How to Clean a Shag Rug

Giving your shag rug a thorough at-home cleaning is easier than you might think!

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Ready to get your shag rug looking new again? Follow these step-by-step instructions for how to clean your shag rug.

Tools Required

  • Cleaning rags
  • Rug beater
  • Soft-bristle brush
  • Vacuum

Materials Required

  • Dry cleaner
  • Spot cleaner

Project step-by-step (4)

Step 1

rugAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

Shake It Out

The oldest trick in the book to clean a shag rug is the best place to start: Take your rug outside and shake it thoroughly to loosen any dirt and dust.

If your rug is too large to hold by yourself, grab a cleaning buddy to help you shake it. You could also hang your rug outside from a fence or clothesline and hit it from the back with a rattan or metal rug beater to loosen and release dirt and dust. (The handle of a mop or broom or an old racket works, too.) Here are a few more tips to clean a wool rug.

Step 2



First, vacuum the back of your shag rug to loosen any remaining hard-to-release dust and dirt. Flip the rug back over. Before tackling the top, adjust the height setting of your vacuum cleaner to “high” and turn off your beater bars so the long, shaggy fibers don’t get caught in any moving parts. Not quite clean enough? Break out the upholstery attachment and vacuum by hand. For the perfect finish: Lift and gently shake your rug to remove any lingering vacuum lines. Here are a few tips for cleaning a Persian rug.

Step 3

cleaningSyda Productions/Shutterstock

Spot Clean

Now, tackle any lingering stains. Spray with your chosen cleaning solution, and follow product instructions. Be sure to choose one designed for use with your rug’s material, we like Spot Shot.

Typically, you’ll want to let the cleaner soak in, then blot with a clean rag from the outside in, to avoid spreading the stain. Repeat as needed. Your shag rug’s long pile may make this a somewhat trickier job than working with a rug with a shorter pile.

Ideally, you’ll clean any future spill or accidents as they happen to keep them from settling in, therefore upping your chances of removal success. If the stain is fresh, press a clean rag into the affected area to soak up as much liquid as possible, then treat as outlined above.

Step 4

Use a Dry Cleaner

Odor left behind from ghosts of stains past? After cleaning and vacuuming thoroughly, sprinkle with your dry rug cleaner of choice and allow to set properly, according to product instructions. (Capture Carpet & Rug Dry Cleaner gets great Amazon reviews, or plain old baking soda can also do the trick.) Then gently move a brush or broom around to work the product into the rug. Wait one to two hours, or as long as your product instructions dictate, then vacuum thoroughly. While you’re at it, learn how to clean an area rug.