Why Does a Restaurant Smell Bad to Some People? Part Two

In our last post we talked about restaurant carpets trapping spills, grease and bacteria and producing bad smells. But there are several other areas of a restaurant where bad smells can come from such as mops, cleaning cloths and upholstery.

One of the biggest mistakes restaurants make is to use a mop that has been standing in a mop bucket that is not clean. Mop buckets should be prepared with hot water and proper degreasing cleaner before use. When done mopping the floor, mop buckets and mops should be rinsed in hot water to get all the grease and dirt out of them or else they quickly develop a rotten smell.

Another odor-producing place is dirty wiping cloths used to clean tables and booths. Cleaning cloths should be clean smelling and the bucket of sanitizer should be cleaned before the start of every shift or whenever dirty. Cleaning with a dirty cloth can make a restaurant smell bad and spread bacteria and germs.

Upholstery is another area that gets overlooked and where smells build up from grease, spills and bacteria. Restaurants that have upholstery on booth seats and walls require periodic steam cleaning as well to keep the restaurant clean and prevent those bad smells.

Remember that people get used to a smell and after a short period of time don’t even notice it any more. This means that your staff may be completely unaware of odors that may cause customers to leave or to never come back. Translation: make sure to use cleaning tools that are themselves kept clean, even if you think your customers won’t notice.

Know a restaurant that needs our help? Get a Free, no obligation estimate on carpet and upholstery cleaning from Commercial Steam Team and make your restaurant shine! Call us today at 952-224-7222

Why Does a Restaurant Smell Bad to Some People? Part One

After reading restaurant reviews in Minneapolis you’ll find that customers not only judge service, quality and selection of food at a restaurant they also judge cleanliness. If you have bad smells in your restaurant it can ruin people’s dining experience. Smells can build up over time and you may not even notice it. It’s easy for your staff to get used to a smell and after a short period of time not even notice it any more. This means that they may be completely unaware of odors that may cause customers to leave or to never come back. Aside from that, people have different smell sensitivities and can be offended by smells.

There are preventative measures that restaurant managers can take to prevent smell buildup and provide an excellent dining experience.

The biggest part of a restaurant that can produce smells is the carpet. Food, drink and grease spills can get trapped in carpet and build up a terrible smell. One way to prevent this is to have your carpets steam cleaned periodically to remove all the grease, food, dirt and bacteria.

Steam cleaning under the tables and in the high traffic areas around the kitchen will not only prevent bad smells but also extends the life of restaurant carpet.

Check out how Commercial Steam Team cleans this restaurant buffet area: click here to watch the video./

Carpets can be steam cleaned after you close your restaurant and be ready to use within a few hours.

Wondering how much it would be to have restaurant carpet steam cleaned? Give Commercial Steam Team a call for a no obligation estimate at 952-224-7222

Blood Removal in Carpet Cleaning

Whenever I tell someone that I know how to remove blood from carpet, usually without a residual discoloration, they usually ask me if I do crime scene cleanup.  Although I have cleaned up after crime scenes, those are not where this skill comes in most handy.


The most common occurrences of blood in carpet seem to come from children and pets.  A cut on the underside of a paw or a bloody nose after a rough game of basement football is all it takes to track that reddish-colored liquid onto a light-colored carpet.


But what does someone do to get this out?  Blood is one of the most difficult things to get out of carpet.  I’ve discovered that the iron in our blood rusts when it comes into contact with the oxygen in the air around us.  Naturally, that rusty discoloration is best treated best with rust remover.  I get odd looks when I first break out my rust remover to get the discoloration of blood out, but once people see it work, they are fascinated.

The only catch is that this has to be done by a professional with a top of the line direct drive truck mounted carpet cleaning van.  Rust remover is a spot treatment that is not meant to be left in the carpet.  It needs to be thoroughly rinsed out of the carpet after applied.

