In the hospital context, and in research on hospitals, cleaning staff often find themselves on the periphery. This peripheral status is exacerbated when cleaners are employed by private cleaning companies. The intersection of locations these cleaners find themselves in, as cleaners, outsourced support staff and members of the working poor means that their work-life experiences take a particular shape. In an attempt to better understand the work experiences of these staff members, I conducted qualitative interviews with 8 female private company cleaners from four different public hospitals in Cape Town. Alienation, job insecurity, working poverty and emotional labour are used as tools to unpack and understand these experiences.