7 etiquette rules for using microwave at work



There’s a special place in hell for people who microwave fish at the office.

Recently I saw a three-fold disaster: microwaved shrimp curry that exploded everywhere, left a scent that lingered for almost 24 hours, and was abandoned with 0:04 seconds left on the clock. Why?! WHO RAISED YOU?

It’s time to stop being polite and start getting real about shared office microwave etiquette.

These are the commandments you should follow if you don’t want to have a scarlet letter on you at the office.

1. Thou Shalt Not Hog the Microwave

You know that frozen meal that takes seven minutes? MAKE IT FOR DINNER INSTEAD. If it takes more than three minutes, you shouldn’t be doing it! Three minutes is the absolute maximum you should be using a shared microwave. For one, you don’t want something to blow up or burn your mouth immediately, but also there’s probably a queue behind you. Just like in a horror movie, always look over your shoulder—if there’s a line forming, get outta there.

2. Thou Shalt Use Splatter Protection

Red sauce? Tomato soup? Oatmeal? Cover your container. Those will always splatter and leave the microwave walls looking like an abstract art exhibit. Use a paper towel, a plate, or a lid left ajar on top to keep explosions at bay. Oatmeal is one of those sneaky culprits that will bubble over and be impossible to clean. Yeah, the microwave plate gets super hot, but bite the bullet and clean it off if you make a huge mess.

3. Thou Shalt Avoid Smelly Foods

The max time fish can be in microwaved in 30 seconds, before it starts to really heat through and smell. It’s a gamble to put any sort of seafood in a microwave in a shared space. If someone’s desk is right next to the kitchen, they’re going to need to stock up on air fresheners, but even people a few rows away will probably have to smell it forever. Fish isn’t the only culprit, though—broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts are repeat offenders. Health is important, but at what cost? You’re only exempt from this rule if the kitchen is far away or the office has an unusually effective air filter.

4. Thou Shalt Clear. That. Timer!!!!

Oh, your food was done in five seconds than you expected? HIT CANCEL. HIT CLEAR. Don’t leave time on the clock! Let yourself be saved by the bell like Zack Morris. And if you for some reason put the microwave on “low power mode,” turn it back up to high when you’re done. That’ll help others from obeying rule No. 1.

5. Thou Shalt Fix What Is Broken

Would a DJ walk away from a broken turntable? No, and neither should you. If something’s busted in the microwave that you can fix, like the turntable not spinning, just take care of it. MacGyver it or ask someone for help. Microwave karma will come back to bite ya if you don’t.

6. Thou Shalt Not Walk Away

This is the one time you should disobey Kelly Clarkson’s “Walk Away” lyrics. Never walk away from the microwave unless you’re certain you’ll be back before it beeps uncontrollably. Maybe your co-worker Sharon will tell you about the dog she adopted and you’ll get distracted, leaving someone else waiting to use the microwave. Maybe you’ll get so caught up in drinking La Croix that you’ll curb your hunger and your sweet potatoes will sit in there for an hour. (If that’s you, who are you, even?)

7. Thou Shalt Not Touch Co-Workers’ Food

Leave your co-worker’s lunch alone! Even if you desperately need the microwave, don’t take someone else’s food out. People who move other people’s food are also the ones who take strangers’ clothes out of the washer at laundromat. Don’t be that jerk, or you might end up behind bars like George Bluth, Sr. NO TOUCHING!

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