San Francisco's orange-vested street cleaners - who sweep litter into orange plastic bags or scrub city streets with rotary-brush machinery - have been getting some extra help this summer.
More than 1,000 city welfare clients have joined cleanup crews in a new program that requires welfare recipients to work for their checks. Workfare, a plan publicized by President Reagan when he was governor of California - assigns able-bodied people from the city's general assistance rolls to work with street cleaning crews in the Department of Public Works one day each week.
Areas that need sprucing up are pinpointed by San Francisco State University's John Westfal, a professor of geography, in his weekly litter assessment report to the Bureau of Street Cleaning.
''Although our enrollees receive no additional pay for this Workfare stint,'' said a social services official, ''their cooperation has been very good so far. They all know that if they do not participate . . . they could lose their general assistance funds for as much as two weeks. The work is not hard - and many of our people seem to feel they are helping out in San Francisco's big cleanup and antilitter campaign.''