How to Stop a Shag Rug From Shedding

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Shag rugs visually soften coolly bare designs or ultra-modern homes.
Shag rugs visually soften coolly bare designs or ultra-modern homes. (Image: Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images)

Shag rugs emit a whimsical, retro vibe that fits with many designs including shabby chic and urban hip. But for all of its good looks, you might wonder if the rug is related to a longhaired house cat because of how it sheds. Rather than rolling up your hairy friend and listing it “up for adoption” on a local buy-and-sell site, discover how to stop the shag-shedding mayhem so that you can continue to enjoy your retro rug.

Getting Familiar with Fibers

New shag rugs normally shed fibers, so expect to give yours some extra attention or care in the beginning. To get your shaggy accessory to stop shedding sooner, make it or allow it to shed. You won't wipe your shoes on your shag rug or groom it with inappropriate tools, but don’t avoid it like a rabid dog or runny-nosed coworker, either. Normal wear or use is good for an area rug. Walking over it helps break up or loosen the pile, making it more lustrous.

Tuning into Rotation

To encourage early shedding, and as an ongoing practice, rotate your rug a quarter or half turn when it starts to look flat. This allows regular foot traffic to scuff the pile in other directions. Although a long-handled shag-carpet rake helps to fluff up or lift the pile in between rotations, it does not substitute for turning your rug. If the rug is in an area of the home with little to no foot traffic, move it to a location where it will get some to help get rid of loose fibers.

Clip -- Do Not Pluck

Overly long shag bits or loose tufts may eventually work their way out, but you don’t have to wait until they're down the hall or on your sofa. You might be tempted to pull out loose strands, but that could damage the rug. Instead, use scissors to snip them back to the shag pile height. Run your fingers lightly through the rug to locate any loose or longer fibers to locate any loose fibers.

Vacuuming 101

Depending on its quality, your shag rug may never completely stop shedding, but regular vacuuming helps to control runaway fibers, and to remove whatever -- dirt, lint or jellybeans -- hides within the lawn-like pile. Leaving dirt for feet to grind in damages a rug and creates unnecessary and unexpected shedding. Vacuum it at least weekly, but avoid using an overly ambitious power head, especially one that does not adjust to different pile heights or uses a beater brush. Such an attachment could catch and tear the pile, which ultimately worsens the shedding. Instead, use a floor brush or carpet-rake vacuum attachment meant for shag carpeting.

Steam Cleaning

Apply a steam-cleaning machine with a vacuum function and long-pile attachment to freshen and lift the pile, remove dirt buildup and rid even more loose fibers at least once a year. Take expensive handmade, wool or vintage shag rugs to a rug-cleaning professional for proper deep cleaning; this helps avoid possible damage from harsh home-based methods.

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