How to tell your carpet needs cleaning. 1. Carpet is matted and sticky. 2. You can't remember it's real color.. 3. You have a three foot grimy circle around your TV chair. If any of these situations apply, you need help now. You have two basic choices to get your carpet cleaned. Do it yourself or call a professional. I'm a big believer in independence and "doing your own thing" but I caution you about the pitfalls of shampooing your own carpet. It's not a complicated job, but don't be deceived by the propaganda of trouble-free, money-saving, automatic do-it-all machinery. It amazes me that people will spend $$$ for a carpet, then attack it with powerful cleaning gear without any experience whatsoever. A pair of homeowners (0ne of which is missing a fishing trip) will drive ten miles across town to rent a big steamer or rug outfit for $50.00. Then they buy $20.00 worth of chemicals, scratch up the family car getting it all in, and drive another ten miles home. They will unload the heavy equipment, grunting and groaning. Then they'll move furniture, read directions, spend most of Saturday cleaning carpet, run out of cleaner and have to drive back and purchase more-and the results will be questionable. Once they have finished, it's a repeat performance of loading and driving to return the equipment. At the end of the day, they have spent $40.00 on gas, the cost of the rent, shampoo, etc.-not to mention their time; they are dead tired, have had three arguments and come home to a carpet that is still wet. The other choice- hiring a professional, has it's pitfall also. All so-called professionals are not professionals. Some "carpet cleaners" who are franchised, get their training by trial and error. So, here are some tips to make sure you get your carpet cleaned thoroughly. 1. Always check the references. 2. Get a firm price quote. 3. Ask which method they use. If it's "steam' or "extraction' make sure it's a truck mounted unit that heats the solution and has the power to actually steam-clean your carpet and remove the dirty water. 4. Request that they pre-spot and pre-spray any stains. 5. Ask if their cleaning solution contains cocoanut oil. This ingredient can make your carpet attract dirt and need to be cleaned more often. They will do a better job than you can, and probably save you money over doing it yourself.