5 Ways To Keep Your Shag Rugs Looking New

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Shag rugs are a popular modern design trend, especially in America.

shag rug-shag rug care-shag clean rug 

They're often featured in interior design magazines and television shows because shag rugs can add luxury and elegance to any room. However, there's one thing interior designers don't mention...

white shag rug-shag carpet clean-vacuum shag rug

These fuzzy rugs can be a PAIN! Shag rugs are so soft and fluffy because they have a higher pile than regular hand-knotted rugs, which means the fibers are cut longer than in regular rugs.

rug pile; rug terms; pile height; high pile diagram showing difference between high pile rugs and low pile rugs

Of course having an item of elegance doesn't come without a catch. High pile shag rugs are significantly harder to clean. Dust and dirt gets deep in the crevices between the fibers, making it nearly impossible to reach them all. Large shag rugs can can be very heavy, making them even more difficult to clean, especially if it's a fluffy white shag rug.

white shag rug-fluffy shag rug-bedroom shag rug-shag rug types

Only adding to the difficulty is the variety of shag rugs on the market. There are many different types of shag rugs, and each shaggy rug should be cleaned and cared for differently, depending on its materials. This is one of the many reasons that professional rug cleaners will charge significantly more to clean shag rugs than they will to clean more expensive low-pile rugs. Let's learn about the different types of shag rugs and their specific traits to know how to clean shag rugs before you take the household vacuum across it.

Types of Shag Rugs

1. Flokati

Flokati shags are a type of handmade wool rug traditionally made in Greece. These rugs are usually a white/cream color, but they can be dyed into multiple color schemes. They are 100% wool, including the rug backing.  

flokati; flokati rug; shag rug; soft rug-graphic of close up of wool on Flokati rug

Flokati rugs are one of the fluffiest types of shag rugs. They are very much like a sheepdog--they dirty easily and quickly have to be cleaned and brushed often.

flokati shag rug, shag rug care, white flokati rug spread on a floor, types of shag rugs

To maintain the soft, fluffy look of a Flokati, you should clean it on a regular schedule--before it even gets dirty! Otherwise, it will get messy, matted, and stained to the point where you'll never clean it back to the original look.

2. Wool

There are two main types of wool shag rugs-- "noodles" and "shaggy"

wool rug; wool shag; noodle rug-close up of brown noodles of wool rug

The rugs displayed above and below are "noodle" rugs. The thick wool fibers--in the shape of noodles--make an especially soft, luxurious rug. But the softness comes at a price. The soft fibers attract pretty much anything a feather duster can. Dirt, dust, hair, and any other particle that sticks is more than likely sitting in your noodle rug. Not only do these rugs attract all the dirt, it is especially difficult to get out because the tufts are loosely attached to the backing, making them very easy to pull out.

short noodle shag rug

Another type of wool shag rug is the "shaggy" wool rug. The fibers are a lot thinner and a lot closer together than those of the noodle rug.

fluffy shag rug-green and tan shag rug-shaggy rug-soft rug-wool rug

The small shag rugs available at RugKnots are hand-knotted with 100% natural wool. This type of shag rug is significantly easier to clean than the fluffier versions above because the knots are much closer together, thus making it more difficult for dirt and grime to slip through the cracks.

red shag rug-red clean shaggy rug-high pile red shag rug

This type of shaggy rug is easier to care for and durable, but it is sometimes more expensive than the traditional low-pile rug. RugKnots carries many types of handtufted shag rugs in a reasonably smaller size, which makes the price lower on this type of luxury shag rug. However, if you're getting a LARGE, high-quality shag, the price quickly adds up... (and makes it more difficult to clean).  

3. Leather

Personally, I don't like the look of leather shag rugs. They look like crumpled up paper masquerading as a rug:

leather shag rug

As much as I personally don't like them, these shags are somewhat easier to clean than others, because you can use a leather cleaner on them. These rugs, however, can be pricey based on brand and quality of leather, and ARE NOT pet-friendly... or in general, life-friendly.

You should place a leather shag strategically so that it won't be in a high-traffic area in your home. A place that it won't come in contact with foods, liquids, and pets. Basically, a leather shag rug is like a wedding cake--you can look at it but don't touch it or you'll ruin it.

living room shag rug made of leather strands

Is it worth it? That's just up to you.

4. Acrylic

Acrylic shag rugs not only look cheaper than wool, they are actually a danger for your home.

acrylic rug; dangerous; flammable; rugchick.com

Acrylic rugs are highly flammable, so we DO NOT recommend putting them in your home. 

5. Synthetic

synthetic rug; shag rug; how to clean a shag rug

Although synthetic shags are not the best quality rugs, they can be somewhat easier to clean because unlike wool, they can handle a steam cleaner,  at least a few times. They will still not last very long due to low quality materials.

Cleaning Your Shag Rugs

As we learned, shag rugs have many different types of textures. Each having a specific tolerance to chemicals, vacuums, and steam. Now we'll learn tips and tricks to finally clean that shag rug you've been working at long enough now.

1. Vacuum

Definitely DO NOT use a regular upright vacuum to clean a shag rug. You'll ruin your rug, your vacuum, or both. The shag rug will be too thick for a vacuum to properly clean, and the fibers could very possibly get stuck in the vacuum's rotating beater bar, ripping the shag out of the back of the rug. Below, this video mentions a shag rug vacuum technique at 4:05.

If you're going to vacuum a shag, we recommend that you use an upholstery attachment like this:

how to vacuum a shag rug

 or this:

vacuum shag rug

Slowly vacuum your shag rug with an attachment, row by row. You can also turn your rug over and vacuum the back as this will knock the dirt laying in the shag outwards.

vacuum your rug

It might be helpful to shake your rug out before you vacuum to get a fuller clean:

2. Shake It or Smack It

Take your rug outside and shake it, especially with another person helping for bigger rugs, (be careful that the wind isn't blowing towards you...). Hang it upside-down or over the close-line and beat it with a broom or a mop handle.

Beat your rug don't kill it

There was once a law in Britain that you could not beat or shake any carpet or rug in any street.

Don't try to kill it! Just hit it enough to loosen up the dirt particles and get the dust flying. Some recommend to leave the rug outside in the sun for a few hours to kill any lingering bacteria, but keep in mind that the sun's UV rays can damage the color of your shag rug if it sets out for a prolonged period of time!

3. Shampoo

This one's a little risky to DIY, but you can use a dry carpet shampoo, which usually comes in powder form. Powder being sprinkled into a shag rug is like sand going into long hair--it takes forever to get the last grain out, so shampooing is not recommended to clean any type of shag rug, although it still does break the dirt loose from the fiber strands when vacuumed on the back.

4. Spot Clean Shag Rugs

Spot cleaning a shag rug is a great method for when the children spill their juice boxes or you swing your arm over the coffee table and that glass of wine pours onto the shag--Uh Oh! Don't worry because here's a couple tips for focusing on those spots instead of throwing the whole thing into the washer--don't do that.

You practically have to soak up the spill before it reaches the backing, and nobody in the world is that fast. The rug will easily stain and that spot of red wine will be an eyesore. I know we're all human, and accidents happen, but if you want to have a nice RugKnots shag rug that stays beautiful longer, keep it away from things that stain like wine, chocolate, pets, and kids in general.

Keep your shag in a living room and make a "no-food-or-drink in the living room" rule, then you'll only have to clean it every so often. Along with keeping your shag away from human error, you should make an effort to keep as much dirt away from it as possible. Don't wear shoes while walking on it, or use it as a doormat! Also try to keep your floor its on as clean as possible, to avoid dragging any dirt underneath the shag because the dirt will sit on the base of the wool, or fuzzy fibers.

5. Bring It to the Professionals

If you want to get a deeper clean than the tips listed or avoid the DIY techniques, bring it to the people who clean shag rugs for a living. 

Keep in mind that getting a shag rug professionally cleaned will be pricey because of the difficulty involved, and even the professionals probably won't be ably to fully clean your rug.

Thanks for reading my tips on how to clean a shag rug! Be sure to check out RugKnots.com for an extensive list of 100% Professionally Handmade & Hand knotted rugs at great prices!  

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  • this list doesn’t mention Polyester .

    richie on

  • I have a silk shag rug. You didn’t give advice on cleaning that material. I have used a professional cleaner. Is that the only method?

    Barbara Crown on

  • Is it safe to use shampoo on a synthetic shag rug?

    Reena on

  • Lovely helps on a variety of shag rugs.
    We were given one and now maybe I’m wishing I hadn’t accepted it.
    It’s not terribly dirty but we’ll just clean it the best we can with a rented unit.
    It’s going to be brighter and smell fresh anyway. Thank you for your help. SA

    Sandy on

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