Step 1: Establish who in the household knows how to operate the steam cleaner. If the primary user is absent, determine who has used it once a long time ago (Deb) and who has avoided any knowledge of the device whatsoever (Kate). The latter may exit at this time, but should stay within earshot of the room being steam cleaned. The next few steps are directed at Deb.
Step 2: Put water and soap in the appropriate locations and begin the steam cleaning process.
Step 3: Realize that, although the water is exiting the initial tank and getting to the rug just fine, it is not then being sucked back into the recovery tank. This should be done after the entire room has been gone over, and so is soaking wet.
Step 4: Start taking steam cleaner apart to find out what the problem is - after all, it is similar to a vacuum (for more information, stay tuned for "Vacuuming with Deb"). Consult the world-wide-web for information on the suction system of the steam cleaner.
Step 5: Successfully remove upper tank, and then develop complications with the retrieval tank. It has to come out somehow, otherwise how could you dump it? Consult the world-wide-web in vain.
Step 6: Get mildly pissed off with the lack of useful information and call Kate to look for an obscure button that may or may not be on your steam cleaner model.
Step 7: Kate - Get filled in on what Deb is trying to accomplish. Poke around the cleaner some, then pull on two gray wings/tabs that free the retrieval tank. Deb - Discover a test to see if your suction whatevers are clogged, thus negating the need for the removal of the retrieval tank.
Step 8: Deb - In reassembling steam cleaner, flip the top tank over, causing a small leak. When Kate exclaims against this action, panic and fling the tank at her. Luckily your tank should be mostly empty by this point. Finish assembling the steam cleaner.
Step 9: Kate - Poor a cup of warm water on the floor of slanted kitchen. Deb - Try to get the steam cleaner to suck up the water before it all runs south (this will fail). Kate - Clean up water.
Step 10: Flip stupid machine over and start taking it apart to unclog it if at all possible. Discuss whether a Philipshead screwdriver more accurately resembles a square or a star. Establish that it doesn't matter as long as both of you know what it is.
Step 11: Successfully remove the outer clear cover thing that the water should go through. As that isn't really clogged, clean it while you're there and then put it back before continuing the search for the clog. Kate is in charge of not losing the screws and cleaning up any water.
Step 12: Attempt to remove the green scrubber-dealies. Of course, the sadistic nature of the manufacturer and designer will have ensured that this is impossible. Consider forcing them out with the screwdriver, then decide that that must not be the problem area. Put steam cleaner right side up and look into it with a flashlight just for kicks. Kate - Get excited about a screw before realizing it doesn't actually connect to the green things.
Step 13: Decide that maybe cleaning the clear piece will have made a difference after all, and start putting the steam cleaner back together for another attempt.
Step 14: Deb - Comment that the retrieval tank doesn't seem to be shut tight enough, even though that's how it was when you dragged the cleaner from its lair in the back room. Both - attempt to force lid down further. Deb - Mention that the tab part always seems to go down right. Kate - Check out tab, decide that maybe it's really a latch and the back part is a stoneage-style hinge (a machine with this many screws ought to be sophisticated enough to have real hinges on the lid, don't you think?). Take lid off and reapply it with the appropriate method for a latch of this manner. Lid closes tight.
Step 15: Get very excited and return to the sodden room. When machine begins to successfully suck up water from the rug, celebrate and finish the job in high spirits.
Step 16: Return steamcleaner to the back room until the next poor fool gets the bright idea to use it again.