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October 2019

10 tips for sharing a communal kitchen [update]

Written by Nicole Horne
Workplace Hygiene, Food Safety and Food Processing

Aside from the open plan office space, the office kitchen is the most frequented space in a company. It’s an area that receives a lot of visitors; from the first morning cuppa, to tea breaks, lunches and snack time. Because of the amount of traffic to the kitchen, the most common gripe experienced by office workers is when basic kitchen etiquette isn’t followed.

You know what I’m referring to, don’t you? We all come across that one colleague who uses your favourite coffee mug without asking, or the one that leaves their half eaten cereal in the sink… If you’re fed up with messy or inappropriate office kitchen behaviour, the following tips will make sharing a kitchen space much more bearable.

Since last writing about keeping your kitchen tidy and presentable, we have added a few more handy tips to share with your kitchen-sharing colleagues.

#1 Clean up after yourself

In a study conducted by OfficeTeam, the biggest annoyance - as reported by more than 40% of colleagues - is colleagues who leave a mess for others to clean up. It is everyone’s responsibility to keep the kitchen space tidy; not “someone else’s” job.

Clean up any spills you make; you don’t want to be the reason someone else trips, falls and lands up injured. Be sure to wipe down counters after preparing food. Wash used utensils and crockery, and if you have leftovers, don’t leave them lying around in the kitchen; either bin them or store in an airtight container.

#2 Implement a kitchen policy

If kitchen etiquette is a problem, or if you want to prevent any mishaps from taking place, it is helpful to put guidelines in place to ensure a happy, hygienic kitchen is kept. You can set up an orientation session with colleagues and take them through basic communal kitchen do’s and don’ts to ensure everyone is made aware of kitchen etiquette. Also be sure to put up clear signs to remind colleagues of the importance of good kitchen habits.

#3 Keeping the office fridge clean

Many colleagues tend to leave expired food lurking in the fridge that can pose health hazards and cross contamination issues.

Recommended blog post: Find out how regularly your office fridge should be cleaned.

#4 Be mindful

Put yourself in your coworker’s shoes. Do you find the smell of fish unappealing? Did you find an empty milk carton in the fridge or are the paper towels finished? If the answer is yes, then make sure you leave that left-over fish for dinner instead, and make sure you inform the office manager that the milk, paper towels, or whatever it may be needs replacing for the next person that will want to make a cup of tea or wipe their wet hands!

#5 Always ask - be considerate

Have you been eyeing that sarmie in the fridge? Or do you use Andy’s cup (which you know is his cup!) for your tea? Perhaps you want to borrow Sally’s salad dressing? Be respectful to others’ belongings and if you want to eat that sandwich or use your colleague's condiments, be sure to check if it is okay with them first!

#6 Leave appliances as you found them

It’s gross finding bits of food stuck to the door of the microwave, or a puddle of water around the kettle, so clean up after yourself (Tip number 1) and leave kitchen appliances as you would like to find them. Wipe down sticky instruments, and leave the kitchen space in full ‘working order’.

#7 Respect storage space

We all know those colleagues that seem to take all of their kitchen contents along with them; taking up most of the cupboard space, or fridge shelves… It’s perfectly fine to keep a few things in the kitchen, but also be mindful (Tip number 4) of other colleagues, especially if you share your office with a quite a number of staff.

#8 Do not leave cloths or sponges soaking in the sink

On my list of most terrifying discoveries in the kitchen is coming across a sponge or cloth soaking in leftover cereal milk or who-knows-what puddle of liquid from the previous meal’s leftover morsels. Moist and damp areas are the perfect breeding ground for germs. When you are done using a sponge or cloth, be sure to rinse it and leave it to dry. You don’t want to be wiping the counter with your oily lasagne residue, do you?

Recommended blog post: 10 disgusting kitchen habits

#9 Use cloths and rags for different purposes

Also on my list of things to avoid is using the same cloth to dry your dishes as you do for wiping spills! This leads to the spread of bacteria and cross contamination. To make things simple, colour code cloths and make sure each cloth has one purpose only.

#10 Put a schedule in place for your daily cleaner

It is important to ensure there is a kitchen cleaning schedule in place to ensure that hygiene is always kept top of mind. To avoid bacteria growing in unattended spaces and avoiding pests and the diseases they can spread, be sure that cleaning tasks are carried out on a regular basis.

Things to add to your daily cleaners list:

  • Wipe counters with disinfectant - at least twice a day
  • Soak sponges and cloths in a disinfectant solution - daily
  • Wipe down appliances, and also the surface beneath them - daily
  • Wash floors - daily
  • Sanitise the rubbish bin and area around the bin - weekly
  • Clean out and wipe the inside of cupboards and drawers - monthly

If everyone can abide by these simple kitchen rules, the kitchen will be less of a burden to use and more of a pleasant space to visit.

Are you cleaning your kitchen properly? Find out about our kitchen cleaning tips to ensure your kitchen is germ free.

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Nicole Horne

Nicole Horne

Nicole is a Digital Marketing Executive at Rentokil Initial Hygiene in Johannesburg. A self-proclaimed germaphobe, her love for hygienic environments and curiosity of all things “beneath the surface” fuels her enthusiasm for writing about the impact of germs in the workplace. She is passionate about creating awareness and sharing her knowledge on the impact of good hygiene practices. Follow Nicole on Twitter and LinkedIn for updates on the the good, the bad and the germy.

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