The 14 essential rules of office kitchen etiquette

Coworkers in office kitchen
All Photos by Anthony Humphreys

Your office kitchen can sometimes feel like a lawless, post-apocalyptic desert littered with empty K-Cups, spilled Sweet'N Low, and stale donuts from the last time someone brought in donuts (January 2008). But there are rules to coexisting in a work kitchen, and you should be following them. Obey the 14 commandments below to avoid future altercations by the water cooler.

Girls gossiping in front of coworker

1. This is not the space to update your work friends on personal stories
Besides, it's a bad career move if your boss overhears your tale of how you just took a three hour nap on the toilet.

2. If someone shares their baked goods with the group, you’re taking just one cookie, slice, or brownie
Otherwise, people will be rage-whispering about the Two-Blondie Incident of '14 for days.

3. Respect the limited fridge space
You might’ve scored a sweet deal on a case of Zevia, but you’re only keeping one or two cans in there at a time. People have actual lunches -- and actual sodas! -- to chill, too.

4. Do not forget about the perishable foods you stashed in the fridge, either
Remembering you put some leftover guac in there a week ago is six days too late.

Guy stealing his coworker's lunch

5. No stealing people’s lunches, snacks, or fancy coconut waters
You are not Janet, and you know it. Go around the corner to the deli like a decent person.

6. On the flip side, milk, spreads, and condiments are fair game
Unless Janet also marked the 1% as hers -- in which case, Janet is a tyrant -- you can grab that stuff without a second thought.

7. If you drained the coffee pot, you’re filling it back up
Where were you raised, a barn? Or worse, a barn without coffee?

8. An office mug isn’t yours unless you purchased it yourself
And you should definitely not bring those into the kitchen, because they will be stolen.

9. Do not assemble your multi-Tupperware meal in the middle of coffee rush hour
Unless you want to be "accidentally" elbowed by seven people trying to get some java as you prepare your complicated leftovers. That inexplicably ripped guy in accounting might even headbutt you.

Guy microwaving smelly lunch

10. No microwaving anything that already smells awful
Is that fish?! Eat that stuff at home, you odor terrorist.

11. Also, if something you put in there splatters, clean up the guts
No one but you thinks those gobs of spaghetti sauce on the microwave ceiling really "tie the space together".

12. If even one person is waiting behind you, you’ve got two minutes max with the toaster oven or microwave
They don’t care if the cheese on your pizza bagel isn’t quite melted enough. You shouldn't either.

13. Don't overload the sink
Got a dishwasher? You should really be storing your stuff there. If not, you should still be doing your part to keep the sink from shooting dirty plates on the floor.

14. In general, just try not to leave the space in frat house shambles
We know you’re busy, but it’ll make your coworkers hate you less.

Kristin Hunt is a food/drink staff writer for Thrillist, and would like to thank her coworkers for tolerating all the weird stuff she stores in the fridge for photo shoots. Follow her at @kristin_hunt.