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Cleanliness manifesto 2018: Mis-en-place

This manifesto prescribes principles for one aspect on cleanliness that I wish to adopt as a habit: mis-en-place or “A place for everything and everything in its place”.


Mis-en-place is a French term that means, “A place for everything and everything in its place”.

There are three key terms while applying mis-en-place. These terms are:

  1. Working surface: This is any surface where you are performing an activity right now. Things or people use the working surface ONLY during the duration of the activity after which, the surface must be clear of all objects. Only objects in use for that activity are allowed and any object not related to that activity should be cleared from the working surface.
    Each object in the house has a default working surface to which it is often brought and this working surface must be used for that object as much as possible. At times, alternate working surface may be sought.
    Heavy objects with precise placement are allowed permanently on a working surface, if that object is used exclusively on that surface.
    Examples: table top, kitchen counter, chair, sofa, floor, bed.
    Sample mis-en-place application: A laptop is brought to a table top to check emails for an hour. No other objects should be on the table top. If the table top has some books, they should be returned to the shelf they belong to. It's only after this clearing that the laptop is to be kept on the working surface. As soon as the email checking activity is over, the laptop should be turned off and returned to its own shelf. The table top is to be left empty. This is not the case with the microwave oven, which remains on its working surface, the kitchen counter, all the time.
    Among light objects, only thoughtful and subtle decorative items are allowed permanently on a working surface. Even so, avoid such decoration directly on the surface. Instead have them on a nearby wall or a storage unit in direct view of the working surface.

  2. Objects: Objects are items used everyday for activities. Light objects and certain heavy objects are carried from storage units to working surfaces for the duration of the activity. However, they are returned to their assigned storage units immediately after use.

    An object must ALWAYS go back to the storage unit assigned to it and not to any other storage unit. Assignment must be planned and determined beforehand. The assignment can be changed as objects are accumulated or discarded from the house.

    Heavy objects remain on the working surface for their lifetime. But any heavy object which is out of use either due to a defect or non-necessity must be removed to a storage unit to clear space on the working surface.

  3. Storage units: These are units that store objects around the house when they are not in use for an activity right now.

    All objects MUST remain in their storage units when not in use. They should not linger shabbily on working surfaces. Only heavy objects like microwave oven and appliances are allowed to remain on their working surfaces permanently.

  4. Carriage units: These are units that are used to carry objects from one place to another, either for convenience or if it is not possible directly by hand. Carriage units should NEVER be used as permanent storage. Once the carriage is finished, the objects should immediately be transferred to a working surface for an activity or to a storage unit for long-term storage.
    Grocery shopping is a good example. We push everything inside carry bags during our purchase. The groceries should NOT be inside the carry bags after we return home. They should immediately find their places into designated storage units, such as egg racks, freezer, vegetable tray, closets, etc. Carriage units's purpose is done as soon as the transportation is done.
  5. Rooms: Rooms are units inside a house, each for a specific purpose. E.g. kitchen is for cooking, bed room is for sleeping, etc. As far as possible, the purpose of the room dictates which working surfaces, storage units and objects are inside.

    In small houses, each room has multiple purposes. E.g. the bedroom doubles as the storage room, the living room doubles as study and often, the bathroom and the toilet are together.

    At no point of time, shall an object lie on the floor of the room or hanging from door frames, door knobs or from window sills or grills. Objects must be on working surfaces or inside storage units.

Working surfaces

Table tops

Table tops should have no items except those that are being used for the current activity. Everything that is not required on the table top should be in their respective storage units, i.e. shelfs, bags and wall holders.

Chairs and sofas

Chairs and sofas are for sitting and not spots for storage. Nothing shall ever be placed on chairs, either intentionally or absent-mindedly, and the chairs should remain clear for sitting.

Storage units


Each rack of a shelf should be designated to contain some items and it shall not have any items other than the ones designated. If more items need to go into the rack, then refactoring is required.



