home carpet steam cleaners

Hi,
I saw it's possible to buy a steam cleaner for home and they are relatively cheap. Anyone have one? how do they compare to getting it professionally done?
John
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relatively
I have owned a Hoover Steam Vac for several years. It does a fairly good job and is especially handy for quickly removing spills and cleaning high traffic areas. It leaves the carpet more damp than a professional cleaner. I would say that professional cleaners are the best, but often you end up with a couple of kids trying to rush through your cleaning job so they can get on to the next. The units that you can rent like the Rug Doctor are also pretty good. Because you are doing the job yourself, what they may lack in power is made-up by taking your time to do a good job. I see the home cleaners as an way to keep your carpet clean between major cleaning. One thing that I noticed is that they leave a lot of solution in the rug. I believe that over time, this soap residue attracts more dirt and perpetuates a cycle that requires more frequent cleaning. There is at least one model available that has a rinse cycle, so I would consider that one. I would say that home carpet cleaners are an adjunct to regular thorough cleaning, not a substitute.
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I have a Hoover Steam Vac. It does an okay job if the carpet is moderately clean to begin with. I tried doing at the rugs with it with mixed results. I had Sears come out, do all the carpets and now use the Hoover Steam Vac to maintain. The problem is the water doesn't get hot enough to actually produce steam and my carpets are a thick plush and it doesn't seem to penetrate as deeply as it should. I usually clean the carpet and then use clear water with a little vinegar in it to rinse as to not leave soap residue on the carpet. Also I find adding a little defoamer (sold where carpet shampoo-ers are rented) to the dirty water tank prevents me from having to empty the dirty water tank as often.
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