How to Apply 5S: Dishpit Hell

Do you enjoy doing dishes? Most people don’t, so it’s pretty easy for dishes to pile up and become a Dishpit Hell. The good news is that you can easily prevent this from happening with 5S.

In our latest How to 5S Series blog, here’s an example of how 5S helped improve the service at popular Hawaiian restaurant whose customers were becoming increasingly frustrated because their food was taking too long to be served. The reason? Lack of clean dishes to serve their food on.

Before 5S: Dishpit at a Busy Restaurant

The wait help and bussers throw their dirty dishes in the Dishpit. The result? A giant mix of food, plates and cups everywhere leading to broken glass. There is no organization which creates a hazardous, chaotic working environment.

Step 1: Sort

The team begins by sorting through the dishes and cups by throwing away trash and broken shards of glass. They throw the compostable trash in one receptacle, and the non compostable in another. They also scrape the excess food particles off the dishes.

Dishpit Hell - Sort -

Step 2: Set In Order

They then set the Dishpit in order by stacking the different plates and cups in their appropriate group, and into their proper crates. They also place the utensils in the soak bin.

Dishpit Hell - Set In Order -

Step 3: Shine

Next, they begin shining the Dishpit by cleaning the dirty plates, cups and utensils in the dishwasher at a proper rinse temperature. They place the clean, shiny dishes, cups and utensils in their appropriate areas. They also hose and scrub down the area and finally squeegee the excess water away.

Dishpit Hell - Shine -

Step 4: Standardize

The team then standardizes a process where the wait help and bussers scrape off their dishes before stacking them in their proper groups in the Dishpit. They place trash in the side receptacles. They also stack all plates and cups in their proper crate or neatly on the side, as well as place all utensils in the soak pan.

Dishpit Hell - Standardize -

Step 5: Sustain

Lastly, they continue to sustain the organization of the Dishpit by coaching the wait help and bussers in the new standardized process. They communicate with the dishwasher when it starts to get busy to maximize efficiency and flow of the restaurant.

Dishpit Hell - Sustain -

The Results

By applying 5S to their Dishpit, the team at the restaurant is less stressed. More importantly, their customers are happier because their food is delivered more quickly. This also resulted in the restaurant:

  • Increasing financial savings (less broken glass to replace)
  • Increasing productivity and profit (more customers served)
  • Increasing safety (less chance of injuries from broken plates)

Their Dishpit Hell is now more of a Dishpit Heaven (if a Dishpit could ever be heavenly)!

To learn more about 5S, check out our Yellow Belt Training & Certification!

Or automate your Lean Six Sigma projects with AI using Kure.

Have you applied 5S at work or at home? Be sure to check out our 5S hub page⁠—5S: An Easy Way to Eliminate Waste⁠—for other great ways to apply 5S!

Karlo Tanjuakio is the CEO & Founder of GLSS ( Our goal is to empower everyone's efficiency. By integrating the most practical Lean Six Sigma Training & Certification with Project-Based Learning, GLSS helps teams create a measurable impact on their companies and communities worldwide.

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