Home » Care » Customer Resources » Caring for Shag Rugs

Caring for Shag Rugs

How to Clean a Shag Rug

Shag Rugs are Back, and We Love Them!  But How Do You Clean One?


Shag rugs are back from the 1970s and feel soft and luxurious under our feet. From small mats to medium and large area rugs, people enjoy the long soft fibers in shags but cleaning them presents a few challenges. Cleaning shag rugs the same way you clean shorter pile rugs can damage them.  Methods you would usually use, an upright vacuum cleaner, for example, can lead to shedding, deterioration, and even shape distortion. Following recommended cleaning steps will ensure a longer life for your shag.


Shake & Beat!

Like any small rug, spot shag rugs can be energetically shaken outside to remove dust and dirt. Hang them outside for an hour or so to let the sun deodorize them. For larger rugs that you can’t shake out, you have to beat them. It may feel like you’ve gone back to the 1930s but get someone to help you and hang the rug over a clothesline, porch rail, or fence and start beating. You can use a broom, but, believe it or not, rug beaters are still available for purchase and work best.  A good beating will remove debris, dust, and dirt.  The sun is a natural deodorizer and will kill both bacteria and dust mites. Only leave a rug out for an hour or two. You don’t want the sun’s rays to fade the color. Make sure to shake or beat out the padding, too.



If you can’t beat or shake it or those methods don’t do enough, you can vacuum with a hand-held vacuum or the upholstery tools on your machine.  If you use an upright on a shag rug, the long fibers can get caught and pulled, causing damage to the rug.  To use an upright, make sure it’s on its highest setting. There are machines on the market with setting specifically for long-fibered rugs.  You can also turn the rug over and clean the back with an upright. You’d be surprised how much dust can get pulled through the backing and vacuuming from the back prevents fibers from catching.  It’s best not to use shag rugs in high-traffic areas, and you should vacuum or shake them regularly to keep dirt from getting ground in and the fibers from becoming matted.

Dry Shampoo


While you’re vacuuming, using a dry shampoo designed for rugs is fine. It helps deodorize and neutralize odors from pets and smoke.  Follow the directions for the product you choose, but generally, you sprinkle the powder on, wait a specified period of time, and vacuum it out. I like to use my rubber rake to pull the powder through the rug before using a hand tool to vacuum.


If you’ve never had a rubber rake, you’re missing a great cleaning tool. Also sometimes called a rubber broom and originally designed for use in barns, indoor rakes are terrific for combing debris out of rugs. Besides cleaning them, the rake fluffs up the long, loose fibers and turns them all in the same direction. As for rubber rakes or brooms, you can use them to scrub time or cement floors to get up stuck-on food, etc., without damaging the surface. Great for pool cleaning, too.

Washing and Stain Removal


You can wash small rugs by hand but not in a washing machine (unless stated). Fill the bathtub with warm water and add detergent. Make sure the detergent is recommended for the rug’s material. Submerge the rug and scrub softly with your hands or a very soft brush.  Drain the tub and rinse the rug thoroughly. Squeegee out as much water as possible with your hands and hang (outside if possible) to dry.

For larger rugs, you can spot clean, especially for stains. If you spill something, blot it up as soon as possible with a microfiber cloth or paper towel.  Do not rub because it will push the substance further into the fibers and backing. Once you have removed as much as you can, you can clean the area.  To clean, use equal amounts of white vinegar and water to blot with a microfiber cloth. Repeat the process with clean cloths until nothing more comes up.

Steam Cleaners and Professionals


If you are faced with an extremely dirty shag rug, do what you can first with the above methods. Beat, shake and vacuum to remove as much dirt as you can. Rent a steam cleaner (unless you have one) and follow the directions for a long-fibered carpet. If you decide to hire professionals, search your local rug cleaners for experts in cleaning shag rugs, but be prepared to pay more than you would for other rugs.  Be sure to check your cleaner’s license and read customer reviews before engaging them.


Enjoy your shag rugs. Clean them frequently and attacking stains as soon as they happen. These steps can prevent the need for expensive professional cleaning.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.