Clean Sweeper

By Emily Gold Boutilier / May / June 2003
June 22nd, 2007
Walk down any hall of any dorm on campus and you’re sure to pass a messy room. Or, more specifically, borderline squalor: dirty dishes, clothes all over the floor, dust bunnies threatening to take over.

Those who inhabit such spaces can now keep tidy without expending their own elbow grease. This semester Ryan Lewis ’03 founded Ivy Clean, Inc., which promises “inexpensive, reliable dormitory maid service.” It’s a godsend for any student who hasn’t made the bed since Mom and Dad’s last visit.

Lewis got the idea for Ivy Clean when, sick of his own mess, he called a few local cleaning services; none, he was disappointed to hear, did dorm rooms. Figuring that others might be in the same predicament (he’d seen their rooms), Lewis saw the business potential.

He set up a Web site ( and advertised in the Providence Journal for an experienced cleaning person. “I got, literally, 150 phone calls,” he says. Lewis hired Ada Cabrera, who has a local cleaning business, as an independent contractor, and together they figured out a price structure: $20 to clean a single and $28 for a double, plus an additional $10 for a bathroom. Cabrera gets two thirds of the fee, and Lewis one third.

Ivy Clean promises to make the beds, mop the floor, dust, and disinfect, and to welcome students home with organized bookshelves, neat closets, and sparkling windows. It also offers after-party cleanup, priced, of course, case by case.

So far, Lewis says, students have responded well to Ivy Clean’s ads in the Brown Daily Herald. He expects to turn a profit by the end of the semester. In the future he plans to offer services for laundry and dry cleaning, packing and unpacking, and whatever else students are too busy—or too lazy—to do themselves.

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Related Issue
May / June 2003