How Sand Affects Carpet Fibers

Sand is to carpet what saws are to trees.  I own a carpet cleaning company in the Minneapolis – St. Paul Area and Minnesotans track a lot of sand onto our carpet.  Carpet fibers are very thin strands; thinner than the hair on you head. The fibers are woven and spun together for strength in numbers. This is why we can walk on carpet without damaging it much while the carpet is clean.  The fibers rub against other fibers with limited friction.

Sand, on the other hand, has at least two ways of changing this.  These tiny grains of sand are like boulders to the tiny thin carpet fibers.  The sharp surfaces of the sand are more than enough to chop through a few individual fibers.  Another instance is when two pieces of sand rub together with a few fibers in between them. Eventually they rub right through those fibers.  This is like having sandpaper taped to the bottom of your shoes.

If this is your home then it is not too hard to have people take off their shoes.  This will cut down on the need to have the carpet cleaned as often.  In businesses, you can’t ask people to take their shoes off.  You can, however, have the carpets cleaned and protected on a consistent schedule that make sense for the volume of traffic your company receives.  The cleaning removes the sand and the protector coats the fibers and makes them thicker for the sand attacks that happen in between the cleanings.

Spring Carpet Cleaning in Minnesota

“Since it’s May of 2011 and we don’t seem to get a spring this year, do I still have to get the carpets cleaned?”  I know the weather here in the Twin Cities has been mimicking Seattle lately, but yes even their businesses need to have their carpets cleaned.  In fact, the extra moisture this year poses an extra risk of mold and mildew in carpets.  This happens because of the humid air as well as moisture being tracked in on people’s shoes.  A thorough carpet cleaning and an enzyme deodorizer treatment is very important after the winter is over.  The enzyme in the deodorizer feeds on the bacteria kills the source of smells and allergens.

Salt and sand are also tracked in from the Minnesota roads, parking lots, and sidewalks.  They don’t affect houses as much since people usually take their shoes off at home.  However, employees and customers rarely take their shoes off in a commercial setting.  The more sand and salt gets trampled on the more damage it will do to the carpet.   A powerful commercial carpet cleaning will clear this out of the carpet fibers allowing the carpet a fresh start.  New debris will always get tracked onto the carpet, but keeping the overall amount of sand and salt at a minimum is crucial.

How Sand, Dirt, and Dust Wear Out Carpet

Have you ever had your carpets cleaned in your home or business and the carpet didn’t look as good as you had hoped in the high traffic areas?  This could be because your carpet cleaner didn’t do a sufficient job, but it could also be permanent fiber damage.  If it didn’t look like there was much of a difference after the cleaning then it was probably not a very good job.  That being said, carpet fibers that have taken on damage will appear dirtier than they really are because they no longer reflect light the same way that they did before this damage happened.  Similar to scratched-up Plexiglas, light is distorted and will appear much darker than the unscratched Plexiglas.  This happens because carpet fibers are essentially made of clear plastic.  These fibers are so thin you may need a magnifying glass to see them.  They are woven together like yarn to make thicker strands.  Sand, dirt, and dust are very small but compared to carpet fibers they are gigantic boulders with sharp edges.  The more soiled the carpet gets, the more power this sharp debris has to saw into the carpet fibers, sometimes severing them from their root completely.  Compare it to taking sand paper and gluing it to the bottom of your shoes.  That is the best analogy I can come up with though to describe what happens when these particles collect in large numbers.  Our shoes crush and mash the fibers together, scraping and slashing them with tiny sharp particles.  To be honest, it is pretty amazing how well carpet stands up to this, especially in commercial applications.  Even worse than dust and dirt are the metal shavings created in machine shops.  These particles are like tiny saws and our shoes are the lumberjacks.

The best defense against these microscopic belt sanders is to have the carpet cleaned and protected on a regular basis (minimum of once a year).  The cleaning lowers the numbers in the sand and dirt army while the protector creates a thin plastic layer over the fibers that will take the damage instead of the fibers themselves.  Much like how wax protects the paint job on your car from flying sand on the roads.

