How to Clean a Shag Rug at Home

how to wash a shaggy rug

Shag rugs are back into fashion as maintaining them has never been easier, due to professional rug cleaning NYC services and reliable pet stain removal services. You don’t necessarily need to know how to clean a Persian rug by hand because you can hire a professional to do it. However, if you are curious about how to clean a shag rug or how to vacuum shag rug, this post will let you know everything about these fluffy rugs and their maintenance.

What Is a Shag Rug?

Shag rugs are called like this due to their distinctive appearance – they have a shaggy, uneven pile that is 1 inch long or even longer.

Modern shag rugs appeared in the 1960s and 1970s in America. Homeowners had just gotten used to the experience of readily available wall-to-wall carpeting and the desire to experiment was high. The rising popularity of shag rugs decades ago also created a need for more efficient, modern rug cleaning techniques as this type of rug can be challenging to clean.

But washing a shag rug is not a modern feat. You would be mistaken to associate shag just with the 1960s and 1970s interior design trends. Shag is much older than that, and the first shag carpets appeared in Ancient Greece under the name Flokati. They were hand woven from goat hair and used so people could sit comfortably on the ground. This type of rug was also popular in Turkey and Central Asia and always seems to have had illustrious origins.

Today’s shag rugs have a longer lifespan due to access to services such as best rug cleaner NYC. People no longer need to find out how to fluff a shag rug because today’s rugs use new carpeting materials and advanced manufactured techniques that contribute to more durable and softer shags.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Using Shag Rags?

These textural and messy rugs can be very attractive and are used in many homes. Some of the advantages of this type of rug are their soft feel, the messy aspect that makes you want to lie on them, and being able to choose from different materials (leather, flokati type, synthetic, and wool, one of the best choices for rugs). When it comes to creating a cozy look and feeling to a room, there is no rug like shag.

However, there are also some cons against using shag rugs, such as the more expensive maintenance, which may require regular professional rug cleaning NYC. Also, depending on the material the shag rug is made from, some cleaning methods, such as carpet cleaning hot water extraction, may not be suitable for these rugs.

Moreover, the fact that shag rugs have a high pile means these rugs will accumulate more dust than the average carpet and will need more careful maintenance from the best rug cleaning NYC company you can find. Shag rugs may not be a good idea if you suffer from dust allergies or you have pets at home as their hair will get stuck to the fibers of the rug.

What Are the Challenges of Cleaning a Shag Rag?

A longer pile means more chances of dirt, dust, and bacteria hiding inside your shag rug. If you are the owner of this type of cozy rug, you absolutely need to learn how to clean a shag rug or have a professional clean it. This is important if you want to have a good air quality in rooms where you use shag rugs.

If you don’t know how to wash a shaggy rug or you don’t want to do it yourself, we recommend using professional carpet cleaning services⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠ such as PristineGreen Upholstery and Carpet Cleaning. We know how to clean a furry rug so you enjoy a clean and healthy environment in your home. We are also specialized in Persian rug cleaning and are aware of the following shag rug issues when cleaning a shag or a thick rug:

·       Avoiding shedding and piling – wool at shag length tends to pull apart, especially when the rug is made from loose wool fibers.

·       Difficult vacuuming – you will need to use alternatively a horse hair brush to pick surface matter and a crevice tool to collect the debris that gets embedded in the foundation of these rugs.

·       Difficult decontamination – shag rugs become very heavy when wet and agitating them to release dirt can cause loss of fibers.

·       Being prone to moths – if you wait for too long to clean a shag rug made from wool, the rug can be affected by moths and carpet beetles.

What Are the Best Methods for Cleaning a Shag Rag?

Would you like to know how to clean a shag rug? Or if you can use carpet cleaning hot water extraction to decontaminate it? Keep on reading to find out how to wash a shaggy rug.

Regular shaking and vacuuming

For rugs that are not very dirty and also as a regular maintenance measure, take the rug outside for shaking and beating. If possible, leave the rug in the sun for a couple of hours as UV rays kill bacteria that is trapped inside the rug.

Deodorizing with baking soda

This cleaning method is recommended for rugs that appear stain-free but smell a little stale. What you need to do is sprinkle it with dry baking soda; the powder will trap dust and neutralize odors. Best is to leave the rug with the baking soda overnight or at least four hours. In the end, shake and vacuum away the powder.

Dry cleaning with shampoo granules

For a dirty rug that cannot be washed with water, consider dry carpet shampoo granules, but only after reading the label. Work the granules into the rug with a soft bristled brush or a dry mop and follow the powder manufacturer’s instructions. Vacuum away all the remaining residue to avoid damage to the backing of the rug.


If your shag rug label says you can wash it, use this method confidently as it will do the best job to clean the rug. Smaller rugs can be machine-washed for increased convenience. 

What Are the Steps of Cleaning a Shag Rag?

Would you like to know how to clean a shag rug? In this section we will be sharing the exact steps you need to take.

Inspect first

A professional cleaner will not just make the decision to steam clean or use hot water extraction on area rugs but will assess their condition first. An inspection will determine the fiber type, the dye stability, and potential construction flaws.

Shake away the dirt

If possible, before vacuuming shag carpet, take the rug outside and give it a good shake to get rid of the dust and dirt trapped in its fibers.

Vacuum the rug

For this step of the cleaning, you will need a shag rug brush and the gentle suction setting. Disengage the beater bar and don’t use your vacuum cleaner if you are not able to make these adjustments.

Treat stains

Some stains that could become permanent need additional treatment to using shampoo shag rug. Can you clean an area rug with a carpet cleaner? Yes, you can, but some stains may still be there at the end of the cleaning process, so make sure you follow stain removal guidelines for specific stains.

Apply the chosen cleaning technique

The cleaning technique depends on the fibers that your shag rug is made of. Get back to the previous section for advice on how to choose the right cleaning technique.

Advice for Vacuuming Shag Carpet without Damaging It

Shag rugs are among the most vulnerable and it is no wonder they quickly fell out of fashion after their sudden rise in popularity in the 70s. However, nowadays we use shag area rugs rather than wall-to-wall carpeting and our cleaning methods are superior. Want to learn how to clean a furry rug? Always remember the following aspects:

Not using the beater bar

Can you vacuum a shag rug? Yes, but without a beater bar, as this otherwise helpful tool can tear the rug and accentuate shedding.

No aggressive vacuuming

Cleaning services that know how to vacuum shag rugs and Persian rugs are aware that vacuuming should be gentle to minimize wear and tear of the rug.

Always follow care instructions

Even if carpet cleaning hot water extraction sounds tempting because of its efficiency, don’t use it on a shag rug unless you are certain it won’t cause damage. The care instructions on the back of the rug should help you make a decision.

Never skip the initial inspection

Even if you know how to wash a shaggy rug, remember that not all items are the same. Considering that some could be frail or have structural defects, cleaning them without a pre-inspection can lead to their permanent damage.

Now that you know how to clean a shag rug and that carpet cleaning hot water extraction may not always be the best option, you also have the option of using professional rug cleaning NYC services. An expert will be able to clean shag area rug without damaging it.

Call us for a Free Quote


Voted 5-Star Top Carpet Cleaner and Upholstery Cleaner in NYC, Brooklyn & Queens. Our customer service hours are 9am to 9pm, 7 days a week.

Callback Request

Wait Before you go..

Sign up for coupons and seasonal deals on your next cleanings!


Where Should we sign up you for coupons and seasonal deals on your next cleanings?