Housekeeping and 5s’: Do you know the difference?

A very common question in the quality management and business administration universe is if Housekeeping and 5s’ refer to the same thing, Housekeeping with a Western definition and 5s with an Eastern interpretation.

For many years these two systems have been disclosed as synonyms, despite their similarities and common origin, the fact is that they are methodologies with different objectives and ranges.

Coming from very ancient teachings and strongly rooted in Japanese culture, the 5s system was structured and systematized by the expert Kaoru Ishikawa after World War II, as a way to help Japan economically rebuild, and today has become one of the most used practices by companies around the world in pursuit of total quality.

Housekeeping is a Western adaptation of 5s’ and is based on some of its principles to organize and standardize work environments.

The concept of Housekeeping, as well as the literal translation of the expression, is more focused on the physical aspect of it, for the storage and organization of your environment.

5s’ is much deeper and its focus is on people, seeking a change in behavioral patterns and a real review of concepts and paradigm shifts.

See also: The Process approach to total quality management.

The differences between Housekeeping and 5s’

The 5s system:

  • Created by the Japanese culture
  • Looks to change people’s behaviors
  • Its methodology is behavioral and educational and is based on andragogy, the art of guiding adults to learn new things
  • The implementation of 5s’ is guided by the change of style in new ways of doing things and the review and adaptation of behaviors
  • The program often faces cultural barriers
  • Maintenance is anchored in the involvement of everyone, in inspections, in promotional activities and expositions


  • A 5s’ Western culture adaptation
  • Its primary objectives are to change and improve the physical environment and a company’s space
  • Its methodology is based on the determination of standards and procedures
  • The implementation of Housekeeping is guided primarily by investments
  • Its biggest obstacles are possible financial barriers
  • The maintenance program is based on audits and action plans

In both systems, it is important for companies to frequently schedule lectures, training, and workshops so that gradually the teachings of Housekeeping and the 5s’ integrate into the culture and values of the organization itself.

Now that you know the differences between Housekeeping and 5s’, check out the concept of BPM and understand how it connects to integrated management processes.

See also: Kaizen methodology and continuous improvement, two concepts that are deeply connected.

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