It has been suggested that Cleaner be merged into this article. (Discuss) Proposed since January 2024.
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A full-time janitors residence building in South Korea

A janitor, also known as a custodian, porter, cleanser, cleaner or caretaker, is a person who cleans and maintains buildings. In some cases, they will also carry out maintenance and security duties. A similar position, but usually with more managerial duties and not including cleaning, is occupied by building superintendents in the United States and Canada and by site managers in schools in the United Kingdom. Cleaning is one of the most commonly outsourced services.


The word janitor derives from the Latin "ianitor",[1] meaning doorkeeper or porter, itself from "ianua", meaning door, entrance or gate.[2] This derives from "Janus", the Roman god of doors, gates and portals.[3]

Its first recorded use meaning "caretaker of a building, man employed to see that rooms are kept clean" was in 1708.[2]

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 taxing and sometimes dirty and unpleasant.[4] General janitor duties often include the following tasks:

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.[4]

Office cleaning

Janitorial closet in Elko, Nevada, United States

Office cleaning staff perform many of the same duties as janitors. However the tasks are divided among different members. Additional tasks include:


Cleaning is one of the most commonly outsourced services.[7] Some of the reasons for this include:


Between 17% and 23% of the total undocumented immigrant population living in the United States work in the cleaning industry[8] (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,[9] janitorial work is mostly undertaken at night, making it an appealing option for janitorial companies to employ undocumented workers[10][11] seeking clandestine employment.

In the Netherlands, the number of cleaning companies grew from 5,000 in 2003 to 8,000 in 2008.[12]

See also


  1. ^ "janitor", Wiktionary, 2021-08-31, retrieved 2022-01-02
  2. ^ a b "janitor | Etymology, origin and meaning of janitor by etymonline". Retrieved 2022-01-02.
  3. ^ "'Janitor': A Word History". Retrieved 2022-01-02.
  4. ^ a b "Janitors and Building Cleaners : Occupational Outlook Handbook: : U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics".
  5. ^ Morreale, Don (July 6, 2012). "Crime Scene Cleaners mops up after mayhem". The Denver Post. Archived from the original on April 8, 2013.
  6. ^ Facts about Crime Scene Cleaners! by Documents & Resources for Small Business Professionals DOCSTOC News Source, Fed 12, 2013
  7. ^ Torrington, Derek; Hall, Laura; Taylor, Stephen (2008). Contracts, Contractors and Consultants. ISBN 9780273710752.
  8. ^ Weltin, Dan (2010-05-21). "Immigration Reform: There's Always An Excuse". Retrieved 2011-11-13.
  9. ^ Mollenkamp, Becky (2011-04-11). "Illegal Subcontracting Bad Apples: Illegal subcontracting's continuing impact on the BSC industry". Retrieved 2011-04-11.
  10. ^ Ridgely, Lisa (2010-03-01). "Overdue Diligence: How BSCs can avoid hiring undocumented workers". Retrieved 2010-04-01.
  11. ^ Miriam, Jordan (2011-08-15). "Immigration Audits Drive Illegal Workers Underground: ABM Caught for Employing illegal immigrants". Retrieved 2011-08-15.
  12. ^ 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

Further reading