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5 Ways To Keep Your Shag Rugs Looking New

/ related-shag-rugs / shag

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

Living room with white shag rug and 2 beige couches

They're often featured in interior design magazines and television shows because shag rugs add luxury and elegance to any room. However, there's one thing interior designers forgot to mention...

Up close shot of white shag rugs with a coffee table

...these shaggy rugs can be a PAIN! Shag rugs are so soft and fluffy because they have a higher pile than regular hand knotted rugs - this 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 elegant item doesn't come without a catch. High pile shag rugs are significantly harder to clean than regular area rugs. Dirt and dust 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

Adding to the difficulty is the variety of types 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 specific to its materials. This is one reason why professional rug cleaners will charge significantly more to clean shag rugs than they will to clean more expensive, low-pile rugs. That's why RugKnots is here to help you learn about the different types of shag rugs and their specific traits so you know how to clean shag rugs before just taking the household vacuum across them.

              5 Types of Shag Rugs

1. Flokati

Flokati shag rugs are a type of handmade wool rug, traditionally made in Greece. These shag rugs are usually a white or cream color, but 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 and remind you of a sheepdog--they dirty easily and 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 shag rug, 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. Their thick wool fibers--in the shape of noodles--make an especially soft, luxurious rug, but their texture comes at a price. Soft fibers attract anything a feather duster can - dirt, dust, hair, and other particles that stick have probably made a home in your noodle rug. Not only do these rugs attract dirt, but it is especially difficult to get out because the tufts are loosely attached to the backing, which makes them easily pull out.

Close up of gray noodle shag rugs

The other type of wool shag rug is the "shaggy" wool rug. The fibers in these shag rugs are a lot thinner and 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 much easier to clean than the fluffier versions above because the knots are much closer together, which makes 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 shag rug is more durable and easier to care for, but is sometimes more expensive than the traditional low-pile rug. RugKnots carries many types of hand tufted 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 rug, the price quickly adds up... (and makes it more difficult to clean).  

3. Leather

Leather shag rugs looking like crumpled up paper masquerading as a rug:

leather shag rug

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.

Placing a leather shag rug strategically in a low-traffic area in your home is key to keeping it clean - 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. So are they worth it? That's up to you!

living room shag rug made of leather strands

4. Acrylic

Acrylic shag rugs not only look cheaper than wool shag rugs, but 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 shag rugs are not the highest quality rugs, they can be somewhat easier to clean because unlike wool, they can actually handle a steam cleaner a few times. However, they will still not last very long due to low quality materials.

How to Clean Your Shag Rugs

As you learned, there are many different textures and types of shag rugs. Each has a specific tolerance to chemicals, vacuums, and steam. So here are some tips and tricks to finally clean that shag rug!

1. Vacuum

You never want to use a regular upright vacuum to clean a shag rug. You'll ruin your rug, your vacuum, or possibly both. Shag rugs are too thick for a vacuum to properly clean, and the fibers could possibly get stuck in the vacuum's rotating beater bar, ripping the shag out of the back of the rug. Check out the video below for a how to vacuum shag rug vacuum technique at 4:05:

If you're going to vacuum a shag rug, we recommend using 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 to knock the dirt laying in the shag outwards.

Vacuum your rug

It might be helpful to shake your rug out before vacuuming 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, but be careful the wind isn't blowing towards you! Hang it upside-down or over the clothes line and beat it with a broom or a mop handle.

Beat your rug don't kill it

Fun fact: 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 leaving the rug outside in the sun for a few hours to kill any lingering bacteria, but keep in mind the sun's UV rays can damage the color of your shag rug if it sits out for a prolonged period of time!

3. Shampoo

This one is a little risky to DIY, but you can use a dry carpet shampoo, which usually comes in powder form, to clean your shag rugs. Powder being sprinkled into shag rugs is like sand going into long hair--it takes forever to get the last grain out! 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 shag rugs is a great method for when the kids 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. Here are a few tips for focusing on those spots instead of throwing the whole thing into the washer-- please 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. We're all human, 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! Try to keep the floor it's 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 Pros

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

Keep in mind that getting a shag rug professionally cleaned can be pricey because of the difficulty involved! Check out RugKnots list of recommended professional rug cleaners.

Thanks for reading tips on how to clean a shag area 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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3 comments


  • So what if your children get food stuck within the rug, like, sticky and crumbly food? How can you actually “clean” to suck up possibly tons of these foods from within the fibers, top to bottom? :•

    Cortney on

  • Thanks so much for the useful and thorough info. Much appreciated!

    Robert Rosenthal on

  • Thanks so much for the great info! Greatly appreciated…

    Rob Rosenthal on

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