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How To Clean A Shag Rug Or Carpet

A thick and fluffy shag rug can really bring a room together and there are some people who like to go all in and have a shag carpet! The thing with a shag rug or carpet is that they look fantastic and they are comfortable to sit or lay on, I know this because one of my dogs seems to always lay on it. However, a shag rug or carpet can be a little tricky to clean.

Those thick and long fibers look fantastic and they are nice and soft, but they can trap dirt, mess and anything the kids decide to lose in there. That is why today I am sharing with you my top tips for cleaning a shag rug or carpet.

Vacuuming A Shag Rug

shag rug vaccuming

Of course, the go-to for keeping a shag rug nice and clean is going to be vacuuming it. I have a pretty powerful vacuum cleaner and never in a million years would I run it over the shag rug on full power!

What you want to do here is use your upholstery tool. Get on your hands and knees and give the rug a real good working over. If you do not have an upholstery tool, try using the wand attachment.

Read our buyer’s guide for the best vacuum cleaners for shag rugs and carpet.

If you have no attachments because the kids have taken them off to use as lightsabers and now they are lost, use your vacuum in upright mode, but on the lowest setting. The higher settings can damage a shag rug, especially if it is a long one.

If you have a shag carpet you clearly are not going to get on your hands and knees to vacuum it all. I would advise that you again use the lowest setting on your vacuum. It may take longer, but it will keep your shag in great shape.

Give Your Shag Rug A Beat Down!

Of course, you cannot do this if you have a shag carpet. But before I vacuum my shag rug I take it outside and give the thing a good shakedown. This works for loose any pet hair, cereal, toy soldiers and anything else that may be laying inside it! The thing with a shag rug is that often you do not realize there is something in it until you have stepped on it.

Shaking the rug is usually enough, but if one of the dogs has been shedding really bad or if it has been a while since I gave it a proper good cleaning, I will hang it over the washing line and give it a few good smacks with a broom.

This may make me look crazy to the neighbors, but the amount of dust that fly’s off it tells me I am doing the right thing. Once I have done this, I take it inside and then vacuum it.

You Can Shampoo A Shag Rug

shag rug shampooing

Full disclosure here I have only done this a couple of times and it was not exactly what you would call “easy” however, if you have pets that like to lay on it or if the kids have spilled something and it smells, shampooing can help.

Carpet/rug shampoo works like a charm at working out dust, stains, and mess that is well and truly caked in! The problem with carpet shampoo is that it tends to be like little grains of sand and it can get stuck in a shag rug.

So once you have given your shag rug a good shampooing, what I suggest is you then take it outside and give it a beating with your broom or at the very least a good shakedown to get rid of the shampoo.

You can then vacuum up the rest of it. Some people swear by shampooing their shag rugs and I tend to do it if the room starts to smell like dog and while it does work, just know it can be pretty hard.

What If Something Is Spilled On A Shag Rug?

In an ideal world, the kids would know that the rug in the living room is a no-go zone. I do not care if it is like a forest for the Ninja Turtles to train in!

Also, why on earth do they insist on walking over it with things like juice boxes and other things that can easily be spilled? Actually, in an ideal world, I would have an electric fence around my shag rug as that would be the only way to keep it clean!

In all seriousness, a spill on a shag rug is not the end of the world. So-called “experts” will tell you to treat a spill of juice or whatever as soon as it happens. For most people, this is near impossible and you do not notice the spill until a little while after.

A spill on a shag rug can seep in thanks to the fibers being so long. If you can get to a spill quickly and it is still “fresh” blot as much up of it as you can. Blotting is better than rubbing as rubbing just rubs it deeper into the shag rug.

For spills that have been there an hour, day or whatever you are best making a mixture of slightly warm water and white vinegar. I like to use half a cup of white vinegar and half a cup of warm water.

You then work this into the stain, get in there really good and use some muscle to work that stain out. Make sure you use a microfiber cloth. For normal carpets and rugs, you can get away with some kind of old cloth, but these can leave bits of fluff and lint which can be hard to get out of a shag rug.

It may take a few attempts with your warm water and white vinegar mix, but eventually, you will work that stain out. Once the stain is gone, allow the rug to properly dry before walking, sitting or playing on it.


I would not trade my shag rug for the world, but it is a bit of a pain to keep it clean. The trick is to clean it in a way that keeps it looking and feeling great.

If you are too rough then it will start to look haggard and feel kind of rough as well. Sometimes taking it outside and giving it a shakedown once or twice a week is all that it needs.

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I'm obsessed with cleaning (maybe to an unhealthy degree) and want to share all of my best tips and hacks with you.

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