How to Clean a Shag Rug the Right Way

What Is a Shag Rug?

This is our guide on how to clean a shag rug, but if you are unsure if the rug you possess is indeed a shag rug, then luckily for you it is easy to identify! A shag rug contains long noodle-like carpet fibers. A way to test if you have a shag rug is to place your hand on the fibers. Does your hand “sink” into the fibers? Is there depth? If so, you’ve got a shag rug on your hands.

If you’re trying to find out how to clean a shag area rug, the good news is that there are multiple ways to clean this type of carpet. Depending on the type of cleaning needed, you may not need to spend too much time on this endeavor. In order to determine the best course of action, you need to first decide what type of clean-up your shag rug requires. Here are your top three options:

Freshen and Spruce Up

If your rug has a bit of a lackluster look and/or a funky smell, you should look into “dry carpet shampoo.” It’s sold at most department stores near the cleaning supply aisles. This type of product is great for capturing unwanted odors and oils that can get trapped deep in carpet fibers. All you have to do is sprinkle a thin, even layer of the powdered product onto your rug, let it sit for a few minutes, then vacuum or brush it out. If you don’t own a vacuum or carpet brush, you can also use the old-fashioned method of shaking your rug out (just make sure you’re outdoors when you do this).

Spot Cleaning

If you’re noticing small stains and tiny discrepancies on your rug, there are a few options you can employ.

Using white vinegar, water and baking soda is a great method for treating stains and smells without harsh chemicals. Start out with a one-to-one mixture of warm water and white vinegar. A spray bottle is the recommended application method, but you can also carefully pour your mixture from a cup onto a small area of your rug. Next, sprinkle a fine layer of baking soda on top of the damp area. Let that powder sit and soak up the vinegar and water, then carefully vacuum or brush off the remaining powder once it is dry. 

You can also use bleachless detergent or gentle dish soap and water. The key is to ensure that you use bleachless cleaner. This is especially important if you are learning how to clean a white shag rug. After you apply your cleaner or choice, gently rub in warm water in circular motions. Finally, soak up moisture with a microfiber cloth.

If you need to clean up crumbs, dust or pet hair, a handheld vacuum is the handiest tool to use. A handheld vacuum will get into the small spaces between the long carpet fibers. Some of the best portable, handheld vacuums can be found online and can be a lot more affordable than full-size vacuums. Compare this to a large vacuum that might not catch those little details.

There are also large vacuums that come with handheld attachments, so you may already have this tool in your home already. For example, a popular vacuum brand, Dyson, is known for its wide range of vacuum models that include handheld attachments. Another well-known and classic brand, Hoover, has a great selection worth checking out. Conversely, there are vacuum cleaners specifically designed for spot cleaning, including this Bissel spot clean professional portable vacuum.

How to Clean a Shag Rug

Stains and Spills 

If you have large stains, big messes and overall “funkiness”, you’ll either want to get a steam cleaner or send your rug to the professionals.

You can purchase or even rent a steam cleaner if you don’t have the storage room or if you will only use it once or twice. A steam cleaner cleanses gently, which will protect the carpet fibers, while also being thorough enough to adequately clean your rug.

Chances are that a professional cleaner is the last option on your list. However, it could be worth the investment if you really want to save a badly-stained and dirty shag area rug.

Now that you know how to clean a shag rug, you will be able to enjoy it even more. If you’re considering buying a shag rug or would like to cut down on cleaning time, there are mess-prevention tips you can follow for success:

  • Clean regularly, before a smell develops. (vacuum)
  • Keep shoes off rug
  • Keep pets out of the area (if possible)
  • Rotate rug location for even wear

When it comes to rug maintenance, upkeep is important. If you keep your rug in good condition, you can enjoy it for years to come.

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