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How To Clean a Shag Rug

vacuuming white shaggy rug
November 10, 2022

Shag rugs have always been a popular choice. People fall in love with the fluffy and textural feel they add to a room, as well as the fact they come in various shapes and sizes and fit in any interior. There are flokati rugs, wool, leather, acrylic and various other loose fibre rugs that are luxurious and soft. You cannot go wrong if you have decided to get shaggy rugs for your home, but you need to keep in mind that they will require cleaning and maintenance.

It is very important to keep your shag rug clean and do so in the right way. A lot of people don't do the necessary to keep these deep file rugs clean and presentable. For those that lack experience, it is preferable to place their trust in the hands of professional cleaners.

Key takeaways

  • Shag rugs are beautiful interior pieces, but require cleaning and maintenance
  • Regular vacuum cleaning is key to keeping dust and debris from the pile
  • Steam cleaning once a year is recommended for refreshing shag rugs
  • Deal with stains quickly with the appropriate spot cleaning technique

A professional cleaner knows how to clean a shaggy rug to a high standard. They will employ the safest rug cleaning method to address the whole rug, even treat a bad stain. If you are cleaning your rugs on your own, you should still resort to the help of professionals at least once every 12 months. This will keep your shaggy rug fluffy and fresh at all times.

How often should you clean a shaggy rug?

Whether you have a sheepskin rug or another type with a floppy pile that sees daily foot traffic, you should use a vacuum cleaner on it daily. It helps keep dust and debris in check, especially if there are pets in your home.

As for a more thorough deep clean, you should aim to have your rug professionally cleaned at least once a year. It helps keep the carpet fibres in top condition and ensures that the rug is always in top shape.

How to do routine shag rug cleaning?

There are a few important aspects of routine sheepskin rugs or any other type of shag rug.

How do you clean a dirty shaggy rug

Remove trapped dirt

If it is a small rug that you can pick up, just take it outside and shake it with some vigour. You can also drape the rug over a clothesline and beat it with a broom handle or another appropriate tool. You will release a good amount of dirt and debris from the rug this way.

Vacuum clean

person vacuuming a shag rug

Use your vacuum's upholstery attachment for the best results when cleaning a shag rug. It provides a gentle suction and keeps the rug's loops intact while removing loose dirt. You should set the cleaning head of an upright vacuum cleaner to the highest setting and remove the beater bar. If it is not possible to make such adjustments, use a brush attachment or the upholstery tool to vacuum the rug.

Always remember to vacuum slowly and go in a grid-like pattern for the best results. That should remove most of the dirt from the pile. If you feel the vacuum is pulling too hard at the pile, you should stop the cleaning process.

Inspect for stains and treat them

Flip over the rug and check for any stains. You need to follow the manufacturer's instructions on how to approach stains. For the most part, you can use dish soap mixed into a cup of warm water. Use a soft-bristled brush or a microfibre towel to gently rub the stained area. When you are done, dip a clean towel in water to rinse the spot and then blot dry with a clean cloth. You should then hang the rug or elevate the area you cleaned to allow good circulation to air dry it.

Keep the shaggy rug fluffy

If you think your shaggy rug is not as fluffy as you would like, use your hands or a carpet rake to revive its shag pile. You can also brush the rug, but make sure to use a horsehair upholstery brush that goes easy on the fibres.

How to deep clean a shag rug at home?

clean, light shaggy rug

Carpet cleaning professionals in London all agree that you should not deep clean shag rugs on your own due to a high risk of excess water that can damage the fibres and ruin the rug. You should probably skip the rented carpet cleaner and go with a professional service instead. But if you are keen on deep cleaning, you should do it by hand.

Use baking soda to deodorise and brighten the rug

If there is a stale smell coming from the rug, even if it appears clean, you can use baking soda to remedy the issue. Sprinkle generous amounts on the rug to trap the dust and deodorise it. Let it sit overnight and then vacuum/shake the powder.

Deep clean with dry shampoo granules

Sprinkle dry shampoo granules on the rug. Read your rug care tags to ensure the product is appropriate for your high pile type. Work the granules into the fibres with a dry mop or a soft-bristled brush. Check for stained areas and use a little bit more shampoo there. Most shampoos require at least an hour to work. After the required wait time, give the rug a good shake outside and remove the residue with a vacuum. Make sure you are thorough in your efforts to remove all granules or there is a risk they will damage the backing.

How to steam clean your shag rug

Steam cleaning a shaggy rug at least once a year to keep it soil-free. You can either hire a professional to do it for you or rent a steam cleaner to do it yourself, with the former option being your safest bet. Make sure you don't use as much moisture to prevent oversoaking the material. You should let it air dry afterwards, or bring some fans to speed up the process. Steam cleaning is very effective for removing allergens and dust mites from the rug.

