How to Vacuum Shag Rug with a Vacuum Cleaner

As an Amazon affiliate, we earn from qualifying purchases.
How To Vacuum Shag Rug

How difficult can it be to vacuum a shag rug? A shag rug has longer fibers than a regular rug. And as such, the vacuum needs to work overtime to clean it.

But that’s where the problem begins. You do not want to vacuum a shag rug. It will suck up the fibers, which is neither suitable for the rug nor the vacuum.

So, how do you go about vacuuming a shag rug? What’s the correct way? Here’s all you need to know about how to vacuum shag rug and some alternate methods.

How To Vacuum A Shag Rug

Vacuuming a shag rug should seem pretty simple. Unfortunately, shag rugs and vacuums aren’t the best of friends. Yes, a shag rug ishard to clean. But that’s not why we’re saying that.

The problem is, vacuums can suck up the fibers sticking out of a shag rug. This not only makes the shag rug go bald, but it can also clog the vacuum and the air filter.

To minimize the chances of this happening, here’s how to vacuum shag rug.

Step 1: Shake the Rug and Remove Superficial Dirt

Before you begin vacuuming, you want to remove as much dirt as possible. Luckily, the dirt on shag rugs is quite loose and easy to remove. Even a simple shake can remove the dirt. As another option, you can hit the back of the rug to knock out any dirt trapped in the rug.

Now, the bigger the shag rug, the harder it will be to pick it up and shake it. In that case, you can try using a wide-toothed brush or, at the very least, pick up bigger objects by hand. Otherwise, you can jump in with the vacuum straight away.

Step 2: Slowly Vacuum the Area

Now for the hard part. Vacuum the rug very gently to avoid pulling in any fibers. The more the suction power, the higher the chances of a fiber getting sucked up.

The setting of your vacuum depends on the type of rug you have. Usually, you’ll want to go for a mild setting. This is how to vacuum shag rug the correct way. The vacuum shouldn’t be too weak such that it doesn’t pull out dirt from the shag rug. And it shouldn’t be powerful enough to pull out the fibers.

You should start vacuuming from one corner and move to the rest of the rug. Go one row at a time.

It’s always best to try the vacuum on one spot and check if there is any damage to the rug. If there is, stop and try any of the alternative methods.

Step 3: Repeat

Once you’ve vacuumed the entire rug, you’ll want to repeat it. Now, if the rug looks clean, you can avoid this step. But since you didn’t set the vacuum at a high enough setting, you’ll probably need to re-vacuum. Keep going in rows and repeat if needed.

You should vary because the more you vacuum, the more the fibers will come out. However, no matter how gentle you are, you’ll still end up pulling out some of the fibers. So, don’t overdo it, or you’ll be in trouble.

Step 4: Check the Rug And Vacuum For Damage

Lastly, once you’re done, take a look at the rug and inside your vacuum. You want to be sure that you got the job done right. If the rug seems to have some bald spots, you might want to avoid vacuuming it again. If the rug feels flat and not fluffy, that’s usually not the vacuum’s fault.

After that, check inside the vacuum. Look for any stray fibers. Remove the air filter and inspect it. You probably won’t see anything the first few times (if you did it right). But over the years, more and more fibers will start to accumulate. Be sure to clean the filter frequently.

Alternate Shag Rug Cleaning Methods

That’s all you need to know about how to vacuum shag rug. But if you find that vacuuming is not possible for you for whatever reason, there are a few alternate methods you can try.

Shake It

Sometimes, just shaking the shag rug will get a lot of the visible dust out of it. It’s the recommended first step before any other cleaning method.

In a regular carpet, the dirt is densely compacted and not easy to remove. On a shag rug, however, the fibers are very loose, and the dust comes straight off. You can also beat the back of the rug to knock off any dust.

You should do this outdoors. All that dirt will only get knocked off onto your floor or your room. Or worse, you could inhale it and get an allergic reaction.

Use A Rug Rake

Another not-so-common method is to use a rug rake. Whatever in the world is a rug rake? It’s a wide-toothed rake similar to the ones you use in your garden. Except this one is a lot smaller and designed for carpets.

Rug rakes are the best solution for anyone who doesn’t want to use a vacuum. They pick up a lot of dirt and pet dander. However, most are for more flat carpets. For a shag rug, the fibers could get snagged in the rake. But if you’re gentle enough, you can avoid pulling out the fibers.

Dry Powder

Aside from shaking the carpet and using a rug rake, many people like to use dry powder to clean the rug. Sprinkle the powder all over the rug and use a soft-bristle brush to rub it in. Dry powder can be of any kind. But those that work best with fabrics will be better.

