I think I can safely recommend the Hoover SteamVac.
I messed around with it over the weekend and it worked pretty well. Lots of smaller stains have disappeared completely, and the ones that were there before have been lightened up considerably – to the point where you really have to look to see them. It still doesn’t look like a brand new carpet, but there’s only so much wear-and-tear a carpet can take, I guess.
When I had finished cleaning, the carpet was dry to the touch! That’s suction!
As well as it worked, I think that for smaller jobs the Spot Bot might be more appropriate. It’s much less work – but better suited for fixing up a small area rather than cleaning an entire carpet.