HOUSTON -

Whether it's on TV or on the radio, it's hard to miss those ads for bargain prices on carpet cleaning. But can you really get the advertised price? Local 2 Consumer Expert Amy Davis has the dirt on how to get your carpets professionally cleaned without cleaning out your wallet.

Wendie Zeller loves her dog, Joe, but hates the tracks he leaves behind. So when she saw a professional carpet cleaning deal, she didn't think twice.

"Good price, I needed the bedrooms done and for four rooms, so I just bought it," Zeller said.

Zeller even had a coupon. But when the cleaner showed up, the price suddenly skyrocketed. They tried to "up-sell" her on so-called deep cleaning and pre-spray treatments.

"I said, 'Normally I thought a cleaning was a deep cleaning.' He said no, they'd have to do that and that would be extra. I just said 'Well, just go ahead and do a regular cleaning,'" Zeller recalled.

Angie Hicks with Angie's List has a warning for consumers.

"You'll see a lot of deals out there that you could potentially take advantage of, but you want to know what you are getting for that price. Does it include hallways? Does it include stairways? What size of a room? It may say three rooms of carpet, but it doesn't say how big of a room of carpet, so make sure you are reading the fine print," Hicks advised.

To avoid extra charges, Hicks said to insist on a written, detailed estimate on what the company will do for the advertised price and to never be shy about sharing your needs.

"Do you have pets? Do you have kids? Do you have special areas that need treatments because you've had spills? The more information you give them, the more prepared they can come to do the actual project in case you need special cleaners for some difficult spots," Hicks said.

Chris Stone has been cleaning carpets professionally for over seven years. He suggests homeowners ask a lot of questions up front to save money down the road.

"If they are willing to come give you a free estimate, give you all the options upfront, then you can make an educated decision on what you want to purchase. The key questions you need to ask them is, 'Are these all the options that I have upfront or will there be any more costs that you will try to sell me while you are here cleaning my carpets?'"

Before you hire any company, make sure they offer a guarantee. A good company will come back to your house to clean spots that reappear within a short period of time.

Professional carpet cleaners recommend you have your carpets cleaned between once a year and every 18 months.

For more carpet cleaning tips, visit Angie's List.

Angie's List's tips to avoid getting scammed:

  • Insist on a written estimate that details all charges - and read the fine print.
  • Don't guess if you don't understand anything on the estimate. Do they charge by the hour or square feet of the room? Are they going to charge you for the square feet where your master bed is that you just want cleaned around? Do you need to move your furniture or will they charge you to do that? Are all pre-sprays, and other tasks included or add-ons?
  • Your carpet cleaner should be certified by the Institution of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification.
  • Watch out for those companies that come in and out in a hurry. It takes time to go through the process from start to finish.
  • Does the company use hot water from its truck? Or will they be using your water?
  • Do they have liability and insurance? If they break something in your home, will they pay to fix it or leave you with the cost?
  • Ask how much experience they have with cleaning carpets.
  • Make sure they use the right type of solution on your carpet.

Types of Cleaning Methods:

  • "Steam cleaning" is probably the most well-known type of carpet cleaning. To the pros, it's better known as hot-water extraction cleaning, because it involves a pre-treatment and then a blast of water (up to 250 degrees) going on and off of the carpet simultaneously. This is usually the only type of cleaning covered by a carpet warranty.
  • Carbonated cleaning allows cleaning agents to get to the carpet fibers with very little wetting. The solution doesn't contain the oil or detergents that typically leave a dirt-attracting residue, and dissolved dirt is removed with a machine that rubs cotton pads over the carpet.
  • The HOST system is the only all-dry, all-natural cleaning system that is currently Green Seal certified. It uses an absorbent to pre-treat and clean the carpet by trapping grease and dirt, which is then extracted. It leaves the carpet ready for immediate use, with no downtime. It's completely non-toxic with no threat of moisture of harsh chemicals.
  • "Bonnet" cleaning uses spray foam that is removed by a rolling/buffing machine that has a bonnet-like attachment. This is mainly for commercial carpet, and is similar to what buffing a hard floor surface is like.