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After-School Cleaning Duty

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The final bell rings, signifying the end of the school day. While most of the kids are gathering their things and preparing to head home, a small group have resigned themselves to staying behind, as it is their turn for After School Cleaning Duty. They must make sure that the desks are straightened, the chalkboard is cleaned, dust is beaten out of erasers, and the trash cans are emptied before they can leave. For some, this assignment may have been given as punishment for getting caught sleeping in class. For others, it may simply be their turn for duties shared amongst all the students in the class or part of Class Rep and club membership responsibilities.

A common trope in school-life stories, After School Cleaning Duty serves to get a single character or small group alone, away from their peers and outside of teacher supervision. This could be a setup for an accidental romantic meeting between the male and female leads, or a chance for the Alpha Bitch or The Bully to torment the character without fear of interruption. In Horror stories, an empty school can become a creepy setting for any student assigned to cleaning duty who is unfortunate enough to be stuck there alone with the Monster of the Week.

An Extreme Doormat will often accept cleaning duty without complaint, even if the job is passed off to her by another student. More rebellious students will seek to get out of After School Cleaning Duty if at all possible... failing that, they will take the opportunity to see what other kinds of trouble they can get into while no one else is around.

Rivals forced into cleaning duty together may get the chance to learn more about each other, possibly realizing how similar they actually are.

This trope can lead to characters being accidentally locked in a storage closet, especially if a potential love interest is helping out. This trope can be especially troublesome for students who double as superheroes, as an ill-timed battle or a misuse of supernatural abilities can leave the area they were supposed to clean looking even worse the next day.

While this is mostly seen in stories coming from Japan (cf., Real Life below), the use of this as a punishment is occasionally seen elsewhere (especially at a Boarding School of Horrors, Elaborate University High, or Academy of Adventure).


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Haru of The Cat Returns offers to take her friend's cleaning duty after school so that she can attend a ping pong match. Her job is dusting the erasers.
  • Project A-Ko: At one point A-ko is assigned After School Cleaning Duty for being habitually Late for School. While it went well at first, with A-ko using her super strength to easily stack up the desks, a run-in with B-ko's gang left the classroom (and a good portion of the school itself) demolished, much to her teacher's chagrin.
  • Buso Renkin: At the very beginning of the series, Sadist Teacher Mita assigns protagonist Kazuki the job of pulling weeds from the courtyard after school as punishment for losing his school-issued bag. It turns out that the teacher is really the homunculus that had killed Kazuki the night before and only gave him the cleaning duty so he could eat him somewhere there would be no witnesses.
  • One scene in Neon Genesis Evangelion where Shinji and Rei stay behind to clean the school, and Shinji causes Rei to blush by remarking on how she has very motherly mannerisms.
  • Amagami SS: In the Ayatsuji arc, it was during cleaning duty one evening when Class Rep Ayatsuji, unaware that she was being watched by the protagonist Junichi, revealed her true nature as she flipped out over all the trash other students left behind.
  • Shows up in Azumanga Daioh for Chiyo's focus chapter/episode, where she, Tomo and Osaka are on cleaning duty that day. Tomo just plays around, while Osaka tries to do a good job but has some difficulties with the equipment.
  • In The World God Only Knows, Keima meets Elsie for the first time because Ayumi dumped all the after-school cleaning duties on him.
  • In Cardcaptor Sakura, Takashi Yamazaki (the class president) tells Syaoran to do this as a bit of light hazing.
  • Wedding Peach: Yousuke has to stay behind to clean the school's pool as punishment for being late. In the first of many Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other, Momoko stays behind to help and their relationship takes a step forward.
  • Gakuen Alice: Mikan gets stuck with this job as a no-star.
  • Sara and Becky do this as one of their many duties as the school's scullery maids in Princess Sarah.
  • In one episode/chapter of Hidamari Sketch, Yuno was on cleaning duty and flushed her keys down the toilet, forcing her to sleep over with the other Hidamari tenants until the landlady could find her a spare key.
  • Chapter 6 of Sakura Trick has the girls cleaning the pool. Swimsuits ensue.
  • Yugami and Chihiro get this as a one-week punishment in Yugami-kun ni wa Tomodachi ga Inai for disrupting a class...while Standing in the Hall as an earlier punishment.
  • In Princess Tutu, Ahiru often gets stuck doing this, usually as punishment for failing to keep up with her fellow ballet students.
  • The first chapter/episode of My Dress-Up Darling has a couple of male students dumping the after-class cleaning duties on male lead Wakana Gojo. Then Marin Kitagawa comes along to help him, and when she realizes the others took advantage of him, she tells him he shouldn't be an Extreme Doormat and say no when he doesn't want to do something.
  • In Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches, after Yamada's friends forget him the first time, he devotes himself to his cleaning duty, which he formerly used to hate, to have at least some purpose in his school life.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Easy A, Olive is put on cleanup duty after she calls a classmate a "twat" at school. During the afternoon she reconnects with Brandon, an old friend she had fallen out of touch with who is being punished for getting in a fight with a guy who was harassing him for being gay. This afternoon leads into the main plot of the movie, as it was here that Olive and Brandon discussed the ways that rumors of sex can change a person's life, and Brandon gets the idea of Olive helping him pretend to be straight.
  • One of Clark's changes at East Side in Lean on Me is to have detention students help pick up trash and clean up graffiti.
  • In Loose Screws, Arsenhole the principal punishes three of the four students that attempted to sneak a peek at the French language teacher by getting them to do cleaning jobs in the school.
  • Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle has students in detention being told to pull staples out of old magazines for donation to a recycling center.