How to remove stains from the rug

Whether you live with pets or children or simply have an accident and stain your rug, you need to know how to approach the task. If you are quick and apply the right spot-cleaning carpet cleaner, everyday spills shouldn't cause permanent damage to shag rugs.

  • Cleaning a red wine stain - when it comes to liquid stains, speed is of the essence. Blot the excess with some dry towels or a clean white cloth. Then, mix 3 parts baking soda with 1 part cold water, and gently dab the stained area. Don't rub it heavily and don't get the rug too wet. Repeat if necessary, til the stain is no more.
  • Cleaning tea and coffee stains - you do not need special cleaners for removing these stains. First, you have to blot with a dry towel, then mix equal parts warm water and white vinegar in a spray bottle. Apply the mixture and blot. Repeat til the stain is gone.
  • Cleaning a nail polish stain - this can be a bit harder to remove from a rug, but there are still some handy tips to try out. First, try with a non-acetone nail varnish cleaner. First blot with a wet cloth to dampen the area and then blot with the nail varnish remover. If the stain is dry, you can mix 1 part nail varnish remover and 1 part rubbing alcohol. Gently rub the mix into the fibres and then remove the loosened nail polish.
  • Cleaning pet stains - it is hardly possible to keep your rug stain-free with pets around. If your pet has an accident, make sure to remove the liquid as fast as possible. Treat the stained area with a mix of cold water, white vinegar and baking soda.

How do you refresh and deodorise shag rugs?

It is easy for a shag rug to trap unpleasant smells from pets, smoking, accidental stains, etc. It is just as important to keep your shaggy rug looking fresh as it is to keep it smelling fresh. There are a few strategies you can employ to that end:

  • Baking powder - this is one of the best ways to keep a deep pile rug smelling fresh. Sprinkle a generous amount of it on the shag rug, using your hands to work the powder into the pile. You should let it sit overnight and then vacuum it and give it a good shake outside. This should remove any persistent smell.
  • Steam cleaning - if your shaggy rug can be steam cleaned, you should not hesitate to do it once a year. You can rent a machine or better yet contact professionals who have the tools and expertise to steam clean shaggy rugs. It is a great way to remove smells and impurities from the rug. Just make sure the rug can dry completely after that.
  • Dealing with pet smells - you can use baking soda again, only this time you will also add vinegar from a spray bottle onto the rug. Allow the mixture to do its thing for 15 minutes and then blot with a dry cloth.

How to clean a shag rug at home?

Vacuum your shag rug often to prevent the build-up of dirt. The loose fibres can trap a lot of debris over time, so make sure you comb them and brush them as you use the vacuum head to remove ingrained particles.

Experts recommend steam cleaning the rug at least once a year, preferably with the aid of a professional company. Hot water steam cleaning can remove the deeply ingrained impurities within the pile and refresh the rug, making it like new.


Can you brush out a shag carpet?

You should brush your shag rug in a single direction, gently pulling through any knots. Foot traffic tends to cause rug piles to tangle. You can keep the area clean, but you also need to comb the rug, to preserve it.

Are shaggy rugs machine washable?

Yes, you can put your shaggy rug in the washing machine, as long as its underside is not made of rubber. If you stay on top of your rug cleaning tasks, you will hardly need to do that. A light clean with a vacuum is a major way to keep the area free of dirt and pet hair.

How to clean a shaggy wool rug?

Take the rug outside and lay it on the pathway. Prepare a diluted sudsy cleaning solution of cold water and wool laundry liquid. Apply suds to the rug with a clean sponge. Rinse the rug, squeeze it and roll it up with some towels to remove as much moisture as possible. Let it air dry in a shady space.

How do you refresh a shaggy rug?

The best way to refresh a shag rug is to take a damp towel straight out of the washing machine. Lay it on the flat area and run a warm iron over it. Repeat this til the flattened fibres pop back up. The moisture and heat have an invigorating effect on the fibres, giving a nice fluffy carpet once more.

Should you brush a shaggy rug?

Shaggy rugs tend to get dirty often. That is why they require frequent cleaning and brushing. You should do this regularly, to keep them from getting messy, stained and matted.

Can you dry clean a shaggy rug?

Dry shampooing is one of the best cleaning methods for a rug with a high pile. It is used because vacuuming alone doesn't do the job of keeping the rug clean. The proper dry shampoo can refresh the rug and make it look like new.

How do you clean a deep pile rug?

Steam cleaning a deep pile rug once every 6-12 months can remove the spoils from its fibres and also any stains.

Are shaggy rugs easy to clean?

The long fibres of a shag rug make cleaning it a bit more difficult. The long pile can hide more dirt and dust inside. However, by following proven cleaning methods and a good routine, you can address these issues. Don't forget about deep cleaning it every 12 months or so.

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