What You Should Know About Shag Carpeting

shag carpeting

The cushioned material and deep pile of shag carpets rose to popularity during the age of hippies and discos, and although it went out of style for a while, its currently making a comeback in modern times in improved and modernized versions such as frieze carpets.

Modern shaggy rugs are made with synthetic fibers, and they give your room a very beautiful and warm feeling. But before we talk about modern-day shag rugs, let’s go into a little bit of history about shag carpets.

History of Shag Carpets

Shag carpeting draws its origin from the “flokati” rugs of Ancient Greece. Although its style is mainly associated with the 1960 and 70s, shag rugs have actually been used as a flooring material throughout history.

They started out as long, deep piled rugs that were constructed from long strands of woven goat hair, it is made up of looped yarn, which is raised up creating a deep pile, which is soft when walked upon and very comfortable to sit on.

The long fibers give it its shaggy looks, which gave the carpet its name. They were popular across the Middle East, especially in places like Central Asia and turkey, and they were used to decorate royal palaces.

The use of shag carpet rose quickly during the 1960s and 70s because then it was associated with the free-love aesthetics of hippies.

But during the 1980s, though, the style began to wane ad shags were seen as outdated.

Shag carpet has begun making a comeback in recent years with a classic twist because unlike the older generations of shag carpets, the modern shag has less garish colors, and it comes in quite a number of colors.

This new reinvented style of shag carpets is once more popular because it gives a plush, cushy flooring for owners to walk on.

But having such an elegant item comes with a catch, shag rugs can be a PAIN! 

They are significantly harder to clean than regular rugs and carpets. They have thick soft and higher piles than regular rugs, and this means that the fibers are cut longer than in regular carpeting.

Dust and dirt sink deep into the crevices between the fibers, and this makes it nearly impossible to reach them all.

Shag rugs can be very heavy, and this makes them more difficult to handle and clean, especially when it’s a fluffy white rug.

There are tons of different varieties of shag rugs, and this adds to the difficulty because each shaggy carpet should be cleaned and taken care of differently according to its specific materials.

Types of Shag Rugs


There are mainly two types of wool shag carpeting; they are “noodles” and “shaggy.

Noodle rugs have thick wool fibers and come in noodles shape, and they make a great luxurious and soft rug, but their texture does come at a price. 

But their soft fibers attract anything, dust, dirt, hair and other particles, they stick on your rug and make a home in it.

Not only does this carpet attract lots of things, but it’s very hard to clean because the turfs are loosely attached to the backing, and this makes it easy for them to pull out.

Read: How to remove slime from carpet

The other kind of wool rug, which is the shaggy rug, has fibers that are a lot thinner and close together than noodle rugs.

They are much easier to clean that the fluffier version above, and because their knots are much close together, its more difficult for dirt to slip right through the cracks.

They are more durable and easy to care for, but most times, they are more expensive than traditional rugs. 


Flokati rugs are a type of handmade rug, traditionally made in Greece. They are usually white or cream in color but can be dyed easily into multiple color schemes. They are 100% wool, including the backing of the rug.

Flokati rugs are the fluffiest types of shag carpet, but they get dirty easily, so they require constant cleaning and brushing.

To maintain flokati rug’s fluffy look, you have to clean it on a regular basis even before it gets dirty; otherwise, you will have a rug that gets really messy, matted, and even stained to the point where you can never get back to the original look.


Leather shag carpets look like crumpled up paper masquerading as a rug. They are a bit easier to clean than the others because you can use a leather cleaner to clean them.

However, this rug can be a bit pricey based on the type of leather and brand.  

They are also not pet-friendly or even life-friendly, if I may say. You have to place your leather shag rug in an area with low traffic in your home, and also in a place where it won’t come in contact with pets, liquid or food.

Basically, a leather shag rug is just a piece of accessory; you can look at it but can’t touch it else you ruin it.


Acrylic shag rugs are a knockoff of wool rugs, it lacks the luster and vibrancy of wool, and the texture is scratchier.

