Confessions of an Ivy League House Cleaner

Kia Grasty makes $140,000 cleaning up after Penn’s messiest students—and after her tales (and photos) of clogged toilets and feces-laden bathtubs, few would begrudge her it.


It’s 10:30 p.m. on a Saturday in Philadelphia, and 51-year-old Kia Katrina Grasty, donning only her pajamas, is heading to a frat party.

Pulling up in her white GMC envoy truck to one of the University of Pennsylvania’s unofficial fraternity houses on Pine Street, Grasty marches confidently into the bash, shuts down the deejay and makes an urgent announcement: everyone needs to look for a package belonging to Penn junior Jack Cortese, one of the students living in the house.

Jack’s mother—actress Kim Delaney of NYPD Blue—was frantic that Jack hadn’t yet received the high-end suit and shoes she had overnighted for his upcoming internship interview. When Delaney couldn’t reach her son on the phone that night, she called Grasty. Unable to refuse the mother of a “privileged” client, Grasty darted out of bed immediately and took control of the situation.

“We need to look for a package!” she declares to the glassy-eyed college kids, who somewhat obediently stop carousing to search among strewn beer cups, cigarette stubs and other detritus. Moments later, Grasty emerges victorious from behind a bench on the front porch. “Got it!” she yells, and like clockwork the show goes on. Grasty can go home for the night, but she’ll be back soon enough to mop up the mess. That’s her job, after all.

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