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What is the difference between a day porter and a janitor?

Team of cleaning service professionals in safety mask at work in office

A common misconception in the commercial cleaning world – A practical explanation of the difference between a day port and a janitor

When hiring a professional cleaning service, it’s always prudent to understand what you’re getting from the companies you are evaluating. Not all cleaning services companies are created equally. We are a regional Midwest-based professional cleaning company that services commercial properties in several metropolitan areas.. 

We blog regularly to add commentary that is meant to help business owners, property managers and other administrative folks navigate the hiring of, and best practices when working with a cleaning company. We’re glad you stopped by to read our blog posts.

If you need cleaning services in Des Moines or other metro areas in Iowa, let’s chat. We also serve greater Omaha, and Kansas City.

If you can benefit from the exploration of the cleaning services industry, we invite you to read on for this blog post and other articles about topics within this industry.

This article is about the different types of cleaning personnel within the industry and how titles, job functions, and best practices work, regarding who is cleaning your commercial property. There are positions that can be confused for one another, and some that you may not know about, and this article is about those positions and how they relate to hiring a commercial cleaning company. 

What is a day porter?

In the pandemic, day porters became a much more frequent request by companies looking for ways to improve company morale, mitigate the spread of viruses and bacteria, and keep in-office workers safe. 

Day porters have been an industry pillar for many years however, and the surprise on some potential clients’ faces when they realize that a day porter is a potential option for them, is palpable. 

A day porter is essentially a person who is stationed in a specific place and handles light duty or frequent duty work related to keeping an area looking good and functioning safely and cleanly, while in between normal cleaning routines. You can also call a day porter a day matron, or just a porter. 

In busy buildings, a day porter may change out waste bin receptacles, handle touch ups in bathrooms and on glass surfaces, and empty ashtrays, among other housekeeping type duties. This can also include restocking supplies like coffee bar items and monitoring systems, or helping maintain basic functionality of mechanical or other facilities-related assets. 

A day porter can provide astute, helpful service for facility managers and busy office spaces where there is a moderate to large population, or where frequent touch ups are necessary. 

In terms of a post-COVID office space or commercial environment, similar to a bathroom attendant, or a concierge at a front desk, the addition of a day porter can enhance the perception of value to a client, while enhancing actual value for the facility and management team. A porter can wear many hats and has the expertise to keep things running smoothly while still providing some cleaning prowess. 

A day porter can typically be doing the following throughout the day:

  • Lobby maintenance
  • Common area cleaning and maintenance, including patios, kitchen and cafeterias
  • Ensuring glass entryways and heavy volume entrances and exits look impeccable
  • Servicing and monitoring restrooms
  • Wiping down and sanitizing frequently touched areas to help with peace of mind
  • Restocking of restrooms and other important supplies in public facing or internally facing areas
  • Preparation and teardown of meeting spaces; and changeover of areas for groups or meetings

A day porter will have a lot of carryover with a facilities maintenance professional, but with a more public-facing focus. 

What is a custodian?

A custodian has similar job roles and daily tasks as a day porter, but with a slightly less facility management oriented task list. 

A custodian is generally an in-house position that maintains daily needs as a representative of the company. A popular concept is the “school custodian”. Their job is to upkeep a specific location over the course of the day or week. 

What is a janitor?

A janitor is generally a third party professional that will work on behalf of a professional services company to maintain a business workspace or other commercial space. The services offered by a janitor are crucial components to creating a great value for businesses, without having to invest in major infrastructure or human capital while still being able to keep the business functioning smoothly. 

A janitor will generally be performing services after hours and to maintain the workplace for others on an alternating schedule to allow the full gamut of cleaning services to be performed on a regular basis. This allows for better daily integration of employee duties and better performance for the janitorial service. Janitorial services generally perform more in-depth routine cleaning services. 

How can a janitorial service benefit your business?

You need a clean, functional workplace, and employees are already overworked without having additional duties. With wage structures moving higher, real workplace concerns because of changes to the mindset of many employees and employers after the pandemic, and the need to optimize workflows, janitorial work is more important than ever. 

The cleaning services we offer are less about people who clean commercial spaces, and are now seen as a critical variable in the process of optimizing the workplace and improving customer confidence and employee morale, among other important features. 

Having a third party cleaning service means you get dedicated service, reduced liability in the workplace regarding cleanliness and sanitation standards, and you can benefit from expertise and premium quality commercial cleaning agents and machines. Oversight and implementation is out of your hands and you get a standard of care that is at the highest level.

Get in touch with the premier janitorial services team in the Midwest 

Tidy Ninjas serves multiple areas in Iowa (as well as Nebraska and Missouri), and has a reputation as one of the premier commercial cleaning service operations in these states. The metro areas we serve allow businesses of all types to benefit from our expertise, our professional staff and our proven standards in the commercial cleaning and janitorial services arena. 

We’d love to show you how we set ourselves apart from our competition – give us a call or request a quote today and let’s get you started on your way to a smooth, hassle-free cleaning regimen that is structured and implemented by our professional team. The ROI and value of working with Tidy Ninjas is a tangible business decision.


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