What is 5S?

5S is a methodology started in Japan. It was first used by Toyota Motor Corporation to optimize their manufacturing process. Organizing with 5S will make your space more functional. The 5S’s are: sort, straighten, shine, standardize, and sustain.

Organizing with 5S

We can use 5S for any work area (which includes your home!) It is a great organizational tool to help make any work space more functional.

What are the 5 S’s of LEAN?

The 5S’s of LEAN are Sort, Straighten, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain. Here’s how to use it:


Remove unnecessary items from work areas, declutter. This step ensures that you have exactly what you need within reach when you sit down to complete a task. It also helps keep the items you need from getting lost in the clutter of having too much “stuff” in a work area.


Tidy up. The most common form of this is a peg board with an outline of tools. Designating a space for every tool makes it easy to see when something is out of place. It can help avoid losing tools because you have a visual cue when something is missing.


Wipe the work area down to keep it clean from dirt, dust, and debris. (It’ll look nice, too!)


Come to an agreement on how work should be done. (In industry, this is typically done in the form of documentation.) Communicating expectations of how chores should be done is a form of standardization in the home. Ever asked your kid to help you with something then been disappointed when it wasn’t completed how you expected? This step should help with that.


Maintain the standards and systems you’ve put into place. A chore chart with spot checks for kids is an example.

When to use 5S

These steps of organizing with 5S can be used in any area you do any type of work. They can be used over and over again whenever you feel a space isn’t functioning as well as you’d like it to.

5S Example- Cooking utensil Drawer

Here’s an example of organizing our cooking utensil drawer using 5S.

Every item has a designated spot. Frequently used items are toward the front for easy access, and items we use less frequently have their spot in the back.

When utensils are missing from the drawer, there is a visual representation of what belongs there. This makes it easy for even small children to know where to put things away.

This drawer used to drive me crazy. (Anyone else hate opening a drawer and watching everything slide all over?) When we organized it this way months ago, it became so much easier to maintain.

To show real-life use, I grabbed a quick shot in the kitchen before I moved the drawer to better lighting. I love that everything really does stay where it is supposed to be (even though we are not gentle opening or closing drawers when cooking).

Image of 5S applied to real-life cooking Utensil Drawer for Organizing: What is 5S? post

What area will you use 5S to organize? We’d love to hear how it works in your home and life! Please let us know in the comments.

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