  1. Clothes should be folded neatly and stacked on top of each other in cupboard shelves (storage units). Each stack should contain one category of clothes, e.g. underwear, tee shirts, skirts, tops, jeans, etc. Stacks which are less used can be pushed to back of the rack, while the frequently used stacks should be in front within hand's reach.
  2. Clothes that are used once in a while should not eat up space inside the cupboard racks. They should be put away inside bags or boxes, preferably with naptha balls to protect them from moths. This includes woollens, travelling and trekking clothes, suits, sherwanis, etc.
  3. Clothes that have been retrieved after drying on the line should go to the BOTTOM of their respective stacks and NOT to the top. This will ensure a nice round-robin rotation, preventing some clothes from being overused and others from being underused.
  4. The next five to-be-used shirts and trousers should be neatly ironed and hung from hangers inside the cupboard.
  5. Formal dresses just removed from the clothes line should NOT be ironed. They should be folded and go to the bottom of the stack of shirts and trousers.
  6. Wet clothes should always be hung out to dry. Complete drying takes three hours of good sunshine.
  7. Clothes that need washing should go into the washing tub of the washing machine. Do NOT leave them lying on the bathroom floor, especially if the clothes have been taken off for a bath.
  8. No clothes should ever lie on the top of the floor, bed, table or chair.
  9. The last point applies especially to clothes just taken off after a day out. These clothes have only the following places to go.
    1. If the clothes taken off need washing, toss them into the washing machine tub.
    2. If the clothes look okay and are dry
      1. Return them to the top of their stacks if they will be used soon.
      2. Return them to the bottom of their stacks if their turn is over and they will be in rotation much later.
      3. Return them to the hanger if they are formals and will be used soon.
    3. If the clothes are wet (possibly due to rain), then give them a quick wash and hang them out to dry immediately. Wet clothes lying around are prone to getting smelly.
  10. Clothes which are extremely dirty, either due to weather conditions or due to some activity attracting a lot of dirt, should be soaked in a bucket of water with some powdered soap. They should be scrubbed lightly, either with a brush or by hand, especially in dirty areas, before being tossed into the washing machine's tub.
  11. Paired clothes should always be stored in pairs. In fact, pin the pair together or fold them one inside the other, so that they don't stray too far away from each other. Socks, gloves and thermals are good candidates.
  12. Inside the bathroom, do NOT leave clothes hanging on faucets, towel hangers or inside the wash basin. They should be returned to their storage units immediately.
  13. It is common to forget towels while going for a bath. This leads to the problem mentioned in the point above. To avoid missing a towel while going for a bath, have a shelf inside the bathroom, that permanently stores towels. It is good to have four towels for the bathroom.
  14. After drying, bathing towels should be returned to their shelf inside the bathroom.
  15. After returning from an outing, clothes should not be left lying inside the backpack / duffel bag. They should be taken out and treated as per their storage rules.
  16. There should only ever be the following working surfaces for clothes:
    1. Your body
    2. Ironing table
    3. The surface you use for folding and packing
    4. Clothes line for drying
    5. Washing machine's tub
    6. Inside a bucket for soaking or for washing later
  17. There should only ever be the following storage units:
    1. Cupboard / wardrobe
    2. For towels, a shelf / closet inside the bathroom.
  18. Clothes can be inside the following carriage units:
    1. Backpack / duffel bags
    2. Carry bags
    3. Suit bags / hangers
    4. Buckets
    5. Your hands
  19. ALWAYS use a clothes hanger or a clothes line to hang clothes. NEVER hang clothes from shower nozzles, water tap nozzles, door knobs, door handles or any protuding attachment whose utility is not meant for hanging clothes.