Capture Carpet & Rug Dry Cleaner w/Resealable lid - Home, Car, Dogs & Cats Pet Carpet Cleaner Solution - Strength Odor Eliminator, Stains Spot Remover, Non Liquid & No Harsh Chemical (4 Pound)
  • ABSORBENT DEEP DRY CLEANING: Wet cleaners cause wicking by leaving moisture in carpets, rugs, upholstery, furniture, sofa, and couch. With Capture Powder Cleaner, the spots do not reappear, it acts like heavy-duty sponges to absorb dirt and spills.
  • BEST CARPET CLEANING SOLUTION: Safe for all types of carpets including Wool and Code S fabric, silk, surfaces, and material. Take care and prolong the life of floor carpet fabrics and appearance by deodorizing and cleaning it using the power of Capture Carpet Cleaner.
  • STAIN REMOVER & DEODORIZER: Excellent bad smells neutralizer. It eliminates the toughest stains and odors without steam or shampoo. Can be used in the car or home, on animal, dog or cat pet stains. Plus, the 4lb pail can clean up to 400 square feet.
  • EASY APPLICATION: Spray the soiled area with Capture Pre-Mist (sold separately) and sprinkle the powder evenly, brush gently, and vacuum thoroughly for a clean, fresh scent in minutes. No need to hire a pricey professional service you can do it yourself quickly.
  • CONVENIENT, SAFE, EFFECTIVE & TOTAL CARE: If you want your carpet to look great and last longer, clean regularly with Capture! You can get the freshness that you want with our premium cleaning products. Contains no bleach, solvents, or harsh chemicals. Waterless. Proudly made in the USA.

Last update on 2024-05-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Once you’ve poured the powder in, leave it to set. Then, look at the powder bottle and follow the instructions. Usually, you’ll need to wait about 10 minutes. After that, you’ll need to remove the dry powder using a vacuum, brush, or any other appropriate method.

Wide-Toothed Brush for Dogs

If everything else fails, you can use the wide-toothed brush you use to clean your dog. If you don’t have a dog, this step is only going to cost more. But if you already have a dog and use a wide-toothed brush for them, go ahead and use it on the shag rug.

This step works best with wool shag rugs. However, be sure to wash the brush before and after use. You don’t want to transfer dirt from your dog to the rug and vice versa.

Preventing Your Shag Rug from Getting Dirty

Cleaning a shag rug is no doubt a challenging task. Good thing you now know how to vacuum shag rugs. But it’s a lot easier to prevent the rug from getting dirty in the first place. While your rug will eventually get dirty regardless of what you do, you can tone down the cleaning sessions with some simple tricks.

  • Make sure the rug isn’t being trampled on. This not only transfers more dirt to the rug but also flattens it. Don’t place it anywhere where people tend to walk a lot. Many homeowners place the rug in their living room, which tends to get their rug dirty.
  • Ask guests not to walk on the rug with their shoes on. This simple request can prove monumental in keeping the rug clean.
  • Remember: you don’t just want to keep the rug clean but the floor underneath it as well. Vacuum the floor often or sweep it. Dust at the back of the rug can make its way to the top.
  • Prevent people from eating around it. Make sure your housemates aren’t eating around the rug. And be careful of yourself too.


Can You Vacuum a Shag Rug?

Yes, but you have to be extremely careful. Shag rugs have a lot of loose fibers, especially if they’re older. If the force from the vacuum is strong enough, it will suck up the fibers. This will leave awkward bald spots on your rug that will only get more prominent the more you vacuum it. Plus, the fibers can clog your air filter and cause the motor to overheat.

How Do You Clean a Shag Rug?

The first step is to pick up any larger pieces of debris. Then, shake the rug to remove as much dirt as possible. You’ll want to do this outside, though. Next, start vacuuming the rug on the mild setting and go row by row. The setting should be proper not to pull out any fibers.

How Do You Fluff Up a Shag Rug?

A regular vacuum session will help to fluff up the rug a lot. But in case that does work, you can always use a rug beater. These will also help to knock out any dirt present in the rug. Aside from that, you can also use a carpet rake.

Can You Steam Clean Your Shag Rug?

Yes, it is possible. Steam cleaning will clean the rug better than any other method. But be warned: water and heat may not mix depending on what your rug is made of. So, make sure the material can survive excess moisture and heat.

Why Shouldn’t You Vacuum a Shag Rug?

It’s not that you shouldn’t, but you need to be careful. Shag rugs are susceptible, and the fibers can come loose at any time. Set your vacuum such that it doesn’t pull out the fibers. But yes, you should avoid vacuuming it as much as you can and try other methods.


And that’s all about how to vacuum shag rug! Shag rugs are undoubtedly unique, both in how they look and how you maintain them. But unfortunately, they tend to accumulate the most dirt. And the worst part is that vacuuming them isn’t safe for the rug or the vacuum.

Fortunately for you, there are a few methods you can try. First, you can try vacuuming the rug on a low setting. But if that’s too destructive, consider using a rug rake. They’re cheap and easy to use. You can also steam clean the rug and use dry cleaning solutions.

Related Articles:

How to Clean an Area Rug with Pressure Washer

How to Clean a Braided Rug

Can You Steam Clean a Wool Rug? 

How to Clean a Persian Rug

How to Clean a Rug Without a Steam Cleaner

How to Keep Dogs from Peeing on Rugs

How to Clean Area Rug on Laminate

How to Keep Dogs from Peeing on Rugs

About The Author

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *