The office fridge: An infinite supply of your colleague’s favorite foods and, despite its refrigeration powers, an appliance with the ability to make your blood boil. The first rule of office fridge use at many work places seems to be you don’t talk about office fridge use, but you should. These 7 common sense tips will improve everyone’s workday!

If you work in an office where you share a fridge with your colleagues you know one or all of these issues: Edible-in-times-gone-by abandoned lunch items. Lunch bags the size of smart cars containing a small container of soup blocking entire shelves. That salad you’ve been looking forward to all day: Gone. And that smell that makes you question your life choices every time you open that little shop of horrors: The office fridge. We’ve put together 7 ideas that should make it easy for everyone to get along and use the office fridge to its full potential!

Tip 1: Treat the available real estate like Manhattan, not Wyoming

Diane from digital marketing brought her salad in a small lunch bag, while James from accounting filled up the fridge with enough food items to survive the first few weeks of a zombie apocalypse. Be like Diane! Unless you are buying everyone lunch, which obviously makes you the office hero, or have ACTUAL proof that zombie apocalypse is imminent, take up minimal space and ensure everyone who wants to use the fridge has a fair chance.

Tip 2: Clean up after yourself

Listen, no one is upset because you spilled or dropped something. It happens to all of us, especially clumsy Mark from purchasing. It’s that you think it is someone else’s responsibility to clean up after yourself that makes it an issue worthy of its own After School special. Just clean it up and don’t rely on that one brave colleague that will ultimately be so disgusted by what you have allowed to grow inside the fridge they’ll just clean it up for you.

Tip 3: There’s no “Auto Clean” mode

The fridge in your home? Looks so pristine and is always well stocked with fresh food items because someone else in your household is taking care of it. Alternatively, if you DO think cleaning your own fridge is important and makes sense – what’s stopping you from applying that same logic to the office fridge? Unless there’s someone permanently responsible for cleaning the fridge, make a rota so everyone gets that Friday afternoon feeling of having made the work space just that little bit better.

We’ll keep working on that auto clean mode. “Promise”!

Tip 4: Farewell, abandoned food!

The office fridge is not a time capsule. Okay, let’s be serious for a moment: That experiment that’s happening in the plastic container in the back of the upper shelf? Might actually be a health risk. It is also just plain disgusting.

Hey, we can all be forgetful with the stress the workday puts on us, but don’t come crying to us when your special edition Star Wars lunch bag from 1977 that you found on eBay and paid a ridiculous amount of money for was thrown in the trash because it had grown ACTUAL tentacles.

Tip 5: It’s theft and the CCTV doesn’t lie

Yes, the rumor is true! Susan from Logistics is married to a chef and the food is SO!! GOOD!!! Unless Susan offers, it’s hers to enjoy – not yours. The fact that it said ‘Susan’s Lunch” on it should have been a give away. The fact that you are also called Susan is really not an excuse. Though yes, we can see how not having brought lunch and suddenly having food with your name on it in the fridge can be confusing.

Do you ever feel bad for those kids in the Jimmy Kimmel Halloween candy videos? This is EVERYONE whose slice of pizza you’ve ever eaten or whose last can of the drink not available in the vending machine you’ve had.   Apply Wheaton’s Law!

Tip 6:  Be generous when appropriate

You’ve brought the leftovers from that amazing dinner last night, but it IS Taco Tuesday and who are you to pass that up? There’s an easy way to avoid the whole creating new life forms in the back of the fridge scenario. Just offer your food to a co-worker. Or find a food bank near by that might appreciate it. Or take it home with you. Or, if you must, throw it out. Just really, really, really, don’t let it sit there until you get back from that awesome 14 day cruise you’re leaving for tomorrow.

Tip 7: Gamify the office fridge experience

Of course, you can just plaster the stainless steel door with those passive aggressive messages everyone is laughing at. You can also take matters in your own hands and come up with a list of sanctions that benefit everyone! Those who do not obey office fridge etiquette can be made to pay for the next coffee and donuts run or be made to clean the fridge next. The office fridge user of the month, on the other hand, can be treated to his favorite food or get prime shelf space.

What’s the office fridge etiquette at your work place? Share your tips in the comments!