Cleaner Kaihoroi Whare

Cleaners clean offices, factories, shops, public buildings, schools, private homes and aircraft.

Cleaners may do some or all of the following:

  • sweep, vacuum, mop and polish floors
  • dust and polish furniture and fittings
  • clean and sanitise surfaces and appliances
  • renew items like toilet paper and cleaning materials
  • tidy, wash dishes, iron, and make beds 
  • operate high-pressure hoses, elevated work platforms (cherry pickers) and steam-cleaning or ozone cleaning equipment
  • invoice clients and keep accounts.

Hospital Cleaner

Hospital cleaners need to complete a New Zealand Certificate in Cleaning (Level 2) with an endorsement in infection control and prevention of contamination. This certificate is gained in the workplace. 

Physical Requirements

Cleaners need to be reasonably fit, healthy and strong, as their work can be physically demanding, and they spend long periods on their feet.

They may need to:

  • be comfortable working in confined spaces (such as plane cabins)
  • be comfortable working at heights (if they clean roofs, for example)
  • not be allergic to chemical cleaners.

Personal Qualities

Cleaners need to be:

  • adaptable
  • honest, reliable and hard-working 
  • quick and efficient, with an eye for detail
  • able to follow instructions, and also to work independently.


Cleaners need to have:

  • cleaning skills
  • knowledge of housekeeping and cleaning methods, equipment and products
  • knowledge of health and safety.

Self-employed cleaners need to have small business skills.



  • work regular or irregular hours, including mornings, evenings, nights and weekends, and may be on call
  • work in offices, stores, factories, schools, hotels/motels, hospitals and homes
  • work in conditions that may be dirty or dangerous if they specialise in cleaning up trauma scenes or dangerous chemicals
  • may travel locally during working hours.

Subject Recommendations

No specific secondary education is required for this job, but maths and English to at least NCEA Level 1 are useful.

For Year 11 to 13 learners, the Gateway programme is a good way to gain relevant experience and skills.

Cleaners can earn around $23-$24 per hour.

Pay for cleaners depends on their experience, employer, and the type of work they do. Cleaning jobs can range from a few hours a week to full-time work. 

  • Cleaners usually earn between minimum wage and $24 an hour.

Self-employed cleaners may earn more, but their income depends on the success of their business.

Cleaners may have to supply their own cleaning equipment and use their own vehicle to travel between clients.

Sources: Stuff, 'Wellington City Council Cleaners Set to Get Living Wage but Ratepayers Could Pick Up the Bill', 3 April 2017; E tū, 'E tū DHB MECA Huge Win for Members', 26 November 2018; Ministry of Education, 'School Caretakers', Cleaners' and Canteen Staff Collective Agreement – 8 May 2017 to 7 June 2019', April 2018; and research, November 2018.

Cleaners may progress to set up their own cleaning business or move into management.

Cleaners may specialise in a certain role such as:

Commercial/Industrial Cleaner
Commercial/industrial cleaners clean places such as shops, offices, hospitals and factories.
Domestic/House Cleaner
Domestic/house cleaners clean homes.
Toxic Site Cleaner
Toxic site cleaners clean up hazardous material such as chemicals from methamphetamine (P) production.
Trauma Cleaner
Trauma cleaners clean up after crimes or other serious incidents.

Years Of Training

There are no specific entry requirements to become a cleaner as you gain skills on the job.

Depending on where you work as a cleaner, you may need:

  • a driver's licence
  • your own transport
  • your own cleaning equipment
  • to pass police or medical checks, security clearances or regular drug and alcohol tests.

Some cleaners may study on the job towards New Zealand Certificates in cleaning at Level 2 or 3. Industry training organisation Careerforce oversees cleaning qualifications.