These streets must be cleansed. To save our city, we must burn away this disease. Every trace of it. Only through the power of fire can we be free.
- Unknown Cleaner
The Cleaners are former New York City sanitation workers (garbage men, janitors, custodians, etc.) who lost everything during the outbreak. Formed by Joe Ferro, they are convinced that the only way to save the city from the virus is to burn everything down, including the people still living in it. They are one of the major enemy factions in Tom Clancy's The Divisionand a major faction in Tom Clancy's The Division 2.
After the death of Joe Ferro and the loss of more than half of their manpower and their main source of napalm supply and production, the Cleaners were weakened to the point that they are no longer a threat to the JTF.
However, the Cleaners recovered with the help of Vivian Conley, one of Aaron Keener's lieutenants. and are a hostile faction in Tom Clancy's the Division 2. They launched an attack on Coney Island while Black Tusk was distracted by the attack of The Division. They rule over lower Manhattan, along with the Rikers.
A roaming faction, the Cleaners can appear in many districts; all agents should proceed with extra caution, especially in Cleaner-occupied territories. The faction consists of construction and sanitation workers that felt abandoned when the government and JTF pulled out and left them to defend themselves and die. Trapped in the quarantine zones, they decided to take matters into their own misguided hands. Armed with flamethrowers, fire axes, and firebombs, they travel from one area to another hoping to cleanse the city of the virus. They will burn anything they deem to be contaminated. Their terror spreads quickly like the fire they wield. They are brutal and unfeeling and hold the belief that the sick are already dead. A video recovered from the napalm production site or HQ shows footage of a civilian's phone which shows that she is burnt alive by a Cleaner when she was caught at the site. To identify their territories, agents are advised to keep a lookout for yellow-coloured garbage trucks.
Eight months after the outbreak, the remaining Cleaners allied themselves with two Rogue Division agents, Vivian Conley and Javier Kajika. Conley helped the Cleaners upgrade their utilities and weapons, they are now deadlier as ever.
As of the moment, Vivian Conley is the leader of the Cleaners. Unbeknownst to them, she also does dealing with fellow Rogue Division agent Aaron Keener.
However, with Conley dead, the Cleaners are now in total chaos. But, prior to Warlord of New York, Conley gave some of her Cleaners to Henderson for her plans.
Although it is never stated in-game and with little interaction (aside from skirmishes). the Cleaners would have most likely thought of the other warring factions as a detriment to their goal of cleansing the city of the virus.
In regards to the JTF, they believe the JTF are weak and soft and thus unable to handle the situation. Compared to them the Cleaners believe they are capable of making the hard choices and doing what needs to be done for the greater good. At the end of Dragon's Nest, Roy Benitez admits he understands their intentions and goals but still views their methods as sick and twisted. He is also genuinely impressed and disturbed by their resourcefulness.
Any animosity they have with the other factions would have likely been resolved by the time of Resistance as they joined forces with remnants of the Rioters, Rikers, and Last Man Battalion to combat the JTF and Division agents as well as to hunt down Aaron Keener.
When fighting Cleaners, agents should keep a distance from them, as most Cleaners are equipped with flamethrowers and can easily burn and kill with them. Using long-range weapons is recommended. If a member of the Cleaners is shot enough in the gas tank backpack, it will explode and damage them severely, or kill them depending on their level. However, not all Cleaners wear gas tanks such as Mechanics and Shields.
The Sweeper class will usually pin down their targets while another Sweeper rushes up to burn them. The Fumigators, being the Grenadier archetype, will lob incendiary grenades, and at higher levels (31 and 32), gas grenades at enemies in cover and will sometimes assist in pinning down the target. Mechanics will rush to cover when combat starts and will place a crude turret on top of the cover. Once the turret is down, the Mechanic will then engage with his Shotgun. If the Mechanic is killed, and the turret isn't destroyed, the turret will fire at enemies randomly until stopping, which it is then destroyed. Shield wielders will rush the target with a shield and fire axe, and won't stop until they are killed. Incinerators are rare, but they are the toughest enemy that can be encountered in Cleaner areas. They slowly shamble towards their target or will run-up to it if not close enough to attack. The flamethrowers they wield will have a pretty far range and can dish out a lot of damage in a single spew. Controllers used to be encountered only in the Amherst's Apartment and the Napalm Production Site missions, but since the Clear Sky update, they are now a more common sight - particularly in Search and Destroy missions and High-Value Target Ops.
Sweeper - Armed with Classic AK-Ms with home-made flamethrowers attached to them
Identified by their fuel tanks and full gas mask, which can be shot to deal massive damage to them. If shot in the tank, Sweepers will normally try to take their tank off and flail around before exploding
Elite variants have a more powerful and farther flamethrower and will run up to you to try and blow the agent up if their tank is shot at
Fumigator - Grenadier enemies who throw incendiary grenades, and are armed with an M9 (regular), or an MP7 SMG (Veteran/Elite). Identified by their white hazmat suits, grey overalls and red grenade bag in their left hip. They have a weak point that is the red satchel on their waist. If shot in the satchel enough, they will explode and set everything, including other Cleaners, on fire
Elite variants will throw Poison Gas grenades; these grenades have a shorter fuse than the standard Incendiary grenades
Shield - Melee enemies armed with a bullet-resistant shield and a fire axe that can be identified by their green hooded jacket, gas mask, and fire axe. They have 2/3rds the amount of health and (if Veteran/Elite rank) armour compared to regular Cleaners. Note their shield can break after being shot many times.
