From Academic Kids

Missing image
A janitor's bucket with mop

A janitor or caretaker (term used in British English) is a person who takes care of a building, such as a school, office building, block of flats.

They are usually responsible for cleaning, maintenance and security.

The title is derived from the Latin word ianitor meaning "doorkeeper". See also super.

A female janitor is called a janitrix.

Janitorial work often consists of the following tasks:


Cleaning bathrooms

Cleaning bathrooms is broken down into separate tasks. Cleaning the sinks, cleaning the toilets, and cleaning the floors. The purpose of cleaning is to remove germs which will cause sickness and death for those who use the bathrooms. Cleaning also reduces odor and improves the aesthetic quality of the bathroom.


Sinks usually require little cleaning, as they are not commonly the site of bodily fluid disposal. However scum buildup is always a possibility, and vigilance must be maintained, particularly in a hard water environment.


Special safety precautions must be taken in cleaning toilets. Bodily fluids are frequently spilled onto the exterior of toilets and the nearby floors. These fluids can contain bacteria and viruses that could cause fatal infections in bathroom users, as well as janitors. This is especially in consideration that a janitor's hands will typically be covered with small cuts and tears owing to the nature of other duties of the job, especially light maintenance or moving of heavy objects. Latex gloves are used, and goggles sometimes as well. A toilet brush can come in handy if feces is stuck to the bowl.


Urinals are between sinks and toilets in difficulty. They typically have urine residue around the rim, as well as pubic hair. This necessitates disposable towels and other janitorial equipment.

Maxipad holders

In women's bathrooms there are tampon disposal boxes. These must be handled delicately as blood is involved.

Bathroom floors

Floors are typically covered with urine residue but occasionally feces and blood occur as well. The floors are typically of ceramic or stone and are mopped with soap and water.

Cleaning Floors

Vacuuming carpet is required in any high use area. Dirt buildup can render a carpet unusable and encourage strange odors to form. Periodic shampooing of the carpet by a shampooing machine is also done, especially after a spill of bodily fluid such as blood, vomit, or feces.

Emptying trash

Typically any modern office building or public place has many dustbins placed in strategic locations throughout the building. These typically include plastic bags inside of a metal or plastic container. The bags are replaced by janitors along with the trash, which is placed in larger collection bins. These bins are emptied by garbage trucks, a service provided by organizations such as sanitation companies, garbage companies, waste management companies, or government agencies. The trash is then eventually hauled to a landfill, or in the case of certain organizations, a recycling center.

In an office enviornment an extreme level of trust is placed in the janitorial staff. Frequently memos, documents, and all kinds of paper evidence are thrown into wastepaper baskets. Furthermore, janitors entering into offices must not disclose anything they happen to see in those offices. Obviously for any sensitive work this could be a problem, especially in cases of industrial espionage or even spying between governments. For this reason the janitorial workers must be chosen carefully.

In the USA recycled materials typically include paper, cardboard, plastic, glass, and aluminum. However the level of recycling varies from location to location. Many organizations recycle only paper.

Disinfectants and cleaning chemicals

Disinfectants typically used by janitors include bleach or industrial cleaners, frequently purchased in bulk from janitorial supply corporations. Janitors are typically advised to not mix any chemicals. In the case of mixing ammonia with bleach, a toxic gas will be given off, potentially causing death.

Comparison between janitor and housewife

A housewife typically performs all the jobs of a janitor for the household. However the load is usually much less because of the lower traffic in a house versus a public bathroom or office bathroom. Many people, especially feminists, point out that the monetary value of housewife work goes unconsidered in modern society, particularly in various formulations of economic output such as the GDP or employment figures.


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