In an ideally constructed kitchen space, the sink, the refrigerator, and the gas stove should be located within an easy distance of one another so that moving to and fro between them does not take up too much time. This is how a traditional kitchen has been built since building a kitchen was a thing.
Now, we see numerous cooking devices that also demand a spot in the kitchen space which wasn’t the case even a decade ago. You cannot spot a kitchen without a microwave oven these days as it has become an integral part of the space. The question is what is the best place to set it?
Somewhere near the sink is the obvious answer but what should be the ideal distance between microwave and sink? How close or far should a microwave be placed to the sink to ensure a safe and seamless cooking experience?
Well, let us explore the question in various directions.
Can you put the microwave next to the sink?
To be blunt and direct, no you should not place microwaves so close to a sink. A microwave next to the sink is the ideal set-up for an electrical fire or an electrocution accident. The simple reason behind this is that a microwave oven runs on electricity and water is a good conductor of electricity.
However, if by “next to the sink” you mean at a safe distance where there is no chance of any water touching the microwave, then by all means go ahead and place it over there.
You can try setting up a separating screen between the sink and the microwave if there is not enough space to place it at a safer distance. Transparent fiber screens come in handy as some are fitted with small compartments to hold dish soap, a sponge, and even a rack for drying plates.
How close can a microwave be to a sink?
The microwave should be located at a distance of at least 3 feet away from the kitchen sink. That is the minimum distance but you should also consider the structure of your kitchen as a whole before deciding on a spot.
While cooking, you may need to carry water to the gas stove for any number of recipe requirements. If the microwave oven is three feet away from the sink but is located between the sink and the stove then that is also not ideal as there is the off-chance that water may still splash on the device.
In such a case, place your microwave completely away from either the sink or the stove. Continuous exposure to water can rust the metal parts of a microwave or cause it to short out. In the worst-case scenario, a bad case of conduction between water and electricity can cause a serious fire.
Can you put a microwave above a sink?
Placing the microwave above kitchen sink is a good way to save space in the kitchen. Many apartments and houses don’t have a very large floor plan so one needs to be economical in placing all the things in the limited space without inviting clutter.
A microwave above sink can be placed on a special mount drilled into the wall for the purpose of holding the microwave oven. Since a safe distance between the sink and the oven is necessary, the microwave should be placed higher.
People who can oversee the construction of their house, i.e, who have been involved since the construction was started can ask the builder to build the sink at a lower level than usual so as to not have the microwave set too high. It is unusual to reach a microwave over the sink with a ladder.
This place is ideal if you use the oven to actually cook food. You can leave it up there undisturbed for long hours. If however, you use the oven mostly for heating refrigerated food, then it is better to place the microwave somewhere near the fridge and on your own height level.
Is it safe to put the microwave next to the sink?
We have already established that placing the microwave too close to the sink is not entirely a safe situation. That said, not everyone has a huge kitchen and enough space to set a microwave at the best location. Sometimes we have to make do with what we have. There are other locations for a microwave such as inside a cabinet or on top of the counter.
If you are compelled to place your microwave oven next to the sink then make sure that there is a waterproof barrier between the two. The water must not touch the microwave at all. If you have little children in the house who are curious to operate the microwave oven, then make sure to teach them to not touch the electrical device or the socket with wet hands.
The microwave being close to the sink thus is unsafe only when it comes in contact with water, and there is also the chance of dropping utensils on the microwave while carrying them to the sink, so you need to be careful about that as well.
As it has been already mentioned, not every kitchen features a similar structure so it is impossible to accurately tell where the best position for a microwave is. You can go for a cabinet to place your microwave inside it or even under the counter. Wall mounts are also a good option.
And about placing the microwave close to the sink – if you are doing it make sure to separate the two with a solid barrier/screen. You can also set up a GFCI (Ground-fault circuit interrupter) in your electrical circuit.
If a person’s body starts to get electrocuted, then there is a larger flow of electricity within that part of the circuit. A GCFi “senses” this surge in electric flow and cuts off the electric supply in event of an electrocution accident, thus preventing it.