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How to Clean a Shag Rug

Cleaning your shag rugs is as crucial as top-notch maintenance clues and tips. Doing it purposefully well means keeping the shags in good shape. You can do this by vacuuming, steaming, spot-treating or deep cleaning. You can as well hand-wash small shags. Large fluffy ones can keep in excess moisture – proving it difficult to maintain them on the go.

Why your Shag Rug Becomes Dirty?

Since rugs are laid on high foot traffic, they are bound to be soaked up with different kinds of dirt, tiny critters, and other kinds of stuff. They include:

  • Dead human skin shedding composed of keratin
  • Dust mite remains
  • Human and animal hair (including cats and dogs)
  • Mite droppings
  • Dirt from shoes collected from outside
  • Bacteria from food droppings and animal fecal matter or those tracked from outdoors

How to Clean Shag Rugs

Shag rugs are soft and comfortable, get dirty easily and need regular upkeep cleaning. There are several ways you can clean your shag rug depending on how and what makes it dirty.

1. Vacuum your Shag Rug twice a Week

If you have kids and pets, you would be required to vacuum more frequently.

Cleaning your shag rugs more frequently means that they are more likely to look tired and lose their decor value. However, the frequency of cleaning will also depend on the type of kids and pets you have.

Regardless, the minimum cleaning sessions should be twice a month and the maximum once a week. Shaggy rugs provide an extra comfy feeling. As then your loved ones and pets will often walk, lie, roll and dice and play on them.

Unfortunately, while vacuuming will aid removal those hairs and fecal droppings, the odor won’t go away.

Never use a carpet and upholstery cleaning machine on shag, as the long fibers can get stuck or damaged by the suction.
Better Homes & Gardens

Steps Involved

Before you can start to clean, see that you have assembled all the necessary tools and supplies.

  • Set your vacuum cleaner to its higher suction power.
  • You set it way too low and the fibers will get entangled in the brush.
  • It is better and cautionary not to try setting the maximum limit if it is your first time DIY
  • Shag carpeting is just that; it’s shaggy. Therefore, if you set the vacuum too low, fibers can get caught in the brush.
  • Turn off the beater bar, use a hand attachment, or use a handheld vacuum.
  • Vacuum the rug thoroughly to suck up all the dirt.
  • Continue vacuuming until the appearance of your rug starts to come back to life.
  • Flip the rug over and vacuum the back. If you are worried about sucking up fibers or breaking them off, vacuum just the back.
  • Outside, shake out the rug before setting it back in place.

Here is what you need to be keen on to avoid substantial loss in the quality of your shaggy rugs. 

1. Check the manufacturer’s instructions on the label of your rug

2. Limit the length of piles of fiber that get caught in the vacuum

3. Go gentle on the fibers on the sides and edges of your shaggy rug

2. Spot-treat Immediately After Staining

Staining your shaggy rugs is easier than dealing with them later. Therefore, cleaning them up on the spot is the spot-on means to adopt. Any colored liquid or fluid can cause a tough-to-remove stain if allowed to go without proper instant removal actions.

Cleaning processes and procedures may differ from rug to rug. Thus rely on the manufacturer’s instructions for the best and desired results.

The good thing is that a deep cleaning may not always be necessary.

Sometimes, simple homemade cleaning supplies such as dish soap or detergent and a soft bristle brush can remove it. The bottom line is that you also don’t have to overdo it.

Steps Involved for Super Spot-cleaning

  • If you are going with this cleaning, rub the affected spot in circular or one-way round motions.
  • Rinse and afterward, you can air-dry your shag.
  • If the liquid is colored, dilute it with as much spot-cleaning solution
  • Let the spot remover sit for a few minutes
  • Then blot by pressing directly down with clean paper towels
  • Work your way from the outside edge of the spot to the center
  • Repeat as is necessary

3. Beat & Shake up Small-sized Shaggy Rugs

The method and tools you’ll need in cleaning your shag rugs will depend on your size of yours. For a small rug, all you need to do is beat it against something solid, such as hitting it against an outside wall. Larger rugs need more.

Beating or shaking is an effective way to clean your dirty rug regularly that isn’t stained or needs extensive cleaning. This method might be messy for big-size rugs but goes well for small rugs. Here are the requirements:

  • Something solid to beat the rug (for example porch rail)
  • A beating tool or Broom

Shaking or beating is a great cleaning method if your rugs are not stained. It is also ideal if those rugs require regular refreshing. thorough cleaning.

Unfortunately, beating is quite a difficult way of cleaning large rugs. You will need:

Steps Involved

For small rugs just beat them against something solid, say, hitting them against an outside wall.

