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How to Clean + Care for a Shag Rug

Soft and inviting, shag rugs add a beautiful look and feel to any room of the home, whether it's a shag throw rug in an office or a more substantial area rug in a living room or den. The signature deep pile texture feels decadent, but can pose a challenge when it comes to cleaning and maintenance. Here's how to clean a shag rug with only a few quick and easy maintenance tips!

How to Vacuum a Shag Rug

Due to the construction of a shag rug, it will only need to be vacuumed once or twice a week, unless it's in a particularly "high traffic" area of your home. Carpet cleaning experts recommend hand vacuuming – combing through the fibers with a hand-held vacuum attachment – rather than relying on an upright, roller-style vacuum head.
This ensures thorough coverage without the potential frustration of lifting, tugging, or pushing an upright vacuum through resistant fibers. If you are relying on an upright vacuum without attachments, make sure the carpet height setting is set as high as possible to achieve the best results.

How to Wash a Shag Rug

For smaller or accent shag rugs, a quick and easy bath can help keep the fibers looking new and bright, even years into use. Just fill a basin or tub (a bathtub typically works well) with enough warm-to-hot water to cover the rug completely. Add in an appropriate amount of detergent formula that is made to safely clean your rug's material – e.g. wool, polyester, cotton, etc.
Gently agitate the rug's surface in the soapy water, by hand, for approximately 10 minutes and drain dirty water afterwards. Rinse with clean water, push as much water out of the shag rug fibers as possible, and allow the rug to dry outside or in an area with ample airflow around both the surface and underside of the rug.

How to Clean a Shag Area Rug

Larger shag rugs are more likely to experience staining, such as spilled beverages during parties or muddy footprints from family members trudging inside. When a rug bath isn't easy or feasible, it's important to treat any stains as thoroughly and quickly as possible when they occur. If the stain is liquid, such as a spilled cup of soda or wine, use an absorbent cloth to soak up as much of the liquid as possible.
If the stain comes from a solid substance like an upended plate of food, gently scoop or lift away as much of the material as possible before treating the residue. In both instances, it's very important not to rub or press down into the stain while cleaning, as this will essentially "set" the stain deep into your shag rug and make it harder to remove. Instead, once all the liquid or solid residue is removed, follow up with rug-material-safe stain treatment made for that specific type of residue and follow all manufacturer instructions. In most cases, a 50-50 white vinegar and water mixture makes an excellent cleanser, if a more targeted carpet cleaner is unavailable.

Other Shag Rug Cleaning Tips

To keep larger shag rugs from looking dingy or worn, periodically air them out over an outdoor railing or line. Fold the rug in half over the railing or line and use a rug beater or the end of a clean broom to firmly beat the surface of the rug. This will help dislodge unwanted particles, preventing buildup of allergenic debris like pet dander and fur. Shag rugs should also be allowed to sit in direct sunlight for a few hours every few months, as sun exposure will help kill dust mites and certain forms of bacteria as well. This extra step will keep your shag carpets and rugs looking and feeling fresh throughout the year, even in the busiest hallways and rooms.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Articles featuring tips and advice are intended for educational purposes and only as general recommendations. Always practice personal discretion when using and caring for furniture, decor and related items.