Past the Bud Light can on the lawn, four empty Coors kegs in the entryway, and, in the hall, the box for a Little Whizzer statuette that "pours" liquor, there was a den of filth.

Eight fraternity brothers from the University of Pennsylvania share this West Philadelphia house, a pig sty tolerable only to undiscerning students and collegiate revelers trawling for free alcohol.

With more partying expected in a few days, the men of Sigma Alpha Epsilon had to get the place in shape. But mopping, scrubbing and vacuuming take so . . . much . . . time.

So, they called DormAid, which dispatched a cleaner bearing buckets and brooms the next day.

"It's really worth it. College students are so lazy," Nick Daley, 20, a burly finance-and-accounting major from Cincinnati, said with admirable self-knowledge.

Thankfully, a new array of services - there's also DormMom, CollegeBellhop and Soapy Joe's - has cropped up recently nationwide to cater to able-bodied kids who can't seem to maintain minimum standards of sanitation.

In addition to cleaning dorm rooms and off-campus residences, some wash and fold laundry, drop off cases of water, even arrange for groceries to be delivered.

"We help kids stay organized and focused on studies instead of trying to find space in the laundry room," said Mike Kopko, who cofounded DormAid two years ago while at Harvard University.

Scrubbing toilets isn't in the game plan for these coddled customers, who intend to go through life never picking up a can of Comet.

And who's footing the bill? Mom and Dad, of course.

"Parents want to make sure their baby is taken care of," said Kopko, whose "concierge" company does work at 40 schools. Other providers are lined up or negotiating to wash students' clothes at Drexel and St. Joseph's Universities.

"They raise a son or daughter, do their laundry, clean for them, then ship them off to college, where they have four years to identify a career path and make grades and get into graduate school," Kopko said.

"They don't want them spending three or four hours a week doing laundry," he said - though, in truth, they may never have seen Mom or Dad perform such tedious tasks, either.

Emmanuel Oche, a Nigerian immigrant with a Michigan Tech degree in electric engineering, started DormMom in June 2006. Most of his business, he said, comes from parents.

His mother was a clean freak who passed on her tidiness habit, said Oche, who lives in Buffalo. But as a resident assistant, he saw how disgusting students could be.

"Even though the laundry room is down the hall, a lot of people do not do their laundry," he said.

DormMom started at the University of Buffalo and is now at 15 schools, including Penn.

The services charge from $55 to $70 for housekeeping, depending on the frequency of visits. Laundry works out to about $20 per week, including pickup and delivery.

DormAid has about 15 regular cleaning customers at Penn, but it gets lots of emergency requests - especially after really nasty shindigs.

"They call at 2 a.m. and say, 'We need assistance as soon as possible,' " said Kopko, who is working on his MBA at Columbia University.

The businesses have encountered wariness from some administrators uncomfortable with outsiders on campus. At Penn, a university spokeswoman said that dorm cleaners follow the same rules as all guests: They must present a photo ID, be signed in by a student, and be accompanied while in the building.

Assaf Swissa, who started CollegeBellhop with his bar mitzvah savings in 2003, said he dropped food delivery and cleaning because schools were uneasy about his employees going into buildings.

Now the company focuses on laundry and shares revenue with colleges. The arrangement allows CollegeBellhop to advertise on school Web sites and to get access to student and parent e-mail addresses. He hopes to start at St. Joseph's in the spring.

"To get a college to read our contract is the hardest part," said Swissa, 26, who went to Boston University.

Kopko encountered resistance at Harvard, which wanted a fair hourly wage for cleaners, which Kopko set at $10.

The student newspaper, however, called for a boycott of DormAid on the grounds that it was elitist and widened the gulf between haves and have-nots. Instead of shutting it down, the national publicity allowed DormAid to expand to other schools.

"It's not anything I had a business plan for. I just wanted a clean room," Kopko said.

As a freshman, he asked his roommate if he would split the cost of a cleaner. When others saw how neat their room was, they offered to pay Kopko a fee to get their rooms cleaned, too.

After doing $150,000 in business his first year, Kopko decided he had found his calling. His parents "were shocked that they sent me to Harvard and I came back wanting to clean toilets and underwear," he said.

DormAid relies on student "presidents" to run operations at each of the campuses where the company has a presence. They set up advertising and contract services from local cleaners and laundries. In Philadelphia, bonded cleaners make between $17 and $20 per hour. The student managers can earn $2,000 to $5,000 a year.

DormAid also sells bedding and provides packing, moving and computer services. It plans to expand into other areas, such as dorm-room appliances.

The companies are counting on over-scheduled students who value their time over self-sufficiency.

"A lot of our customers are not wealthy," said Soapy Joe's founder, Stuart Katz, 25, who started his cleaning business at Georgetown University and has expanded to seven campuses, including Penn and Drexel. "They're hardworking students who have a job at night and are studying all day and don't have time to do laundry.

For the Penn fraternity brothers, factor in some serious recreation.

Most of the guys slept in while cleaner Theresa Reed, 50, scrubbed a kitchen floor that looked as if it hadn't seen soap and water since the millennium.

"Boys will be boys," she said good-naturedly. "I live with two sons and I got to get on them to clean up."

The oven wasn't bad - it probably had never been used - but Reed contended with a crusty toaster oven and two refrigerators, one containing exactly two items: ketchup and a case of beer.

Upstairs was a bathroom shower growing black mold. The toilet and sink, where a Bud Light sat next to Softsoap, were passable.

"I don't know how they can live like this," Stephanie Stein, DormAid's national vice president of operations, said as she surveyed the clutter. Stein used to be in charge of DormAid at Penn.

It couldn't be as bad as Nick Daley's digs last year: a nine-bedroom house that he shared with 21 guys.

"You can imagine, it got quite dirty," said the junior, who had roused to study for a test.

Over the summer, the Sigma Alpha Epsilon buddies sublet their current three-floor house at 41st and Locust Streets, and returned to find it filled with trash and roaches. Before hiring cleaners, they recruited younger frat members to do much of the dirty work. DormAid, Daley said, is great. The cost, $69.95 for cleaning the house's communal rooms, is reasonable when split eight ways.

And while students may be poor, their parents - at least at Penn - generally aren't.

"They're happy to chip in," Daley said, "to know you're living decently."

Contact staff writer Kathy Boccella at 610-313-8123 or kboccella@phillynews.com

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