A selection of hot water extractors is being marketed that range from the large or small canister types with hose and nozzle to those that look more like an upright vacuum cleaner. The basic operation of the steam cleaner vacuum involves spraying a mixture of warm water and detergent into the carpet, washing the fibers and then extracting the solution mixture back out. There are some models that include rotating or revolving brushes that will agitate the carpet for better cleaning.
The earlier styles that were sold consisted of a special wand and nozzle that was used to on wet/dry utility type of vacuum cleaner. The long hose was connected to a nearby hot water source. The detergent came in a small bottle on the wand and was mixed with hot water before being sprayed on the carpet. By using a finger controlled valve, you should control how much water was sprayed in the carpet. Even today, this type of vacuum is still being used.
The more modern designs are more self-contained in the sense that water and detergent mixtures are placed into a tank on the machine. This will free you from the long water supply hose.
The main part of an extractor will consist of a cleaning solution tank, recovery tank, suction motor, cleaning nozzle, and some sort of solution spraying system. If there is a hose that is used, there will also be a motor or turbine-driven pump that will force the solution on to the end of the hose.
Upright steam cleaners
These types of vacuums look like uprights also have the tanks, suction motor, main nozzle, and other features built into one. The entire vacuum unit is pushed around much like using an upright vacuum cleaner. Normally, the solution is gravity fed to the spray nozzle which is directly behind the suction nozzle.
Most types have brushes mounted in the same area to agitate the carpet for overall better cleaning. For cleaning upholstered furniture and carpeted stairs, most types will have a special hose and smaller nozzle that will come with stationary brushes that can easily detach.
Canister steam cleaners
This type of steam cleaner will come with a separate hose and nozzle and has the tanks and suction motor built directly into a case that is pulled along with you. The nozzle at the end of the hose and the wands are moved back and forth across the carpet to clean it.
There are some deluxe models that have a drive motor style revolving brush in the nozzle that will help you with the process of cleaning. These types of nozzles are much lighter to move across the carpet then the upright types of steam cleaners.
The only disadvantage is that they aren`t as convenient to set up and store as the self-contained upright type. Therefore, having to pull them around with you can be a pain in the neck. The smaller portable extractor is a variation of the canister type in a small package. Even though this may sound great to have for stairs and furniture, the effectiveness they offer is actually quite poor.
Steam cleaners work the best when they used on a periodic basis to clean carpets that are very lightly soiled. If you use them on the carpet that is very heavily soiled or stained, it can be very disappointing to say the least.
If you have the need for heavy-duty cleaning, you should look into the professional cleaning services that are offered in your area. They have heavy-duty commercial equipment that is far more powerful and able to produce much better results.