How to Clean Shag Carpet

A shag carpet is one that features long and thick strands of fiber for a feeling of ultimate comfort.

They add a sense of luxury to any room, but they can be a nightmare to clean. They get dirty easily due to the fiber length which traps dust and debris inside the carpet. 

They are an easy DIY clean if the dirt has not become too embedded into the pile. You should read the manufacturer’s care instructions before applying any chemicals to the rug. 

Some may be dry-cleaned only and attempting a DIY clean could cause damage. It is always wise to do a patch test on an inconspicuous area of your carpet when using new cleaning chemicals. 

If the stains are particularly tough, deep, or if the carpeted area is large, we recommend calling in a professional carpet cleaning company. 

What do you need to clean a shag carpet?

The best way to clean a shag carpet is by using a vacuum cleaner with attachments specifically designed for use on upholstery.

You will also need some water, white vinegar, a microfiber cloth, and dry carpet shampoo. We recommend using a neutral-colored or white microfiber cloth to minimize the risk of color transferral to the pile of your carpet. 

If you have a steam cleaner this could also be very beneficial. If you are only cleaning a rug, a broom or rug beater will also be a useful implement to have on hand. 

How do you clean a shag carpet? 

If you are cleaning a rug, your first step will be to take it outside and shake it out well. Drape it over something and use your broom or rug beater to hit it firmly. This should loosen any dirt that has become embedded in the pile and will hopefully knock it out. 

Provided the weather is dry, we suggest allowing the rug to sit in the sunlight for a couple of hours. This is because rays of the sun work as a natural deodorizer and will also help to kill mites and bacteria.

If your rug is patterned or brightly colored, we recommend limiting the amount of time you allow it to stay outside, as sunlight can also cause this to fade.

You should then attach the upholstery nozzle to your vacuum cleaner and set it to the highest height setting. This will prevent the shag from being sucked up by the vacuum cleaner and makes your job as easy as possible. It will also prevent the moving components of the vacuum from damaging the pile.

If you are working on a rug, we recommend flipping it over and vacuuming the other side too. You should go over every part of the rug 2 or 3 times with the vacuum cleaner to ensure you have removed the full amount of dirt possible.

Sprinkle a layer of dry carpet shampoo over the pile. Use a soft-bristled brush to gently work in the shampoo powder to the shag pile. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for the recommended application time. Once this has elapsed, vacuum the carpet to remove all of the dry shampoo powder.

If your carpet is still dirty, you can then use your steam cleaner to gradually work across the entire surface.

How do you spot clean a shag carpet?

If there is a spill or stain on one area of your carpet, the best way to deal with this is by doing a quick spot clean. 

If a liquid has spilled, we suggest blotting the excess fluid with paper towels or a clean microfiber cloth. If it is a solid that has spilled, try and pry off as much as you can using a spoon or palette knife.

Whatever you do, do not attempt to press in or rub out the stain. This will force the dirt deeper into the shag pile and will make it so much harder to clean. 

Make up a solution of equal parts water and white vinegar. Get a second clean, microfiber cloth and dampen with this solution. Gently dab the stained area of your carpet with the wet cloth. Allow it to dry naturally.

How do you use a Rug Doctor to clean your carpet?

A Rug Doctor is a specially designed carpet cleaning machine. It uses a water extraction system to clean the carpet, therefore you should not use it more than once on a shag carpet.

For a deep clean, you should remove as much furniture as possible from the carpeted room. Give the carpet a vacuum to remove any loose dirt and apply one of the Rug Doctor’s carpet treatment products if you are tackling tough stains. 

You will need to fill the red tank with 9 liters of warm water from your tap. Add some of the carpet detergent into the red tank and plug in your carpet cleaner. 

Turn the Rug Doctor on and tilt the handle backward, so the brush does not touch the carpet’s surface. Press the red button and you should see a cleaning solution being sprayed onto your carpet. 

Hold down the red button and walk backward, slowly dragging the Rug Doctor across your carpet. When the white tank is full, empty it before continuing with your clean. 

Allow the carpet to dry naturally for at least 2 hours. 

How do you properly maintain a shag carpet?

It should be deep cleaned at least once per year. We advise vacuuming it roughly once or twice per week to maintain a good standard of cleanliness. You should spot clean stains and patches of dirt as they appear. 

If you notice your shag carpet becoming flat, there are a few things you can do to make it fluffy again. These include vacuuming the pile and using a carpet rake. 

Pay attention to the material that has been used to create your carpet. Every fiber has different care instructions and will need varying maintenance. Take care to only use cleaning methods suitable for your specific carpet type, as you could damage it otherwise.

How to make your own dry carpet shampoo

You will need 2 cups baking soda, ½ cup cornstarch, ½ cup cornmeal, 4 bay leaves, 1 tablespoon of whole cloves, and 1 tablespoon of Borax.

You will need to measure all of the ingredients out and place them into the container of a blender. Pulse them together on a low setting until the ingredients are well combined. 

Baking soda is used to break down any built-up dirt in the carpet, while cloves and bay leaves act as antibacterial agents that scent your carpet too. 

Pour this powder into a container with a sprinkle-top for easy usage. When you are ready to use it, sprinkle generously across the surface of your carpet. Leave it to sit for at least 2 hours but preferably overnight.

When it has sat for a sufficient time, use your vacuum to suck up all of the dirt and powder. Ensure you adjust the height of the vacuum and attach the upholstery nozzle before doing this.

This will help you to protect the shag pile on the carpet and ensure that its lifespan is as long as possible.

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