How to Vacuum a Shag Rug the Right Way

You can’t deny that shag rugs evoke a feeling of style and comfort to any room they inhabit. However, their purpose is best served when spick and span, so systematic cleaning is required to maintain their aesthetic value and delicate fabric.

After all, they breed immense debris, dirt, dirt, and allergens. For that reason, this guide will walk you through the ins and outs of how to vacuum shag rug to keep it looking good as new.

A Step-by-Step Process of How to Vacuum Shag Rug

Shag rugs are usually made of delicate materials, making them susceptible to damage from exposure to harsh chemicals. Therefore, you need to tread carefully when it comes to choosing a cleaning solution for rug cleaning. Keep the following tips in mind.

  • The rug should be compatible with the cleaning chemicals you use. Conduct a patch test on a small and inconspicuous part before you use it on the entire rug.
  • Before using them on your rug, take the time to read and understand the manufacturer’s instructions on the cleaning products.
  • When you vacuum the shag rug, avoid sucking in the fibers with excessive pressure.

To get started, follow the instructions below.

Step 1: Smack or Shake the Rug

A rug naturally accumulates bacteria, dust, dirt, debris, and allergens with usage and time. Therefore, you’ll need to shake it out or smack it with the following tips in mind.

  • If your rug is small, you can lift it without any assistance. For a larger one, you’ll need help to hold its opposite corners
  • Take the rug outdoors, wear a mask, and make sure the wind isn’t blowing in your direction
  • Smack the rug with the end of a broomstick or a carpet and rug beater to eliminate dust and debris. Hang it over a clothesline to ensure the process is less of a hassle

Leave the rug outdoors for up to 24 hours for exposure to air and sunlight. Doing so helps prevent the growth of fungi and bacteria.

Step 2: Use a Dry Shampoo

The initial dusting should be followed by a dry carpet shampoo that enhances the smacking effect and makes vacuum cleaning easier. To get started:

  • Keep your rug outdoors and use a soft-bristled brush to apply dry shampoo onto the rug’s surface. Don’t use brushes with hard bristles as they may damage the rug.
  • Sprinkle some dry shampoo on the shag rug and allow it to soak for an hour or two. Nevertheless, keep in mind that the duration the shampoo should be left on the rug surface is solely based on the brand because the chemical composition varies.
  • Follow the instructions of the dry shampoo

Step 3: Use a Vacuum Cleaner

Once you complete the initial dusting and apply the dry shampoo per the manufacturer’s instructions, use your carpet vacuum cleaner to eliminate fine dust particles and the shampoo from the surface. To get started:

  • Set your vacuum cleaner to a low pressure to avoid damaging the rug and uniformly move it across the surface
  • Move the vacuum head away from you and start the slow cleaning process. To prevent it from shifting, stand on one side of the rug while you vacuum
  • Flip the rug over and use the vacuum cleaner to get rid of the stubborn dust particles
  • Based on the rug color, you might need to vacuum the rug several times. Light-colored rugs require more vacuuming compared to darker options
  • If you notice the pressure of the vacuum ruining the rug, stop using it immediately
  • Once you’ve vacuumed the rug, clean the floor area underneath it

Once you’ve used the vacuum cleaner, it’s time to use a rug rake. It resembles a comb and aids in the removal of animal fur or stubborn debris.

Step 4: Clean any Stain Marks

The shag rug might also accumulate stains from food and beverages such as coffee, beer, tea, and fruit juice. Cleaning this is also essential for the restoration of your shag rug. To get started:

  • Once you notice a spillage on the surface of the rug, use a dry and soft cloth to absorb as much liquid as possible
  • The quicker you do it, the better, as it prevents the liquid from seeping into the fabric’s inner parts, making it harder to remove
  • Use a white cloth to avoid any color from seeping into your rug
  • Cleaning agents such as baby wipes can also come in handy for the cleaning process. However, they shouldn’t have alcohol because that is likely to damage the fabric. If you’re picky about the material you use, microfiber is a safe bet.

