By Gene and Katie Hamilton

The Yellow Pages feature rug cleaning services listed as "Carpet & Rug Cleaners". Go online and type "clean carpeting in (your city)" in a search engine like Bing, Google or Yahoo to find a local service. These specialists will often give you a ballpark square footage price over the telephone based on the number of rooms you want cleaned. They'll provide a written free estimate after inspecting the carpeting.

Most of these services use what they call "truck powered steam" so it's considered a deeper-cleaning system than the rental machine a homeowner uses. They tap their machine into the water supply of the house, usually with a garden hose from a utility room. Before they begin, they remove any stains and concentrated dirt, as well as vacuum the carpeting thoroughly. After cleaning the carpeting they apply a repellent that's designed to protect the carpeting against stains and dirt.

When a service person comes to your house to give you an estimate, point out any specific stains or odors or trouble spots and make sure these are included in the estimate. Ask if removing all the furniture is included in the price and if they will return to replace it when the carpeting is dry. Many will put it back in position with liners of aluminum foil to protect any furniture stain from running on the dampened carpeting.Most of these services also clean rugs, upholstery and draperies.