• Ask cleaners what steps they've taken to be greener. Focus on the trucks, the soap and water disposal.

• Request that cleaners bring their own high-powered fans to run while they're there (usually no extra cost).

• Schedule during the winter when humidity is low and specials are common.

• Show the carpet cleaners all spots and problem areas. Identify stains when possible.

• Ask about carpet pad replacement for selected areas if pet urine odors linger.

• Tell the cleaner if you're fragrance-sensitive. They might be able to use less soap, avoid any fragranced stain removers, and rinse more thoroughly.

• Confirm prior to cleaning whether there is a charge to come back and retreat any areas not cleaned to your satisfaction. Better cleaners offer a 30-day guarantee with no extra cost to return.

• Use a drop of clear liquid dish-washing detergent in a cup of cool water as an all-purpose, cheap stain remover. Blot the stain with suds and then press firmly with a clean white towel to remove the stain. Repeat with a clean section of towel. Rinse out the soap with clean water and blot with weight on towel until dry.