Elite variants run faster and attack between shorter intervals compared to their Veteran/Normal counterparts.
Collector - Dressed similar to Shields (work overalls, gas mask, high-vis vest, and hooded jumper), but are armed with AK-47s. So far, seen only in Dragon's Nest. While similar in appearance to Shields, their jacket is actually a more yellow-ish shade of green, as opposed to the Shield’s flat green jacket
Controllers (Sniper) - Enemies armed with Classic M1A (Regular) or SOCOM M1A (Veteran/Elite) sniper rifles and M9 pistols for close-range. Identified by their blue boiler suits and radio backpacks, similar in appearance to a Cleaner Mechanic. They have 2/3rds the amount of health and (if Veteran/Elite rank) armour compared to regular Cleaners
Originally called Controllers in the first game due to their backgrounds as the boiler room and HVAC system controllers. They are not be confused with the Controller class in Tom Clancy's The Division 2.
Mechanic - Enemies who can deploy and repair Turrets. They are also armed with M870 Express Shotguns and PF45 pistols and can be recognised by their baseball caps, radio headsets, and shotguns
On Challenge difficulties and the Incursion Dragon's Nest, they control modified Remote Controlled cars carrying a mix of explosives, Napalm B and tear gas which is rigged to explode in close proximity of its target
Elite named variants will be armed with Custom M870 MCS
Incinerator - Large, heavily armoured boss enemies armed with flamethrowers and molotov cocktail grenades, they have 3 times the amount of health and armour as regular Cleaners of the same rank.
They wear three fuel canisters on their back that can be shot and detonated, which deals a good amount of damage to them and other enemies near them. Another variant acts like a Rikers Guard armed with an M249 Para appears in challenging difficulty in Hudson Refugee Camp or in the incursion, Dragon's Nest.
They also have a weak point, the red ammo box on their backpacks which fires everywhere damaging NPCs or Players while they are distracted.
Fire Truck (boss only) - Armed with flamethrowers and incendiary missiles seen in Dragon's Nest
"Imagine, if you will, someone willing to take a plexiglass shield and an axe... and charge into battle against people with guns. Then imagine you found a lot of idiots like this. That's the nightmare fuel you need to think about with the Cleaners."
- Paul Rhodes
Melee units armed with Fire Axes and stolen police riot shields.
they don't stop until they have killed their target or are dead themselves.
The Shields can be identified by their black protective vest over their plaid shirt, sleeveless hazmat suits, and a waist-mounted backpack similar to Hyena Controllers.
Their shield can take about a magazine of Assault rifle ammo before coming useless.
For those who want to get a close look at a Sweeper, Fumigator, or Shield, play the Mission Napalm Production Site. When exiting the elevator to the hazmat area before the player(s) encounter Joe Ferro, there will be a Sweeper and a Fumigator (a shield may spawn on harder difficulties) on the other side of a glass window directly to the left of the elevator. They will react to the player(s) in a sequenced animation, then runoff. Plotwise, this is the Cleaners discovering the Agent coming to kill Ferro, then running off to warn others (others being the first group of Cleaners that run downstairs on the left and right sides of the final room).
Despite being dedicated to burning out the virus, Cleaners are rarely seen anywhere near Contaminated areas outside of the Dark Zone.
Sometimes, when a civilian goes near a group of Cleaners, said a group of Cleaners will threaten them, if the civilian doesn't leave the area, the Cleaners will open fire and kill them.
Although the Cleaners' leadership and source of napalm have been eliminated, the leftover Cleaners seemingly have an infinite supply of it [napalm], although it's most likely for gameplay purposes.
A phone call collectible between two cleaners intending to produce napalm found mentions styrofoam as an ingredient, probably alluding that the napalm the cleaners are using is nothing more than a styrofoam/gasoline mixture, a low-grade easy-to-obtain variant.
A Scribble on a wall in the napalm production site which may possibly be by a cleaner, instructs how to make napalm by mixing equal parts gasoline and frozen orange juice concentrate, which is a reference to the popular book Fight Club.
If the player purchases the Cleaner Faction bundle from the Premium Vendor, they will get the Shield outfit.
In the North American version factions trailer lines used for the cleaners is:
"These streets must be sanitized. To save our city, we must burn away this disease. Every trace of it. No matter the cost."
For the European version of the faction trailer the line used is: "These streets must be cleansed. To save our city, we must burn away this disease. Every trace of it. Only through the power of fire can we be free"
In Division 2, Echo revealed that not all cleaners were from sanitize company, some were from EMT, in charge of Emergency Medical Treatment.