Carpet stains happen. Mud is tracked in. Pets have accidents. Liquids spill. Shoes track in who-knows-what.
If the inevitable drips and drops of family have left your area rugs and carpet looking a bit worse for wear, it may be time for a deep cleaning.
There are plenty of do-it-yourself cleaning methods on the market. You can buy or rent a cleaning machine or go after the shadows and dark spots manually with a carpet cleaning powder, foam shampoo or liquid spray cleaner.
While this is the least expensive option it will require a bit of elbow grease and the moving of furniture. If you're not the furniture-shifting and machine-renting type, make it easy on yourself. Hiring a carpet cleaning service to do the dirty work may be the safest, fastest and easiest option.
Tread carefully into the professional carpet-cleaning arena.
All is not always as it seems, and choosing the wrong company may leave you with more than just family-weary floor coverings.
It's very important to ask the right questions and do the research to save yourself from future headaches.
Carpet cleaning companies have been springing up like weeds after a rain in the last few years. That's due, in part, to the proliferation of equipment that may be just one step above home rental cleaning machines.
For a small capital investment and a large advertising budget relying on misleading claims like "one room, $20," anyone can say he or she is a carpet cleaner.
These companies are often under-insured in the case of damage or worse - not insured at all.
Be cautious of any company that appears on your doorstep uninvited or contacts you over the phone.
Also, be wary of companies that advertise a cleaning price by the room. Rooms are different sizes and the charge should be based on the amount of carpet cleaned.
In addition, some companies advertise the use of brand name cleaning products or chemicals, although this does not necessarily mean the company is in any way affiliated with those products or companies.
Perhaps the best way to find a good carpet cleaning service is to ask family and friends for references. A strong endorsement can provide great piece of mind.
Then visit the Better Business Bureau in your state online to check on the company's standing and find out if any complaints have been logged against the company. If so, try to find out the number and nature of the complaints.
Once you have identified two or three companies, have a representative come to your home and determine the type of cleaning method that is most suitable, as well as inspect your carpet or area rugs for problem spots or extremely soiled areas.
Before you sign on the dotted line ask the right questions and make sure everything is covered before cleaning begins:
Once you've settled on a carpet cleaning company, move your own delicate, breakable objects before the cleaners arrive. But expect the company to move your furniture - at no extra charge.
When it comes time to pay, make sure the bill agrees with your written estimate. And always pay by check or credit card so you can stop payment if the work is unsatisfactory or if you believe you have been overcharged.