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Janitorial Supplies

Updated on November 11, 2010

Janitorial supply stores, whether they be online or actual physical stores, offer a wide variety of products and pieces of equipment that will help to ensure the smooth running of your household or business operation. There are many different categories to consider and countless products within each category. Not every office or home will need every product, but you might be surprised at the many different types of janitorial supplies you will need. This article will try to introduce you to the many kinds of janitorial supplies and types of janitorial equipment that you may need. All of the products discussed here can be purchased from online janitorial supply stores or by going to other retailers like Target, Wal-Mart or Amazon. After reading these descriptions, you may decide that you would rather hire a janitorial service for your cleaning needs because it is too hard to manage the inventory of so many janitorial supplies.

Air Fresheners and Odor Control Janitorial Supplies

An important part of any janitorial staff’s job is to make sure that the workplace or home they are working on smells nice and that there are no offensive odors.  Even if you clean every day, a public restroom, especially, will develop odors because of the sheer volume of bodily wastes that are moving through it.  As a result, many of the products in this category of janitorial supplies are meant to eliminate or decrease odors in toilet bowels or urinals.  Urinal cakes and urinal screens are two such products.  The screen or cake sits in the bottom of the urinal and every flush will cause some of the deodorizing substance to come off and work on eliminating odors in the urinal.

There are also deodorizing sprays and dispensers that release a scented perfume into the air in regular intervals.  The automatic dispensers need an electrical outlet to work properly, but they are a good janitorial product to have in a bathroom or kitchen area where odors can be a particular problem.  Janitorial suppliers also sell air fresheners with a softer scent that are meant to be used in lobbies or office spaces.  One last kind of odor control janitorial supply is a scented candle which can be very effective at filling the air with a pleasant scent.

Bags and Trash Bags

One of the jobs of a janitorial staff is to handle trash and one of the most important janitorial supply categories is bags and trash bags.  This group not only includes plastic trash bags, but also paper bags for outdoor refuse and wax paper bags for sanitary napkin repositories.  Plastic trash bags are obviously the largest item in this category and come in several varieties.  The first kind of plastic trash bag is actually more of a trashcan liner and is designed for use in office trashcans or any trashcan that does not have a lid.  They do not have drawstrings or handles, generally.  Instead, the liners are plain so that they do not detract from the design or color of the trash can itself.  The next type of plastic trash bag is ones with drawstrings.  These bags are sometimes called kitchen trash bags and come in a wide variety of sizes ranging from thirteen gallon to sixty gallon.

Large paper bags are designed to collect outdoor debris like leaves or falling pinecones.  The main motivation for using this kind of a bag over a plastic bag outdoors, is that it can stand upon its own without the aid of a trash can.  A janitorial trash supply has another advantage when it comes to the environment.  Many communities allow for yard waste to be burned and if you collect your yard waste in a paper bag, you can throw the entire bag in the fire rather than emptying a plastic bag which then has to be disposed of.

The last type of janitor supply in the bags category is was paper bags.  They are used most often for the liners in sanitary napkin repositories in restrooms.  The wax paper will not allow any leakage to ruin the bag and get the repository dirty.  The main advantage for using wax paper bags rather than plastic bags for this purpose is that the paper bags can be fully hidden inside the receptacle, whereas a plastic bag needs to be pulled over the edges.

Cleaning and Janitorial Supplies

In the strictest sense of the term, janitorial supplies are the cleaning chemicals and the means for applying them.  That means your all purpose cleaners, glass cleaners, green cleaning products, sponges, sprayers, and squeegees are all in this category of janitor supplies.  You can further break down this category into chemicals and cleaning tools.  The chemicals group of janitorial products is a large group and you can classify each janitorial cleaning product in a sub category such as professional strength cleaners, green cleaners, and all purpose cleaners.

Professional strength cleaners include everything from grout cleaners to carpet cleaner.  They might also include grease cutting cleaning supplies if you need to clean a grill in a restaurant for example.  The professional strength usually means that the chemical is harsher than something you might buy in the grocery store and that it could need to be diluted.  Janitorial supply companies might be the only way you can buy some of these products because they are not available in most retail stores.

Green cleaning products are ones that are made from natural ingredients and that contain no toxic chemicals.  This is a fast growing subcategory of janitorial supplies as the green movement sweeps the nation.  The ingredients are only one reason many products can be classified as green janitorial supplies.  The packaging also plays an important role because green products will have packaging made from recycled materials and you often buy large containers to refill spray bottles and smaller containers rather than throwing the smaller containers out each time.

Once you have all of the janitorial cleaning products that you need, your next purchase will need to be sponges, spray bottles, or squeegees with which to apply and distribute the cleaners.  These janitorial supplies can also be considered green if they are made with recycled materials or if they can be recycled after use.  Even so, it is a good idea to have a large selection of rags, and sponges so that you will always have a clean sponge to start cleaning a new area.  You do not want to transport dirt and grime from one area to another with the sponge or cloth.

