How to clean a shag rug

FSS115A from Faux Sheep Skin by Safavieh

A shag rug can upgrade your home in an instant. The unique look of shag rugs and their soft, inviting texture can make a home warmer and cozier while also making it more stylish and modern. Unlike most rugs, shag rugs have a deep pile that not only makes them softer to the touch but also softer on the eyes. Adding a shag rug to your home is the easiest way to bring in more texture, style, and depth. You will find shag rugs in mid-century designs, contemporary rooms, minimalist layouts, and even in Scandinavian decor. Whether you’re minimalist and modern, hygge and cozy, or somewhere in between, shag rugs are truly for everyone.

Shag rugs are made with a variety of materials, including flokati wool, faux and real fur, leather, and acrylic. Of course, the higher pile of shag rugs means more maintenance. Find out how to keep a shag rug looking good with the tips and tricks below!

Tip #1: Clean your shag rugs regularly.

Vacuuming a shag rug may be done once weekly or daily if the rug is placed in a high-traffic spot; otherwise, once a month will be enough.

  • Roll up your rug and take it outside where you can hang it on a sturdy clothesline or on a low beam.
  • Shake off the dust and dirt. Use a rug beater to further loosen any dirt, debris, or dust that may be trapped within the fibers. Rug beaters are still available, but in case you do not have one, a mop handle or the side of a broom can do the job.
  • Keep the rug outdoors in a sunny location for about two hours. This will help kill any bacteria or dust mites which often thrive in soft items.
  • Set the vacuum’s cleaning head to high pile. It is recommended that you invest in a vacuum cleaner with this feature as this allows the head to glide easily around and allows you to control the suction more.
  • Flip over the rug so that its woven underside is exposed to you. Start vacuuming by moving the vacuum head away from you. Stand on the edge of the rug to keep it in place as you vacuum. This will loosen whatever remaining dust, dirt, or debris there is trapped in the fibers.
  • Roll out the rug and vacuum the floor where you had just vacuumed the rug’s underside. Any dust that fell off while vacuuming the rug will be on the floor.
  • Spread out the rug right side up, and suction out the dust, dirt, and debris thoroughly. It will be quite tedious and laborious but you have to do this row by row.

Using the power brush head on the rug will subject unnecessary wear and tear on your rug.

 If you have a high pile carpet in your home, try using a wet/dry vacuum. Bigger, more powerful vacuum cleaners may possibly pull and damage the fibers.

Tip #5: To remove spills and stains, treat your rug with the appropriate cleaner.

How large is the stain? Was it red wine? Is it oil-based? If water was spilled on a wool shag rug, always remember that water will take long to dry; thus, mildew may form.

If you are not sure what to do, it is best that you seek professional cleaning services in caring for your rug.

If you are right there when the spill happens, quickly take a white, absorbent facecloth or paper towel to soak up the spill.

Tip #6: If the rug is small, have the rug tumbled in a dryer.

Do not use heat; just air. This will also “fluff up” your rug after cleaning.

Tip #7: Steam clean your shag rug.

Pass over all of the surface area with the floor tool. Steam will release dirt and stains onto the cloth.

This is can be a quick way to clean and refresh shag rugs as well as any type of carpet. Let it dry (shag rugs can take a long time to dry). Steam clean your rug at least once or twice a year.

  • Sprinkle on the rug absorbent, carpet-shampoo granules.
  • While still switched off, us a vacuum’s cleaning head bristles to brush the granules on the rug.
  • Allow the shampoo to sit for about one hour or according to the length of time stated on the instruction label.
  • Vacuum out the granules thoroughly.
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It is not far-fetched that high-pile rugs or shag rugs will go out of style, just like it did back in the 1970s.

Taking care of this type of rugs is labor-intensive and costly. People are realizing that it is just too challenging to maintain these rugs.

If you want to keep a high-pile rug just the same, you need to commit to owning one and invest in the most suited and best vacuum cleaner to maintain it aesthetically as well as hygienically.

Most vacuums nowadays come with instructions that can help you maximize their features, and there are many how-to guides online about how to effectively clean carpets and rugs.

Gemma is the chief editor here at Smart Vacuums

3. Large Shag Rugs are Difficult to Vacuum

sexy image with pink shoes on soft carpet

Due to their construction, shag rugs are almost impossible to vacuum efficiently with a regular vacuum (if you own a Dyson, forget about vacuuming a shag rug. You will ruin it completely), using an upholstery attachment or a canister vacuum is definitely more preferred than anything else. To vacuum in between the sides of the fibers and row by row. As for the grit in the base of the rug, you can kiss it goodbye as you will probably never manage to get it all out.Spills also cause trouble and you do need to attend to them immediately. But, that’s how you should do with any type of rug, right? Yes, but in shag rugs you have to be REALLY fast because the spills work their way down into the foundation (heavy cotton), when things get even more difficult.

