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How to Clean a Fluffy Shag Rug

With their high piles, shaggy rugs are some of the cosiest rugs around, making them an incredibly popular option for the home. The long, loose fibres of this style make it luxuriously soft and fluffy underfoot, so there's no doubt you'll want to keep it that way.

Although it's the high pile that makes the rug incredibly comfortable, they can also make it a little bit trickier to clean, compared to other types of rug. If your fluffy rug gets a bad stain, the safest way to wash it is to take it to a professional cleaner. They will have all the specialist tools and will know just what to do to get it looking as good as new.

But, for routine cleaning and minor stains, you can revive your rug right at home, so you can get it looking fresh and fluffy again.

For shaggy rugs, you can usually get rid of everyday dust and dirt by taking it outside, hanging it over your washing line, and beating it with a broom handle. This is often the best option and the first step you should try before carrying out any other cleaning methods. For a deeper clean or for more stubborn dirt, you may need to try a more thorough cleaning method.

Cleaning a shaggy rug is very similar to cleaning a sheepskin rug. But, as shag rugs are often made from man-made polyester or polyester blends, they can usually be more hardwearing than natural wool versions with a hide backing, making them a little easier to clean.

In this guide, we'll answer any questions you may have about how to clean a shag rug, giving you our expert tips on:

  • How to hoover a fluffy rug
  • How to clean a shaggy rug by hand
  • Can you use carpet cleaner on a shaggy rug?
  • How to steam clean a shag rug
  • Can I put a shaggy rug in the washing machine?
  • How to make a shaggy rug fluffy again
  • How to keep a fluffy rug clean

Please note that these shag rug cleaning methods apply to all types of shaggy and fluffy rugs, including wool-based flokati rugs and those made from polyester.

How to hoover a fluffy rug

If you've tried beating it and you're wondering whether you can hoover a shag rug, you'll be pleased to know that you can! Often, all your rug will need is a little vacuum to freshen it up and get it looking clean and fluffy again. We'd always recommend doing this before any other cleaning takes place.

Just follow the steps below to vacuum your long pile rug:

  1. If you have one, use a carpet rake to dislodge any pet hair and dirt that has collected in the deep piles and the vacuum may not be able to reach. If you don't have a carpet rake, a rubber broom or soft bristled brush can also work well. This step is optional, but you may want to try it if you'd like to get a deeper clean.
  2. Take your fluffy rug outside and give it a good shake to get rid of any loose dirt. You might also want to hang it over your washing line and give it another quick beating with a broom handle to loosen more stubborn particles.
  3. Leave the rug in the sun for a couple of hours, as this can help kill some of the bacteria that may live inside the carpet fibres. This will also help deodorise your shag rug and get it smelling fresh and lovely again. Remember to only leave your rug in the sun for short periods of time, as the sun's rays can start to fade the colour.
  4. Once the two hours is up, bring it straight inside to continue cleaning. Using the handheld crevice or upholstery attachment on your vacuum, gently go over the fluffy surface of your shag rug before flipping it over and vacuuming the underside, too. Keep the area taut with your hands to make it easier to clean.
  5. After vacuuming, you may want to go over your rug again using a carpet brush to help fluff it back up. Again, this step is optional.

Most modern vacuum cleaners have a beater bar, which is the rotating bar at the base of the machine fitted with small brushes. These brushes agitate the carpet and remove dirt.

When you clean a shag rug, the beater bar can be too powerful and the fibres may become tangled into the vacuum, causing damage to both your machine and your rug. Unless your vacuum cleaner has a high pile setting that turns the beater bar off, try to avoid using it upright. You should always use a handheld attachment to clean your fluffy rug instead.

We'd recommend vacuuming your fluffy rug at least once a fortnight to keep it looking fresh, but you may need to vacuum it more frequently (at least once a week) if it's in a high traffic area.

How to clean a shaggy rug by hand

Sometimes, spills and stains can happen no matter how careful you are. But this doesn't necessarily mean you'll need to give your whole shaggy rug a deep clean, as you might be able to try a spot clean first if you react quickly enough.

Because you're only targeting the areas that need attention, this might be the quickest and best way to clean a shag rug. You can also use the following method to do a routine deep clean of your shag rug by hand, working in sections until the whole rug has been covered.

