The 5 worst places to put a microwave in a kitchen, according to experts

If your microwave is in any of these places, you need to move it immediately

Dark kitchen colour scheme with wooden worktops and appliances on display
(Image credit: Future PLC/Lizzie Orme)

The placement of a microwave is incredibly important, and if you have this appliance in one of the worst places in your kitchen to put a microwave, you could be putting yourself - and your home - in danger. 

Unfortunately, even the best microwaves on the market are large. And while the best air fryers come in a variety of sizes, microwaves are stuck being a one-size-fits-all appliance. This can be difficult for those with a small kitchen, and these microwaves end up in awkward corners, shoved in cupboards, and even stuck on a shelf. 

However, the wrong placement can drastically reduce the efficiency of your microwave while also increasing your risk of a fire, which is why we’ve asked the experts for more information on the worst places in your kitchen to put a microwave. 

Worst places to put a microwave

If a microwave has won in the air fryer vs microwave debate and you’ve added a new microwave to your collection of kitchen appliances, this is your sign to find the perfect home for it. But if you’ve had your old microwave in the wrong place for a while now, take this as your sign to move it to a suitable (and safer) place. 

1. In a cupboard

While appliance garages are becoming increasingly popular, you might want to leave your microwave out of the loop if you want to keep your kitchen intact. In fact, you should never use an air fryer in a cupboard, either. 

Of course, putting your microwave into a cupboard seems like a great way to keep it out of the way, but one look at your microwave’s instruction manual will help you realise that this is a bad idea. 

That’s because many microwaves have vents at the back or on the side of the appliance, and these vents need clearance to allow for air circulation and the release of steam. If you shove your microwave in a small cupboard and block this air circulation, your microwave may overheat and break. In fact, it could even catch fire. 

Not only that, but Steve Horner, a kitchen expert from Cladding Monkey, says, ‘Putting your microwave in a cupboard could also cause warping and damping of the cabinet if the microwave emits a lot of steam. It’ll also be much harder to clean.’ 

If you don't want your microwave cluttering up your kitchen worktop, the best option is to look for a built-in microwave.

Kitchen with white cupboards and a built-in oven

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

2. Above eye level

The placement of your microwave should be practical, but it should also be safe. Because of this, experts would suggest that you avoid placing your microwave above eye level - say, for example, on a shelf above your kitchen countertops.

If you have to reach up to your microwave, you should move it immediately to somewhere more comfortable. The last thing you want is to lose your footing as you pull a hot bowl of soup out of the microwave, after all. 

Alongside this, you definitely shouldn’t put a microwave above a hob. The risk of injury is just too high, especially if you have youngsters or elderly relatives in your family. Tom Condon, property expert at The Property Buying Company, agrees. 

‘The worst place for a microwave in the home is above a cooker or stove. It may be convenient for you, but it lacks style and not to mention concerns over safety and reachability should it need fixing. Equally, ventilation issues can arise if you place a microwave here.’

Having your microwave above eye level will also impact how you clean your microwave, as you might not be able to reach high enough to clean every nook and cranny. 

Microwave in a blue kitchen

(Image credit: Future PLC)

3. Close to a sink or dishwasher

You probably don’t need us to tell you that water and electricity don’t mix. Because of this, you definitely shouldn’t put your microwave close to a sink or dishwasher. 

Duncan Singleton, Product Development Director at Salter, explains, 'Avoid placing your microwave near wet or damp areas that could be prone to spills, splashes, or excessive moisture. It’s advised to place your microwave at a distance from your sink to avoid splashing your appliance with water and causing electrical damage to the product, or to the user.'

In general, it's recommended to keep your microwave at least four feet away from any form of water, whether that be splashing water from your washing-up bowl or dripping plates in the dishwasher. 

This will keep your microwave in tip-top condition and prevent any potential fire risks.

White kitchen with wooden counters and microwave

(Image credit: Future PLC / David Giles)

4. In front of a window

As well as being an eyesore and blocking the natural light, there is a practical reason why you should never place your microwave in front of a window. 

Sure, the space in front of a window will allow your microwave the proper ventilation it needs, but the heat from a microwave could also cause serious damage to your windows. It may cause them to crack or shatter, and it may even affect the rubber seals and create a draught in your home

It’s also a good idea to keep the space in front of your windows clear at all times, just in case you need an escape route in the event of a fire. 

5. Next to the fridge

Kitchen appliances aren’t very attractive, which is why you might try to bunch them together on one side of the kitchen to keep the other side clear of clutter. 

But just be careful if you do this, as you should never put a microwave next to your fridge. For starters, opening and closing your microwave door could cause damage to your fridge. 

More importantly, though, it’s rarely a good idea to put a heated appliance next to a cooling appliance. This could mess with the efficiency of both appliances and make them even more expensive to run

So, if you’re looking to save energy at home, keep your microwave away from your fridge. 

black painted kitchen with wooden worktops and appliances

(Image credit: Future PLC / Lizzie Orme)


Where not to put your microwave in the kitchen?

If you want to use your microwave in a safe and efficient manner, you should always make sure that your microwave has space around it for air circulation. Because of this, you should never put a microwave in a cupboard.

You should also avoid placing your microwave next to a refrigerator or sink or in front of a window.

Where should the microwave go in a kitchen?

Although it can be inconvenient, the best place to put a microwave in a kitchen is on the kitchen countertop - or somewhere that allows it the space it needs. 

Duncan agrees. He says, 'At Salter, we recommend positioning your microwave on your kitchen countertop with plenty of space surrounding it.'

For safety reasons, you should always make sure that the vents of the microwave don’t get blocked, and having it out on the counter (but not pressed up against a wall or in a corner) is the best way to ensure that the vents get the space they need. 

Now you know the worst places to put a microwave in the kitchen, it might be time to give your kitchen a little rejig. 

Lauren Bradbury

Lauren Bradbury is a freelance writer and major homes enthusiast. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Chichester in 2016, before dipping her toe into the world of content writing. After years of agency work, writing everything from real-life stories to holiday round-ups, she decided to take the plunge and become a full-time freelancer in the online magazine world. Since then, she has become a regular contributor for Real Homes and Ideal Home, and become even more obsessed with everything interior and garden related. As a result, she’s in the process of transforming her old Victorian terraced house into an eclectic and modern home that hits visitors with personality as soon as they walk through the door.