5S for Families: Learn How the 5S Method Can Help Cure Car Clutter

5S for Families: How the 5S Method Can Help Families Clean Up Car Clutter

  Every parent knows that keeping the car clean with kids as passengers is a difficult and ongoing task. However, there is a lesson to be learned from a popular workplace organization methodology that is slowly infiltrating the way many companies function. It’s called 5S and is rooted in five Japanese words (seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu and shitsuke) that when translated into English all also start with the letter S. The popular motto of 5S is, “Everything has a place and everything in its place.” This saying (and the methodology as a whole) aptly applies whether talking about corporate logistics or family organization. And one place many families can use a system of organization, especially with young ones, is in the car. Learn how to employ 5S to help you keep your family car clear of clutter.

_mg_29311.     Sorting (Seiri): According to MLG Management Consultants, “seiri” can be translated to “sort” or “simplify.” In this first step of 5S, families should begin by clearing out and sorting the current contents of their car. Once you’ve decided what belongs in the car (car seats, stroller, etc.) and what can move to the house or garage (toys, sporting equipment, etc.) then you can move to step number two.

2.     Straightening out (Seiton): Also commonly translated as “set in order” or “standardize,” this second 5S step is all about creating a standard for your space. Think of an orderly system that you can use to keep your kids’ toys, books and other objects neat and tidy. Can you let them each fill a small tote or backpack with toys to play with in the car that can easily be packed up and taken into the house when you return home? Or maybe you keep a small storage bin of travel-friendly toys and games in the car that’s ready when you pull out of the driveway? Whatever system you decide on, keep it simple and easy to maintain.

3.     Sweeping (Seiso): This third step is all about keeping work (or play) spaces swept clean and “shined” in order to create a happy and productive atmosphere. So whether you keep a small container or bag for garbage in your car, or some wet wipes in your glove compartment for spills or sticky messes, a clean car may help you and your little ones enjoy the ride that much more.

4.     Standardizing (Seiketsu): In order to follow step four in the 5S system, consider setting some sort of family car standard with your children. Designate toys specifically for the car. Or, make it clear that every time you leave the house, each child is allowed to bring only one toy or book along for the ride. Setting a standard and sticking to it is the key to this 5S step.

5.     Sustaining the practice (Shitsuke): Lastly, in order to ensure that your family car continues to stay neat and clean, parents should teach their children to sustain the practice themselves. Whatever standards you set for your children, make your expectations clear and give consequences for those who do not help maintain order in the car. For example, if you’ve said that upon returning home each child must be responsible to take his or her snack, sippie cup and toy back into the house, if they don’t comply, follow through with the consequence you have set. Perhaps that child has to pick up the trash around the car prior to your next outing. Also, consider doing a quick sweep of your car once a week to remove fallen Cheerios, forgotten toys, etc. Then, once a month give the family car a good wash and vacuum.

In recent months, further S words such as safety, security, and satisfaction have often been included into the 5S program. When it comes to safety and security and your family car, there’s no better way to help keep your family safe than to make sure you have the car insurance coverage you need. And when it comes to satisfaction, read some auto insurance reviews to find an insurance company you can feel comfortable with.



  1. That is great! If you don’t mind I am going to forward your article on to my two daughters. They have a lot of trouble with this. One has 5 girls and the other has to girls. It is hard to get in to eithers vehicle. LOL Thanks again for sharing. I might have to delete my comment first. LOL

  2. Sandy VanHoey says

    Seems like lots of parents have the issues with the car clutter. I seem to clear out my daughters and son-in-laws and next thing I know, it is filled right back up again. I like to try staying organized so I appreciate all the helpful tips.

  3. HollyC says

    Great post! We try to keep clean in the car by reminding that all trash goes out with you and sweeping once a week, but sometimes it’s hard for the little ones to remember. I recently made a book holder that goes on the middle seat and it’s helped a ton! Next project is a little wipe holder and trash bag.

  4. Andrea Hewitt says

    I need this in the worst way. In my car and home. The hardest part for me is step 5, sustaining. Every time I organize things I have a hard time keeping up with them.

  5. Bekah Kuczenski says

    This reminds me, I need to ss my car!

  6. Bekah Kuczenski says

    My car used to be spotless before having a baby, but now cleaning my car has moved way down on my list of priorites… I can’t find the time to clean it, I can’t leave my baby alone in the house unattended, and she can just play in the driveway by herself, lol so I can never find a good time to do a good cleaning….

  7. Interesting. I never put that much thought into keeping my car in order… I just do it. We don’t tend to have excessive clutter, just things like boxes of tissue and a first aid kid, lawn chair, stroller, washer fluid in the trunk.

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