Care workers visiting self-isolating people in their homes were told to buy their own soap and hand sanitiser because of shortages.
They were also advised to wash their hands in cafés or public conveniences.
Norfolk County Council said shortages were a national problem during the coronavirus pandemic, but supplies had arrived at the weekend.
A spokesman said the council was doing "everything we can to ensure staff have the equipment they need to keep safe".
A letter from the council's head of human resources, Derryth Wright, seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, said where contact with a person in self-isolation was critical, staff should use "pragmatic alternatives".
Care workers were told "supply your own soap rather than using the householders' " and were "advised to purchase paper towels, kitchen roll, or napkins".
The letter, understood to have been sent to staff late last week, also advised care workers to "find somewhere to wash your hands such as public facilities, or a café".
Clive Lewis, Labour MP for Norwich South, said the shortage was "appalling and worrying", adding: "How have we ended up with workers who keep us safe having to put themselves at avoidable risk to do their jobs?"
Craig Chalmers, the council's director of community social work, said looking after clients was "a top priority" but that national supplies had initially gone to areas with the earliest outbreaks.
A delivery of 1,000 bottles of hand sanitiser and a consignment of gloves had arrived at the weekend, he said, ensuring staff could "keep safe in their work".
He said guidance had been provided "in the interim", asking staff to buy supplies whenever they could, for which they would be reimbursed.