How to Clean Shag Rugs

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Vacuum attachment cleaning a white shag rug

Because of their length, shag rugs can often be difficult to clean. Whether you’re cleaning normal wear and tear or a spill or stain, learn these tricks to keep your shag rugs clean so they last longer.


John Maher: Welcome to the Rug Gallery with Sam Presnell. The Rug Gallery is an Oriental rug company and carpet store in Cincinnati, Ohio. I’m John Maher, I’m here with the owner of the Rug Gallery, Sam Presnell. Hi, Sam.

Sam Presnell: Hey, John.

John: Sam, today we’re talking about how to clean shag rugs. When I think of shag rugs, I think of my family’s old lake house back when I was growing up in the 1970s. We had this shag rug that I as a kid loved to get down on the floor and roll around. I think it was really popular back in the ’70s. They are still around today?

Sam: Yes, it’s definitely a resurgent [that] is very popular, especially among area rugs.

Shag Rugs: Using Them in Modern Homes

John: What types of the home are people using shag rugs in?

Sam: We’re seeing them everywhere. I’ve seen them in babies’ rooms. It’s kind of crazy how much usage you get. I have seen them pretty much used in every room in the house. Definitely the family rooms are another big area. Bedrooms, people love it when they feel [a shag rug under their bare foot]. If you like texture and you like some nice softness to, it’s a product that will look really cool in any space you put it in.

John: Cool. I guess for the same reason that I really liked it when I was a kid, people do like it. It’s nice and soft. It’s fun to walk on with your bare feet and so it’s nice. When you get off the side of your bed and you put your feet right down on that shag rug, it’s nice. Or in a playroom where you might be sitting on the floor watching TV or something like that, it’s cool.

Sam: It’s amazing how you express that feeling from that many years ago and that’s what a carpet can do for you. It can make you feel a certain way. That’s very cool way to look at it.

Are Shag Rugs Difficult to Clean?

John: Right. Are shag rugs more difficult to clean, though, than other types of rugs?

Sam: Most certainly. They are definitely more difficult because you have to remember you’ve got dirt and different stuff falling in between the fibers [that are] looser. The stuff is going to work its way into the back and you’ve got to get it out of there. When something does get into it, usually it gets on the side of [the] fiber, not just on the top of it. Things tend to absorb quickly into the back of the carpet as well as on the face.

Tips for Cleaning Shag Rugs

John: What are some tips that you can give to people in terms of cleaning their shag rugs?

Sam: If you have some type of shop vac or some type of cleaning mechanism, that’d be great. Keep it handy because there will be spills and things like that you want to get at right away. Speed is always very important about any stain or anything getting into a carpet and keeping it clean. That would be my recommendation. Basically if it’s a wet stain, blot it as much as you can, don’t scrub it. Just kind of blot, get as much of it [up] as you can.

At that point, maybe get some water, a cup of water and just kind of pour it on there and suck out the water as much as you can until you’ve got enough of the coloring that has been dropped on the carpet out of it. At that point, I would say that’s about as far as you’re going to get. Maybe call a professional and have it done professionally, because they know how to do things that you’re not going to be able to achieve.

Professional Carpet Cleaning for Shag Rugs

John: You’d recommend professional carpet cleaning for shag rugs? What do they do that’s different than what I’d be able to do at home?

Sam: Like I said, the big thing is you stuck it into the back of the carpet. What professionals do that you wouldn’t be able to do in your home is they take it out, they have a dusting machine basically. It beats the back of the carpet and pushes that dirt and grime out of the face of the carpet first. You sweep it, you sucked stuff out of it. At that point, the equipment that they have for cleaning, they have different type of equipment that can spin it [with] high extractions that can put a lot of detergent in and extract it very thoroughly.

Then, rinse it very thoroughly as well. Which is something you’re not going to be able to do by yourself. The only problem today is there’s a lot of really cheap polyester shags out there that look great [and] feel like cotton. Throw those things away, they’re going to cost so much money to have cleaned professionally that you could probably put a little bit more money and buy a new one.

John: Interesting, okay. Alright that’s really great information, Sam. Thanks again for speaking with me today.

Sam: You’re welcome, John. Thank you.

John: For more information about Sam, the Rug Gallery and Oriental rugs and carpets, visit The Rug Gallery online or call 513-793-9505 and make sure you catch the latest episodes by subscribing to this podcast on iTunes. If you can take the time to give us a review on iTunes as well, would appreciate that. I’m John Maher, see you next time on the Rug Gallery.

Categories: Ask Sam, Rug

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