Facility Maintenance and Safety Supply

This category of janitorial supplies consists of janitorial supply caddies and janitorial supply or janitorial utility carts.  These items are necessary for the janitorial staff to carry around the janitorial cleaning supplies and janitorial equipment they need to do their jobs.  In addition, a small amount of extra consumable and maintenance items might be carried in a utility cart as well so that small jobs can be done on the fly like changing a light bulb or filling a paper towel dispenser.  Some janitorial supply carts will come with a trash can on board so that you can easily empty smaller trash cans in offices or bathrooms.  Most will have slots for holding brooms and mops and still others will have drawers or shelves to hold extra janitorial supplies like paper towels or trash can liners.  It is also common to have a spot for your janitorial supply caddy so that you can remove the caddy for cleaning in small areas where the cart can not fit.

Some janitorial supply companies might also sell some small maintenance objects in this category as well.  Things like a light bulb changer which is a long stick with a grip on the end for screwing light bulbs in and out or a tape measure might come in handy every once in a while.  A good janitor supply cart will also have a small tool kit on board in order to make small repairs in the course of regular janitorial duties.

Floor Care and Carpet Care Janitorial Supplies

The actual cleaners that are used to clean your carpets and hard floors are included in the cleaning supplies category, but the floor care category of janitorial supplies includes the machines that use those products as well as the matting and pads that might help you avoid getting the floors dirty in the first place.    Most of the items in this category of janitorial supplies are large ticket items and are only suitable for a large business operation where you need to clean floors often and thoroughly.

The first type of machine you will find in this janitorial category is the vacuum cleaner.  Every office or home needs one of these to prevent dirt from settling down into the carpet fibers.  Frequent vacuuming will limit the amount of scrubbing and shampooing you need to do on your carpets.  They are also much faster than a broom and dustpan on hard surfaces.

Even if you want to minimize the number of times you have to use it, a carpet shampooer is an important piece of janitorial equipment.  Not only can these steam cleaners clean carpets, but they can also be used to clean the upholstery of any furniture in the office as well as draperies.  If you get the right kind, you can also push a button and use the steam cleaner of hard floor surfaces as well.  Once your carpets and floors are clean, you might want a floor buffer to really give your linoleum or tile floors a shine.

Perhaps the most important product in this janitorial supply category is floor matting.  Mats at the entrances will prevent you and your visitors from tracking dirt, leaves, and other debris from the outdoors into your office or private living space.  The best mats will have traction on the bottom so that they do not slide easily and will stay in place in front of whatever door you have positioned them at.  It would be ideal if the floors mats could be cleaned in a washing machine because they will need shampooing far more often than the rest of your carpets.

Food Service and Restaurant Supplies

While it may seem odd, many janitorial supply sites offer various restaurant and foodservice supplies as well.  All of the consumable paper products like to go containers, cutlery, cups, lids, food wrap, moist towelettes, paper plates, bowls, cake boxes, straws, and toothpicks can be purchased from your janitorial supplier.  In addition, you might be able to buy condiment packets and kitchen apparel such as aprons and chefs’ hats.  If the janitorial website is large enough, you might even be able to purchase food warming equipment or food preparation equipment.  If you run a restaurant, there are probably other places where you can get these supplies such as your food supplier, but it gives you peace of mind to know that you have a second source in your janitorial supply company.

Mops, Brooms, Brushes, and Dusters

Some of the most important pieces of janitorial equipment are your mops, brooms, and scrub brushes. Each of these tools has several different varieties to choose from. Let’s talk about brooms first. There are three main types of brooms. The first is a natural corn broom. The bristles on a corn broom are stiff and therefore they push dirt around easier. However, they are not very good at moving very fine particles around so they are best suited for messes of large particles or large pieces of debris. The second kind of broom is an angle broom. Angle brooms usually have bristles made of a plastic fiber so they are softer than corn brooms. This allows the broom to be able to sweep very fine dusts, but they are not good at pushing around heavy objects that the light bristles cannot move. The main advantage of angle brooms is that they are flexible and you can use them in small spaces and hard to reach areas. Both corn brooms and angle brooms need a dustpan to collect the dirt and debris. The last kind of broom is a push broom. These brooms are typically three to four feet wide and have a long handle that you use to push the broom in front of you rather than pulling it along side. These brooms are perfect for sweeping large areas and are an essential part of the janitorial supply closet for warehouses and manufacturing areas.

There are three types of mops you can have in any good janitorial supply kit. The first kind of mop is a flat mop head that you wring out with a lever on the handle. These mop heads are usually made of some kind of microfiber. If you buy a higher quality janitor’s mop, then the mop head will be replaceable and the handle will be saved from mop head to mop head. The second and third types of mops are very similar. Both are made of thick cotton strings and the only difference is whether the strings are looped around at the end of cut and loose at the end. The looped end cotton wet mops are best for scrubbing extremely dirty floors and the cut cotton wet mops are best for cleaning large areas quickly because they cover more surface areas with each scrubbing motion. If you purchase one of the cotton wet varieties of mops from a janitorial supply company, then you will also need a mop bucket with a wringer attached.

