How to Wash a Shag Rug

Updated July 20, 2017

A shag-type rug requires special care in cleaning because it has a high pile and low density. By gently caring for your shag rug, the high-pile fibres on the top of the rug stay full, maintaining the "shag look" of the rug and keeping the rug soft and inviting. Properly washing your shag rug will preserve the integrity of your rug, and help provide a fresh and new-looking rug for many years.

Loosely roll up your shag rug and shake off the loose dirt outside.

Using an upholstery attachment, gently vacuum any remaining dirt and dust from the rug. Go over the rug several times.

Spot clean any marks or stains on the rug using a wool-type soap such Woolite or a bar soap such as Ivory or Fels-Naptha. Rub the soap directly on the stain or mark and rinse with cold water. Do not scrub the stain as this will further embed the stain into the rug.

In a large bucket or washtub, mix 1 part laundry soap to 4 parts cold water, and soak the shag rug in the mixture for 20 to 30 minutes. Use a scent-free, bleach-free soap to avoid leaving spots on your shag rug.

After 20 to 30 minutes, rinse the rug thoroughly in cold water. Shake the water off the rug outdoors, and hang or lay flat to dry. For white rugs, lay in the sun to dry; for coloured rugs, use a shaded area to avoid colour fading.


You can machine wash some shag rugs (check the tag on your rug). You can also use a mild shampoo or dish soap to wash the rug.


To avoid shrinking, do not use hot water. Do not use bleach. Do not walk on the wet rug.

Things You'll Need

  • Upholstery vacuum attachment
  • Wool soap
  • Cold water
  • Laundry soap
  • Large bucket or washtub
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About the Author

Amy Kuncaitis has been writing since 2005. She is the author of "Joy in the Morning" and writes for various online publications on topics ranging from self-sustaining living to practical everyday solutions. Kuncaitis attended Grace Bible College, where she studied social work and music.