How to Clean a Shag Rug at Home: A Step by Step Guide

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: March 25, 2024

Nothing compares to the luxurious feeling of a fluffy shag rug underfoot. It might be a favorite area rug in the living room or a deep pile runner in the hallway.

Knowing how to clean a shag rug adds years to its beauty and durability. We specialize in rug cleaning for homeowners in Chicago, IL, and the suburbs, and we’re always happy to share our expertise.

Let’s walk through everything you need to know about taking care of your shag rug.

What Makes Shag Rugs Different?

The qualities that make shag rugs so unique start with their construction. Long loops of fiber are attached to carpet backing so that they form a fluffy, high pile. This fiber depth gives your rug its wonderful softness.

Whether the rug is made of natural or synthetic fiber, it traps dirt more easily than traditional carpeting. Spills quickly spread, stains set in long fibers, and odors tend to linger. Cleaning and maintaining a deep pile rug can be a challenge.

Understanding how to take care of your shag rug helps preserve its softness and durability.

Shag Rug Cleaning Tools & Supplies

Most of the tools and supplies for cleaning a shag rug are items you routinely use around the house. However, there are a few specialty products. This list covers everything you’ll need.

  • Clean broom or rug beater
  • Vacuum with upholstery attachments
  • Organic or very gentle rug shampoo
  • Large bucket of warm water
  • Clean towels or large sponges
  • Large microfiber towels
  • Several heavy-duty fans
  • Carpet rake grooming tool

How to Clean a Shag Rug at Home: 5 Pro Steps

how to clean a shag rug at home

The shag rugs in your home need professional cleaning at least once a year, but they also need your attention on a regular basis. Before getting started, check each rug’s care instruction label. For example, delicate wool rugs and heavy cowhide rugs require special cleaning techniques.

Follow these five steps to make a shag rug fluffy again and maintain its original beauty:

1. Shake Off Dirt

Ask someone to help take the shag rug outside. With each of you holding it by two corners, give the rug a series of sharp shakes and snaps. This helps dislodge dirt in the long fibers.

Large rugs are easier to handle draped over a porch railing or a clothes line. Use a clean broom or carpet beater to loosen up dust and debris deep in the shag pile.

2. Vacuum Rug Bottom and Top

Bring the rug back into the house, flip it over, and vacuum its underside. This further loosens dirt from fibers. Turn it back over, set your vacuum to maximum height, and carefully run it across the rug’s surface. Use an upholstery attachment to hand-vacuum delicate or older shag rugs.

3. Gently Shampoo Fibers

If the care label indicates dry-clean only, call a professional rug cleaning company. Otherwise, mix an organic or extra-gentle rug shampoo with warm water in a large bucket. Stir up a foamy froth, scoop out the suds, and work them into fibers. Hand-wash the rug without oversaturating pile and backing.

4. Thoroughly Rinse and Dry

Rinse rug fibers with large, wet sponges or towels. Follow up with clean microfiber towels to absorb as much moisture as possible. Keeping the rug as flat as possible, place several small plastic crates underneath the rug to generate air flow underneath it (make sure the rug is not elevated more than 5-7 inches off the ground). Set up fans to blow strong crosscurrents of air over and under its surfaces.

Be patient. Let the shag rug dry completely.

5. Rake and Fluff

Once you’re sure the rug is dry, groom it with a carpet rake. This final step keeps fibers from matting and restores their soft fluff. Use a rake with enough depth to work into the rug without damaging the pile.

Extra Cleaning Tips

If you need to remove stains from the shag rug, try a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and water. Use a clean microfiber cloth to gently dab the solution into the stain. Clean the affected area by working the cloth from the stain’s outside edge to its center. Repeat if necessary.

When a solid, such as mud or animal waste, gets on the shag rug, be very careful removing it. Use a spatula or spoon to loosen the debris from rug fibers. If possible, let the solid dry first so that it pulls away from fibers a little easier.

Often, a smelly shaggy rug can be freshened up with a sprinkle of baking soda. Give the rug a good dusting, work in the baking soda with your fingers, and let it set for half an hour. Finish by vacuuming with an upholstery attachment.

When to Call in Professional Rug Cleaners

shag rug cleaning chicago il
We recently completed a shag rug cleaning for a customer in Chicago; we use professional drying equipment to speed up the drying process

Your shag rugs have one important thing in common with the carpets in your home: They both need professional cleaning at least once a year. Certified technicians use advanced equipment and products to deep clean shag rugs and revitalize their original softness.

Cleaning professionals also solve problems that don’t have easy DIY solutions.

These are just a few examples:

  • Cleaning heavy or large shag rugs
  • Removing pet stains from pile and backing
  • Neutralizing odors in shag rugs
  • Remediating rug mold and mildew
  • Restoring water- and fire-damaged rugs

The best cleaning specialists take care of all types of shag rugs, including delicate heirlooms, expensive designer rugs and shag rugs made from exotic materials.

Shag Rug Maintenance Tips

In between DIY cleaning and professional attention, give your rug extra care.

Keep that soft, high pile looking its best with these easy shag rug maintenance tips:

  • Always clean up spills and pet accidents as soon as they happen.
  • Keep pile fluffy by grooming fibers with a carpet rake once a week.
  • Closely inspect fibers and pile once a month for signs of wear and tear.
  • Encourage a “shoes off” policy in busy rooms or hallways with shag rugs.
  • Ensure even wear by rotating rugs at least twice a year.

Looking for Professional Shag Rug Cleaning in Chicago, IL? We Can Help!

We know how much you enjoy the luxurious shag rugs in your home. Our cleaning guidelines and maintenance tips keep them looking their best and feeling their fluffiest.

You can count on us for the extra services that add years of life to your shag rugs. We offer a complete line of professional rug cleaning for Chicago homeowners, and we take care of the suburbs too.

Call ServiceMaster by Zaba today for details on restoring the beauty of all your home’s rugs and carpets: 773-647-1985