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Cleaning your carpet

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The holidays are wrapping up and the constant flow of friends and family in and out of the house is ending. As life gets back to normal, it's time to have the carpet cleaned. Angie's List recommends these tips on how to get the job done right and for the right price.

When it comes to a thorough carpet cleaning, it's best to leave it to the professionals. Many companies may offer dirt cheap specials, but be sure no extra fees are involved.

"Carpet cleaning cost are determined by the square footage of the area being cleaned or the number of stairs. Always insist on an in-home estimate to get the best price possible and remember that even a small area may cost around $79 to be cleaned," says Angie Hicks of Angie's List.

Taking care of your carpet will help extend its life . Well-maintained carpet can last 10 to 15 years. And always follow the manufacturer's recommendations to be sure your carpet is being cleaned with the proper method. There are three types of cleaning procedures.

The most common is steam cleaning. It involves spraying a solution of warm or hot water on the carpet, along with a cleaning agent, then extracting that combination with a professional vacuum.

The next is called Bonnet cleaning. It uses a round cleaning pad that fits like a cap over a rotary brush to help loosen dirt. This method causes less of a chance of mold and mildew, but also only removes dirt from the top-third of the carpet.

The third method is dry carbonating extraction. It uses carbonation to create bubbles, which lift dirt to the surface and then further uses a heavy-duty vacuum to remove soil. Because it uses just a fifth of the water needed for steam cleaning, it's often referred to as the "dry" method.

In addition to the proper cleaning method, there's something else you can do to make your carpet last as long as possible.

Jason Hanna is a carpet cleaning technician. He says, "don't eat in the rooms where there is carpet - - eat or drink. Vacuum at least a couple of times a week and if you take your shoes off, your carpet will last almost forever."

And a clean carpet can help give you a fresh start to the new year. Angie's List recommends you have your carpet cleaned at least once a year by a reputable company.

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