Acrylic rugs grab dust, dirt, hair, and do not let it go. They are very hard to keep clean, and the turfs are very easy to pull out as well.

But they are very cheap to buy, but unlike wool, acrylic is highly flammable. Wool fibers self-extinguishes when lit with a flame, but that is not the case with an acrylic shag rug. We do not recommend putting it in your home.

Read: How to get acrylic paint out of carpet


Synthetic rugs are primarily plastic fibers, so they can take the heat and hot water extraction, which natural fibers like wool cannot.

This means that synthetic rugs can be surface cleaned more easily because steam cleaning a rug takes lesser time than thoroughly washing it.

But with this type of rug, even with the most powerful tools at a carpet cleaning company disposal, they would need to clean it with hand tools because carpet machines would not work on long strands as they would pull on the turfs and unravel it.

How to Clean a Shag rug

As mentioned above, there are different types of shag rugs with different textures. Each has a specific tolerance to steam, vacuum, and cleaning chemicals. Here are some tips and tricks to properly clean your rugs.


It is being said that you cannot vacuum a shag rug, but you can; you just have to be very cautious about it.

Vacuuming shag carpets takes a different method. The only similarity between vacuuming regular rugs and shag rugs is that you have to vacuum them at least once or twice a week, especially if they are in a high traffic location.

The dissimilarities, on the other hand, are that; you should never use a regular upright vacuum to clean your shag carpet; you’ll damage your rug, your vacuum, or even both.

Shag rugs are too thick to vacuum, and their fibers could get stuck in the vacuum rotating beater bar, and that could rip out the shag out of the back of the rug.

If you are going to vacuum a shag carpet, you can choose any of the following options;

If your shag rug covers a large area, you can buy a suction only vacuum without a beater bar. But if that’s too expensive, you can get some vacuum attachments like an upholstery accessory. 

But if you are not willing or able to spend a couple of bucks, then you can uncouple the beater bar from your standard vacuum.

The beater bar is present in the main suction area of a vacuum, it is round in shape and has brush bristles on it.

Now that you know the right type of vacuum for your rug, it is time to actually vacuum;

Gently vacuum your rug with an attachment row by row. You can turn your rug over and also vacuum the back to knock out the dirt lying in the shag.

Shaking out your rug before vacuuming can also be helpful in getting a fuller clean.

Also, a carpet rake attachment is the best accessory for your hairy rug, it looks like a comb, and it grooms your rug with its comb-like bristles while also vacuuming.

One very important point of note is that vacuuming doesn’t take all the dirt out of your carpet; you should keep running over the same spot with your vacuum for at least two to three times to achieve the best results.

This specifically applies to white or beige colored shag rugs because of their light color tone. If you feel like the vacuum is pulling on the rug fibers, stop immediately.

Shake it

This applies very well for large rugs, you can take it outside and shake it, but make sure the wind isn’t blowing towards you. Hang the rug upside down over a clothesline and hit it with a broom or mop handle.

Don’t overdo it, just hit it enough to loosen up the dirt and dust particles.

Some people recommend leaving the rug outside in the sun for a few hours to kill lingering germs, but something to keep in mind is that the sun’s UV rays can ruin the color if your shag carpet if it sits in the sun for too long.

You can also use a dog’s wide-toothed brush to fluff up your rug, but remember this step can only work on wool rugs, if your shag rug is synthetic, you can ruin it.

Dry Bath

Sometimes even with shaking and vacuuming, your rug may still look dirty; this might sound common to those who own a pink or grey color shag rug.

The color tone makes them very sensitive to dust; giving your rug a bath with dry shampoo is an easy way out.

All you need is some dry shampoo of any good brand and a brush with soft bristles, giving your rug a bath in an outside area is preferable as the process can create a lot of mess.

Firstly, sprinkle the dry shampoo all over the rug, then use the brush to gently clean the rug, after which you should let the shampoo sit, and depending on your shampoo the time varies, you should check the product manufacturer instructions for that, but it’s normally around 10 minute or so.