  1. Electronics items other than phones should be stowed away in their own shelves when not in use. This includes laptops.
  2. Chargers for electronics may be kept either together with the device or in a seperate unit. Ideally, each device and its associated cables should be boxed as one unit.
  3. Charging cables, data cables and audio cables should be rolled up and kept in a compartment seperate from the device itself.
  4. Phones should not lie on table tops, nor on the top of the bed, unless it will be used within the next 15 minutes. During times of non-use, the phone should be tucked away in a pouch screwed to the wall. The pouch can be of cloth or rexin.
  5. The phone pouch should be close to a charging point. This will ensure that the phone can be kept in a pouch even while it is charging, keeping couches, table tops and counters free for other uses.
  6. Along with devices, chargers should be taken out and plugged into charging points, ready to charge.
  7. At the end of the day, all devices should be disconnected from their respective cables. The cables should be rolled up. Laptops should be powered off. Phones go back to their pouches. All items other than phones should be returned to their assigned boxes and those boxes into their shelves.
  8. Once a device has been taken out of its box, the box should be returned to the shelf.
  9. Cut tie cables should be immediately discarded. Plastic cables holding wires together go into plastic re-usables basket. All plastic wrappers torn away to get electronic components out should be discarded as plastic re-usables.
  10. Carboard boxes and thermacole packings housing devices should be discarded as paper waste. The thrown cardboard boxes can be repurposed to make containers for electronics.
  11. All electronic devices, which are defective and aren't going to be used anymore, should be discarded as electronic waste.
  12. Working devices which aren't going to be used anymore should be given away or exchanged.
  13. Instead of cardboard boxes, one can use cloth pouches too.
  14. No electronics shall be inside the bedroom after bed-time.
  15. The following rules should be adhered to when charging electronics.
    1. Plug in a device to its charger ONLY if the charge is 20% or LESS.
    2. Unplug a device from its charger ONLY if the charge is 80% or MORE.
    3. NEVER plug in a device to its charger if the charge is between 20% and 80%.
    4. Try NOT to unplug a device from its charger if the charge is between 20% and 80%. This rule has to be ignored if you are on the go and the device needs to come with you.


  1. Books should lie inside a book shelf. While we don't have a book-shelf, we will use a big cardboard box as a makeshift bookshelf.
  2. It is not okay to mark on a book with markers or pencils. We should note down points to mark along with page number and paragraph number on a seperate workbook, with a small note that talks what the marked section is about.
  3. Books should never be left on the bed. It is okay to leave books on a table if it is going to be read within the next 30 minutes.
  4. It is not okay to dog-ear pages. One should use a bookmark to know the position to continue reading. Also, it is not okay to lay a book face down on the page where one should continue reading.\ \A book which is not being read now should be closed, with a bookmark indicating where to continue.
  5. The bed should have a side table on each side. This is to keep a book for the night without having to get up and return the book to the shelf. This can be done in the morning.
  6. While on the shelf, books should be sorted by title. Articles like 'The', 'A' and 'An' should be ignored while sorting. E.g. the books 'The Specialist' and 'A Night to Remember' will be sorted under 'S' and 'N' respectively.
  7. Shelves can be categorised by topics: Software, Behaviour and Management, Fiction, etc.
  8. Borrowed books should be tagged as 'to be returned: to whom, tentative date of return'.
  9. In the slots where lent books are supposed to be, a small paper / post-it should indicate the name of the book, the borrower and the tentative date of return.



  1. The kitchen counter should always be clean and should have not objects on it other than those that are required for the current food item. All other items are to be returned to storage shelves or to the kitchen sink. If an item is too hot to touch, it can occupy a corner far away from the current active area.
  2. The counter should be covered with newspaper to prevent direct spillage.
  3. The counter should be wiped clean as soon as the current activity is finished.
  4. Dry items must be swept away from the counter and thrown into the dustbin.
  5. Stains will be taken care during wet wipe.
  6. All food items must be stored on storage shelves. Nothing should be kept on the counter. Only the objects used in the current activity must be on the counter. Shelves are to be designated for all objects and the objects put away to the assigned racks.
  7. Perishable items must go to racks in the fridge. Milk pouches and dairy products go to the chiller tray.
  8. Everything must be put away in boxes. Pouches are not to be used as long-term storage.
  9. Items bought freshly in unopened sachets and pouches can remain in those pouches until opened.
  10. If the main containers do not have enough space to empty the pouch's contents, then the pouch should be closed with a clip and put into a storage unit marked for reserves and supplies.
  11. The top of microwave and fridge are not be used as storage areas. The fridge top may however be used to remind us to grab something to eat, e.g. a bunch of bananas. This is like a working surface. So use it sparingly. The microwave top must NEVER be used as a counter top.
  12. All electric appliances should be switched off and unplugged at night. They can be re-connected the next morning.
  13. Items purchased that day should immediately go to shelf racks, the fridge or the box for reserves. Nothing should remain in the shopping bags.This practice should be immediately after shopping.
  14. Purchases should adhere to a strict shopping list. Only 3 items outside the shopping list are allowed.
  15. All boxes and jars should be labelled. This helps identify ingredients immediately. Rooting around for the right ingredients takes a lot of time.
  16. The sink drain should be cleaned on the last Saturday of each month. If the Saturday plan fails, then Sunday will do.
  17. Separate cleaning rags are to be kept for utensils, counter and floor.
  18. Shopping bags should be segregated into those for vegetables and those for groceries.
  19. Shopping bags for vegetables should have compartments stitched, so that different vegetables, especially the smaller ones do not spread all over the bag, mixing with other vegetables, making it hard to retrieve and shelve them.