  1. Before starting, check the label to make sure your shag rug can handle moisture and can be cleaned with water. Unless it states 'dry clean only' it should be fine.
  2. Using a damp, light-coloured cloth, dab at the stain to remove any residue. Try to avoid rubbing the stain as this can push it deeper into the fibres and make it more difficult to wash. We'd always recommend using a white cloth for cleaning, especially for white and cream shaggy rugs. Not only can this make it easier to see how much of the stain is coming off, but you won't risk any dye transferring onto your shaggy rug.
  3. Keep rinsing out the cloth and mopping up the spill until nothing else comes out onto the cloth.
  4. If some of the mark remains, mix equal parts water and white vinegar, or use a mixture of lukewarm or hot water and dish soap. Pour your mixture into a spray bottle so you can control the amount you use, then spray one to three spritzes and gently blot the stain until it has gone. You can spray a few more spritzes if the stain persists.
  5. Once the stain has gone, remove any residual cleaner using a fresh damp cloth and dry with a towel.
  6. Hang your fluffy rug over a washing line or railing to air dry.
  7. If it’s a particularly stubborn stain, you can sprinkle it with a bit of baking soda to remove the smell and dampness. After around 30 minutes, vacuum up the remaining powder. Baking soda can be used on a variety of stains. For more information, take a look at our guide on cleaning rugs with baking soda.

You can find more information on removing stains from any rug, including tea, coffee, soda, nail varnish, red wine, and dog pee in our advice centre.

How to spot clean solid stains on a shaggy rug

If your fluffy rug has solid stains, such as food, you can try scraping most of it off using a spoon before cleaning by hand. Unless the stain is mud, do this as soon as possible to prevent it setting. Again, avoid rubbing or scrubbing the stain deeper into the carpet fibres.

If you have mud on your shaggy rug, let it dry first before cleaning, as this will make it much easier to scrape off. For more information on this, take a look at our guide on how to get mud out of rugs.

Can you use a carpet cleaner on a shaggy rug?

Before using a carpet cleaner on your rug, it's wise to seek advice from the rug manufacturer or the carpet cleaning company to check that your rug can get wet and can handle the carpet cleaning solution.

However, if your rug can be cleaned with water, then it's generally safe to use a rented carpet cleaner, such as a Rug Doctor, to wash it. These will clean your shag rug with hot water and a specialist carpet shampoo, while their in-built vacuum will suck away any excess water and dirt.

If you want to clean a very large or slightly smelly shaggy rug, then a specialist carpet cleaner will be the most effective and efficient choice.

Because shag rugs are very thick and have a long, deep pile, it's wise not to let them get too wet, as they can retain a lot of moisture and take a long time to dry naturally. To help prevent this, only go over once with your carpet cleaner on the washing mode, then go over a second time with just the vacuum setting enabled to remove as much moisture as possible.

Once your shag rug has been cleaned, hang it up to air dry completely before placing it back on the floor.

If it can't get wet, you can clean your shag rug with a powder-based carpet cleaner, such as dry shampoo cleaners. Just sprinkle the powder onto your rug and leave it to work for at least 10 minutes or for as long as the manufacturer recommends on the packaging.

For particularly stubborn areas, you may need to use a soft bristle brush to work the cleaner deep into the fibres. Then, as you vacuum it up it should remove any dirt and odours with it.

How to steam clean a shag rug

Steam cleaning can be a very effective way to wash your shag rug and remove odours. Because it uses heat to loosen dirt and kill bacteria, you don’t need to use any harsh cleaning chemicals to achieve a great result. Plus, most steam cleaners come with small nozzles and attachments, meaning you can target specific areas.

Shag rugs made from synthetic fibres, like polyester and acrylic, can be steam cleaned. But bear in mind that steam cleaning is not recommended for rugs made from natural materials, such as sheepskin or wool rugs. This is because extreme heat can shrink and damage the wool fibres.

If you have one of these styles, it's best to stick to a different cleaning method. Our guide on how to clean a sheepskin rug and make it fluffy again should be able to help.

