Can I Put a Freestanding Microwave in a Cupboard?

Putting away clunky kitchen appliances like microwaves when they’re not in use is one way to keep your kitchen organized. Unfortunately, a microwave can take up a lot of space on your countertop, and finding a better place to keep it can be challenging. Can you put a freestanding microwave inside a cupboard?

You can as long as the microwave fits, there is good ventilation, and there is space surrounding the microwave. You may choose to place microwaves in cupboards because they can be stored away when not in use.

In the rest of this article, I will discuss the safety issues when placing countertop microwaves in cupboards, what microwaves will fit best, and the proper amounts of ventilation needed for keeping microwaves in cabinets. If you want to learn more, keep reading.

Is It Safe to Place a Freestanding Microwave in a Cupboard?

First, you need to understand the safety concerns when moving a microwave inside a cupboard. As with any appliance, certain specifications must be met when you’re storing an electrical appliance like a microwave anywhere in your home.

It is safe to place a freestanding microwave in a cupboard as long as you have checked the microwave’s space requirements with the manufacturer. Microwaves need a certain amount of space around themselves to ensure proper ventilation and that nothing in your cupboard ends up catching fire.

Of course, if you still have your microwave user manual or the box it arrived in, you may be able to find this information easily. Otherwise, you can always call the manufacturer or send them an email. Any microwave maker worth their salt should be happy to respond to your concern.

What Kind of Microwave Can Go in a Cupboard?

There are different types of microwaves, and it’s essential to know if you can place yours inside your cupboard. So what kind of microwaves work best inside cupboards? Are there any that shouldn’t be placed in one?

A built-in microwave or a countertop microwave can go in a cupboard. Built-ins generally require a trim kit to install more seamlessly, while a countertop microwave can more easily be put in a cupboard. However, both require plenty of ventilation to function properly.

Each type of microwave has its own size and weight. So it’s essential to choose one that will comfortably fit your cabinet space.

The different types of microwaves include:

  • Over-range microwaves
  • Built-in microwaves
  • Countertop microwaves
  • Undercounter microwaves
  • Smart microwaves
  • Confection microwaves

The style and type of microwave generally don’t affect its ability to be placed inside a cupboard. However, you should always double-check to make sure your model is compatible. Doing so will help avoid issues like fires or water damage to your cabinets.

Does a Microwave in a Cupboard Need to Be Ventilated?

So why is proper ventilation important for electrical appliances? Does a microwave need ventilation to be placed in a cupboard?

A microwave in a cupboard does need to be ventilated. Any microwave must have good ventilation anywhere you place it, or else it may experience damage from moisture or even burn its surroundings.

As you can see, proper ventilation is essential when installing a microwave in your cupboard. So do your best to find a well-ventilated place or make the necessary adjustments in your cupboard before placing your microwave in it.

How Much Ventilation Does a Microwave Need?

Now that you understand how crucial good ventilation is for a microwave, it’s time to talk about just how much ventilation it requires. Of course, all microwaves will have slightly different specifications. However, most manufacturers tend to agree on the following numbers.

A microwave needs at least 3 inches (76 mm) of space for ventilation. Generally, you should allow for 3 inches along all sides of the microwave. However, each model will have different requirements, so it is essential to check what those are.

As I previously stated, if you’re not sure, it’s best to give the manufacturer a call or shoot them an email. It’s better to be sure than to end up damaging your cupboards in the future. Plus, you can have peace of mind knowing the microwave was correctly installed.

Built-In Microwaves vs. Countertop Microwaves

The two most common microwave types are built-in and countertop microwaves. Both are extremely useful. The main difference is how they are installed.

  • Built-in microwaves: These are the ones you generally secure above an oven in your home. These microwaves are relatively larger than other types. However, they are better for freeing up space in your home. These microwaves are best installed into a cupboard secured above the stove. You’ll usually need a trim kit to install them seamlessly.
  • Countertop microwaves: These are freestanding and usually placed along countertops. These appliances are generally smaller, less complex, and easier to install into smaller spaces like a cupboard. Countertop microwaves are also generally cheaper than built-in microwaves.

Either one of these microwave types can be easily installed in a cupboard if you do it safely and follow the proper steps.

Pros and Cons of Placing a Microwave in a Cupboard

Next, I want to discuss the pros and cons of installing a countertop microwave inside a cupboard. As with any change you make to your home appliances, there are bound to be some benefits and drawbacks to doing so.


  • There will be more counter space.
  • The appliance will be out of sight.
  • Since cupboards are elevated, they are more challenging for children to reach.
  • The kitchen will look better.
  • The functionality of your kitchen will improve.


  • There may be possible moisture or burn damage.
  • The microwave could make noise.
  • Smells can get trapped inside the cupboard.
  • You may need to do more cleaning.
  • If you’re a short person, a cupboard can be more difficult to access.

Ultimately, you must decide if placing your microwave in a cupboard is a good fit for your kitchen. If you want fewer appliances on your countertops, placing your microwave in a cupboard is a great idea. This is especially true if you live in a smaller home with little kitchen space.

However, it’s still important to keep the cons in mind when moving forward and be prepared for extra hassles like having to clean more frequently.

How to Put a Freestanding Microwave in a Cupboard

Now that you know a little more about the requirements for placing a microwave in a cupboard, it’s time to discuss the actual steps for doing so. Although the specific steps will vary depending on the type of microwave, the tips I’ll outline below should work for most microwaves.

You’ll need:

  • Measuring tape
  • Screwdriver
  • Oscillating tool

Here are the general steps to placing a freestanding microwave in a cupboard:

  1. Measure the cupboard and microwave. Ensure that the cupboard is large enough to fit the appliance, with at least 3 inches (76 mm) of space along all sides of the microwave.
  2. Remove the cupboard doors. Removing the doors will ensure you can easily fit the microwave in, measure the proper ventilation space, and adjust the appliance as needed.
  3. Deep clean the microwave. Placing a microwave in a tight space like a cupboard will make it difficult to clean, especially the top, sides, and back. So be sure to give it a thorough scrubbing before placing it inside.
  4. Use an oscillating tool to create a hole for the power cable to reach an outlet. The hole doesn’t have to be perfectly round, but it should be neat. The hole for the cord should be placed as close to an outlet as possible.
  5. Place the microwave in the cupboard and plug it in. Once the hole is finished, the cord should be carefully fed through the hole and plugged in.
  6. Double-check that your microwave has enough ventilation. You can do this by measuring the space between the microwave and cupboard walls.
  7. Replace the cupboard doors. If you don’t want doors on your microwave cupboard, skip this step.
  8. Enjoy your new cupboard microwave. Once you’ve finished replacing the doors and plugging the appliance in, it should be ready to go.

As you can see, the process is relatively simple. Always measure correctly and take your time as you install the microwave. It’s best to double-check that your ventilation measurements are correct, as too little ventilation can lead to water damage and even a fire.

Final Words

You certainly can place a microwave in a cupboard. Many choose to do so since it’s a great way to keep such a large kitchen appliance out of the way. Also, placing a microwave in a cupboard can provide more space in smaller kitchens — not to mention make them more aesthetically pleasing.

However, when installing a microwave in a cabinet, it’s essential to take the proper safety precautions, such as researching how much ventilation your model requires and adhering to those measurements when installing the appliance.