Office Kitchen Etiquette Do's And Don'ts

women following office kitchen etiquette

Is your office kitchen area a savory or sour spot? Do smells emanating from the fridge or microwave turn your stomach? Do you constantly find some of your items missing, or have to deal with crumbs and dirty dishes that weren’t yours?

Aah, the challenges of office kitchen co-existence. We all know them, but what can we do to make the office kitchen an oasis rather than a scene of dish rage?

An office kitchen needs to be effectively managed, just like every other communal space in the company. But doing so has its challenges, especially if the space is crammed compared to the number of people using it.

Here are some quick Do’s and Don’ts for optimum office kitchen etiquette:


  • Keep your use of space in the fridge to a minimum to respect other people’s needs.
  • Discard any perishable food you haven’t eaten by the end of each week.
  • Respect the rules of the kitchen, whether it’s wiping up your spills in the microwave or rinsing out your coffee mug.
  • Leave the space the way it was before you walked in.
  • Let the appropriate person know if any company-supplied item runs out.
  • Take only a small amount of any food that is placed out to share, and thank the person who brought it.
  • Pay attention and comply with any fridge clean-out policies.
  • Stay with your coffee or microwaved item, rather than leave and come back later.



  • Misuse time in the kitchen for catching up socially with your colleagues.
  • Assume if something in the fridge isn’t labeled, it is OK for you to consume.
  • Take the last of any supply without seeing if you can re-stock it from a supply cabinet.
  • Leave dirty dishes in the sink (even if you do this at home).
  • Leave crumbs, napkins, or anything else on the counter.
  • Ignore any rules that are posted.
  • Dump rotten food in the trash – take it home and dispose of it there.
  • Leave nasty notes to your colleagues whom you suspect are swiping your stash.
  • Bring in all your holiday leftover sweets – unless sanctioned by your company.
  • Take tea bags, cups, sugar, or any other items with you for home use.


When in doubt about kitchen policies, ask the person in charge of setting and posting them. The overarching guideline for kitchen etiquette is to be respectful of the kitchen and your co-worker’s belongings. Remember: there’s no “mom” to clean up after you, so do it yourself – and do everybody in the office a favor. 

Have any other “food for thought” about office kitchen etiquette? Let us know how we can all make the kitchen a little more appetizing! Post your comments below.


If you would like to take a break from using the office kitchen for lunch, consider one of our Lunch and Learn seminars! We provide lunch and share our popular financial tips in less than an hour. Find out why this is such a popular program, and look at the many topics we currently have on the menu. 

Get free financial education at our upcoming webinars and seminars


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About Author

Maria Porto
Maria Porto

Maria Porto is Hanscom FCU's assistant vice president of partner relations. She may be reached at

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