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How to Clean a Shaggy Rug at Home

Written by James Hall |

How to clean a shaggy rug

Does your shaggy rug need to be cleaned? Here are some easy methods for refreshing your rug at home.

A shaggy rug adds a plush feel to any room. But cleaning a shaggy can be daunting, as you need to take special care of its long fibres.

Fortunately, there are some simple methods you can use to clean a shaggy rug. Here are a few of our favourites.

Make sure you read the instructions for cleaning your shag rug. Some rugs are dry clean only, for example, so you can’t use water. For stubborn stains or cleaning dry clean only rugs, we recommend contacting a professional.

1. Shake The Rug

Shaking a shaggy rug is an easy to get rid of any loose debris and dirt. Make sure you do this outside, as you’ll probably be surprised by how much dirt comes out.

If the rug is small, you can shake it on your own. For bigger rugs, you’ll probably need two people. Make sure you don’t stand downwind unless you want to get covered in dirt!

Step 1 – Shake And Snap The Rug

  • Hold the rug firmly by the corners and give it a series of sharp shakes and snaps to loosen the dirt and dust in the long fibres.

Step 2 – Leave In The Sun

  • Leave the shaggy hanging on a firm structure such as a railing or sturdy washing line to soak up the sun for an hour or two. 
  • This process will help eliminate any bacteria and mites that might be lurking in the rug.

2. Vacuum The Rug

Vacuuming is vital for keeping your shaggy rug clean, but it’s important to avoid damaging the long fibres.

It’s best to use a tool without a powered brush bar. Most cylinder vacuums don’t have a brush roll on their primary floorhead, making them a good choice.

If you have an upright vacuum, use the upholstery tool or switch off the vacuum’s brush bar. If your vacuum doesn’t have an upholstery tool and you can’t switch off the bar, then don’t use it on the rug.

Step 1 – Use a Tool Without a Brush Bar on the Highest Height Setting

  • Adjust the floorhead setting to the highest level for easy movement over the long shaggy fibres.
  • Attach your vacuum’s upholstery tool (non-motorised) or switch off the brush bar.

Step 2 – Vacuum The Rug On Both Sides

  • Vacuum the rug, overlapping each stroke for the best results, until it looks fluffier and fresher. 
  • Roll the rug  up and vacuum up any debris that has fallen on the floor.
  • Flip the rug over, and roll open with the backside facing up. 
  • Vacuum the back of the rug to further remove any dirt or dust particles (you can use a lower floorhead setting for this.)

Step 3 – Roll The Rug Up And Vacuum The Floor

  • Roll the rug up again and then vacuum any debris off the floor before placing the rug back in its place. 
  • If the rug is small, you can take it outside and give it a good shake to remove any loose threads before placing it back on the floor.

3. Spot Clean

It’s always best to immediately clean a spill before it has the chance to stain the rug. You can use towels, soft cloths, or paper towels to mop up the spill. Microfiber cloths are the best to use as they will not transfer lint into the rug fibres.

For removing light stains, mix a few drops of dishwasher liquid with some water to clean the spot- but only if your rug is not dry clean only. If necessary, a soft brush can gently rub the stained area, but be careful not to damage the fibres.

For stubborn stains or dry clean only rugs, we recommend contacting a professional. Trying to remove them yourself could cause permanent damage to the rug.

Step 1 – Dab Up The Spill

  • Press down with a soft cloth on the spilt area and soak up as much of the spill as possible.
  • Dab the area from the outside towards the centre. 
  • Be certain to dab deeply into the long fibres.

Step 2 – Gently Wash The Spot

  • Gently wash the spot with the soapy mixture using circular motions. 
  • Repeat until the spot is clean.
  • Do not use this method on dry clean only rugs.

Step 3 – Use The Soft Brush If Necessary

  • If the area does not come clean by just washing it, then dip a microfibre cloth or soft brush into the soapy water and gently rub the area until clean.
  • Do not scrub too hard, as this can damage the pile.

Step 4 – Rinse The Spot With Clean Water

  • Wet a cloth with clean water and keep dabbing the spot to eliminate any soap leftover from the wash. 

Step 5 – Leave To Dry

  • Leave the rug to dry before walking on it, or if the carpet is small, you can hang it out to dry.

4. Steam Clean

You can steam clean a rug to remove soil and odours. However, it’s important not to steam clean a rug that’s dry clean only.

  1. Vacuum the rug before steam cleaning to get rid of loose dirt and debris.
  2. Add water to the steam cleaner and run the floor tool over the rug.
  3. Allow the rug to fully dry before walking on it. Ideally, you should let it dry in the sun.

5. Deep Clean with a Dry Shampoo

Dry shampoo can be useful for getting rid of dirt that’s deeper in fibres without using water.

However, be sure to read the instructions on the dry shampoo bottle to make sure it is suitable for shaggy rugs. It’s also important to check whether the shampoo is suitable for your type of fibres, such as acrylic or wool.

Step 1 – Vacuum And Sprinkle Dry Shampoo On The Rug

  • Vacuum the rug and then sprinkle it with the dry shampoo.

Step 2 – Work The Dry Shampoo Into The Rug

  • Gently work the dry shampoo into the rug with a soft-bristled brush.
  • Allow about an hour for the dry shampoo to loosen the dirt before you vacuum (instructions should be provided on the bottle.)

Step 3 – Vacuum The Dry Shampoo From The Rug

  • Shake off the rug outside.
  • Vacuum the rug on both sides to remove any remaining dry shampoo.

6. Get a Professional to Clean Your Rug

If there are stubborn stains on the rug, or its dry clean only, then you should contact a professional. Getting the rug too wet or using too much force when scrubbing could ruin your rug.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Put A Shaggy Rug In The Washing Machine?

You shouldn’t use a washing machine to clean a shaggy rug. This can damage the carpet fibres, even if you use a gentle cycle.

Related Article: How to Remove Carpet Odours


Cleaning a shaggy rug isn’t always easy, but the methods above can make it a simpler process. The most important thing is to regularly shake off loose dirt and vacuum with an upholstery tool. For deeper cleans, it’s often best to contact a professional.

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