Lean Six Sigma Tool Series – How to use 5S

Have you ever used 5S?

If you ever organized your laptop, workspace, bedroom, closet, laundry, or garage, you utilized Lean Six Sigma 5S without realizing it.  5S is a well-known Lean organizational method used throughout all industries.  5S can be used in the workplace and within your everyday life. 

Examples of 5S

Lean Six Sigma 5S in the workplace

Lean Six Sigma 5S

5S is an organzaitonal method that uses a list of five Japanese words: 

  • Seiri – Sort
  • Seiton – Set in Order
  • Seiso – Shine
  • Seiketsu – Standarize
  • Shitsuke – Sustain


Lean Six Sigma 5S in the laundry room

What is 5S?

  • 5S = Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, Sustain
  • Originated and developed from Japan – Toyota Management System
  • A structured approach to establishing and maintaining a well-organized workplace
  • It can be used at home to organize kitchens, closets, garages, etc.

Why use it?

  • Stops the causes of errors and defects
  • Prevents Problems
  • Provides a clean and organized work area
  • Clean and tidy house (no clutter)
  • No wasted energy on searching and retrieving things
  • No money spent on extra storage

How to use 5S 

Step 1 – Sort

Eliminate everything that is not necessary

Lean Six Sigma 5S - Sort

  • Get rid of :
    • Unused appliances, tools, books, & medications
    • Broken things
  • Separate files into necessary and unnecessary
  • Create categories to put the required data and things into

Step 2 – Straighten/Set in order

Find items easier

Lean Six Sigma 5S - Set in Order

  • Arrange things in a manner that is easy to find things
    • Put files into file folders
    • Put items in the same location in the refrigerator
    • Put labels onto containers
  • Keep an organized closet

Step 3- Shine/Sanitize

Clean, tidy, organize

Lean Six Sigma 5S - Shine

  • Tidy up at the end of each day and week
  • After a DIY project, always leave the workplace tidy
  • Fold and put laundry away right away
  • Clean the kitchen as you cook

Step 4 – Standardize 

Define repeatable routines

Lean Six Sigma 5S - Standardize

  • Always clean your house in the same room order
  • Create a checklist that helps place everything in the right place
  • Establish a standard daily/weekly schedule for home & work
  • Use the same type of hangers for your clothing

Step 5 – Sustain

Maintain and review your routines 

Lean Six Sigma 5S - Sustain

  • Review your to-do lists
    • Did you accomplish everything in time and with the expected results?
  • Monthly e-mail habits review
    • Do you have your inbox under control?
  • Monthly review at home and work?
    • Is everything still where it belongs?

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