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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 chalk board 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.
This trope can lead to characters being accidentally locked in a storage closet, especially if a potential love interest is helping out. After-School Cleaning Duty can be especially troublesome for students who double as super heroes, 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.
Anime & Manga
- 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.
- A Sadist Teacher does this to Kazuki from Busou Renkin in the very first episode/chapter. Turns out the teacher was a homunculus, and only assigned him to cleaning duty so he could eat him and 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 A Day in The Life of Chiyo. Tomo just plays. Ayumu tries, 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.
- Takashi Yamazaki (the class president) told Syaoran to do this as a bit of light hazing in Cardcaptor Sakura.
- 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.
- In Marmalade Boy, Ginta and Miki have to do this at the start. Since he's in love with her, this leads to him giving her a Love Confession and a Forceful Kiss.
- In Kyon: Big Damn Hero Kyon is shown doing this a few times.
- Easy A had the main character and the token gay meet for the first time like this.
- 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 the Harry Potter series, this is often given as a 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.
- One of the tasks the teacher has to inspire his class into doing in Ouendan 2.
- Tedd and Elliot in El Goonish Shive had to stay to catch their experiment that unexpectedly came to life
- The Simpsons: Bart Simpson has been punished in this manner more than a few times.
- Mrs. Brinks always makes Angela Anaconda clap erasers after school. Angela has gotten Beyond the Impossible good at it.
- 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.
- 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 Japan; which explains the reasons given for why schools in Japan use staff and students instead of having janitors or cleaners.