Another janitorial staple is a duster. Feathered dusters or dusters that use electromagnetism like Swiffer are a great janitorial supply to have around for when you are sprucing up in an office or your home. They are not essential, but they are much faster than using furniture polish and rags on every surface. In addition, every janitorial supplies catalog will have a large section of scrub brushes. Some scrub brushes will be specifically for grout cleaning and others will be general purpose. If you want to make sure you get clean grout, the right brush is essential.  You never know what you are going to come across so it is a good idea to have the janitorial tools you need for every cleaning job close at hand.

Paper Products and Dispensers

Janitor supply companies also provide paper products such as paper towels and the dispensers that go along with them.  The most common place to find paper towel dispensers is in the bathroom, but some offices have them in a kitchen or break room as well.  There are four basic types of paper towels to choose from and there are three different kind of dispensers because two of the varieties of paper towels can use the same dispenser.

The first kind of paper towel comes on a roll.  The roll can be a continuous roll and in this case the dispenser will have to have a jagged edge for ripping the paper towels as needed.  Alternatively, the roll can have predetermined perforations and in this case the dispenser will just spit out a premeasured paper towel from the roll.  This type of paper towel dispenser is usually automatic and works on a battery.  The second kind of paper towel you might buy from a janitorial supply website is a roll where the paper towels are dispensed from the center rather than along the roll.  A special dispenser called a centerpull paper towel dispenser works well for this variety of paper towels.  The last two kinds of paper towels that you can buy from a wholesale janitorial supplier are C-fold towels and multi fold towels.  Both of these towels can be dispensed out of the same kind of paper towel dispenser and generally come in packs rather than rolls.  Other janitorial paper products that you can buy wholesale include toilet paper, facial tissues, and napkins.

Skin Care and Personal Hygiene Products

As long as the janitorial staff is responsible for cleaning and restocking bathrooms, janitorial supply companies will have to sell skin care and personal hygiene products.  Of course, all of these items can be purchased at a grocery store, but it is less expensive to buy them wholesale and in bulk from a janitor supplies site or catalog.  Soap is the most obvious item in this category of janitorial supplies, and most business buy permanent soap dispensers and refills for the dispensers so that they can buy the soap in bulk.  Alternatively, a business or office might decide to use hand sanitizer because you do not need paper towels for wet hands.  This not only cuts down on waste, but saves time in bathrooms that have a large throughput.

Other personal hygiene products that janitorial suppliers sell include sanitary napkins and tampons as well as the trash receptacles for these items which are usually mounted on the wall of each stall in the women’s bathroom.  In addition, janitor supply companies might sell baby changing stations, wipes, and changing station covers for one time use.  Along the same lines, there are toilet seat covers that are made of thin paper and are meant to be flushed after use.

Storage and Material Handling

If you do decide to buy from an online janitorial wholesaler, you will be buying items in bulk and you will need some way to handle the large packages as well as store the extra janitorial supplies.  That is why many janitorial supply companies sell material handling equipment and storage shelves.  Most janitorial storage shelves will be made of metal and have at least five shelves so that you can use the storage space efficiently.  For material handling, you can purchase dollies and pallet jacks depending on the amount of janitor supplies you will be purchasing and your need for this janitorial equipment in other areas of your business.

Trash Cans

Finally you will need to outfit your entire business operation both indoors and outdoors with trash cans.  There are small trash cans with no lids which are meant for office use as well as large plastics trash cans with attached lids that are meant for outdoor use and storage of full trash bags before trash day.  The large outdoor trash cans come in many colors and the brighter ones are usually reserved for recyclables.

Another variety of indoor trash can that you can purchase from the janitor supply sites is a can with a swinging lid that you push in to put trash into the receptacle.  The moveable lid makes it easy to throw trash away, but keeps odors in as much as possible.  That is why this variety o trash can is used most often in kitchens or break rooms where there is a lot of food waste.

Another variety of outdoor trash can is one that might be placed next to your entrances and exits.  The can is usually square and open at the top but then there is a roof over the trash can opening so that users can reach under the roof to throw items out and the roof covers the opening to keep out rain and the elements.  Sometimes this type of trash can will be covered in small stones or some other kind of façade to make it blend in with the surroundings.

Finally, if you have a designated smoking area outside your office you might want to have a smoking waste receptacle.  These vessels have a large bulbous bottom and a long thin neck.  At the top of the neck is an opening just large enough for someone to put a cigarette butt.  The bulbous bottom is often filled with sand to aid in extinguishing the flames of a still lit cigarette.


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