How to Care for a Shag Rug

Shag rugs include throw rugs, area rugs and even wall-to-wall carpet. Shag rugs are made with long straight or loopy pile, giving them a thick, soft, shaggy appearance. The length of the pile in a shag rug can vary; the thicker the pile, the softer and more luxurious the rug. The thickness of shag rugs makes them more challenging to clean than traditional short pile rugs. Take proper care when cleaning shag rugs to avoid damage.


  1. Shag rug care

    • 1

      Vacuum your shag rug twice a week to avoid the buildup of dirt and grime. Check with your manufacturer to see what type of vacuum is recommended. Clean most shag rugs using a vacuum cleaner without teeth or combs; beater bar action vacuums are recommended. Rake longer length pile rugs instead of vacuuming them. Take care when vacuuming your shag rug as loops or fibers in shag rugs can become caught up and pulled in vacuum brush rollers.

    • 2

      Change the pattern in which you vacuum your shag rug. By changing direction, you can lift more dirt and grime from the carpet.

    • 3

      Pick up smaller shag area rugs, and take them outside to clean. Hang smaller rugs over a clothes line, and paddle them to remove dirt buildup.

    • 4

      Determine what type of material your shag rug is made from. Synthetic materials include polyester and nylon. Natural materials can include wool, leather, angora or cotton. Harsh chemicals cannot be used to clean rugs with natural fibers.

    • 5

      Remove stains from your shag rug by blotting out any excess moisture. Try removing the stain with a clean cloth dampened with warm soapy water. If this does not work, you may need to have your carpet professionally cleaned.

    • 6

      Professionally dry clean your shag rug once a year to keep it clean, lush and full. Some shag rug warranty agreements will be voided if the shag rug is not cleaned once per year.

    • 7

      Rent a steam cleaner from a local store to clean your own shag rug. The difficulty with rental machines is that you will not know how much water they can remove from the carpet until after you have started. When washing shag rugs, remove as much water as possible with the steam cleaner. It takes shag rugs a long time to completely dry. If too much water is left in the rug after cleaning, it could end up smelling musty and moldy.

Tips & Warnings

  • Many people prefer wool shag rugs because they naturally repel dirt and grime. Leather shag rugs are difficult to clean. Avoid putting leather shag rugs in high traffic areas. Chenille shag rugs are the softest variety.
  • Some leather shag rugs have been recalled due to fire hazard concerns. Check with your manufacturer to see if your leather shag rug has been recalled.
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