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How to Clean a Shag Rug

Shag rugs have been around for a while, and recently they have made their fabulous return in many contemporary homes. A simple shag rug can give any cold, empty room a cosy and welcoming appearance. But in order for it to have a happy and long life, you need to know how to clean any shag pile rug properly and what to do for its regular maintenance.

So keep on reading if you are:

  • wondering what is the best way to clean a shaggy rug;
  • trying to revive a shaggy rug;
  • looking for ways how to make a shaggy rug fluffy again;

Before you start cleaning or trying any of the described methods, remember that there are many convincing imitations of shag rugs. Even if they look and feel like the original, those rugs may be completely synthetic, thus making the cleaning methods completely different. Always read the label first.

How to clean a shag or deep pile rug

What makes shag rugs so comfortable and fun to lie on, is their long and flappy pile. It’s soft, warm and probably your kids’ favourite place to play in the winter. That same pile is also the reason why shag rugs are a bit tricky to clean. However, tricky does not mean impossible, so don’t worry.

Here is how to wash a shag rug successfully and most importantly – without damaging it.

How to vacuum a shag rug properly

  • Take the shag rug outside and give it a good beating to remove all the loose dirt and dust.
  • Take it back inside and vacuum carefully. Check which one of your cleaner’s settings will not suck off the fibres of the rug, and go with it. If you don’t have a suitable “high pile” setting on your vacuum cleaner, you can clean the rug with an upholstery attachment by going between the rows of thread.
  • Rugs have two sides, so flip it over and vacuum the underside as well. Once a month is usually enough, but that really depends on the level of traffic. To avoid sucking in the rug, you can step on one of its ends.

How to deep clean a shag rug

The obvious choice here would be to actually call a professional carpet technician, as they not only know every type of rug there is and how to clean it, but also come with a special carpet cleaning machine, that doesn’t damage the rug. Still, if you want to learn how to clean your shaggy rug by hand, this is what you need to do:

  1. Make a cleaning solution by mixing 4 parts of cold water and 1 part of any delicate laundry detergent. It’s best if you do it in your bath or a washtub. The detergent must be as simple as possible – no softeners included, no scents and definitely no bleach.
  2. Take your shag rug and soak it in the tub. Swish it around the cleaning solution for approximately 20-30 minutes.
  3. Take the rug out and squeeze it carefully to remove all of the detergents. Place it somewhere close.
  4. Empty the tub of the remaining dirty liquid and fill it with clean cold water.
  5. Rinse the rug thoroughly.
  6. Squeeze it again until it’s no longer dripping and leave it to air-dry in a shady place. Direct sunlight will not speed up the drying process and will damage the colours of your shag rug.
  7. You can dry it faster by using a fan to blow on the rug for a couple of hours. However, bear in mind that shaggy rugs absorb a lot of water and will need a bit more time to become completely dry.

Shag rug cleaning with dry solvents

Although a bit risky, you can clean your rug with dry solvents. On the good side, you won’t have to use water in the process this way. You will need a dry carpet shampoo, which comes in the form of powder.

  1. Start by vacuuming the rug thoroughly by following the instructions above.
  2. Sprinkle the powder equally over the rug.
  3. Spread the shampoo gently by using a soft brush.
  4. Let the product work for around an hour.
  5. Vacuum the powder.

How to get spills out of a shag rug

The everlasting rule of removing the spill right after it has occurred, applies double when it comes to shag rugs. The fibres are very quick to soak up any type of liquid, making it almost impossible to clean up afterwards. So, if you happen to spill a glass of red wine over your carpet, it’s crucial that you act fast.

Immediately grab a white cloth, or any other colourless fabric piece, and blot the spill so it transfers from the carpet. Do not rub the spot, it will only make it even worse.

  1. By using a white, absorbent cloth, blot the spill slowly. This will transfer it from the rug to the cloth.
  2. Rinse the rag and repeat the step, until all of the liquid has transferred from the shag rug.

If this doesn’t help, consider doing the following:

  1. Mix a solution of equal parts white vinegar and lukewarm water.
  2. Take a clean cloth and soak it in the solution.
  3. Before going for the spill, perform a spot test on a small, hidden area, like on a corner, for example. This way you make sure that the fibres won’t get damaged by the cleaning solution.
  4. You may gently wipe the spill with the cleaning cloth, without rubbing too hard.
  5. Repeat this until the spill is completely removed from the shag rug. You may have to rinse and re-wet the cloth a couple of times until the area is completely clean.

How to make a shaggy rug fluffy again

Take a towel out of the washing machine when it’s still damp to revive a shaggy rug. Place it over the flattened area and iron it gently (not hot). Until the carpet fibres pop up again, repeat the process. The heat and dampness will help reset the fibres, and your rug will be nice and fluffy again.


  • Shag rugs are a great addition to almost any type of room but they require special care.
  • Place the rugs in areas with lower foot traffic and a smaller chance of damage.
  • Regular maintenance will not only ease the cleaning of the rugs but will also prolong their life.
  • You can use the DIY methods above to remove single rug stains and to clean your rug generally.
  • It’s best to leave rug cleaning to professionals so you don’t accidentally damage it.
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Extends the life of your carpet and keeps it looking new