Maintaining a Shag Rug

Although a shag rug only requires vacuuming up to twice a week, based on traffic, try vacuuming by hand rather than using an upright vacuum. Doing so means you’ll eliminate more dirt from the rug and keep the fibers looking good as new.

Use a rug or carpet rake attachment to vacuum. It resembles a comb and vacuums the rug while grooming it with its soft bristles. Additionally, ask family and visitors to keep footwear off the rug and rotate it every 3 to 6 months.

A man vacuuming a rug
Source: Pexels

Vacuum the Floor Last

Given that dirt and debris drop to the ground, vacuuming your carpet and area rug is the true completion of room cleaning. Therefore, you should start by vacuuming your shag rug before you clean the floor, particularly if there’s a copious amount of pet hair, dust, and debris.

Make Sure Your Canister or Bag is Empty and Ready for Use

Your vacuum cannot function effectively as the debris will block the bag or canister. Moreover, that can overheat the motor and damage the unit.

Collect Large Pieces of Debris Before Your Begin

Larger items can damage your vacuum attachments, which means taking a few minutes to collect anything that can be potentially harmful to your machine.

Move Any Items or Furniture Before You Vacuum Your Shag Rug

Granted, an unencumbered space is blissful. Therefore, moving any items or furniture temporarily before you vacuum a shag rug makes the cleaning process easier and more thorough.

Choose the Ideal Setting or Attachment on Your Vacuum

Here, you’ll want to use the beater brush or power-head that helps brush hair and dust out of the shag pile rug.

Plug Your Vacuum Into the Nearest Exit Point of the Room

By doing so, you won’t experience the hassle of running across your freshly vacuumed shag rug to unplug it. Furthermore, you’ll keep the cord behind you throughout. That is ideal vacuuming etiquette.

Baseboards and Corners Come First

If you plan on vacuuming corners or baseboards, it’s worth keeping in mind that these come before you vacuum your shag rug.

Vacuum the Opposite Corner of the Exit Point of the Room

As you vacuum your shag rug, you’ll avoid vacuuming yourself into a corner when you vacuum the opposite corner of the exit point of the room.

Work in Sections

Vacuum the shag rug in sections in a ‘W’ pattern. Work your way around the rug, section by section, until it looks picture perfect.


Let’s explore the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about vacuuming a shag rug.

How often should you vacuum your shag rug?

The frequency is based on where you’ve positioned it in your home. Shag rugs in crowded places call for regular vacuuming. To keep your rag in tiptop condition, we recommend vacuuming once or twice every week to prevent it from fading and damaging the fabric permanently.

Is it tedious to vacuum a rug?

The process of vacuuming a shag rug is as straightforward as it gets. It closely resembles vacuuming the floor, with the only difference being the pressure. Nevertheless, if your rug is untidy and you’re using an old vacuum cleaner, we suggest roping in a professional.

Can you use a carpet cleaner to clean your shag rug?

If the care instructions on your rug or shag carpet indicate that it is compatible with water, using a carpet cleaner can be a wise move. Nevertheless, it’s better to use a steam cleaner or handheld carpet cleaner for full control.

Can you steam clean a shag rug?

A steam cleaner is perfect for getting rid of the odor, dirt, and dust that’s settled deep into your rug The process entails following the steps below.

  • Begin by vacuuming the rug to make the steam cleaning process easier. The vacuum eliminates the dirt on the surface and paves the way for the steam cleaner to focus more on the grime and dirt deep within
  • Mix water and the carpet cleaner in the steamer. Avoid putting in an excessive amount of the solution as it may negatively impact the shagginess of the rug
  • Move the steam cleaner from one edge of the rug to another until it becomes spotless
  • Once it’s clean, put the shag rug outside to air-dry

Bottom Line

Shag rugs are valued possessions that a multitude of people rely on to spruce up their homes. Now that you know how to vacuum shag rug, you can keep it free of allergens, bacteria, dust, debris and other contaminants.

Scroll to Top