Living room

  1. The living room should consist of only the following items.
    1. the couch
    2. book shelf
    3. shopping bags on the front door
    4. decorations
  2. From time to time, things necessary for the next outing may be kept on the handle of the couch as a reminder.
  3. The floors should be clean from any clutter and so should the couch.
  4. The room should be swept and swabbed at least once every week.
  5. The wall decors should be checked for any loose ends such as loose tape or glue.
  6. The book shelf should have no objects other than books. Other objects should be returned to their storage units.
  7. The glass doors and the balcony should be swabbed once a week.
  8. The door hooks should have only shopping bags and other articles needed as a reminder for the next outing.
  9. Occasionally, the book shelf's bottom row may be used to hold an electronic device to be charged overnight. But the device should be returned to its storage unit or working surface immediately next morning.


  1. The bedroom should have nothing lying on the bed. The bed should be left clean for sleeping. It is also a location for working in the Thane house. But laptops should be packed away into the closet after work is done.
  2. Nothing should be left on the couch handle. Once the work of pens / cups is over, they should be returned to their respective storage units. Water bottles are allowed as long as a person is working in the room.
  3. The table top shall have nothing other than decor or objects pertaining to current activity. All stationary shall be put away in wall hangings.
  4. The speakers should be off the ground and be placed on stands. An extension wire / bluetooth dongle shall be used to help connect a phone / laptop to the speakers.
  5. All chargers should be removed from charging points and returned to the electronics section of the closet.
  6. No clothes should ever be on the bed. They are to go into the closet or to the back of the door immediately.
  7. Clothes which will be worn soon are allowed on the back of the door. The door knobs are not to be used for hanging objects.
  8. Electronics do not remain on bed or on the window desk. They go back to the assigned place in the closet.
  9. Electronics are to be partitioned and grouped. Each group will be put into a box, that can be carried and kept together, e.g. laptop, mouse, charger; phone, charger; Yi, charger, etc.
  10. The bed should be made and the Kashmiri bedsheet put away into the closet.
  11. Books should be arranged neatly in a stack such that all books are either vertical or at least standing. This makes it easy to take individual books from the shelf.


  1. The bathroom's faucets should not be used to hang clothes.
  2. The cloth hanger in the bathroom should not be used for long term storage of clothes. It is only for hanging clothes that are needed after a bath.
  3. Plastic wrapper after having been taken off from soaps and shampoos should not linger in the bathroom. They should be disposed.
  4. The drain shall be clean of hair strands and lint.
  5. Soaps should be in soap cases and not be directly on the shelf.
  6. The floor should be free of grime and particles
  7. The buckets should be clean of residue.

Waste management

  1. Waste should be sorted into the following categories
    1. Biodegradable
    2. Plastic & metal
    3. Paper and cardboard
    4. Polythene
    5. Cloth
  2. Each category should be put into a certain box.
  3. Biodegradable waste should be thrown out once every two days.
  4. Once every four days to a week suffices for plastic and paper waste.
  5. Metal and hard plastics should not be thrown out. They should be re-used.
  6. Paper can be used for cleanup, decorations and wrapping.
  7. All plastic pouches and cardboard boxes should be cut and unfurled.


- Wooden doors leading out of the house and the sliding doors leading to balconies should be kept closed. - The front door should have a set of shopping bags hanging from a hook. Please don't hang the bags on the door knobs. - All doors should have a hook so as to hang bags or accessories such as caps. All door knobs should be kept free for operation, with nothing hanging from them. - Sliding door glass should be cleaned with a glass cleaning solution, soft pad and newspaper every week. - The knobs and key holes should be oiled regularly for smooth operation.

mis-en-place.txt · Last modified: 2018/09/29 14:54 by