When I Grow Up, I Want to be a Janitor

It’s crazy, but professional janitorial careers are fascinating vocations.  And if cleanliness is a sign of maturity, I have some growing up to do.  You may be like me and have a lifelong history of being scolded due to a lack of cleaning aptitude, despite best intentions and hard effort.  Imagine spending upwards of an hour cleaning the washroom, scrubbing so hard that the toilet finishing comes off and still receiving a scolding.  That’s me.  That is, that was me until today.  From here on, I’m determined to gain mastery in cleaning—enough to be a serious candidate for a janitorial career—although my ambition is to earn a quarter million annually in a sales and marketing role.  I’m not sure which is harder.

So, to turn myself into a professional janitor, at least at home, I’ve started reading books on the art of janitorial work.  I’ll eventually take an online three-month professional janitorial course, but first I’ll read janitorial books to prepare.  That way, I won’t fail the janitorial exam.  No one wants to fail the janitorial exam.

So, here are some tips I’ve learned.  They may seem obvious, like “don’t bring firearms and explosives to work,” but other tips may not be intuitive.

The first thing that shocked me involved window cleaning.  Did you know you’re supposed to heavily douse the window with window cleaner—and use a squeegee, especially for unreachable spots?  I always pondered how I’d clean the top of the mirror, and now I know the tool to do just that.

And did you know that you’ll greatly benefit if you buy a cleaning apron with upwards of six pockets to store your cleaning supplies?  One of those pockets should contain a toothbrush for scrubbing corners and a razor scraper for removing “cling-ons” like soap scum from mirrors, glass, and cupboards.

And you can get super fancy with two-bucket mop pails: one for water with chemicals and the other for plain water for rinsing.  Also, you should use only microfiber cloths (packing a dozen of them in your cleaning apron when doing the kitchen), as they tend to remove dust rather than merely displace it.  I knew none of this!

Oh, and then there are these systems.  For instance, you should always use two hands while cleaning so one doesn’t sit idle.  So, for example, if you’re cleaning a sink with one hand, use the other hand for the next task or a different area of the sink.  And every janitorial book I’ve read says to go in a pattern, starting at the supply closet and moving in an unbroken line from there, circling the entirety of the place, back to the supply closet.

And clean the washrooms daily.  Washrooms are the most judged space in your home as a measure of overall cleanliness.  So the bathroom garbage must be taken out once a day.  Bathroom air fresheners are highly recommended, as is daily washroom floor cleaning.

Also, have daily, weekly, and monthly cleaning schedules.  I’ve just started reading this book part, so I can’t say much about it yet.  One book says to clean washrooms daily, and another says clean bathrooms and kitchens once a week.  I’m doing them both daily.

I’ve only just begun my quest to clean like a professional janitor.  It’s not an inexpensive venture, at least not at the start.  My Amazon shopping cart is filled with a wish list of costly cleaning supplies.  I will receive a stack of microfiber cloths and eucalyptus hand soap this Monday.  At the end of the month, I plan to buy my cleaning apron and a broom.  Yes, I don’t own a broom.

So, that’s how I’ve begun to replace all my unskilled cleaning with top-gun janitorial skills.  And one day, I’ll pass the janitorial exam and move on to the next curriculum in my domestic journey: decluttering.  But the ideal, truly the dream, is to one day make the home feel like a Buddhist oasis, with salt lamps, a water fountain, dimmed lights, soothing music, a theater-like smart TV for movies, and giant amethyst rocks.  Of course, that was a last-minute speculation, but we can make anything happen once it enters the imagination.  And when we reach a goal, it’s time to up the ante.  After all, every goal opens new possibilities.

Is there anything you can think of that you could hire someone to do for you, no matter how trivial, like mowing lawns or walking dogs?  It’s likely a fascinating skill to learn once you research it.  So instead of letting a task remain poorly done, untouched, or handed over to professional help, why not see if you could turn it into a potential profession?  And if you’re at all entrepreneurial, it could become a booming business.  I’ve heard of janitorial business owners earning six figures with upward of eighty employees.

(Many of the ideas in this article were taught by Jeff Campbell with Debbie Sardone in the book Speed Cleaning for the Pros:  How to Achieve Perfect Maintenance Cleaning and by Sakeenah Redmond in his book Janitorial Service Training Guide: The Universal Way to Clean.)

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