Janitors and Building Cleaners

What Janitors and Building Cleaners Do

Janitors and building cleaners keep many types of buildings clean, orderly, and in good condition.

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Work Environment

Most janitors and building cleaners work indoors. However, some work outdoors part of the time, sweeping walkways, mowing lawns, and removing snow. Because office buildings often are cleaned while they are empty, many cleaners work evening hours. The work can be physically demanding and sometimes dirty and unpleasant.

How to Become a Janitor or Building Cleaner

Most janitors and building cleaners learn on the job. Formal education is not required.

Pay

The median hourly wage for janitors and building cleaners was $13.19 in May 2019.

Job Outlook

Employment of janitors and building cleaners is projected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Many new jobs are expected in industries such as administrative and support services, educational services, and healthcare.

Janitors and building cleaners keep many types of buildings clean, orderly, and in good condition.

Duties

Janitors and building cleaners typically do the following:

  • Gather and empty trash
  • Sweep, mop, or vacuum building floors
  • Clean restrooms and stock them with supplies
  • Lock doors to secure buildings
  • Clean spills and other hazards with appropriate equipment
  • Wash windows, walls, and glass
  • Order cleaning supplies
  • Make minor building repairs
  • Notify managers when a building needs major repairs

Janitors and building cleaners keep office buildings, schools, hospitals, retail stores, hotels, and other places clean, sanitary, and in good condition. Some only clean, while others have a wide range of duties.

In addition to keeping the inside of buildings clean and orderly, some janitors and building cleaners work outdoors, mowing lawns, sweeping walkways, and removing snow. Some workers also monitor the building’s heating and cooling system, ensuring that it functions properly.

Janitors and building cleaners use many tools and equipment. Simple cleaning tools may include mops, brooms, rakes, and shovels. Other tools may include snowblowers, floor buffers, and carpet extraction equipment.

Some janitors are responsible for repairing minor electrical or plumbing problems, such as leaky faucets.

The following are examples of types of janitors and building cleaners:

Building superintendents are responsible for maintaining residential buildings, such as apartments and condominiums. Although their duties are similar to those of other janitors, some building superintendents also help collect rent and show vacancies to potential tenants.

Custodians are janitors or cleaning workers who typically maintain institutional facilities, such as public schools and hospitals.

Janitors and building cleaners held about 2.4 million jobs in 2019. The largest employers of janitors and building cleaners were as follows:

Services to buildings and dwellings 37%
Elementary and secondary schools; state, local, and private 13
Healthcare and social assistance 7
Government 5
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations 5

Most janitors and building cleaners work indoors, but some work outdoors part of the time, sweeping walkways, mowing lawns, and shoveling snow. They spend most of the day walking, standing, or bending while cleaning. Sometimes they must move or lift heavy supplies and equipment. As a result, the work may be strenuous on the back, arms, and legs. Some tasks, such as cleaning restrooms and trash areas, can be dirty and unpleasant.

Injuries and Illnesses

Janitors and building cleaners sometimes get injured on the job. For example, they may suffer minor cuts, bruises, and burns from machines, tools, and chemicals. As a result, workers increasingly receive safety and ergonomics training.

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of janitors and building cleaners.

Occupation Job Duties Entry-Level Education Median Annual Pay, May 2019

Grounds maintenance workers

Grounds Maintenance Workers

Grounds maintenance workers ensure that the grounds of houses, businesses, and parks are attractive, orderly, and healthy.

See How to Become One $30,890

Pest Control Workers

Pest control workers remove unwanted pests that infest buildings and surrounding areas.

High school diploma or equivalent $37,330

For more information about janitors and building cleaners, visit

Association of Residential Cleaning Services International

Building Service Contractors Association International

IEHA (formerly International Executive Housekeepers Association)

ISSA-The Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association

Information about janitorial and building cleaning jobs is available from state employment service offices.

O*NET

Janitors and Cleaners, Except Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners


Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Janitors and Building Cleaners,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/building-and-grounds-cleaning/janitors-and-building-cleaners.htm (visited ).