Best care methods: How to vacuum shag rugs

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If you’re the proud owner of a beautiful shag carpet, you know how luxurious and cozy it can make your living space feel. But with great comfort comes great responsibility — can you vacuum shag rugs, and how do you properly care for them?

A picture of a kitten stretching upside down on a shag rug.
Photo credit: Depositphotos.

In this article, we’ll share our top tips for vacuuming, cleaning and maintaining your shaggy rug so you can enjoy its plush texture and stylish appearance for years.

Can you vacuum shag rugs?

Yes, you can vacuum a shag rug. But, similar to cleaning cast iron, you must do it correctly.

You might hesitate to vacuum a shag rug because the long, fluffy fibers could get caught in the brush roll or beater bar.

It’s true that if the vacuum is set too low, it can pull on the carpet fibers, causing the rug to become matted and distorted. This would result in an uneven and unattractive appearance.

Rest assured, you can vacuum a shag rug, but the approach differs slightly from cleaning a regular carpet.

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Vacuuming a shag rug: Tips and techniques

Vacuuming helps to remove dirt, dust particles, and other debris that can accumulate in a high-pile carpet, keeping it clean and looking great. Consider these tips for best results.

Choosing the right vacuum for your shag rug

Not all vacuums are created equal; some are better suited for cleaning shag rugs than others. The best vacuum will have a motorized brush roll, as this will help to agitate the rug fibers and remove dirt particles and debris more effectively. 

Additionally, choose a type of vacuum with adjustable settings, as too much suction power can damage the delicate fibers of a shag rug.

Setting the right vacuum height

The vacuum can damage the long fibers or get stuck in the pile if the height is too low. Conversely, if the height is too high, the vacuum won’t effectively remove dirt and debris from the rug. 

As a general rule, the vacuum should be set to the highest height possible while still allowing it to clean the carpet effectively.

Preparing your shag rug for vacuuming

Remove loose dirt or debris from the rug using a soft-bristled brush or a broom. This will prevent the vacuum from clogging.

Vacuuming your shag rug

Vacuum the perimeter of the rug first and work your way inward. Use the vacuum’s crevice tool to clean the edges of the rug. Then, use long, slow strokes to vacuum the rest. Be careful not to press down too hard or move too quickly. 

If your vacuum has a beater brush, turn it off to avoid damaging the rug’s fibers.

Vacuuming frequency

Generally, shag rugs should be vacuumed at least once a week, although heavy traffic areas may require more frequent vacuuming.

A picture of a shag rug cropped to show the bottom left corner.
Photo credit: Depositphotos.

An easy step-by-step: How to vacuum a shag rug

Follow the step-by-step guide on how to vacuum a shag rug without problems.


  • A vacuum cleaner with adjustable height settings and a beater bar or brush roll
  • Rug rake or brush, optional


  1. Clear the rug by removing any obvious pieces of dirt and garbage. Use an optional rug rake or brush if you have one.
  2. Adjust your vacuum’s height settings to the highest level. If your vacuum has a gentle or high-pile setting, use that instead.
  3. Vacuum the shag rug in different directions to prevent matting. Use long, slow strokes with gentle pressure. Flip the rug over and vacuum the underside too.
  4. Clean your vacuum’s brush roll or beater bar. Pull out any hair, dirt or debris that may have accumulated.
  5. Fluff the shag rug. Give a few brisk strokes with your hand or optional rug rake or brush until the rug looks perky and inviting again.
A picture of a white shag rug on a wooden floor.
Photo credit: Depositphotos.

Alternative methods for cleaning shag rugs

While vacuuming is an effective way to clean shag rugs, you can use alternative methods for a quick clean when you don’t feel like taking out the machine.

Consider these, and basic decluttering practices, as simple steps towards keeping a clean and tidy home.

  • Shaking the rug: Take the rug outside and give it a good shake to loosen any dirt or debris trapped in the deep pile. This method is the best option for a small rug that you can lift and shake easily.
  • Beating the rug: Lay the rug flat on a clean surface or drape it on a clothesline and use a tool like a rug beater, broom or tennis racket to gently beat the rug from left to right and up to down. This method is a good option for larger rugs that are difficult to move and shake, plus you’ll get that classic clean cotton smell by airing it outside.
  • Brushing the rug: Use a soft-bristled brush or a carpet rake to gently brush the rug, working in the direction of the pile. This method gives the best results for old, delicate rugs and those prone to damage.
  • Spot cleaning: Use a clean cloth or sponge to blot the stain if you accidentally spill chip dip, wine or something else. Avoid rubbing it further into the rug’s fibers. Then, mix a mild detergent solution and warm water in a spray bottle to clean the affected area. Rinse the area thoroughly with clean water and leave the rug to air dry completely before using it again.

Regular maintenance: How to keep your shag rug looking its best

After giving your rug regular vacuuming, there are a few final recommendations to remember. 

  1. Avoid placing heavy furniture on your shag rug.
  2. Rotate your rug every six months to prevent uneven wear and tear. 
  3. Avoid exposing your shag rug to direct sunlight.
  4. Avoid high foot traffic areas and use a rug pad to prevent slippage and cushion the rug.
  5. Consider having your shag rug professionally cleaned every one to two years.

Following the step-by-step guide and tips in this article, you can safely and efficiently vacuum your shag rug.

Jessica Haggard is the creator of the blog Easy Homemade Life. She inspires and supports homemakers with easy recipes, natural home cleaning tips and DIY tutorials for personal care products to promote a happy and healthy home environment.

This article originally appeared on Easy Homemade Life.

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