I just saw an article titled steam cleaning vs. hot water extraction. I couldn't believe it. They are literally the same thing. Steam cleaning and hot water extraction are two different names for the same thing. They both involve using hot water at moderately high pressure to remove soil from soft surfaces like carpet and upholstery.
I have been cleaning carpet in Tampa FL for several years and I can tell you there is no difference between hot water extraction and steam cleaning. In the professional carpet cleaning industry Steam cleaning is only referred to as hot water extraction, because steam is not effective at cleaning carpet. It's a great marketing tool to sell people on steam cleaning. Steam seems to equal clean. The problem with the idea of steam cleaning is that it that true stema is okay for cleaning hard surfaces but you need more moisture to clean softy porous surfaces like carpet.
Hot water extraction employs heated water to saturate the carpet and remove loose and embedded soils from the surface of the fibers. more moisture is need to properly emulsify or breakdown soils. At Chem-Dry of Tampa FL we use a low moisture steam cleaning system that utilizes the heat of steam cleaning and the moisture of hot water extraction and delivers an exception clean with very little dry time and no dirt attracting residue.