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A selection of hot water extractors are 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 acros the carpet
than 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

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 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.

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