If your shaggy rug can be steam cleaned, just follow these steps:

  1. Before steam cleaning your shag rug, you should always beat it and vacuum it to get rid of any loose dirt.
  2. You might find that your steam cleaner has come with a sock or cloth to place on the end of the nozzle. This will help pick up any dirt as well as protect the rug fibres from becoming damaged as a result of direct heat. You should always apply this cloth before plugging your steam cleaner into the socket.

If you've lost your sock or your machine didn't come with one, you can always use an old tea towel or cloth instead.

  1. Add cold water to your steamer and allow it to heat up. Most modern machines only use steam to clean surfaces, but some may require you to add a shampoo or detergent along with the water.
  2. Once your water has heated up, you can start to clean your shaggy rug, focusing on one small area at a time to ensure the whole rug gets adequate cleaning. It's important that you're as gentle as possible when steam cleaning your shag rug, so start off on the lowest setting. If nothing seems to be happening, you can turn it up a setting until you start noticing some results.
  3. When you're finished, hang your shaggy rug to air dry completely before placing it back onto the floor. Because most of the water you've added to the machine has evaporated into steam, your long pile rug should only be slightly damp, so should dry completely within 24 hours. This can be the case for even thick shaggy rugs.

Can I put a shaggy rug in the washing machine?

We'd usually only recommend cleaning your rug in the washing machine if it explicitly states on the label that it's a machine washable rug. Due to their loose pile fibres, it's best to avoid cleaning your shaggy rug in the washing machine if possible, as it may damage the deep pile and cause shedding.

Due to the amount of water your washing machine uses, your shag rug will also take a very long time to air dry, so we'd always recommend an alternative cleaning method instead, such as spot cleaning by hand, steam cleaning, or using a carpet cleaner.

How to make a shaggy rug fluffy again

Over time, the fibres of shag rugs can become flat and dull, losing their original luxurious fluff that you love. If this happens, it's very easy to revive your rug and get it looking fluffy again.

Often, taking it outside, hanging it over your washing line, and giving it a little beating with a broom handle will help separate the fibres and revive the rug's fluff.

If your rug still isn't as fluffy as you'd like it, you can try giving your shaggy rug a quick vacuum can help bring back its natural fluff. You might also want to use a carpet rake or rubber bristled broom before and after vacuuming. This will help dislodge hair and dirt for more effective cleaning, as well as bring some fluff back to your shaggy rug.

How to keep a fluffy rug clean

No matter how careful you are, your fluffy rug can gather some dirt and bacteria that is unavoidable in daily life. Mud, dust, pollen, and food particles can all collect deep below the carpet fibres. But, if you clean your shag rug regularly, it can last for many years to come.

We'd always recommend beating or vacuuming your rug at least once a week to keep it clean if it's sitting in a high traffic area like your living room or bedroom. Make sure you vacuum the underside of the rug at least once a month to keep dust at bay, too.

As for shag rug cleaning, make sure you mop up any spillages immediately and try spot cleaning as soon as possible to lift any staining.

We’d usually recommend you clean your shag rug fully two or three times a year. It's always best to take your rug to a professional cleaner for this, as they'll have all the tools and knowledge to be able to clean your rug thoroughly without damaging it.

For more information, take a look at our guide on making your rug last longer.

The tips in this guide can help you clean and revive your shag rugs without damaging them. By being gentle and keeping on top of your cleaning routine, you can enjoy the luxurious comfort of your fluffy rug for years to come. Looking for more advice on rug cleaning? We have plenty of online guides to help you remove the most common household stains.

Now that you know all about how to clean a shag rug, why not browse the range of shaggy rugs we have here at Rugs Direct? All of our rugs have been made to a high quality and, with our price promise, you're bound to find the perfect rug to suit your budget. If you see the same rug for a better price elsewhere, we'll match it! Plus, we offer free standard UK delivery on all orders, so you can have your brand-new rug delivered for no extra charge.

If you're not quite sure where to start, our help and advice centre is full of handy tips to help you choose your perfect rug. We've got expert advice on choosing the right rug material, as well as picking the right rug for your room. If you need further assistance or have any questions about our rugs, don’t hesitate to get in touch by calling 0330 113 4909 or emailing us at customerservice@rugsdirect.co.uk.

Please note that these techniques are intended as advice only and are not a substitute for professional rug cleaning methods. Rugs Direct is not liable for any damage resulting from this advice.