Why Did My Carpet Turn Yellow Beneath My Area Rug?

In my 13 years as a carpet cleaning professional in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota, I have run into many cases where the carpet underneath an area rug has a yellow tint to it.  This discoloration is literally the size and shape of the area rug that was sitting on top of it.  It took some time but through my research I learned that the gases released from the glue that holds the carpet together can actually change the ph. level of the carpet.  This usually takes months of trapped gas to make this happen.  I would imagine humidity and airflow as well as other factors, contribute to this phenomenon.  Unfortunately there is no known method to reverse this problem.

Thorough Rinsing Reduces Redo’s

Reputable carpet cleaning companies agree to return to their jobs any time a customer is unsure of the results of the work done.  The most reputable companies call every job a week after cleaning to make sure they are happy and offer what we call a “redo” to make sure the client stays a satisfied and loyal client.

As important as redo’s are, they also cost money to complete.  This is time and expense being used without extra compensation from the client.  For this reason and more, it is important to do the job right the first time.

Carpet cleaning, like many things in life is largely about balance.  In this case it’s about the balance of PH. levels.  The process starts with pre-spray and spot cleaning agents and finishes with a rinse to balance the Ph. out.  All professional carpet cleaners, no matter who they are, start off with an alkaline or acid pre-spray.  The next step is to rinse it out with a rinse that is opposite the pre-spray on the Ph. scale.  Spot cleaning agents vary in specifics, however, unless it is a leave in treatment, they all have one thing in common.  Cleaning agents need to be rinsed out as much as possible.  Cleaning agents that are not rinsed thoroughly can attract dirt back to the spot or spill.  This makes the spot or spill look like it has resurfaced and come back after the cleaning is done.

The best way to thoroughly rinse the carpet is to make sure you have the most powerful direct drive carpet cleaning truck mount available.  Second, make sure you are using a rinse that is opposite the Ph. of your pre-spray.  Third, simply do extra rinse strokes any time you clean over an area you spot treated.  The whole room doesn’t have to be done this way, just the spot where you used a spot treatment.  Fourth, you do extra vacuum strokes where you did extra rinse strokes.  Extra rinse means slightly higher moisture levels and requires “balance” when it comes do drying the carpet as well.

By maintaining balance in the carpet of both Ph. levels and moisture, the chances of a spot or spill appearing to return on you are nearly eliminated and so are your redo’s.  Out of the last 1814 jobs, my crews only had to return to 23 of them.  All 23 are still very happy clients.  This is one of the methods they practice at every job to make sure they keep their routes redo free and full of loyal, paying, repeat customers here in the Twin Cities.

Rapid Re-Soiling After Carpet Cleaning: Professional Carpet Cleaners


Professional carpet cleaners stopped using oil based soaps or “shampoo’s” decades ago.  Some less experienced carpet cleaners still have a problem with rapid re-soiling.  Why is this?  Proper training and equipment eliminates this problem for those companies that understand how it works.

  • State-of-the-art direct drive truck mounts are important to get the carpet dry enough after the job.
    • If the carpet is left wet for days then the carpet will lose its ability to resist rapid re-soiling.
    • Ph. balances must be equalized.
      • Companies that rinse with water will leave the Ph. level of the carpet too high after cleaning. This can feel residue-free, but will attract soil none the less.
      • Companies that grow too fast through advertising tend to have a turnover of only a few months.  Proper training takes many months of assisting to an expert carpet cleaner to ensure that Ph. ratios get balanced.

Carpet cleaning is a science, but it is also hard work.  Training is important as well as hiring the right workers and paying well enough to keep them motivated and in your employ.  “Shampoo” may not be a factor in professional carpet cleaning anymore, but work ethic and training always will be.

Rapid Re-Soiling After Carpet Cleaning: Janitorial Companies and Handymen

Well intentioned as they are, janitorial companies are not professional carpet cleaners.  In my 13 years of carpet cleaning I have cleaned up after hundreds of janitorial companies who wanted to make a little extra money from their clients by cleaning their carpets.  This is a sound idea for them as a business model, however it often ends up with them disappointing their clients.  The main reason is rapid re-soiling. 

