Shag Area Rug Basic Care

A stack of colorful shag rugs.
  • 1-2 hours
  • Beginner
  • 20-800
What You'll Need
Carpet rake or stiff-bristled broom
Carpet/rug shampooer
Carpet cleaner
Washing machine (only for rugs without rubber backing)

The deep pile of shag makes shag area rug basic care a time-intensive, but simple task with the right tools. Like all rugs, shag attracts accumulations of dust and debris in its pile. Walking on the rugs grinds in the dirt build-up and may cut or break the fibers, making the rug look frayed and old.

To keep your rug looking newer longer, keep it clean. Basic care for shag rugs include daily maintenance, weekly vacuuming, and yearly deep cleaning.

1. Daily Care—Raking and Shaking

Shag carpet shows every step. Its long, looped fibers are easily matted down so a daily reinvigoration of the pile is needed to keep it looking new. A carpet rake or stiff bristled broom is perfect for daily shag sprucing. Rake or sweep the carpet in one direction, then again in a second direction perpendicular to your first pass. For smaller rugs a stiff shake in the back yard has the same effect.

2. Weekly Care—Vacuuming

Shag rugs need to be vacuumed weekly. However, only the areas of high traffic need attention. Areas of the rug protected under chairs or tables only need daily grooming and yearly deep cleaning to stay looking new. A canister vacuum works best on shag. Upright vacuums with rollers and beater bars can tangle or break carpet fibers. However, if all you have is an upright be sure to set the beater bars as far off the floor as possible (see owner’s manual for directions on how to do this).

When vacuuming a rug go over each section at least twice in different directions; this insures you remove all debris and dust lodged in the carpet. If you have a lot of pets or an area of extreme high use, you may need to go over the same spot up to seven times to completely remove debris from the deepest reaches of the shag.

3. Yearly Care—Shampooing and Washing

sample of shag carpeting

Your shag rug needs a deep clean three to four times a year. If your rug does not have a rubber back and fits in the washing machine, wash it on the gentle cycle with cold water, and allow it to air dry overnight. Larger rugs need to be shampooed. If you don’t own a steam cleaner, rent one from your local grocery store.

Like vacuuming you should go over each area several times in different directions to loosen and remove dirt. Because water easily pools at the base of shag pile, make a few extra passes with the shampooer to suck up as much moisture as possible.

4. As Needed Care—Spot Cleaning

Spot cleaning can be done between shampoos to remove small stains. Spray carpet cleaner on the affected area and soak for 10 minutes or 15 minutes for stubborn stains. Then blot with a dry cloth and finish with a quick vacuuming to restore the pile. Do not scrub shag with a brush as this can damage the fibers. Always test carpet cleaners on a small and inconspicuous portion of carpet before using it on a larger section to see how the cleaner affects your specific carpet.

Caring for your shag area rug is unlike caring for a typical carpet. However, these basic care instructions will keep it in good shape.