8 Easiest Ways To Clean A Shag Rug

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When creating a warm space, the first thing we think to add to a room is a beautiful shag carpet. For those of us with wood flooring throughout our home, it's extra important to create a beautiful and functional room. There's no better way than adding a shag area rug to bring comfort, color, and a sense of space to your bedroom by having some fluff underfoot when you first wake in the morning. We can't think of anything better, especially during a long and harsh winter!

While a shag rug can be beautiful and comfortable to the touch, these rugs can be harder to keep clean. Lisa Wagner, founder of the Rug Chick and a certified rug specialist, told Realtor.com, "Shag is one of the toughest rugs out there to clean and maintain," she says. "Those of us who remember shag carpeting installed in homes in the 1970s also can remember why it quickly fell out of favor. At our rug-cleaning facility, we often charge more to clean shag rugs per square foot than we do to clean much more valuable silk rugs," Wagner notes. "That's because there is a lot of additional handwork needed to try to clean what gets embedded in the fibers of these rugs." But not to fret, it is possible to keep a shag run clean. In fact, we found eight ways to clean a shag rug. Keep scrolling for our best tips!

1. Prevention

Prevention can be used for just about any dilemma, right? (See mom, we do listen!) And it can also be used when it comes to maintaining a rug. RugKnots has a few stellar tips on the prevention method, including not having a shag rug where you experience heavy traffic in your homes, such as a foyer or kitchen, which makes plenty of sense! They also suggest that you or guests take shoes off before walking on the rug and avoid eating near them. Another tip: keep your shag rug looking stellar by not forgetting to keep the area under it and around it clean as well.

Great American Chem-Dry, a carpet cleaning company that services the San Diego, California area, explains that rugs made out of certain materials are better suited for areas that experience more foot traffic, including rugs made of wool or other synthetics (think nylon and viscose).

2. Use Scotchgard

Going hand in hand with the prevention method is another excellent idea for maintaining your shag rug. RugKnots suggests using Scotchgard. As luck would have it, there is one on the market specifically for carpets and rugs. Scotchgard Rug & Carpet Protector is said to make the clean-up process simpler, so stains come out easier (which is excellent for those red wine spills!), and can obstruct stains from even forming — and who wouldn't love that? This prevention method is a perfect way to keep your shag area rug in better condition during its lifespan.

The company suggests that users test the area of the rug first before they do the simple process of spraying the entire carpet and giving ample time to dry, between two and six hours, and repeating the process every six months, per 3M. It's essential to follow the instructions entirely so that you don't ruin your carpeting or upholstered furniture!

3. A good beating

To clean a shag rug, it may just need a good beating to remove debris found deep inside the area rug. Loloi, a company that designs rugs and pillows, tells House Beautiful that it is a good idea to take your area rug outside for this method and give it some good whacks, which can rid the carpet of dirt and debris deep inside the rug. This method can also help remove plenty of dust that causes allergies as well! 

Investing in a carpet and rug beater for under $35 on Amazon is also an excellent idea. Not only is this tool durable and is equipped with a paddle to get the job done efficiently, but it is also pretty enough to hang in plain sight as it's made out of rattan. If looks don't matter, there is a plastic version available on Amazon for under $20, and it is small enough to store under the sink if need be.

4. Vacuum your rug

Vacuuming a shag rug is not advised, per Bob Vila. The outlet suggests caution when vacuuming, and they recommend not to vacuum on the shag side as it can damage the rug. Instead, they suggest flipping the rug over to clean that side for better results. "The biggest problem with shag rugs is that most cannot be vacuumed without damaging the rugs. They require a crevice tool by hand, getting in row by row to try to remove everything caught in between those long strands. Because of the huge project, shag rugs often require professional rug washing where they can soak and thoroughly rinse the rugs in a way that is not possible to be done at home," certified rug specialist Lisa Wagner told Today.

Wagner had another excellent tip, instead of vacuuming, take your rug outside and use a leaf blower, which can help get rid of dirt and debris without damaging the rug! Brilliant!

5. Steam clean

Rugs can be steamed; however, it's important to pay attention to the material the rug is made out of so that your shag rug doesn't get damaged during the steaming process. "In broad terms, natural fibers (wool, cotton, silk) require washing, and synthetic fibers (polypropylene, acrylic, polyester) can be steam cleaned with carpet-cleaning machines," rug specialist Lisa Wagner told Today.

The Home Depot notes that this is a very popular method, especially if the rug is filthy and stained — which happens to the best of us with constant use, no doubt! They suggest vacuuming the rug first; however, proceed with caution by using a crevice tool or even the earlier suggested leaf blower to remove debris before you start your all-over steam session. Then be sure to read the instructions of the steamer to ensure that you're using it properly. Finally, they suggest letting it air-dry outdoors.

6. Spot clean

As we've learned, stubborn stains can reappear, unfortunately, so learning proper carpet-cleaning techniques is paramount. It turns out there's plenty of ways to keep stains at bay, even unconventional, and sometimes you can even turn to your liquor cabinet by using vodka to get rid of stains (yes, really!).

RugKnots suggests spot cleaning as an excellent method if you've spilled a drink on your rug. There's no need to clean the entire thing if this happens. They suggest using a microfiber rag that is either white or neutral in color so that there isn't a chance that the rag's stain can discolor your rug and dab the rug until all of the liquid is picked up. Then, for the next step, RugKnots says to use a gentle cleaner such as dish soap and blot the stain until it disappears. Bob Vila notes that a mixture of vinegar and water can be used to spot clean a shag rug.

7. Dry shampoo bath

If you're looking to deep clean your shag area rug, then think about giving it a dry shampoo bath. This method is excellent if you're looking to clean your rug and get rid of bad odors, especially if you are a pet owner. Bob Vila notes that using dry shampoo can rid your carpets of things like bacteria, dust, and dander. The outlet explains that you simply use a bit of a dry shampoo — that is typically made of powder — and then brush the rug, which then pulls up all sorts of deep grime inside your rug.

To get the most out of this particular method, the outlet suggests keeping the dry shampoo on the rug for a minimum of 30 minutes before running the vacuum. They explain to read labels of popular products to ensure that you are using the proper formulas on your area rugs. Bob Vila chose Capture Carpet & Rug Dry Cleaner as the best overall for dry shampoo. Still, The Spruce was utterly disappointed in the product, giving it a "hard pass" and writing that it ultimately failed at removing the stains. So, if you're looking to get rid of stains, you may want to opt for another method. However, if you're just looking to freshen up your rug, it should do the trick.

8. Call a professional carpet cleaner

If you've tried all of the aforementioned ideas on your carpets and they still don't look new, or if you are wary of trying to clean your shag rug yourself, there's no shame in calling in the professionals! While they may use some of these methods, such as steam cleaning, using a dry shampoo, or spot treatment, they are experts in the field with the correct equipment, techniques, and products to get the job done correctly, which can help keep your carpets looking better for longer.

Wayfair, a popular online retailer, explains that if you see any damage on your rug during the cleaning process to immediately find a pro, which they say can set you back anywhere from $175 to $750. But, if it can extend the longevity of your shag rug, we say it's well worth the price since the cost of a rug can be pretty steep.