopropyl alcohol and a soft towel. Since most displays are made of plastic and not glass, you will want to avoid using a traditional disinfecting wipe on the screen. Don’t forget to wipe down the keyboard, trackpad, mouse, and area where you rest your wrists.

Items You Should Stock Up On

Make sure you have these essential household items and food in your cabinets

Woman shopping in the market
What should you actually stock up on during a self-quarantine? Here are our tips.

Before the pandemic hit, grocery stores were filled to the brim with all the necessary supplies to get you through a couple of weeks. Nowadays, you are lucky if you can find a single roll of toilet paper on the shelf. This, coupled with the fact that you will want to stock up on two weeks’ worth of supplies, can add stress to an already tense situation. But it is possible to calmly, and smartly, stock up on supplies.

Avoid buying everything you see on the shelves. If you purchase food you wouldn’t normally eat or supplies you don’t usually need, it is likely just going to go to waste. It can also end up putting other shoppers in a bind. To start out, make a list of foods and items your family actually uses on a day-to-day basis. Try to find pantry items and frozen dishes, as they can last for several weeks.

Some useful items include:

  • Popcorn
  • Trail mix
  • Jelly
  • Oatmeal
  • Shelf-stable milk
  • Grains
  • Canned fruits and vegetables
  • Frozen meat and fish
  • Frozen fruit and vegetables

As for home supplies, make sure you have a reasonable amount of toilet paper, paper towels, laundry, and cleaning supplies on hand. This doesn’t mean you should hoard these supplies so that they last until next October. Instead, make sure that you are stocked up for at least the next couple of weeks. While there is no specific medication approved to treat the Coronavirus, make sure you have over-the-counter medications for treating colds and cases of flu. If you have any prescription medications, make sure you have a 30-day supply for them.

Adjusting to this new, but temporary, lifestyle will be difficult for everyone in the house. As humans, we crave social connections and relationships. But everyone is in this together. Now is the time to think about one another and the steps we can take to protect our neighbors, coworkers, friends, and family. This involves practicing social distancing and self-isolation. How have you been adjusting to the new way in which the country works and communicates with each other? Tell us in the comments below.

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March 26, 2020
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