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Five Steps to (Easily!) Clean your Shag Rug

Last updated on March 13th, 2024

Shag rugs bring comfort and style to any room they inhabit. These thick and fluffy rugs also have a way of hiding tons of dirt, dust, and debris. Because of how plush they can get, it might be tempting to limit tidying your shag rugs up to brushing away dirt from the surface only. Unfortunately, they need a bit more attention to get really clean.

How to clean a shag rug

Here are five easy steps you can follow to clean your shag rug quickly and safely with a vacuum:

1. Remove all the furniture

No shortcuts! Unlike a low-pile rug, vacuuming the top of a shag rug is not an option! So vacuuming under and around the table legs won’t work this time.

2. Roll up and flip your rug

If you’re cleaning a relatively small rug, you don’t need to roll it up, but flipping an 8×10 rug can be difficult, and may lead to strained muscles, broken lamps, and other related household emergencies. By rolling it up first, you’ll be able to easily replace it upside down wherever you like. (You might want to select a hard surface like tile or hardwood floor, as we’ll soon see.)

3. Turn your vacuum’s beater bar on

This is the only time we will ever recommend you use a beater bar on a rug. Normally, beater bars run the risk of snagging carpet fibers, and they generally put too much stress on the pile over time and can shorten your rug’s life. In this case, though, the beater bar is key.

For best results, make sure your vacuum canister is empty, so your vacuum will provide full suction.

4. Vacuum the back of the rug

This is the urban equivalent of taking your rug outside, hanging it from a line, and beating it with a paddle — the time-honored technique for loosening and knocking out dust and dirt from rugs. But if you don’t have a backyard, clothes line, or large paddle, this technique serves as an effective alternative.

Make sure to run the vacuum over the entire back surface of the rug multiple times – just be careful of the edges, since you might accidentally catch a stray thread if you get too close. Standing on the rug while you vacuum will help keep it from sliding around on your floor.

5. Vacuum any debris off the floor

If you’ve performed this on carpet, the dirt and debris that your shag rug hides so well is now on the surface of your carpet, which is why performing this task on a hard surface works much better. But regardless, you can now vacuum up all the remaining dirt easily and safely. As a bonus, you can take a moment to marvel at how many crumbs, paper shreds, and other surprises your shag rug has been hiding from you all this time.

You may also need to use a brush to remove any bits that remained caught in the shag pile, or just pick them out by hand.

Congratulations: You’ve just vacuumed your shag rug!

Vacuuming your shag rug regularly is a great way keep your room fresh, beautiful, and free of bacteria. Just remember, your rug still needs professional cleaning every few years. And feel free to reference our guide to cleaning rugs at home for some additional rug cleaning tips.