restaurant floor cleaning odors

Carpet Cleaning in Restaurants?

Of late I’ve had another barrage of inquiries to provide carpet cleaning in restaurants.   In our early years of commercial carpet cleaning we stayed away from certain types of accounts, with restaurants being one of those.   Because of demand however we have successfully entered the restaurant business because we figured out how to deliver what they want.  If you are a restaurant owner or manager, then you are likely frustrated about your carpets and your carpet cleaner.  Read on at your own peril, I’m just trying to throw some light on the subject to help you, and potential carpet cleaners who don’t know how to make you happy.

Restaurants know cleanliness is and appearance of cleanliness is important to their customers.   But just like your kitchen at home, the restaurant has it worse by 10 times.  Sometimes it looks like people can only manage to get about 30% of what’s on their plate into their mouths, and rest manages to find it’s way to the carpets and floors, leaving stains, blotches, smells and more.

Restaurant owners and managers really don’t want to be bothered with carpet cleaning issues or problems, they just want to deliver great food and service to customers, delivering an overall great experience.   Appearance and cleanliness of course are important to the deal, so what’s the problem here with clean carpets that help business?

Let’s look at the basic problems with carpets and carpet cleaning that both customers and restaurants want to avoid.

  • 1. Immediate distraction to walk in at the entrance and see filthy stained carpets.  You brain is saying this place is filthy and the kitchen must be filthy, therefore the  plate and food will be filthy too.
  • 2. Distraction with odors that don’t fit a food service establishment.  Ever smelled that musty smell in a restaurant, or worse a ‘soured’ stench?   That will turn an appetite off in a hurry, and again your brain is saying ‘this can’t be a good thing’.
  • 3. Black traffic lanes that go from kitchen to tables, to restrooms and entrance.  Again, it’s not a good thing to present to your customers who don’t want feel like they would be better off to eat somewhere else.

Unfortunately too many carpet cleaners don’t know how to solve these problems for restaurants.   In fact in way too many cases carpets cleaners are part of the problem – let me explain.

Top 3 things I hear from restaurants about their existing or past carpet cleaning experiences.

  • 1.  Our carpets have spots and stains that are never removed.
  • 2. Our carpet cleaners can’t clean the traffic lanes well enough, or dirty traffic lanes re-appear in just a few days.
  • 3. Complaints about musty or other odors (sometimes chemical odors from carpet cleaning) are coming from our customers sorry I meant from our carpets!

Hey, sounds like the same things customers don’t like, so do restaurant not like.  Let’s dive in to the carpet cleaning issue a little further to see what the underlying problem might be, as well as the obvious things that could help fix the clean carpet issues.

Really low cost never seems to be the number 1 priority to restaurant owners or managers.  They clearly know what they need from a carpet cleaner, they just too often can’t get it (at least when they insist on a cheap carpet cleaner), and so they put up with the carpet cleaner they have as something they can’t do any better with.  But that’s another client psychology topic I’ll discuss in another blog.:)

With few exceptions, from experience here is what I have determined about carpet cleaning in restaurants.  Many carpet cleaners are so focused on low price (as are the restaurants) to get jobs they cannot spend the necessary time in the establishment cleaning carpets as required to do an excellent job (back to that low price priority subject!).  In this case restaurant owners are getting what they pay for, but being left unhappy because they don’t understand they have options.  One solution is to simply pay the carpet cleaners what it would take to get the carpets cleaner – or just clean (if possible) or to clean more frequently.   But this just does not compute with the average client mind, and it does get a bit complicated, so lets move to the next solution.

Restaurants are a grease and food pit.  The traffic lanes are almost always grease tracking on the carpet – sticky enough for soil to attach causing black lanes in a hurry.    Yes carpet cleaners love to clean carpets for money, but much of this problem can be prevented altogether with ‘track off’ mats and other strategies to prevent the grease and oils from walking around the entire restaurant.   I believe professional carpet cleaners should always keep the clients needs and success in mind.  If you have a carpet cleaner who is really professional, they will help restaurants to understand these prevention strategies that will help prevent carpet appearance problems  and save money.   Professional commercial carpet cleaners know what these strategies are, so do ask them for an assessment of your situation and how you can as a restaurant implement actions to help meet the goal of keeping your carpets clean.

Stinking Odors?  If it’s coming from your carpets – then it’s sad for me to say I have mostly found that these are caused by carpet cleaners who are leaving carpets too wet.  When your carpet cleaner states that you need to run your AC 24/7 after they clean, a little red flag should pop up in your brain as to ‘why’?.  Again, in the case of steam or hot water extraction cleaners,  they can and should get the carpets drier – if they are willing to spend more time on the carpet doing so… but time is money and more time would mean less money or a loss for the carpet cleaner.  And again, I stress that commercial carpets are very different from residential carpets in that they are more dense, often so dense with a tight weave that it is very hard to get enough air movement through the fibers with a steam cleaning wand so that water that was pushed into the carpet can now be very difficult to lift back out of the carpet.

This is a well known issue for any commercial carpet cleaner using steam or hot water extraction methods because it causes a lot of problems including mold, water stains, browning and wick-backs, and other nagging issues.   While I’m on the subject, I’ll also say that poorly laid concrete floors that much of todays commercial carpet is laid on does not help either.  Some floors are so full of hills and valleys that once cleaned by a hot water extraction unit, the water slowly puddles into the valleys causing more problems.  The final point is, cleaning carpets with a lot of water is wonderful and can render excellent results,  yet it is full of problems if the carpet cleaning service does not carefully complete the cleaning process to avoid all the mentioned problems above.  This usually takes more time and attention, that you should be ready to pay for if you are a restaurant owner or manager.

And here are the other hidden costs you did not have explained to you when you signed up for that ‘cheap’ carpet cleaner with the steam cleaning or hot water extraction trucks.

And I will emphasize running your AC unnecessarily is a huge hidden cost to your restaurant establishment.  That cheap price just became expensive by transferring cost to your heating and cooling cost.  The excess water is a hidden cost too, because they are using your water as if it were free, but it’s another hidden cost on your water bill.  And do you ever notice your doors are open so they can run hoses in your building, just another hidden cost that will be on your heating and cooling bill.  And the worst of all – customers that don’t return because they could not stomach the smell and filthy appearance of the establishment.

Healthy Clean sold all our truck mounted carpet cleaning machines years ago.  To be fair, we would still have those trucks if we were still doing any residential carpet cleaning, because they do a better job on residential type carpets.   And I am not a basher of hot water extraction methods,  I just know from experience that it must be done with care and attention to provide a good result, and that can put a carpet cleaner at odds with pressures to get jobs on low pricing, especially when providing commercial carpet cleaning services.

I believe restaurants have special challenges that are best fixed by recognizing they need to select a carpet cleaning service that deliver consistent excellent results, and be willing to pay fairly for same.  Cheap is not necessarily a good thing if you are left with problems and getting hit by hidden costs on your other bills.  No matter the method of cleaning, you should not compromise to pay for a carpet cleaning result that may be hurting your business by turning customers off.  It would be penny wise – but pound foolish.

As a restaurant owner, you should consider the option of contacting Healthy Clean USA.  Our commercial carpet cleaning process is a great solution for restaurants because it solves so many of the challenges your environment poses, offering a superior result than works to help your business succeed.  Cleaning better, eliminating odors, keeping carpet cleaner to 50% longer, and saving you money is all in the service we provide.

Not sure if we provide service in your area?  Contact us now and we will help you get the right local service.

Restaurants have special challenges for carpet cleaning.  Find out what some of the carpet cleaning problems are and how they can be addressed.