Cleaner Careers

How to become a Cleaner

What does a Cleaner do?

Cleaners are responsible for cleaning the inside of all types of buildings and transport. They will dust, polish, empty bins, wash walls and paintwork or clean office equipment such as telephones and personal computers. They may work in a specific area of a building – bathrooms, kitchens, stairs etc, or be responsible for them all.

Cleaners need to know which cleaning chemical to use for each type of dirt and surface. Cleaners look after their equipment, making sure it is kept in working order. Some cleaners specialise in certain types of cleaning, for example: dry and wet shampooing on carpets and upholstery; stripping and re-sealing hard floor coverings; cleaning premises where food is prepared; industrial cleaning of new buildings; cleaning of passenger vehicles; high level cleaning using either ladders or mobile access equipment.

Most cleaners clean the same area every day but some go to different sites, especially supervisors who might visit teams of cleaners working on different contracts. Cleaners may work alone or in a team.

What's the working environment like working as a Cleaner?

Most cleaners work part-time, but the number of full-time cleaners is increasing. Most cleaning is done in the early mornings and in the evenings, before 9 am and after 5 pm. Most cleaners work Mondays to Fridays. Specialist cleaners are more likely to work a normal 40-hour week.

Cleaners could work in every type of building, ranging from modern, clean offices and hotels to older premises. They come into contact with dust and dirt. They use chemical cleaning fluids which may damage delicate skins or give off fumes. They usually wear overalls and may wear protective gloves.Cleaners usually work indoors. The work is active and cleaners need to be reasonably fit; lifting and bending are part of the work.

What does it take to become a Cleaner?

To be a cleaner you should:

  • be able to read job and safety instructions
  • be physically fit, as the work is active
  • be able to handle delicate objects and equipment with care
  • be honest and trustworthy, to work unsupervised with other people's possessions
  • be self-motivated and responsible to clean to set standards
A driving licence may also be needed for supervisors who need to visit their teams.

Cleaner Career Opportunities

Opportunities arise in every part of the United Kingdom, and there are always vacancies for suitable people. Cleaners are employed by cleaning contractors, although some organisations prefer to employ their own staff.

Cleaners can become supervisors and managers. The industry wants young people to enter and progress, especially through its Foundation and Advanced Modern Apprenticeship and GNVQ schemes.

You could become a specialist in a particular aspect of cleaning. Self–employment is possible.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Cleaner that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

British Institute of Cleaning Science
3 Moulton Court
Anglia Way
Moulton Park
Tel: 01604 678710

Cleaning Industry NTO *
Tel: 01604 645731

National Training Organisations (NTOs) ceased to be recognised by the government on 31 March 2002. However, some will continue operating for several months. Please contact individual NTOs with queries regarding their current status.

From March 2002, the Secretary of State for Education and Skills began licensing new Sector Skills Councils - charged with boosting skills and productivity in business sectors. For information about Sector Skills Councils, their roles and responsibilities, please visit the Sector Skills Development Agency website:

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