How to Care for a Thick Pile Shag Rug


A thick pile shag rug can look like it can be cleaned as you would a standard area rug. When the piles, the individual yarns, are thick they don’t appear as delicate as a thinner pile shag rug. Yet dirt can get lost underneath the fibers, and the pile can easily be damaged by a standard vacuum cleaner, so careful cleaning methods are essential. Remember to always check the tag and manufacturer directions when determining exactly how to clean your rug.

Removing Dirt

  • Arguably the most important part of caring for a shag rug with a thick pile is keeping it free of dirt and grime. To do that, you need to vacuum the rug at least once a week, if not more often. A standard vacuum, with the beater bar engaged, will tear the rug up, shortening its lifespan; instead, opt for a vacuum that allows you to disengage the bar or use an attachment that cleans with suction only. Work in multiple directions across the rug to clean dirt from all of the angles. For a thorough cleaning, beat the rug outdoors before and after vacuuming. This fluffs the piles and removes even more dust.

Removing Stains

  • Remove stains as quickly as possible before they set, and never use hot water on the rug until the stain has been adequately removed. Contrary to the concept that hot water cleans better, the warmth can actually set the stain, making it impossible to remove. Work your way from the outside in using a stain remover meant for your rug’s material or cold water and a clean cloth. Move the piles around to get each one from every angle. After the stain is gone, let the rug dry thoroughly. The thicker piles naturally retain more water and take longer to dry, and a rug that’s damp for a prolonged period of time can begin to smell. Speed up the process by pointing a fan toward the damp area.

Deep Cleaning

  • Every rug needs a good deep cleaning, but with a shag rug, you need to be careful. Always use a shampooer or steam cleaner that specifically states it can be used on shag rugs, and ensure that the detergent you use in the machine works with the material your flooring is made of. With regularly vacuuming and cleaning stains immediately, you shouldn’t have to do this more than twice a year. Dry the rug as quickly as possible after you clean it to prevent mildew from forming.


  • More expensive shag rugs may have a warranty, and improper care can void that. This can include using a vacuum with the beater bar engaged or cleaning the rug with a solution not intended for the material it’s made of. In some cases, carpet stain remover may not be your best bet for cleaning. A mix of vinegar and water works well for pet stains, ink, milk, cola and jelly. Diluted dish detergent can work magic on grease stains, while an ice cube and a butter knife can freeze gum or wax stains in place, making it simple to scrape the offending substance away. If you’re unsure about your cleaning method, test the solution in an inconspicuous area first.

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