How Close Can a Microwave Be to a Sink
What to know

How Close Can a Microwave Be to a Sink?

The kitchen triangle is the triangle composed of the stove, refrigerator, and sink. Each of those should form a point of the triangle to allow easy access from defrosting foods to cooking and preparation of dishes. With that in mind, how does the microwave figure into this triangle or proverbial equation?

Also, how close can a microwave be to a sink? How close is too close? You obviously don’t want water to short-circuit the electronic device. The close proximity to water can also cause the metal to rust. Regardless, keep on reading to find out.

How Close Can a Microwave Be to a Sink?

Any additional work area—microwave, prep sink, and so forth—should be from 4 to 9 feet away from the closest point of the kitchen triangle. This applies to any point of the triangle, not only the kitchen sink point. If your microwave is instead close to the refrigerator or stove, it should be 4-9 feet away.

It should practically be social distancing from those points of the kitchen triangle. If you’re dealing with a more compact apartment, RV, or semi-truck trailer, try your best to not go under 4 feet. Also, as a rule of thumb, the sink should be farthest from the microwave anyway.

This is to avoid the obvious fears or shorting out the device or making its metal parts rust (even if it’s made of stainless steel, the stainlessness of the steel has its limits, especially in consumer-grade electronics).

How Close Can a Microwave Be to a Sink
How Close Can a Microwave Be to a Sink?

Can You Put the Microwave Above the Sink?

If the microwave is above the sink, should it at least be four feet high away from it and only accessible by footstool or ladder among those who are of shot stature? It depends on how it’s installed. If it’s put inside a cabinet above the sink, it doesn’t require GFCI protection.

This is because it’s not serving the countertop, so its sink distance isn’t as important. This is so unless it’s in a space aside from your dwelling unit. If it is serving the countertop and you have no choice but to have it near the sink due to limited space, get GFCI protection.

By the way, a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) can help prevent electrocution. If a person gets shocked, the GFCI senses this and cuts off power before serious injury could occur.

Where Should You Place the Microwave in Your Kitchen?

There are quite a number of places to place your microwave. Most people put the freestanding microwave on the countertop along with the toaster, coffeemaker, electric kettle, and conventional oven. However, not all people feature lengthy countertops.

There are also microwaves designed to be placed over the range or stovetop in order to replace the range hood. They have a fan and vent inside of them so that they can double as a range hood and as a microwave.

Further reading: What are the Best Places to Put the Microwave in Your Kitchen?

Your Choices for Kitchen Placement

In order to save prep space, you can also place your microwave in the following spaces and places.

  • OTR or over-the-range, especially if it’s designed with a 300 CFM or so ventilation fan.
  • Hidden inside one of your cabinets with ample ventilation space.
  • Inside a drawer but with ample ventilation space.
  • Built-in complete with trim kit.
  • Combined with the wall oven.
  • On the upper or lower shelf.
Place your microwave
Place your microwave

You may also like: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Microwave Oven that Best Fits Your Needs

Can a Freestanding Microwave Be Turned into a Built-In?

Not all freestanding microwaves can be turned into built-ins. Some could double as such as you can buy a separate trim kit to add trim to the fit and make the whole installation seamless. There are mostly built-in models with trim kits or freestanding models too big to fit into your shelf or drawer.

The Built-In Model vs. The Freestanding Model Turned into Built-In

It’s recommended that you install built-in microwaves into a cabinet because “forcing” a freestanding microwave into a cabinet or turning it into a built-in might require you to remodel the cabinet or built it around the microwave in question.

A built-in microwave, in contrast, is designed to fit into standard built-in spaces. It comes with a trim kit and has measurement variants to choose from relative to the deepness of your cabinet.

Does a Microwave Oven Require Venting?

Does a microwave oven need to be vented? Adequate ventilation is a must, especially if you microwave is built into a cabinet. There should be ventilation space around the unit. A microwave that perfectly fits the cabinet with no extra space around isn’t really a good fit due to lack of ventilation.

If you only have one single cabinet wall location but the cabinets aren’t deep enough, you might need to use the under-cabinet shelf instead. Otherwise, get a mini microwave in order to get that extra ventilation.

A Freestanding Microwave Has Free-Flow Venting

A freestanding microwave isn’t in an enclosed space, so it has more space to vent the heat and prevent overheating. According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association, the microwave bottom shouldn’t be higher than 54 inches above the floor.

This allows for 18 inches of clearance between the microwave and the 36-inch height of your standard cooktop.

Is It Dangerous to Stand in Front of a Microwave Oven?

Stay a safe distance away from the microwave. Even with its metal box shielding, you can never be too safe. These ovens are designed to keep the radiation inside. Against the glass, you’ll see the protective mesh screen with dotted tiny holes.

Even if you’re dealing with a 700-watt microwave, you still need to be wary of all that microwave radiation in your face.

How Much Time Do You Need to Add for a 700-Watt Microwave?

Most modern cookbook recipes have time recommendations based on 1-kilowatt microwaves. Older cookbooks were geared more for the 700-watt microwave since that was the consumer-grade microwave available to most people back in the day.

A 5-minute recipe needs 2½ extra minutes of cooking in a 700-watt microwave. A 10-minute recipe instead requires an extra 5½ minutes.

What More Can Be Said?

As a rule of thumb, don’t put your microwave too near to the sink. Make sure it’s 4-9 feet away. You don’t want to short it out or electrocute yourself with accidental splashes. Household plugs tend to be about 4 feet or so away from the sink too for the same reasons.


  1. Joe Ford, “Can you put a microwave above a sink?“,, April 25, 2021

Through the years, the microwave oven has become a standard appliance for all homes. It is safe to say that there is no home without a microwave oven. If you are looking for a microwave oven that best fits your needs, You find the right website.

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