Home > Articles > Office Refrigerator Rules - Complete Guide

Office Refrigerator Rules - Complete Guide

Office refrigerator rules are necessary for a clean and happy workplace. Because the break room and refrigerator are common ground to all employees, it’s important to ensure that everyone feels at home. Not everyone has the same living habits, so rules are essential to set an office-wide standard to eliminate any confusion. No one likes having to be disciplined for respecting common areas. Before you are forced to endure management intervention, keep in mind these simple rules for sharing the refrigerator in the workplace.

Keep It Clean

A leaky container in a refrigerator can make a real mess. If everyone wiped up spills and dirt from shelves, there would be little need for regular office fridge cleaning. It is so easy to say that you will address the mess later, but it’s also easy to get lost in your work and forget all about it. It takes less than a minute to grab a sponge, paper towel or dishcloth and remove any liquid or food particles. In fact, if you want to go the extra mile for your coworkers, take a couple more minutes and wipe up any other soiled areas that you see. Lining refrigerator shelves is another idea for keeping messes from building up.

Not Your Private Fridge

Packing your lunch each day and depositing it into an area of the office fridge may seem repetitive. Perhaps you’d rather just stock up and bring sacks of food for the entire week. Though this seems like a fantastic idea, it takes up a lot of room in the fridge, leaving little space for your coworkers’ items. When there is little or no room for anyone else, food becomes crammed into the refrigerator, getting smashed and causing spills. Keep in mind that you are only borrowing the appliance, so try to use a limited amount of refrigerator space each day.

No Stealing Food

You have seen that same piece of pie in the office refrigerator for three days now. Perhaps someone doesn't want it, or maybe the owner is no longer employed with the company. You’re super hungry, and it looks delicious. While refrigerator food labels are a good way to know whose food is whose, unmarked containers still don’t belong to you. Taking someone’s food is pretty uncool, even if you do it by accident. To play it safe, just remember that if it’s not yours, it’s best to leave it alone. 

Work Refrigerator Etiquette Is for Everyone

Have a puffed out chest from that recent promotion? That does not mean that you are exempt from following workplace refrigerator rules. In fact, you should be an example to others that going beyond what is expected often pays off. Throw away moldy food and empty soda cans that are taking up precious space in the refrigerator. Show others that taking that extra step in helping the company is appreciated. 

Routine Office Fridge Clean Out

Your company may have an office refrigerator policy for routine cleaning. If not, approach management and ask if you can create a volunteer fridge cleaning schedule. Late Friday afternoon is a great time for removing those smelly items and crumpled-up bags from shelves. Send out an email to employees to come and retrieve their items that you have lined up on a table. Then, mix up soap and water to wipe down refrigerator shelves and walls. You will be surprised just how much dried food and sticky liquids can build up in a week's time!

Don't Be Selfish

If you have leftovers from eating out or a big dinner at home, it’s a good idea to share. Leaving these items in the office refrigerator to spoil doesn’t do anyone good. Offer your food to others who are eating in the breakroom, or let it be known in your department that you have brought too much food and would like to share. You never know who forgot to pack lunch that day. It never hurts to offer instead of tossing extras in the trash. That way, you’re eliminating food waste and helping out your fellow coworkers. Win-win!

Office refrigerator etiquette boils down to having common sense and considering the next person. If management does create an office refrigerator policy, respect it. Do your part to be part of a team that values having a place to keep lunches cool.