Is it Safe to Place a Microwave Oven in a Kitchen Cabinet?

Mary Jane

Microwave ovens are designed to suit specific areas, such as microwave shelves in cabinets and smaller designs for kitchen countertops. If you have a microwave of either design and wish to place it permanently in your kitchen cabinet, you must follow specific instructions to ensure it is safe to do so and follow regular cleaning techniques to ensure the vents are kept clean at all time. Failure to do so may cause the microwave to break beyond repair.

Countertop vs. Built-in Microwave

Countertop microwaves differ slightly from built-in microwaves, as the vents may be placed differently. Built-in microwaves may have vents on the sides, while countertop vents are located on the top to provide maximum ventilation. Locate the vents on your microwave before you place it into the cabinet. Ensure that the vent is not covered by the cabinet wall. If the cabinet is not wide enough to provide at least 2 inches of space beside each vent, do not place it in the cabinet. Failure to get proper ventilation may cause the microwave to break down.

Manual Warnings

Read through the manual for your microwave to ensure you understand all of the safety measures and precautions outlined by the manufacturer. Do not assume that all microwaves function the same way, so do not simply place your microwave in a cabinet just because your neighbor did it. The manual may inform you that your microwave is not suited for a cabinet. If this is the case, it is not safe for you to do so.

Grounding Electricity

Many microwaves require grounded electricity, meaning that you cannot use an extension cord or power bar to provide electricity to your microwave. The installation instructions manual for the built-in microwave states that a microwave must be plugged into a 3-prong outlet that is grounded. Using a power bar or extension cord may result in improper electricity and electric shock. Do not place your microwave into a kitchen cabinet, unless the cord reaches a three-prong wall outlet.


Cabinet microwaves collect dust and grime despite being hidden away behind cabinet doors. Once a month you should remove the microwave from the cabinet and wipe it down completely with a damp cloth and some soap water. Remember to clean out the vents as well, since the vents are confined within the cabinet space. Dust in the vents may prevent optimal cooling during operation.