What is 5S; Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu, Shitsuke



What is 5S


One of the most powerful Lean Manufacturing Tools and a cornerstone of any successful implementation is that of 5S, but what is 5S and its 5 Steps of Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu and Shitsuke?

5S is a simple tool for organizing your workplace in a clean, efficient and safe manner to enhance your productivity, visual management and to ensure the introduction of standardized working.
Most of the other definitions of 5S and descriptions that I see here on the internet concentrate heavily on the aesthetics and the efficiency gains that you achieve through implementing 5S and neglect the real aim of 5S; the need to introduce standard operational practices to ensure efficient, repeatable, safe ways of working.

In addition to standardised working which provides you with a stable foundation to build all of your other improvements through implementing Lean Tools, you also provide a highly visual workplace. One of the most important factors of 5S is that it makes problems immediately obvious.
5S is a team run process and should be conducted by the people who work within the area in which the principles of 5S are being applied, it is not a tool that can be applied by an outsider onto an area without the knowledge and cooperation of the people within it.


Origins of 5S

5S as a methodology has come out of the techniques within Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) and from the Toyota Production System (TPS). However many of the individual components such as creating ergonomic and efficient work places can be seen to owe their roots to people such as Taylor for his work on “scientific management” and Frank Gilbreth’s “time and motion studies.”

Frank Gilbreth showed that by improving the ergonomics of a bricklayers working methods he could reduce the number of individual movements required and increase the hourly output from 120 to 350 bricks laid each hour.


The Concept of 5S

5S is a methodical way to organize your workplace and your working practices as well as being an overall philosophy and way of working. It is split into 5 phases, each named after a different Japanese term beginning with the letter “S”; (Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu, Shitsuke) hence the name 5 S.

These five distinct phases are (with English descriptions);

5S Definition

The phases of 5S in English and Japanese


5S Seiri;           Sort, Clearing, Classify
5S Seiton;        Straighten, Simplify, Set in order, Configure
5S Seiso;          Sweep, shine, Scrub, Clean and Check
5S Seiketsu;     Standardize, stabilize, Conformity
5S Shitsuke;     Sustain, self discipline, custom and practice

And for completeness, some companies add a 6th (6S) of Safety, although in my opinion this should be an integral part of the steps of 5S and not a separate stage in itself.




5C and CANDO


There has been reluctance for some companies in the past to take up “Japanese” initiatives for business improvement, so some consultancies and other bodies have come up with non-Japanese equivalents; two of which are listed below as alternatives for 5S.

5S is also known in some quarters as 5C, with the “S” words replaced by

  • Clearing,
  • Configure,
  • Clean and Check,
  • Conformity and finally
  • Custom and practice.


  • Cleanup,
  • Arrange,
  • Neatness,
  • Discipline, and
  • Ongoing Improvement.


5S Definition


Below are definitions and explanations of each step of the 5S process;


5S Seiri or Sort


5S Seiri Definition

5S Seiri removing Clutter


5S Seiri or Sort is the first step in 5S, it refers to the sorting of the clutter from the other items within the work area that are actually needed. This stage requires the team to remove all items that clearly do not belong in the working area and only leave those that are required for the processes in question.




5S Seiton or Straighten / Set in order


5S Seiton Definition

5S Seiton organised workspace



5S Seiton or Straighten is the process of taking the required items that are remaining after the removal of clutter and arranging them in an efficient manner through the use of ergonomic principles and ensuring that every item “has a place and that everything is in its place.”




5S Seiso or Sweep / shine


What is 5S Seiso

5S Seiso in Action




5S Seiso or Sweep is the thorough cleaning of the area, tools, machines and other equipment to ensure that everything is returned to a “nearly new” status. This will ensure that any non-conformity stands out; such as an oil leak from a machine onto a bright, newly painted clean floor.


5S Seiketsu or Standardize



5S Seiketsu or standardize is the process of ensuring that what we have done within the first three stages of 5S become standardized; that is we ensure that we have common standards and ways of working. Standard work is one of the most important principles of Lean manufacturing.



5S Shitsuke or Sustain

What is 5S Shitsuke

5S Shitsuke storyboard


The final stage is 5S Shitsuke or sustain, ensuring that the company continue to continually improve using the previous stages of 5S, maintain housekeeping, and conduct audits and so forth. 5S should become part of the culture of the business and the responsibility of everyone in the organization.





5S Definition Video



Implementing 5S


If you wish to implement a 5S Program then you will need conduct training and awareness sessions within your organization to ensure that everyone knows what is 5S and how it fits into an overall Lean Manufacturing implementation. These links will help with this process; 5S training will describe my format for any 5S training program, how to run in house 5S Training Course will give advice if you wish to train in house and hiring a 5S Consultant will help you find the right expert to help your company. You may also wish to purchase 5S training materials.


5S Resources


The following are a selection of resources that may support your 5S implementation;

  • 5S Pocket Guides as quick reference aids that ca be carried by anyone.
  • 5S DVDs as a helpful training aid or as a general reminder for your workforce.
  • 5S Books which can provide helpful advice, these are also available as 5S eBooks to download.
  • 5S Supplies such as floor marking tapes and red tags.
  • 5S games and simulations to make training more fun and relevant.
  • 5S Posters  which can ensure your message remains current.


If you would like more information with regard to what is 5S  (Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu, Shitsuke) or have any questions regarding this 5S definition then feel free to leave any questions or comments in the box below.

9 comments for “What is 5S; Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu, Shitsuke

  1. Ali
    April 27, 2012 at 7:11 am

    Dear sir
    I wanna know who is writer of this?

    • leanman
      May 2, 2012 at 12:33 pm

      Hi Ali, if you need any more information please feel free to leave a question here or use the contact email.

  2. Tasleem Ali
    January 24, 2013 at 9:30 am

    provide detail of 5s concepts in my e-mail

  3. ethel
    November 16, 2013 at 11:47 am

    hi.. I’m BS Psychology student who is conducting a thesis regarding 5S program.. I would like to know if you have questionnaire about 5S program including the validity and reliability of the questionnaire.. If so, Can i have a copy of it??
    Thank you very much..

  4. himanshu
    February 20, 2014 at 8:54 pm

    Dear sir ,
    can you pl give me detailed of 5 s, what is the mean , why to use , where to use , in where working the 5 s, when the start of 5 s, and mean that i want fully detailed of 5 s related .

    • leanman
      May 19, 2014 at 7:10 am

      Hi Himanshu,

      If you want to know about 5S just read the article above and follow the various links to more detailed information for each stage.

  5. harry
    July 7, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    can you send me details of 5S

  6. {افضل شركة نظافة منازل بجدة
    July 11, 2014 at 10:30 pm

    Thanks for finally talking about >What is 5S; Seiri,
    Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu, Shitsuke <Loved it!

  7. dilhara
    September 12, 2014 at 6:07 am

    dear sir,
    please tell me.what is the Japanese management?

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