Unfortunately, janitorial companies typically cause the carpet to get dirty faster after they clean for their clients, meaning that they need to be cleaned more frequently.

Here’s why:

  1. Professional carpet cleaning equipment is very expensive, so they often try to use equipment they already have to do the job (Floor buffers)
    1. Floor buffers can unravel the carpet fibers and loosen the nap of the fibers leaving more room for soil to penetrate the surface of the carpet.
      1. Floor buffers do not remove as much soil or even their own cleaning agents from the carpet; rather they push it down into the carpet.
  2. Janitorial companies may rent equipment to do the job, and the more they spend on the rental equipment, the less profit they make on the job.
  3. Rental equipment is abused over time. As a result it takes so long to properly extract the moisture that few are willing to spend the long hours or days it takes to get enough water out of the carpet.
    1. Carpet left too wet can be sloshy and take days to dry.
    2. The longer a carpet is left wet after cleaning, the more time spills have to wick up through the carpet.
    3. Moisture in the carpet can begin to reduce the carpet’s ability to resist re-soiling if left wet for days.
    4. Moisture left too long encourges mold and mildew growth deep in the carpet.
    5. Training, specific to carpet cleaning.
      1. Janitorial companies rarely pay above minimum wage and as a result their employees are not motivated to learn and execute alternative job skills to the ones that they already do.  This is not the fault of the janitorial companies.  There is just too little profit margin in that industry to pay any better.
      2. It takes many months of working with an expert in the carpet cleaning field to learn the proper ways to mix the cleaning agents and to identify potential problems.
      3. It takes a carpet cleaning business owner years to perfect what he or she teaches their employees and for janitorial companies and handymen, there isn’t a seasoned carpet cleaning expert to pass this knowledge on.
      4. Professional carpet cleaners stopped using oil based soap or “Shampoo” decades ago.  Janitorial companies and handymen have taken longer to catch on.

The bottom line is that when carpets need to be cleaned, especially in a commercial environment, a commercial carpet cleaning expert is necessary.  Janitorial companies and handymen can be wonderful at what they do but they are not professional carpet cleaners any more than plumbers, electricians, and ballet dancers are.  Ph. levels need to be balanced to prevent rapid re-soiling and equipment and personnel are key in making that happen.

Rapid Re-Soiling After Carpet Cleaning: Do It Yourself

When you pull out your couch to get that tennis ball your dog knocked underneath it in a rousing game of repetitive catch.  You suddenly notice that the carpet underneath the couch looks completely different than the carpet in front of it.  A few months go by and either your conscience or your partner begins nagging you to do something about it.  “Don’t worry sweetheart, I will rent a rug doctor.”  Famous last words.  If it was that easy then everyone would do it.

This is one of the leading causes of rapid re-soiling in carpets today.  The three reasons being;

  • Operator error.
    • No one should be expected to know what they are doing when trying to do a professional job on their first try.
    • It takes days to do the best job possible with a rental unit.  Many people don’t realize this until they are in the middle of the job and rush through it after that (understandable).
    • Equipment power.
      • Rental equipment is limited by the electrical power source available and can’t risk tripping circuit breakers in the homes and apartments it is used in.
      • Rental equipment is designed with more emphasis on its durability than its effectiveness. After all if it broke every time it was rented, it would eat up all the profit. Meaning that it’s going to be underpowered.
      • When more than 5 percent of the moisture is left in the carpet, it takes a long time to dry and will affect the carpets resistance to re-soiling.
      • People tend to beat up rental units. After all, they don’t own them, and most people tend not to respect other people’s property. This means the equipment’s performance will likely be sub-par, something that a rental company is not as likely to be concerned about as long as it is still rentable.
      • Available cleaning agents.
        • Professional carpet cleaners stopped using “shampoo” or oil based products decades ago. The rental units often still use these.
        • Rental units often rinse with regular water which is not capable of balancing the Ph. levels of the cleaning agents that were used, even if they were not oil based.