  • Larger rugs would require a more solid surface for beating and more hands.
  • Lay the rug over stable support that can take multiple beatings without coming apart
  • Beat the rug with the broom repeatedly to loosen its debris.
  • Keep the rug in the sun for a few hours. The sunlight will kill the germs or bacteria inside the rug
  • Lay the rug over a porch rail or another support stable enough to handle the repeated hitting without breaking.
  • Beat the broom against the rug repeatedly to loosen debris.
  • Allow the rug to stay in the sun for a few hours to kill lingering bacteria or germs.

4. Spot Cleaning your Rugs

For spills, spot cleaning works best. The key is to act quickly before the stain sets.

Supplies you need:

  • White towel (for wet stains)
  • Water
  • Mild dish soap or detergent
  • Soft bristle brush

Steps Involved

  • Using the towel, immediately blot the spill. If the spill is a colored liquid, dilute it with water to desaturate the color.
  • Mix water with a squirt or two of soap.
  • Dip the bristle brush in the soapy water and gently scrub the area using circular motions. Repeat as necessary.
  • Rinse with water and allow it to air-dry.

5. Dry-shampoo your Rug (Deep-cleaning)

More often when dirt has settled deeper into the fibers, vacuuming weekly may not all required. . Another inexpensive cleaning hack is shampooing.


Here’s what you’ll need to shampoo a shaggy rug:

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Cleaning solution
  • Carpet cleaning machine
  • Pre-treatment stain remover
  • Clean white cloth
  • Oscillating or box fan
  • Dry carpet shampoo (brand of your choice)
  • Soft bristle brush

Steps involved:

  • Vacuum the rug.
  • Sprinkle the dry shampoo into the rug. (You might want to do this outside if you want to avoid making it messy.)
  • Using the smooth bristle brush, gently work the shampoo into the fibers.
  • For about 10 minutes allow the shampoo to sit in (or as recommended by the manufacturer)
  • Then vacuum or shake the dry shampoo out of the rug.

6. Steam Clean your Shag Rugs (Deep-cleaning)

steam cleaner removes deeply set-in soil and odors.


  • Vacuum
  • Steam cleaner (Rent at many grocery stores if you don’t have one already)
  • Recommended cleaner

Steps Involved

  • Always start with a freshly vacuumed rug.
  • Add the water and cleaner to the steam cleaner as recommended and run it over the rug until all the stains and discoloration disappear.
  • Allow it to air dry, preferably in the sun.

7. Hand Wash your Shag Rug

If you don’t have a vacuum cleaner or steam cleaner, clean wash it manually. More so if your rug isn’t dry cleaned only, then you can try to wash it by hand. Never use a washing machine as these can be too rough for some rugs, even on the gentlest cycle.


  • Tub or another area to wash a rug
  • Mild detergent
  • Soft bristle brush

Steps Involved

  • Start with a freshly vacuumed rug.
  • Fill the tub with warm water.
  • Add a capful of detergent or more if the rug is large.
  • Place the rug in the water and allow it to soak for about 10 minutes.
  • Using your hands and the brush, gently work the stains out of the fibers.
  • Try to wring out as much water as you can.
  • Allow the rug to dry.

8. Hire or Call a Professional (Deep-cleaning)

Have you given those dirty shag rugs all your effort but still cannot clean it? Sometimes your own shag rug cleaning experience can feel a little disappointing. It is still okay and normal.

Opting for a professional cleaning service or agent means you have more than just getting the right cleaning done. 

Besides seeing your rug in its nearly original appearance, here is what it means to get services from a certified cleaner.

  • You have an opportunity to clean all styles of rugs (mini, small, and long shaggy rugs will all be cleaned)
  • Quality shag rug cleaning and restoration
  • Shag rug pet stain removal
  • Cleaning services also provide deodorization and sanitation services

Our Conclusive Say

If your rug is dry clean only, take it to a dry cleaner if vacuuming isn’t completely cleaning it. Attempting to clean it at home could potentially ruin the rug.

There are many ways to clean a shag rug. The most common reason to determine cleaning method is the degree of dirt. What sort of dirt or stains that have ravaged your rugs? For wanted results, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. And remember to use the right supplies precisely.

Reference & Sources

1. Meet The Tiny Critters Thriving In Your Carpet, Kitchen And Bed. NPR. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/05/11/477487740/meet-the-tiny-critters-thriving-in-your-carpet-kitchen-and-bed. Accessed online 07 July 2023
2. House dust mite allergens. A major risk factor for childhood asthma in Australia. National Library of Medicine. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8542107. Accessed online 07 July 2023
3. The 5 Best Vacuums For Shag Carpet – Summer 2023. RTINGS.com https://www.rtings.com/vacuum/reviews/best/shag-carpet. Accessed online 07 July 2023
4. The Best Carpet Stain Removers, Tested by Our Cleaning Experts. GOODHOUEKEEPING. https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home-products/carpet-stain-remover-reviews/g2291/best-carpet-stain-removers/. Accessed online 7 July 2023

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