  • In the Harry Potter series, this is often given as detention at Hogwarts. There is usually a requirement that the cleaning must be performed without magic.
  • The Beverly Cleary book Ellen Tebbits is an unusual example where the main character wants to clap erasers at recess, and thinks her teacher hates her because she's never picked for it.
  • In The Graveyard Book, Bod haunts Mo when she has to stay after school to clean the science lab.
  • In The Great Brain at the Academy, cleaning the bathrooms and Peeling Potatoes are two of the standard punishments. Tom finds a bright side to it when he finds the dormitory bathroom provides a handy way to sneak out of the school to buy candy. Even when they're not being punished, every student has an assigned area to clean and has to take a turn helping in the kitchen.
  • In the Dirty Bertie story "Fire!", Bertie is made to sweep up the schoolyard after putting out Mr. Grouch(the janitor)'s bonfire, thinking the school to be on fire.
  • In Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever, Greg and his friend Rowley try to set up an event at their school, but the green ink from the cardboard signs they put up runs in the rain and they take them off, but it stains the wall. This gets them in trouble with the teachers and even the police, who don't know who did it or why and think it's vandalism. A box to write anonymous letters gets put up and Rowley writes "me and Greg Heffley stained the wall", so Greg is made to bleach the stains off.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Detention at Degrassi usually takes this form.
  • Leave It to Beaver: Beaver's occasionally seen cleaning erasers or the like. In "Beaver's Crush", Beaver volunteering to cleanup for Miss Canfield leads to the other students calling him a Teacher's Pet.
  • Victorious: After Jade makes it look like Tori hit her in the face, Tori is forced to clean the school theater as her punishment. To make things worse, this happens after there's been a food fight there.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In Peanuts, Charlie Brown is selected to pound clean the school chalkboard erasers outside. He considers it a great honor, but he reconsiders considering how he chokes on the chalk dust clouds.

  • Alluded to occasionally on Our Miss Brooks. In "Spare That Rod!", while cleaning Mr. Conklin's office, Walter Denton and Stretch Snodgrass find an old letter to Mr. Darwell, Mr. Conklin's predecessor as principal. They type Mr. Conklin's name on the ten-year-old envelope... Played for Laughs.

    Video Games 
  • One of the tasks the teacher has to inspire his class into doing in Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan 2. If you fail the segment, the class mocks him by taking his declaration to "make this classroom sparkle!" literally by hanging up a disco ball.
  • This is one of the options for detention in The Sims 3
  • In the opening cutscene of Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster's Hidden Treasure, the students of Acme Looniversity clean out the school's attic. This is how Buster finds a map leading to a hidden pirate treasure. Montana Max steals the map from him, intending to find the treasure for himself.
  • In Yandere Simulator, every day between 3:30 and 4:00 pm is cleaning time, where everyone except the bullies, delinquents, and the student council clean the school. It's the only time of the day Yandere-chan can carry cleaning supplies like a mop or bleach and not be considered suspicious.


    Web Original 
  • Team Kimba of the Whateley Universe has gotten this punishment more than once at Whateley Academy. This can range from just working in the kitchens or with the ground crews up to the really nasty punishments like helping in the sewers (where there are monsters) or helping at Hawthorne dorm (where some very powerful students have no control over their powers).

    Western Animation 
  • Angela Anaconda: Mrs. Brinks always makes Angela clap erasers after school. Angela has gotten good at it.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Bart Simpson has been punished in this manner more than a few times.
    • School bully Nelson is punished this way and starts dating Lisa when she gets put in detention.
  • In the TaleSpin episode, "Sheepskin Deep", Baloo has to go back to elementary school so that he can finish it and attend a class reunion. When he cuts class to make his deliveries for Higher for Hire, Mrs. Morrisey gives him detention and does the same to Kit for trying to cover for him. While in detention, the school principal, Mr. Pomeroy assigns them to clap erasers, which Baloo tries to speed up by strapping the erasers to the Sea Duck's propellers. This results in Mr. Pomeroy being covered in eraser dust and threatening to expel Baloo.
  • In Winx Club, the Winx Club is often grounded and the punishment is often cleaning the school while the rest of Alfea goes to a concert or another social activity. Usually, their love interests come to help them and it turns into a party, and the evil villains usually show up too.

    Real Life 
  • In most culinary schools, the last thing a class will do at the end of any particular term will be to clean their classroom kitchen down to the bare steel and concrete, effectively sanitizing it for use by the next class. Every pot is scrubbed, every dish is washed, every scrap of food left in a refrigerator is dumped or (if still useable) stored, and so on.
  • This article has a section on school cleaning in Japan, which explains the reasons given for why schools in Japan use staff and students instead of having janitors or cleaners. Most "public" schools in Asia only employ janitorial staff for repairs and use students for the daily cleaning.