(Originally Published December 06, 2017)

Do you ever wonder if you've been accidentally offending your co-workers with smelly lunches? Unfortunately, not everyone loves the smell of your favourite foods. And when you work in close office quarters, you may be inadvertently bothering your office neighbours! Some workplaces have even put up policies for what foods can and can't be microwaved. This article will look over the worst foods to microwave and offer some solutions for you to use and download. Want to learn more about office cleanliness? Contact Kitchener Clean now!

The Worst Foods To Microwave In The Office

It may seem a bit funny to think that a co-workers lunch could potentially cause such a disruption in the office! But smells can negatively affect people, especially those with sensitive noses or allergies. Keeping your office a safe, happy, and healthy place for all those involved can begin with one simple step - skip the smelly foods! Here are foods you should avoid bringing to the office.

5. Hard boiled eggs

Does anyone really like the smell of hard boiled eggs? Bringing eggs to the office either to microwave or to eat cold should be a no-go. On top of the offensive smell boiled eggs release, cooking eggs in the immediate vicinity of someone with an egg allergy can actually trigger an allergic reaction. Best skip the eggs altogether and find a different source of protein.

4. Vegetables

Who would have thought veggies could have such a strong smell? But remember the last time you microwaved broccoli or Brussels sprouts? They can release quite a pungent odour that may be bothersome to those around you. Bringing veggies for lunch is a great healthy choice. However, maybe choose a salad instead or eat your vegetables cold or raw.

3. Microwave popcorn

Hopefully, you aren't eating popcorn for lunch, but if you are craving a salty snack and think popcorn is the way to go, you might want to think twice. Microwave popcorn smells good to most people, but it definitely still smells. It has a strong odour that can distract your co-workers, and it will probably make everyone else crave popcorn for the rest of the day!

2. Curry

Curry is a delicious lunch and with so many types of curry, almost everyone loves to eat it. However, not everyone loves to smell it - especially if they don't even get a taste! Curry has a strong smell that can leave a lasting impression in your office and microwave. If you are really craving curry, it might be best to go to a restaurant, eat there, and then return to your office instead of using the microwave at work.

1. Fish

Number one on our list probably comes as no surprise - fish can be one of the smelliest things to microwave and often has a long-lasting odour that can take days to finally disappear. Even if you skip the microwave, like with canned fish, it can stink up the office.

Writer Maridel Reyes of the New York Post article, "These Are The Worst Lunches To Bring To Work," interviews Julie Russell, an editor with lots of experience working in offices. Maridel writes:

"One mystery lunchtime offender regularly warmed up leftover fish in the microwave. “It’s the absolute worst,” recalls Russell, 36, who lives in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. “I don’t even know how anything can smell that bad. It was this foul, hideous smell that would just gradually overtake the office. At first I’d think, ‘Am I imagining it? Do I smell?’ And then I’d look over at my seat mate and see her covering her nose and mouth with her scarf and realize it was

happening again.”

Julie Russell's experience shows just how disruptive smelly foods can be in an office environment. On top of that, fish allergies are relatively common, so it might be best to completely avoid bringing fish for lunch.

Microwave Etiquette - What If I Brought Fish For Lunch?

So, what happens if you end up bringing a "bad" food for lunch? What if leftover fish was all you had in your fridge and you cannot afford take-out again? Although it may not be ideal, there are some microwave etiquette tips you can follow if you happen to bring a smelly food for lunch. Sometimes it's unavoidable - and of course, you need to eat! Here are some tips to help you keep your smells to yourself.

  • Use The Farthest Microwave: If possible, use the least used or furthest microwave away from the rest of your co-workers and working space. If there is that one microwave no one wants to use because it's "so far away!" than that is the one you should probably use the days you bring fish.

  • Wait By The Microwave: If you must heat up a smelly food for lunch, do not put your food in the microwave and then leave. Stay by the microwave, watch the seconds, and take your food out immediately when the microwave beeps. Food sitting around inside the microwave can cause the smell to linger.

  • Limit Your Microwave Time: Microwave your meal just enough so that it is warm enough to eat. The longer you leave your meal in, the more likely it is to stink up the microwave and the office.

  • Cover and Clean: Cover your food with a microwave cover to ensure it does not splatter. If it does happen to splatter or you do not have a cover available, make sure you clean up after yourself. This goes for all foods, not just smelly lunches!

Create An Office Microwave Policy!

If you've had employees complaining about lunchtime smells or odours in the microwave, you may want to come up with a microwave policy or put up a sign or poster reminding those in the office about microwave etiquette. Here are some resources we've created to help you get started with your own microwave policies at work.

Poster #1: Something Smells Fishy

This simple poster reminds everyone in the office to be aware of what they bring to work for lunch, and how a healthy work environment starts with you! It contains a section at the bottom for managers or employers to write in their contact information in case anyone has questions or comments about the new policy.

Poster #2: Office Kitchen and Microwave Policy

This poster contains more detailed information about implementing an office kitchen and microwave policy. It includes the tips mentioned above for avoiding odours in the microwave and keeping the office and kitchen as odour-free as possible.

Ready For a Cleaner Office?

Keeping odours at bay and developing policies to help your office stay odour-free is a great way to improve the quality of your office space.

However, the best way to keep everyone in your office safe and healthy is by consistent cleaning. Hiring a cleaning service will help maintain kitchen appliances and help keep your kitchen and office clean with office compost services!

At Kitchener Clean, we care about your office, your staff, and the environment. That's why all of our cleaning products are non-toxic to ensure the safety of your staff.

Kitchener Clean always uses the highest quality EcoLogo or Green Seal certified products when possible in your office. EcoLogo is North America’s largest, most respected environmental standard and certification mark.

EcoLogo provides customers with assurance that the products and services bearing the logo meet stringent standards of environmental leadership. Using green, non-toxic cleaning products means that everyone in your office can breathe easy without worrying about harsh chemicals or allergic sensitivities.

"Kitchener Clean stands apart from other cleaning companies because
of the full service they offer. Not only are they professional and friendly,
they are also incredibly thorough."

-- Anne Marie, a Kitchener Clean customer