4 Tips for Cleaning Shag Carpets

Shag carpets are incredibly soft and comforting, but they also bring with it a cleaning challenge. The thick fibers that make shag carpets so wondering are also what make them so difficult to clean. Shag carpets are thick enough to trap dust, dirt, and debris deep in their fibers, making them a growing hygiene problem.

There are a variety of ways to clean your shag carpet, but we’ve highlighted our four favorite methods. You can do all four as a step by step process for the best results, or pick and choose which one applies to your situation.

Beat the Carpet

This technique originates from beating shag rugs, which have been very popular throughout history. And, while you probably can’t pick up your carpet and take it outside to beat it like a rug, some of the concepts still remain.

Beating your shag carpet can help to agitate dirt particles that have become lodged deep in the fibers. When they are lodged, a vacuum passing over won’t be able to suction them up. But, once knocked loose, they are ready to be picked up by a cleaner.
Beat the Carpet

You can use the handle of a broom, or something more sophisticated.


At its core, leveraging your vacuum is the single simplest way to clean your shag carpet. However, you have to be using the right vacuum for your thick fibered carpet, and you have to be using it properly.

For starters, make sure your vacuum has a brush roller. This is essential for cleaning shag, because the brush roller pushes debris out of the carpet and into the suction of the vacuum.

Next, you need to make sure you have high clearance wheels for your vacuum. Otherwise, your vacuum will get bogged down trying to maneuver on the thick carpet fibers.

Elbow Grease

Sometimes, if you have a pesky stain or high traffic spot, nothing beats using a little elbow grease to clean the area. While not incredibly quick, this is often the most effective way to clean a particular spot on your shag carpet.

Use a thick and durable rag to scrub, and your favorite carpet cleaning solution. Whether store bought or homemade, spray the solution deep in the carpet fibers, and start scrubbing.

You’ll need to scrub vigorously to make sure you’re getting the solution deep into the shag fibers. If your arms aren’t tired, you probably haven’t scrubbed hard enough!

Steam Clean

If you want to aggressively clean your entire shag carpet, you’ll probably want to turn to a steam cleaner. While a little elbow grease and scrubbing works well for isolated areas, that isn’t very scalable. Enter a steam cleaner.

Steam is an incredibly effective way to clean old stains. The high temperature of the steam helps to penetrate and moisturize the stain, making it easier to remove.
Steam Clean
Vacuum first so that you are working with as little dirt and dust as possible. This will make your steam cleaning as effective as it can be.

Don’t use a foaming solution in the steam cleaner, or you’ll have a huge soapy mess on your hands.

When you’re done, make sure to turn a few fans on the shag carpet. The dense fibers of the shag need to dry as quickly as possible. Otherwise, if they are still damp when you start walking on it, they’ll immediately attract dust and dirt again.


Cleaning shag carpets is an essential part of owning this soft flooring. While vacuuming is the most common method, it normally doesn’t go far enough to get the carpets completely clean. Start by beating the carpet a bit, and then apply some elbow grease to troubled spots. Steam clean the carpet several times per year, and you’ll have clean shag carpets that will last you years.

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