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How to Vacuum a Shag Rug? – An Ultimate 3-Step Guide

by  Lawrence -  Last updated on March 3, 2022

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Shag rugs add character and dimension to any room, and it is no wonder that it’s such a highly sought after statement piece.

But when it comes time to clean the house, it definitely adds extra hassle. Cleaning is already a bit of a nuisance since it can take up so much time, and when it comes to shag rugs, that statement is all the more true.

Regular carpets and rugs function a bit like large sponges. Though aesthetic, they hold onto everything from small crumbs, hair, old snacks, fingernails, dust, pet droppings, and more. It’s a nest for anything that drops but also does a good job maintaining a deceptively clean look.

Typically these are quite straightforward to clean: you would probably vacuum them, throw it in the laundry machine, handwash them, beat or shake it, use a broom, or use some cleaning formulas or agents when you have to deal with some tough stains.

The shag rug isn’t just a normal carpet that you’d typically clean. It’s not as simple as just shaking or beating it. Normally your rugs or carpets would have a short layer of fabric that can either be soft or rough. On the other hand, shag rugs are made of long, thick strands of fabric that give it a luxurious, cloudiness texture and feel.

Though this is what makes shag rugs quite desirable and unique, their long strings make it a bit difficult to clean and they tend to need more frequent maintenance since it’s easier for these long fibers to gather and hold onto dust and other things. You would think a broom might be a solution for the unique filaments, but it isn’t that simple.

How to Properly Vacuum a Shag Rug

First off, you’ll need to get a proper vacuum for the shag rug. Your choice shouldn’t be too strong that it will pull out the strands of fabric from the rug, but it shouldn’t be so weak that it can’t pick up the debris that’s laying on the base of the rug either.

Vacuum cleaners nowadays will have different options so you should be able to adjust the settings, but double-check with the manufacturer just in case.

In addition to the body of the vacuum, try to make sure the vacuum head is appropriate for the shag rug. Ideally, your vacuum comes with a couple of different brush heads to ensure that the sucking mechanism won’t get tangled up with the shag rug strings.

Similarly, you should avoid any vacuums with rollers because those can get entangled with the shag rug. Finally, try not to use heavy vacuums because their weight may put too much pressure on the shag rug and ruin the look.

Step One

First, depending on the size of your shag rug, you want to take it outdoors and give it a good shake. If the shag rug is too big for you to lift and shake by yourself, drape it over a chair and shake each of the ends. You can also ask someone to give you a hand and shake out the rug like you would shake out a comforter after you put your duvet cover on it.

At this point, you should be able to see some dust particles and other debris come out of the rug and float off into the wind.

As an extra step, you can fold the shag rug on itself and vacuum the backside of the rug to get the bottom clean. This will also help loosen up any rubbish. Once you’d done so, give it a good shake before taking the rug back inside.

Step Two

If you have any pets or just want to add some extra cleaning, you can use a carpet freshener for your shag rug. This will help with the deep cleaning and also further loosen any pieces of debris that might be clinging onto the shag rug strands of fabric.

They also come in a variety of scents and also unscented so you can choose one that won’t make you feel nauseous. Wait for about five minutes after sprinkling it in before you start to vacuum, to give it time to do its work.

Step Three

Once you’ve given the carpet freshener a chance to set in, you can proceed with vacuuming the top part of the shag rug.

While regular carpets and rugs can withstand vacuuming over the same spot over and over again, you’ll want to avoid doing this because shag rugs are quite delicate and this can cause permanent damage.

You should just need to go over the carpet in every direction and make sure to tackle each area from all and different angles because you might catch those annoying hairs that may get tangled up in the shag rug.

If you see some debris and your vacuum is having trouble getting it, and you have different vacuum heads that you can switch on, you can remove the head of your vacuum and stick the pipe to that spot for better-concentrated suction.

If your shag rug has some more permanent stains or damage, you might need to use specific cleaning solutions or carpet cleaners that are a bit more strong. A good DIY fix is combining all-purpose white diluted vinegar, warm water, and some salt and lemon. Also, it will work well for cleaning white, fluffy rugs as well.


Vacuuming a shag rug isn’t actually all that complicated, but it’s just a bit more work than a normal carpet that you can just throw into the laundry machine.

If you don’t have the time and want to make sure that your shag rug is getting a really deep clean, it’s always worth it to go get a professional to do it properly. Like dry cleaning, professional cleaning has the potential to make your shag rug last longer while also ensuring that it looks its best.

But if you have the time and don’t mind putting a bit more effort in, then these steps will have your shag rug looking like new in no time.

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