How to Vacuum Shag Rug (in 4 Easy Steps)

Shag rugs are known for their luxurious and cozy feel, adding warmth and texture to any room. However, due to their long pile and unique construction, cleaning them can be a bit tricky.

Vacuuming a shag rug requires special attention to ensure that it remains in good condition and retains its plush appearance. In this article, we will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to properly vacuum a shag rug.

Step 1: Prepare the Rug

Before you begin vacuuming, it’s essential to prepare the rug properly. Start by removing any loose items from the rug’s surface, such as toys, small objects, or debris. These can potentially damage the vacuum cleaner or get tangled in the rug’s fibers.

Step 2: Adjust the Vacuum Cleaner

Most modern vacuum cleaners come with adjustable settings to accommodate different types of surfaces. When vacuuming a shag rug, it’s crucial to adjust the vacuum cleaner’s height settings.

The aim is to have the vacuum cleaner’s beater bar or brush roll gently touch the rug’s surface without applying too much pressure. This helps prevent excessive wear and tear on the rug’s fibers.

If your vacuum cleaner has a height adjustment feature, set it to the highest setting to avoid excessive friction between the rug and the vacuum cleaner. If your vacuum cleaner doesn’t have a height adjustment feature, consider using a vacuum cleaner without a beater bar, as rotating brushes can sometimes damage shag rugs.

Step 3: Test a Small Area

Before you start vacuuming the entire rug, it’s a good idea to test a small, inconspicuous area first. This allows you to ensure that the vacuum cleaner’s settings are appropriate and won’t cause any damage to the rug. Test the area by vacuuming it for a few seconds and inspecting the rug afterward for any signs of damage or excessive pulling of fibers.

Step 4: Vacuum the Rug

Once you have adjusted the vacuum cleaner and tested a small area, you can proceed to vacuum the entire shag rug. Start by making slow, gentle passes with the vacuum cleaner, moving in the direction of the rug’s fibers. Avoid using vigorous back-and-forth motions, as this can pull or snag the rug’s fibers.

Pay special attention to high-traffic areas or areas where the rug tends to accumulate more dirt and debris. In these areas, you may need to make a few additional passes to ensure thorough cleaning.

Step 5: Clean the Vacuum Cleaner

After vacuuming the shag rug, it’s essential to clean the vacuum cleaner itself. The rug’s long pile can cause dust, hair, and other debris to accumulate inside the vacuum cleaner’s brush roll or beater bar.

Turn off the vacuum cleaner, unplug it from the power source, and remove any accumulated debris from the brush roll or beater bar. You can use scissors or a cleaning tool to carefully cut away any tangled hair or fibers.

Step 6: Shake or Beat the Rug

In addition to regular vacuuming, it’s a good idea to shake or beat the shag rug occasionally to remove any deep-seated dirt or dust particles. Take the rug outside and shake it vigorously or use a rug beater to gently beat it. This helps dislodge any debris that may have settled deep within the rug’s pile.

Step 7: Spot Clean as Needed

If you notice any spills or stains on your shag rug, it’s important to address them promptly. Use a clean, white cloth or paper towel to blot the spill gently. Avoid rubbing the spill, as this can push it deeper into the rug’s fibers or cause the stain to spread.

If necessary, you can use a mild detergent diluted with water to spot-clean the affected area. Always test the cleaning solution on a small, inconspicuous area of the rug first to ensure that it doesn’t cause any discoloration or damage.

Step 8: Professional Cleaning

While regular vacuuming and spot cleaning can help maintain the appearance of your shag rug, it’s advisable to have it professionally cleaned every 12 to 18 months. Professional cleaning can remove deep-seated dirt and restore the rug’s original luster and softness. Look for a reputable rug cleaning service that specializes in shag rugs or other delicate textiles to ensure the best results.


In conclusion, vacuuming a shag rug requires a delicate touch and proper technique to maintain its plush appearance and prolong its lifespan. By following the step-by-step guide outlined in this article, you can ensure that your shag rug remains clean, fresh, and beautiful for years to come. Regular vacuuming, spot cleaning, occasional shaking or beating, and professional cleaning when necessary will help preserve the integrity of your shag rug and keep it looking its best.


Can I use a carpet cleaner on my shag rug?

It is not recommended to use a carpet cleaner on shag rugs as the excess moisture can damage the fibers. Instead, use a dry cleaning method or spot-clean the rug.

Can I shake my shag rug to remove dirt?

Shaking a shag rug is not recommended as it can damage the fibers and cause them to become tangled. Instead, use a vacuum cleaner or dry cleaning to remove dirt and debris.

Can I vacuum both sides of my shag rug?

It is not necessary to vacuum both sides of your shag rug as most of the dirt and debris will be on the top side. However, if you do vacuum the underside, make sure to use a gentle setting to avoid damaging the fibers.

Can I use a regular vacuum cleaner on a shag rug?

Not all vacuum cleaners are suitable for shag rugs. Make sure to choose one with adjustable height settings and a brush roll that can be turned off to prevent damage to the fibers.

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