Top 6 Office Kitchen Etiquette Guidelines: Guaranteed to Wow Your Coworkers

fish smell microwave

Okay, many of us work in an office, and we can all agree that there’s a special place in hell for people who microwave fish for lunch (I just did this two hours ago with leftover tuna casserole. #Iregretnothing).

So, without further ado, and as penance for my hypocritical, preachy ways, let’s review our top six kitchen and microwave etiquette rules your coworkers will thank you for following!

  • Splatter protection (and cleanup) is a thing

Red sauce, tomato soup, and oatmeal are examples of things best left covered, because they will splatter and turn the microwave into a miniature war diorama. Use a paper towel, a plate, or a lid left ajar to keep explosions at bay. If mishaps do occur, take a moment to clean up and don’t leave it for the poor, unsuspecting soul after you. They will hate you for the rest of your natural life.

  • Sharing is caring

Ah, the microwave. Such a tool of convenience. Not so convenient when the person ahead of you likes reheating five-course meals. I once had a woman ahead of me using the one kitchen microwave we had to reheat literally all of the things for an office potluck.

Don’t be her.

If it takes longer than a few minutes to heat up, and there’s a queue of coworkers behind you with daggers in their eyes, you may want to opt for something simpler.

  • Fish, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts – oh my!

No one wants their morning yogurt to taste like last night’s tilapia. Fish should be microwaved for a maximum of 30 seconds, before it really starts to permeate the space to the ire of anyone in a 20 foot radius (and to the poor individuals whose desks are closest to the kitchen). Fish isn’t the only culprit though – broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts are also repeat offenders. This rule is only exempt if said microwaves have an unusually effective air filter (hint: they don’t).

  • Respect the laws of the fridge

When you have a large office, space in the fridge is a valuable commodity. Only refrigerate what needs to be kept cold, label what’s yours, and remove your food before it starts looking like something from Alien.

  • Stand Your Ground

Alright, I’m guilty of this as well. If you’re microwaving something, do not leave the kitchen until it’s done and you physically remove it. I have no qualms with throwing the delicates you left for over two hours in the shared dryer in my apartment building, but there’s something just downright sacrilegious in removing other people’s food.

So, in short, unless a nuclear bomb is rapidly descending on your office building and you have just seconds to spare, you will stand by that damn microwave while your food is cooking and you will like it.

  • Keep it Clean

The road to hell is paved in used teabags. If everyone left a small mess, we’d wind up with something in between complete chaos and anarchy. Take the time to throw your trash out, rinse the sink, wipe up spills and crumbs, and remove your used Tupperware and coffee mugs.


At the end of the day, we’d all rather be dining at the god damn Four Seasons every day instead of reheating cold tuna casseroles, but it is what it is. So, until that day comes, treat our shared spaces like you would if you were a guest at a friend’s house, and everyone will thank you!

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