How to Clean a Shag Area Rug

shag area rug

Shag area rugs may seem like a throwback to the 60’s and 70’s but they have a long tradition of providing a luxurious look to your home and have made a comeback in recent years. If you are looking to update your decor, look no further than the shag area rug.

Perhaps you have your eye on that perfect 8 x 10 shag area rug for your living room rug but are hesitating because you just don’t know how you’ll ever maintain it. Or maybe youve updated the foyer with a cool shag runner rug, but you’re wondering - how do I keep it clean? Or perhaps scariest of all, you are loving a cream shag rug or a white shag rug but have pets and kids and a life. Fear not - Boutique Rugs has the answer! 

No matter how much of a neat-freak you are, all area rugs inevitably get dirty. Dust, sand and foot traffic, not to mention, spills impact the cleanliness of your rug and ultimately its longevity. Shag area rugs are no exception and may be even more susceptible to embedded soil due to their design of long fibers in the pile.  

Don’t despair - you can have that beautiful shag look and still keep it clean with these simple steps. 

Vacuum frequently 

The first step for ongoing maintenance is the humble vacuum. Ideally all rugs should be vacuumed at least twice a month and your shag area rug more frequently; weekly if you can manage it. Never use the beater setting on a shag area rug, instead use the gentle suction setting. 

If your rug is a wool shag, which may be more delicate, or if you just want to make sure you protect those long strands regardless of material, turn the rug over and vacuum the back. This pulls any dirt through the backing and removes it without breaking down fibers on the face. And never directly vacuum any tassels or fringe. 

Another way to remove loose soil and dirt is the old-fashioned “take it outside and beat it from underneath”.  Done for years before vacuums were invented, you can shake loose grit without any appliance with this approach. But be forewarned, this method is likely only manageable if your shag area rug is on the smaller side. An 8 X10 area rug or 9x12 area rug would be very difficult to handle. 

Removing stains 

Never let a spill settle. Even stain-resistant shag rugs can be ruined by a set-in stain. If the stain is caused by a liquid, quickly blot away the excess moisture with a clean cloth without color that could transfer to the rug. White is always a safe bet. Press hard and keep blotting until you have absorbed as much moisture as possible.  Don’t be tempted to rub though - rubbing may actually make the stain worse and you risk breaking down the shag fibers. 

If you can still see the stain, you can use a rug spot-cleaning product but make sure to blot, not rub, and follow the directions on your cleaner. It is always best to test a small area first to test for color fastness and to make sure the cleaner won’t damage the rug. 

Solid stains, like a food drop, should be carefully lifted out of the fibers and any residual staining blotted as for liquids. 

White vinegar 

Pet Stains are easily and safely removed by using white vinegar. You should always dilute the vinegar with equal parts water (spring or distilled is best to avoid mineral deposits from tap water). Gently blot the stained area on your shag rug with the solution and blot dry with a clean, white cloth. Added bonus, the smell of vinegar is often a deterrent for your pet to repeat the accident on your rug! 

 Dry bathing 

Another little-known method for cleaning spots on a shag rug like a coffee stain is to use dry shampoo. Similar to how these work on human hair, dry shampoos absorb oils and other contaminants. To use this method, remove any visible stain with the blotting method and then sprinkle s little dry shampoo on the spot. Wait a few minutes for absorption and gently brush away the residue. You should always follow with a little distilled or spring water on a cloth to gently remove any shampoo that is left behind. 

Steam cleaning  

If you have a professional quality home steam cleaner, you can keep your shag rug clean with regular use. Always vacuum first to remove loose dirt and grime. Steaming will usually result in a somewhat wet rug (make sue you don’t overdue it and soak your rug) so you will need to be able to hang it safely to dry. 

Professional cleaning and rotating your rug 

Of course really stubborn stains can be cleaned by a professional. Annual professional cleanings are recommended to extend the life of your shag rug, as is rotation. Rotating your rug minimizes traffic wear and sunlight damage. 

So now that you know how to keep your shag rug clean treat yourself to this iconic look for all the rooms in your house. At Boutique Rugs, in addition to all size rectangular rugs, we offer round shag rugs, shag runner rugs, and even kids’ room rugs. We know you will love adding a shag area rug to your home. 


how to clean shag rug



Lisa Monteleone

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