A janitor (
American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. Currently, American English is the most influential form of ...
Scottish English Scottish English ( gd, Beurla Albannach) is the set of varieties Variety may refer to: Science and technology Mathematics * Algebraic variety, the set of solutions of a system of polynomial equations * Variety (universal algebra), classe ...
), also known as a custodian, porter, cleanser, cleaner or caretaker is a person who cleans and maintains
buildings A building, or edifice, is a structure A structure is an arrangement and organization of interrelated elements in a material object or system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a se ...

. Janitors typically earn an average wage of $15 per hour in the United States. That translates to an annual salary of around $35,000 for states that pay janitors the most, such as New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. In some cases, they will also carry out
maintenance Maintenance may refer to: Biological science * Maintenance of an organism * Maintenance respiration Non-technical maintenance * Alimony, also called ''maintenance'' in British English * Champerty and maintenance, two related legal doctrines ...
security Security is freedom from, or resilience against, potential Potential generally refers to a currently unrealized ability. The term is used in a wide variety of fields, from physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), phys ...

duties. A similar position, but usually with more managerial duties and not including cleaning, is occupied by
building superintendent A building superintendent or building supervisor (often shortened to super) is a term used in the United States and Canada to refer to a manager responsible for repair and maintenance in a residential building. They are the first point of contact ...
s in the
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United States
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) and by site managers in schools in the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...

United Kingdom
. Cleaning is one of the most commonly outsourced services.

Occupational tasks

Most of the work performed by janitors and building cleaners is indoors. Office buildings are usually cleaned when they are vacant, so most of the office janitorial staff work during the evening. The work can be physically demanding and sometimes dirty and unpleasant. General janitor duties often include the following tasks: * Cleaning and restocking bathrooms **
Sink A sink – also known by other names including sinker, washbowl, hand basin, wash basin, and simply basin – is a bowl-shaped plumbing fixture used for washing hands, dishwashing, and other purposes. Sinks have taps (faucets) that supply hot ...

s **
Toilet A toilet is a piece of hardware that collects human and , and sometimes , usually for disposal. use water, while do not. They can be designed for a sitting position popular in Europe and North America with a , with , or for a squatting po ...

s **
Urinal A urinal (, ) is a sanitary plumbing fixture A plumbing fixture is an exchangeable device which can be connected to a plumbing system to deliver and drain water. Common fixtures Supply The most common plumbing fixtures are: * Bathtubs * B ...
s ** Floor cleaning, refinishing, and polishing (sweeping, mopping, scrubbing and buffing) ** Clearing garbage bins ** Restocking restroom paper products and other supplies such as feminine products and air fresheners ** Cleaning mirrors * Cleaning floors (mopping, sweeping, polishing) * Carpet cleaning (dry method, extraction, steam and bonnet) * Cleaning
carpet A carpet is a textile floor covering typically consisting of an upper layer of Pile (textile), pile attached to a backing. The pile was traditionally made from wool, but since the 20th century, synthetic fibers such as polypropylene, nylon or p ...

ing (vacuuming) * Cleaning
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and other special surfaces * Clearing lunch room/kitchen * Cleaning
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in cubicles, meeting rooms, etc. * Window washing * Scrubbing concrete * Emptying trash and
recycling bin
recycling bin
s * Unlocking and locking buildings at the beginning and end of the day *Operation of building systems (turning on and off lights, setting thermostats, etc.) in some places this may include testing/maintaining/setting building safety/security systems (fire alarms, burglar alarms, surveillance cameras, etc.) * Stripping and waxing floors using
Floor buffer A floor scrubber is a floor cleaning device. It can be a simple tool such as a floor mop or Scrubber (brush), floor brush, or in the form of a walk-behind or a ride-on machine to clean larger areas by injecting water with cleaning solution, scrubbi ...
* Cleaning air-conditioner vents * Crime scene cleaning (requires being fully certified and pay scale starts from $300.00 to $700.00+ an hour) * Litter picking * Spot cleaning (generally spills - coffee for instance) * Sanitization * Room and event setups (tables and chairs, audio video equipment, etc.) (college/schools, etc.) * Raising and lowering flags (schools) * Removing graffiti or other forms of vandalism * Minor maintenance work, such as: changing light bulbs and filters, replacing ceiling tiles, doing small repairs, fixing small leaks, performing testing and monitoring of building equipment, etc. In some places, other people may do these maintenance tasks. * Outdoor work, such as: cleaning walkways, mowing lawns, tending to landscape plantings, leaf clean up, snow removal, etc. In some places, groundskeepers or a separate company may do outdoor work. * Porterage (internal deliveries; movement of equipment or people in hospitals, colleges, etc.) * Unclogging blocked drains and toilets * Removing vomit, urine, and feces from public areas

Pay scale

In 2010, the median pay of a janitor working in the US was $10.68 per hour. The yearly salary could grow by 11% according to the statistics of 2010.

Office cleaning

Office cleaning staff perform many of the same duties as janitors. However the tasks are divided among different members. Additional tasks include: * watering plants (pruning as well) * cleaning sinks, refrigerators, microwaves and toasters in office kitchens; clearing recycling and garbage bins * dusting furniture and computer equipment (monitors and desk area, but excluding keyboards) and tables


Cleaning is one of the most commonly outsourced services. Some of the reasons for this include: * Basic cleaning tasks are standardised, with little variation among different enterprises. * The nature of the job and required standard of performance can be clearly defined and specified in a contract, unlike more technical or professional jobs for which such specification is harder to develop. *Some organizations prefer to outsource work unrelated to their core business in order to save additional salaries and benefits required to manage the work. * Some organizations may feel uncomfortable dealing with labour relations related to low wage employees; by outsourcing, these labor relations issues are transferred to a contractor whose staff are comfortable and experienced in dealing with these issues, and their approach can benefit from economies of scale. * If a janitor is unavailable due to sickness or leave, a contractor which employs many janitors can easily assign a substitute. A small organisation which employs one or a few janitors directly will have much more trouble with this.


Between 17% to 23% of the total Undocumented immigrants in the U.S., undocumented immigrant population living in the United States work in the cleaning industry (and growing at a rate of 1/2% to 1/3% percent per year). In addition to this population offering an abundant source of inexpensive labor, janitorial work is mostly undertaken at night, making it an appealing option for janitorial companies to employ undocumented workers seeking clandestine employment. In the Netherlands, the number of cleaning companies grew from 5,000 in 2003 to 8,000 in 2008.Data from the employers' organisation in The Netherlands provided by EU-OSHA's Focal Point Literature review - The occupational safety and health of cleaning workers EU-OSHA - European Agency for Safety and Health at Work

See also

* Building superintendent * Concierge * Housekeeping * Property caretaker


Further reading


External links

* * {{Authority control Cleaning and maintenance occupations Janitors,