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What is a Janitor?

Also known as: Office Janitor, Hotel Janitor, Store Janitor, Hospital Janitor, School Janitor, Plant Custodian, Building Custodian, Custodial Worker, Cleaner, Custodian

Janitors keep many types of buildings clean, orderly, and in good condition. The work can be physically demanding and sometimes dirty and unpleasant.

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What does a Janitor do?

Janitors typically do the following:

  • Gather and empty trash and trash bins
  • Clean building floors by sweeping, mopping, or vacuuming them
  • Clean bathrooms and stock them with soap, toilet paper, and other supplies
  • Keep buildings secure by locking doors
  • Clean spills and other hazards using sponges and squeegees
  • Wash windows, walls, and glass
  • Order cleaning supplies
  • Make minor repairs to the building, such as changing light bulbs
  • Notify managers when the building needs major repairs

Janitors keep office buildings, schools, hospitals, retail stores, hotels, and other places clean, sanitary, and in good condition. Some do only cleaning, while others have a wide range of duties. In addition to keeping the inside of buildings clean and orderly, some janitors work outdoors, mowing lawns, sweeping walkways, or shoveling snow. Some janitors also monitor the heating and cooling system, ensuring that it functions properly.

Janitors use many tools and equipment. Simple cleaning tools may include mops, brooms, rakes, and shovels. Other tools may include snow blowers and floor buffers. Some janitors may be responsible for repairing small problems with electricity or plumbing, such as leaky faucets.

What is the workplace of a Janitor like?

About 32% of janitors work in the services to buildings and dwellings, and another 14% are employed in elementary and secondary schools. The remainder are employed throughout other industries.

Most janitors and building cleaners work indoors, but some work outdoors part of the time, sweeping walkways, mowing lawns, or shoveling snow. They spend most of the day standing, sometimes moving or lifting heavy supplies or equipment. As a result, the work may be strenuous on the back, arms, and legs. And some tasks, such as cleaning bathrooms and trash rooms, can be dirty and unpleasant.

Janitors and building cleaners have one of the highest work-related injury rates. Workers may suffer cuts, bruises, and burns from machines, tools, and chemicals.

Most janitors and building cleaners work full time, but a significant number work part time. Because office buildings are usually cleaned while they are empty, many cleaning workers work evening hours. Janitors in schools, however, usually work during the day. When there is a need for 24-hour maintenance, janitors may work in shifts. This is particularly true of hospitals and hotels.


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