Now, what if your canister is too strong or you have come rather too strong on the spot? You most likely have ended up with some tufts on your hands. Since they are not that securely positioned, tufts can be pulled out quite easily, making your rug look like a head with alopecia.

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Even though wool is by far the most suitable fiber for rugs, the rugs do need to be short pile woven ones. It all depends on fiber density. Some high quality shag rugs have significantly more fiber density than the looser weave construction found in cheaper shag rugs, which means they are more protected and grab a lot less lint, dust, and hair (and if they do, they don’t embed it deep in the fiber base, where cleaning and sanitizing are seriously challenged).

Shaken, Not Vacuumed

SHS121A from Sheep Skin by Safavieh

Vacuuming your shag rug can cause a lot of trouble. This can create more knots within the rug and it can ruin the texture of the pile. The vacuum can even tear the fibers off the rug, and you may end up ruining your vacuum too. Instead of vacuuming, shake your rug to get dirt, cat litter, hair, and whatever else finds its way into the crevices of your shag rug off. Then you can vacuum up the mess of your floor.

As silly as it might feel, you may just need to get on your hands and knees and pull out any tough pieces that are caught in the rug—we did say shag rugs were more high maintenance! If you see anything particularly sticky stuck in your rug, use a spoon to scrape the piece out. If you live in a high-traffic home with lots of children and pets, you may want to keep your shag rug somewhere with less traffic, like the master bedroom. Here are some tips on choosing the right rug for high-traffic areas.

Spot Clean Trouble Spots

Hand Tufted Solid Tassel Lane Shag from Kaleidoscope by NuLoom

At some point or another, you will have spots on your rug that need to be washed out. Always start with a mild soap and water first. Dab the spot instead of rubbing your washcloth around. This will only make the stain worse and spread throughout the fibers of the rug. Dab with soapy water, rinse with plain water and repeat until the stain is removed. Avoid using harsh chemical cleaners as they may worsen the texture of your rug.

When using any product besides a mild soap and water, test out the solution on a tiny part of the rug first to make sure you don’t ruin the rug and create a new stain. The best thing you can do to avoid stains on your rug is to make a rule in the house that no food or drinks are allowed in the room with the shag—especially red wine!

Leather shag rugs are the hardest to clean, but they do look spectacular. Here is everything you need to know about leather shag rugs.

Comb & Untangle

FSS115A from Faux Sheep Skin by Safavieh

Just like you would do to keep your dog’s hair from matting, comb your shag rug on a regular basis! This is a great habit to keep your shag rug looking good as new. Brush your shag rug in one direction, pulling through any knots. Any foot traffic, even in socks or bare feet, will cause the rug to start to tangle. No matter how clean you keep the appearance, your shag rug won’t look good if you’re not combing it. Remember how we said shag rugs are high maintenance?

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Keep your beautiful shag rug fluffy and soft with regular combing. Use your fingers to pull apart any particularly tough knots. The more often your comb your shag rug, the easier it will be to comb through it. There are so many different types of shag rugs, but those that are larger with higher piles will need the most untangling.

Layer Your Rugs

shag rug layered on natural fiber rug

You also want to protect the bottom of your shag rug. If too much dirt gets trapped underneath your shag rug it can wear on the knots and make your rug less sturdy. You don’t want your rug to play “mop” and trap dust underneath its fluffy texture. Layering rugs is a highly popular design technique, especially in modern homes, Southern styles, and bohemian designs. Protect the bottom of your shag rug by layering it on top of a natural fiber rug. Enhance the overall texture of the room by choosing a natural fiber rug with tassels, woven patterns, or one that is round.

Shag rugs that are in more irregular shapes look even better when using this layering technique. Make sure the rug on top—the shag rug—is smaller than the rug underneath. While shag rugs bring a lot of texture to a room individually, layering rugs is one of the most popular trends today for adding texture to any room.

Keep The Area Clean

Amor1 from Amore by Nourison

One of the best things you can do to promote longevity in your delicate shag rug is to keep the rest of the house clean, particularly the area around the rug. It’s no secret that dust, hair, and dirt travel around the room, so if you have a messy floor then your shag will be messy too. Routinely sweep dirt and other messes away from your rug and always mop the floors.

Remind everyone in your home to not simply swipe crumbs and dirt off the counters, but to throw these pieces in the trash. When cleaning the floors around your shag rug, take your shag outside and hang it so it can begin to lose some of its dirt. Make sure everything is spotless before bringing the rug back in.

If you’re still nervous about bringing a beautiful shag rug into your home, start with a darker colored shag rug, or shag rugs with lower piles. These will be easier to keep looking good as new.

how to keep a shag rug looking good

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