How to Apply 5S: Messy Medicine Cabinet

Medicine cabinets are often forgotten. Unless you’re coughing, sneezing, rubbing your eyes, or blowing your nose, the need for medicine cabinet goods doesn’t come to mind. The medicine cabinet should be cleaned out often as drugs expire or they might fall into the wrong hands. Responsible storage and disposal of medicine and ointments is essential to a safe home.

Here’s how to apply 5S to your medicine cabinet, the next post in our How to Apply 5S series.

Lean 5s

Before 5S

The medicine cabinet is full of medicine, vitamins, spices and more.

Medicine Cabinet - Sort

Step 1: Sort

We sort and separate the vitamins and spices. What we need is separated from the spices and we check the spice dates to ensure nothing needs to be tossed. We throw away the things we do not need or no longer use.

Medicine Cabinet - Sort - 2
Expired, broken, unused and unwanted.

Step 2: Set In Order

We arrange our items to promote easier access to spices and oils while we are cooking. We do this by placing spices and oils on the bottom, most accessible shelf. The vitamins go on the second row up and the items we do not use often are placed on the higher shelves.

Set In Order

Step 3: Shine

We clean the shelves of any dust and spices.

Medicine Cabinet - Shine
It’s dirty under those cabinet liners!
Medicine Cabinet - Shine 2
Spray down the cabinets for fresh, shiny workstation slate!

Step 4: Standardize

We standardize by keeping spices to the right of the self, oils to the left of the shelf. Supplements in the second shelf, and items that are not used everyday on the top shelf.

Medicine Cabinet - Standardize
Easy on the eyes! Time to sustain.

Step 5: Sustain

We sustain by making sure we maintain the cleanliness and standardization of our cabinet! So every first Friday of the month, we quickly inspect the cabinet to ensure it’s still in good shape.

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

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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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