How to Clean a Shag Rug


The deep piles on a shag rug trap dirt and grime right down to the backing, so deep cleaning them requires either patience and special tools or the help of a professional. However, you can keep your rug in good condition by beating out dust, vacuuming the rug monthly, and spot cleaning as needed to prevent stains.

Regular Upkeep

Things You'll Need

  • Broom
  • Wide-bristled brush
  • Suction-only vacuum

Step 1: Beat or brush the rug to loosen dust.

Take the rug outside and drape it over a railing or chair, shag-side down. Beat the underside of the rug vigorously with the handle of a broom to dislodge as much dirt and dust as possible.

If your rug is too large to hang outside or to remove from the room, brush the surface gently with a wide-bristled brush instead to remove debris trapped in the piles.

Step 2: Vacuum the rug carefully.

Most household vacuum cleaners have beater bars or brushes to stir up dirt, but this damages the long piles on shag rugs. Use a suction-only vacuum to clean your rug; if you don't have one, use your machine's nozzle attachment instead of the main suction head. Take your time vacuuming and change direction frequently to get at the piles from all angles.

If possible, turn the rug over and vacuum the underside of the backing as well.



Spot Cleaning

Things You'll Need

  • Paper towels

Tackle spills and small spots as soon as possible after they happen to prevent staining.

Step 1

Make a vinegar solution by mixing 1 part distilled white vinegar and 5 parts water in a spray bottle.

Step 2

Spray the stain liberally. Let the vinegar solution sit on the rug for several minutes.

Step 3

Blot up the solution with paper towels. Repeat if necessary.

Deep Cleaning

Traditional carpet shampoos aren't recommended for shag rugs, because rinsing them thoroughly from the long fibers is prohibitively difficult. Use a dry shampoo instead to sidestep the issue.

Things You'll Need

  • Dry shampoo
  • Wide-bristle brush
  • Suction-only vacuum

Step 1

Sprinkle dry shampoo over the rug according to the shampoo manufacturer's instructions.

Step 2

Rub the granules into the rug gently using a wide-bristle brush. Let the shampoo sit in the fibers for the length of time specified in the instructions.

Step 3

Vacuum up the shampoo using a suction-only vacuum or the nozzle attachment of a traditional vacuum. Go slowly and target the piles from every angle.

When to Hire a Professional

About once a year, have your rug professionally deep-cleaned to keep it sanitary and pleasant underfoot. Leave steam cleaning to professional carpet cleaners, who have the tools and expertise necessary to dry the rug safely.

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