Lastly, use your vacuum to take out the shampoo from the rug; this will help in breaking dirt and dust loose from the fiber strands.

Spot Cleaning

This cleaning step is a savior to shag rugs, just spilling some drink on your rug is enough to give one a mini heart attack, so probably you just had a spillover, here are some tips to help save the day

Firstly, use a white or neutral-colored cloth to vigorously clean up the spill before they set deep into the rug, the cloth has to be white or neutral colored because you don’t want to ruin the risk of transferring the fabric color unto your rug.

Using the cloth absorb as much spill as you can, but avoid doing this in a rubbing motion as will spread the stain but instead, just dab and press hard to soak up the spill.

Afterward, take a clean wet cloth and start dabbing again on the stained spot,  continue doing this until you have taken care of the stain. Baby wipes and wet paper towels also works great in this situation, but make sure they are alcohol-free.

If your rug still needs more cleaning, you can get a gentle dish soap or detergent, mix it in some water to form a solution, soak a clean cloth in it and use it to rub out the stain gently.

Once the stain is removed, allow your rug to air dry properly.

Vinegar also works great in spot cleaning, but make sure to dilute it properly. Mix equal part of vinegar with water and use it to remove the stain like you would with detergent.

Read: Homemade Floor Cleaner

Steam Cleaning

A steam cleaner is also a great alternative to thoroughly clean your rug. Its also an easy method that gets rid of all the dirt, dust, and odor, even those that have settled deep into the rug.

In order to achieve great results with this method, you have to first start with the vacuum; this is because a vacuumed rug gets a better cleaning with a steam cleaner.

Once the vacuum removed the top layer of dirt, the steam cleaner gets to focus more on dirt buried deep inside the rug.

Move the steam cleaner from one side to another covering the whole rug, continue till your rug is spotless, then leave the rug at a well-ventilated area and let it air dry properly.


You need to pay special attention to your shag rugs in order to prolong its lifetime, which means you must not let your rug stay dirty for a long time.

Keep vacuuming them on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, this is to ensure no dust has the chance to settle deeply into the rug, and whenever there’s a spill, you spot clean immediately.

But your rug is going to need thorough cleaning at least once or twice every year; you can dry clean it or better still, go for a detailed washing procedure.

It may seem like a hard task to perform, but you just need to be determined and gentle with the rug’s fibers.

So how do you wash your shag rugs? First thing first, you have to start with vacuuming, just like with steam cleaning. If your rug isn’t that large, you can wash it in your tub; washing on a clean floor is also another alternative.

Fill the tub you are using with some warm water, add a gentle detergent, and mix it in, put the rug inside and let it sit for about 10 minutes.

You can use your hands or a brush with soft bristles to gently remove the stains on your rug. Rinse the rug properly to remove the soap, then leave it in an open area for it to air dry.

You may be wondering if you can machine wash your shag carpet, the answer is yes!

But only if your rug doesn’t have a rubber back. You can use cold water and set your washer to a gentle cycle to machine wash it. But it must be noted that a washer isn’t the best option to clean your shag carpets.

Cool Air Dryer

This method can mainly be used on small rugs, use a dryer with no heat just only air to clean your rug. This will help to take out the dust deeply rooted in them.

Take it to Professionals.

If you want deeper cleaning than the methods stated above or you don’t feel up to the task, you can take your rug to people who clean them for a living.

Keep in mind that getting your rug professionally washed can be a little pricey due to the difficulty involved.

Related: How to get wrinkle of out carpet without a carpet stretcher


The maintenance of shag carpeting requires a bit more work than other floors, but most times, it’s worth it. 

You can protect your rugs by using a scotch guard, spray it all over your rug to gain protection against stains on your rug fibers.

You can also place the rug in a low-traffic area, or place a strict rule at home regarding your rug; no one should be allowed to eat or throw trash around it.

Also, avoid walking over your shag carpet with your shoes on, and keep the floor beneath it clean and dust-free.

Scroll to Top