How To: Clean a Shag Rug
High pile is back in style! So keep yours fresh with these simple steps.
Shag rugs are enjoying a resurgence, thanks to their groovy textured looks and comfy feel underfoot. The potential bummer? Those long tendrils catch dirt and dust particles quickly. Whether made of wool or synthetic fibers, a shag rug requires more frequent, conscientious cleaning. A rule of thumb is to double the care you’d give traditional rugs, both for vacuuming and deep cleaning. But since calling a pro can be pricey, try the four-step process here and you’ll find that owning a shag needn’t be a drag!
Ideally, you’ll use this method to treat a spill before it has a chance to set in, but even if it’s dry before you get to it, there’s still hope. Combine equal parts plain white vinegar and room-temperature water, and pour directly onto the affected area. For a small stain caused by a few tablespoons of spilled liquid or food, start with ½ cup of each ingredient to form the mixture, making more if necessary.
Work the solution into the stain with a white microfiber cloth—better than a rag because it won’t stain or leave lint behind—using some elbow grease to release it from the fibers. Once you’ve eliminated the stain entirely, hang the clean shag rug in a well-ventilated area to dry completely.
Take the dry rug outside where you can shake it vigorously to release loose dirt and dust.
Next, if the shag rug is smaller than 3 or 4 feet wide, fold it in half, face-down, over a clean porch railing or the back of a chair and use a mop or broom handle (not its business end) to whack the rug from the back side to release stubborn dirt particles. Put enough muscle into it to shake spare dirt loose, but mind your aim and be careful not to damage the railing or chair in the process.
Cleaning professionals advise against vacuuming a shag rug, as suction could break the long fibers. However, it’s highly effective to turn the rug face down and vacuum its back side, keeping the pile safe while further removing deep-down dirt. This will also redistribute the tendrils from behind to fluff them up again. For an extra-deep clean, use an upholstery attachment, which offers stronger suction in a concentrated area.
If things are still looking dingy and you’re willing to take a risk, consider cleaning with dry carpet shampoo. Shake or spray a small amount onto the least-visible area of the shag rug, making sure to use a product safe for its content (some shampoos are better for wool while others suit synthetics) and following package instructions to the letter.
Carefully vacuum over the shampooed portion only; a handheld vacuum is ideal because it gives you complete control. If any pile breaks off, stop and take the shag rug to a carpet cleaning pro. If all is well, though, proceed with caution and repeat the process until your rug is as shagadelic as ever.