The Office Courtesy Series: 10 Tips for Microwave Etiquette At Work

| March 20, 2017

Ah, the microwave. An essential, wonderfully convenient item in the workplace…except when the only available appliance to heat up food is a microwave splattered with someone else’s pasta sauce.  As office workers, what can we do to minimize microwave mess? Guidelines for microwave etiquette will help ensure a clean environment.

Dirty Microwave

A dirty office microwave is unsanitary and an inconvenience.

Microwaves are breeding grounds for germs. “If the health inspector came to your house or office, I doubt it would pass… a microwave can get pretty disgusting,” says Beth Kitchin, MS, RD, professor of nutrition sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “People are so afraid of food poisoning in restaurants, but studies have shown that our own kitchens are much worse than any restaurant.”

Tips on microwave etiquette

Steel microwave

Keeping the office microwave clean is a collaborative effort.

1. Wipe out the food spots and stop inner microwave stains by wiping down the area. Dishes like soups will splatter when you heat them up. Try covering the food to avoid this, or clean the microwave when your food is the culprit of a mess. Not only do food spots spoil your coworkers’ lunch experience, they also can attract bugs.

2. Don’t leave your food out. Leaving food to sit in the microwave prevents other people from heating up their food. However, people are human and forget things. Some recommend waiting thirty seconds before removing another’s food and inserting your own. However, don’t take out someone else’s food early—it’s not fair.

3. Reset settings: Try resetting the microwave to basic settings. Just like refilling a coffee pot after it reaches the bottom, resetting the microwave for the person behind you is considerate and convenient.

4. Save smelly food for elsewhere: Try to avoid heating up overly fragrant food for the sake of your coworkers. If possible, use the one farthest from your working area. Office managers, try using air fresheners near the microwave.

5. Keep it short and sweet: It’s not fair to constantly use the microwave for 8-minute meals. Try limiting microwave meals to three minutes. After all, you don’t want to delay your ravenous coworkers.

6. With explosions: If your food explodes and leaves meat sauce dripping in the microwave, you are the only one who is responsible for cleaning it up.

Of course, we want to establish solutions to the problem.

Office Microwave Sign

Posting a sign or a list of microwave etiquette rules and procedures can make a difference in creating awareness.

Here are a few microwave cleaning suggestions:

7. Swab the microwave, inside and out, with a household cleaner containing bleach. Then use water to wipe off the cleaner, or you’ll smell bleach after you cook.

8. Keep the microwave door open between uses to cut back on lingering odors.

9. Cover your food. Put plastic wrap on top of the container—not touching the food or sealing the container—to create steam that will heat food quickly and kill bacteria.

10. If you’re using the microwave to defrost food, make sure you cook it immediately afterwards because it’s already started to heat. Otherwise you’ll create an environment for bacteria to grow.

“There’s nothing worse than when someone doesn’t bother to clean up after their soup explodes,” said Cole Paulson, Manager at MyDoorSign. “We take the office microwave for granted, and I think having a code of conduct for kitchen items for everyone to follow would be really helpful.”

Category: Office courtesy

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