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How to Choose A Carpet Cleaner That Won't Clean You Out

   There are lots of good reasons to love a clean plush carpet, from the way it feels between your toes to the aesthetic appeal it brings to your home. But these benefits come at a cost . Carpets are virtual magnets for nuisances like dust, dander, stains and mold. Fortunately, carpets wear well when properly maintained and can retain their beauty for many decades. So arm yourself with these tips to help you navigate the sea of options out there, and you can be sure you won''t end up with another carpet cleaner that does shoddy work or overcharges.

Here are some questions you should ask your prospective carpet cleaner before letting them into your home:

1. What equipment do they use? Reputable cleaners use equipment that utilizes the Hot Water Extraction method, the only technique that is classified as deep cleaning and the best way to remove soil or toxic residue. In addition to providing a more thorough clean, a truck-mounted Hot Water Extraction system will send exhaust outside your home instead of recirculating it.

2. Are they certified? While many uncertified carpet cleaners perform good work, certification provides extra assurance that the company knows how to clean carpets effectively and without damaging them. The two most widely recognized are the RIA (Restoration Industry Association) and the IICRC (Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification).

3. Are they insured? A company that''s insured is covered for injuries, damage and other liabilities that may occur on your property. The last thing you want is to get stuck with someone else''s bills.

4. Do they guarantee their work? A competent company will have a guarantee on its services. In case you are unhappy with their work, they will usually offer to clean your carpet again before they offer a money back guarantee. Take note of how long their work is guaranteed for, as stains can take up to two weeks to resurface after a cleaning, if they exist.

5. How do they determine pricing? Do they charge by the hour or by the job? If they charge by the project, they are more likely to try to get it over with as soon as possible and make their way to the next job. Most carpet cleaners consider a room that''s over 200 square feet to be two rooms, so if the company determines cost according to rooms, make sure to ask how they measure a room. If the company charges by square foot, they are more likely to do a thorough, if slower, job. If you are unsure about the company''s pricing policy, ask them to come by and give you an estimate, but do not let them pressure you into buying their service on the spot!

6. Do they have references? Carpet Cleaners get asked this question all the time, and any reputable company will have this information on hand. Don''t hesitate to ask.

7. Are they registered with the Better Business Bureau (BBB)? If they are, it is a good sign that the company cares about customer satisfaction. In addition, it will give you the opportunity to inquire the BBB about any grievances filed against them.

8. Will they move furniture ? For a more thorough clean, furniture can be moved and cleaned underneath. Many carpet cleaners will perform this service for you free of charge.

9. Do they use safe products? Some of the more powerful carpet cleaning products are toxic and can pose a hazard to your health if they are not thoroughly cleaned out of the fabric. If you have pets or small children you may want to ask the cleaner to use non-toxic products. (If you vacuum and clean your carpet regularly it will require less powerful cleaning products). Some cleaners also stock eco-friendly products.

10. How long have they been in business? A company that has been in business for a long time probably managed to stay in business by providing quality service. Lower your chances of hiring a fly-by-night company by choosing someone who''s been around for a while.

Finding a good carpet cleaner shouldn't have to be a chore, but unfortunately it sometimes is. So remember to take your time when choosing a carpet cleaner. Don''t let anyone pressure you into accepting their service before you find out if they meet your criteria. And if you follow these guidelines, you can rest assured that you''ll find a carpet cleaner you can trust.
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