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Duties & Responsibilities of a Custodian

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According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, building cleaners keep various buildings including schools, hospitals, businesses, apartments and hotels clean, sanitary and in good condition. Duties vary according to the type and size of the building or facility, the size of the custodial staff and the number of employees or patrons. While some custodians primarily perform cleaning duties, others have additional tasks to perform.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that formal education is not needed for those pursuing a career in janitorial services, and much of the training is learned on the job. However, for those interested in becoming supervisors, a high school diploma and some college is generally preferred. In 2008, the median hourly wage was $10.31, with the highest earners making about $17 per hour and the lowest paid making around $7.41 per hour.

Perform Heavy Cleaning Duties

Custodians, or janitors, perform many heavy cleaning duties such as cleaning floors, shampooing rugs, waxing floors, removing trash and washing walls, windows and glass. Custodians often clean restrooms, mop or dry mop floors, vacuum carpets and dust furniture or equipment. Custodians may also be responsible for removing snow and ice from walks, cutting grass or cleaning outdoor spaces.

Perform Building Maintenance Tasks

Custodians, or building cleaners, may also be responsible for performing building maintenance tasks such as painting, performing minor repairs, changing light bulbs and exterminating rodents and insects. Custodians may fix leaky plumbing, maintain heating and cooling equipment and perform light carpentry duties.

Perform Safety Tasks

Custodians may also be responsible for keeping areas safe. They may have to direct traffic through the use of cones, tape or signage to keep patrons from entering an unsafe or damaged area. For instance, custodians must direct traffic away from spills or wet areas. Additionally, custodians must be informed of biohazard procedures to ensure that blood, bodily fluids or other biohazards are addressed properly to prevent harm to others. Proper disposal of waste and use of safety clothing are important.

Perform Administrative Duties

Depending on the size of the building, custodians may be responsible for performing basic administrative duties. They may be required to fill out or file reports, maintain computer records, perform inventories of janitorial supplies, schedule workers, train new employees, screen job candidates and issue supplies.

Inspecting Spaces

Custodians are often responsible for performing rounds to ensure that spaces are clean and well kept. They may have to monitor and fill supplies, perform emergency or spot cleanings and empty trash cans as needed.


Kendall Olsen has been writing for more than 20 years She is a University of Missouri-St. Louis Gateway Writing Project Fellow and has published instructional materials with the McDonald Publishing Company. Olsen holds an Ed.S. in educational technology, an M.Ed. in secondary English curriculum and instruction, a B.S. in elementary education and a B.A. in art history.

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