The truth is that most people who attempt to clean their own carpets do not ever attempt it again.  Or they get stuck in an endless cycle of cleanings that become more and more frequent over time as the residue builds up in the carpet.  Most professional carpet cleaners know (and those that don’t, should) not to use oil based products or “shampoo’s”.  Few suppliers even carry those products anymore.  Also professional carpet cleaners are the only carpet cleaners that know the proper mixing ratios, have the expensive direct drive truck mount equipment to do the job (this varies from company to company).  Truck mounted  units are not limited by circuit breakers and some even run directly off of the V8 engine.

In summary, DIY carpet cleaning is a buyer-beware sort of thing. If you’re serious about cleaning your carpet, you should hire a serious professional to do so. Have a great day!

Minnesota Carpet Cleaning

Minnesota is a unique and wonderful market for carpet cleaning.  Everyone wants carpet on their floors because the floor gets too cold in the winter and it helps keep our toes warm and heating costs down.  However, our de-icing methods and sanding the streets, not to mention mud during the spring thaw, contribute to Minnesota being one of the harshest climates on carpet.

The sand we use makes ice less slippery but that same grit that makes our tires and shoes gain traction also acts like sand paper on the bottoms of our shoes.

When salt is allowed to build up in a carpet (commercial carpet more likely), it will form together into a single mass.  Especially when moisture like melting snow is added.  This mass not only adheres to the fibers but now has a much larger surface area to get through.  For this a portable carpet cleaning unit and dry cleaning methods are useless.  The salt needs to be melted through moisture and heat.  It then needs to be removed through large amounts of suction.  I recommend a top of the line direct drive truck mount unit. (Hydramaster 4.8 cds if possible).  For best results have the carpet cleaned on a regular schedule before the salt has a chance to combine with itself and the sand.  Also vacuuming regularly is helpful to get as much out as possible while still in crystal form.

Recurring Spots and How To Prevent Them

No one likes having to return to a job days or longer after a carpet cleaning job to get one or more spots out.  Even worse, no customer likes the inconvenience of a second trip either.  This cannot be eliminated entirely, though there are some steps that can be taken to greatly reduce these occurrences to nearly zero.

  • Know your spot or spill.
    • Use the correct cleaning agent for that particular spot.
      • Sticky/dense, use an acid base (citrus).
      • Coffee, use a leave in treatment (Stain Magic).
      • Oily residue, encapsulate the oil molecules.
      • Rinse thoroughly.
        • Most carpet cleaners forget they are rinsing the cleaning agent out as well as the spot/spill.
        • Use the proper rinse for your machine and cleaning agents. (Clearwater rinse works best for me)
      • Make sure your equipment is powerful enough to rinse both the spot and spill.
        • Cheaper carpet cleaning companies save money on equipment.  They can’t rinse all the way to the backing, even if they try.
        • Do not go over 500 lbs. psi. or you can go through the backing to the pad underneath.  The pad will likely not dry for months or longer.
        • Leave the area of the spot/spill as dry as possible.
          • I find with Hydramaster 4.8 direct drive, a few extra vacuum strokes does the trick.  Other equipment may take much longer.
          • Recommending the customer turn their thermostat fan on (rather than auto).
            • This way the fan still runs without cranking the ac/heat up.  (much cheaper way to run the fan).
  • The client can place a fan directed at the spill as well.  Or bring your own fans/blowers if your equipment vacuum isn’t as strong.
  • Understand that spots can look like spills beneath the carpet surface.  Vacuum the area around the spot as well.

These are a few easy steps to prevent recurring spots/spills.  The best step is prevention by applying a protector each time the carpet is cleaned.  This prevents the spill from soaking into the heart of the fibers as easily.  This also allows more time to blot out spills before soaking in.  These steps will likely prevent nearly all spot/spill related redos, when done properly.