By Kate Hickey, Marketing Manager for Transformance Advisors

Of Course – 5S Can Help!

Anyone who has studied lean practices has heard of the 5S System. This method of organization is highly effective for offices, labs, warehouses, stores, and production facilities. The applications seem infinite.

Having just moved into a new apartment, I can say first hand that you can add your home to the places where the 5S System works. While unpacking what seemed like hundreds of boxes of dishes, utensils, and appliances in a kitchen that seemed half the size of my previous kitchen, I found myself at a loss about where to start.

Then I remembered something I learned in my Certified Lean Master course“a place for everything and everything in its place.”

Of course! I need to use the 5S system!

I thought how this would be “practical 5S” and I committed to following each step to achieve organization.

5S at home
5S Sort


This step transferred over quite easily for my kitchen. The key to this step is to eliminate all unnecessary items. This, for me, included duplicate mixing spoons and measuring cups, chipped glasses, and an old pot with the Teflon flaking off.

Once all of the unnecessary items were sorted into the give-away, recycle or trash piles, I set out to prioritize the items I use the most frequently. My cutlery and dishes are daily items; whereas my baking sheets are rarely used. This gave me several categories of items and an understanding of where things might go.


This is the step that came to mind initially. A place for everything and everything in its place. This task was challenging since I had limited options for creating more space, I simply had to work within the constraints of my kitchen.

However, based on my prioritized items, I set out to find a suitable place for everything. Silverware was placed in a top drawer for easy access in individual containers for forks, knives and spoons. Baking trays, cutting boards and other tall, narrow trays were placed in the narrow cabinet alongside the oven. Large, infrequently used pots and pans were placed in the drawer beneath the oven. Smaller pots and pans that I use almost daily were placed in another cabinet, along with lids, strainers and other daily cooking tools. Electric appliances were put in a specific cabinet or on the counter based on how often they were used. My crock pot was placed in an upper cabinet for storage, while my coffee pot is front and center on the counter.

5S Stabilize
5S Shine


I combined this step with the previous step since my new kitchen was relatively clean to start with. However, this did not mean there was no “shining” to do!

The key to this step is keeping things tidy and organized. Once everything had a correct place, it became easy to see what needed to be cleaned or what was out of place. A stray fork in the larger kitchen utensils drawer is quickly spotted and put away. This also offered an excellent opportunity to see how much space I had remaining for additional items that could be stored. For example, there was room for my water bottles and flower vases in the same cabinet.


This step was simple since there was only one area with a few people working in it!

I started to outline a standard operating procedure for myself. For example, my trash is collected every Thursday, so I have reminders to put my trash out on this day. Alongside these reminders, I created a checklist of the things that needed to be done to maintain my system. Also, I have allotted a day every six months to clean out my drawers, cabinets and refrigerator and give it a good, thorough clean.

5S Standardize
5S Sustain


Knowing myself, this will be the most challenging part of the process.

It is very easy for things to fall into disorder when it is your own home. However, my new kitchen looks so great that it serves as motivation to sustain the organization.

As an added check for my new 5S kitchen, I created an audit process to determine whether any step needs to be revisited or changed. Do I have to shove all of my Tupperware into the drawer to get it to close? Then it is time to re-sort and stabilize this area. Does something spoil and go unnoticed in my refrigerator? Then it is time to shine this area! After a month of living with this system, I have come across a few areas that needed to be re-organized, and kept things relatively tidy in the process.

This step is continuous and I am sure it will need sprucing up from time to time.

Summary – Practical 5S

So the next time you face a challenging organizational problem, remember the 5S System to help you get things rolling!

Practical 5S is the way to go.

5S at home summary

Want More?

Learn how you can be all wrong about 5S.

Read about using 5S to organize your life!

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