How to Vacuum and Clean High Pile Rugs: 8 Top Tips Guide

High pile rugs, also known as shag rugs, are beautiful both to the eyes and touch. This home accessory can add elegance to any space that is why it has once again become a fad these days.

But just as it had been in style back in the 1970s, shag rugs are a real challenge to clean and maintain. 

That being said, the question remains: How can you vacuum a shag rug? 

There is no easy way to perfectly clean this type of rug, but the following tips can help you get it nearly perfectly cleaned.


Wool is relatively stain-resistant; however, a high-pile wool shag rug will make it nearly impossible to avoid getting the dust embedded well within its fibers and strands. 

Even an out-of-the-way shag rug can accumulate dust and dirt over time regardless of what type of rug or how deep the pile of the shag rug is, but regularly dusting off the dust and dirt will make the accumulation more manageable. 

It is best to do this before you can actually see dust and dirt on the shag rug. So follow our step by step guide below to get your shag rug clean.

How To Vacuum and Clean a Shag Rug - 

Tip #1: Clean a shag rug regularly

Vacuum a shag rug once a week or daily if the shag rug is placed in a high-traffic spot; otherwise, once a month will be enough.

Tip #2: Do it the old-fashioned way

  • Roll up your shag rug and take it outside where you can hang it on a sturdy clothesline or on a low beam.

  • Shake off the dust and dirt. Use a rug beater to further loosen any dirt, debris, or dust that may be trapped within the fibers. Rug beaters are still available, but in case you do not have one, a mop handle or the side of a broom can do the job.

  • Keep the rug outdoors in a sunny location for about two hours. This will help kill any bacteria or dust mites which often thrive in soft items.
clean high pile rug

Tip #3: Use a vacuum to suck out the dirt from the rug

  • Set the vacuum’s cleaning head to high pile. It is recommended that you invest in a vacuum cleaner with this feature as this allows the head to glide easily around and allows you to control the suction more.
  • Flip over the rug so that its woven underside is exposed to you. Start vacuuming by moving the vacuum head away from you. Stand on the edge of the rug to keep it in place as you vacuum. This will loosen whatever remaining dust, dirt, or debris there is trapped in the fibers.
  • Roll out the rug and vacuum the floor where you had just vacuumed the rug’s underside. Any dust that fell off while vacuuming the rug will be on the floor.
  • Spread out the rug right side up, and suction out the dust, dirt, and debris thoroughly. It will be quite tedious and laborious but you have to do this row by row.

Tip #4: When using a vacuum, never use the power brush head on the rug

Using the power brush head on the rug will subject unnecessary wear and tear on your rug.

 If you have a high pile carpet in your home, try using a wet/dry vacuum. Bigger, more powerful vacuum cleaners may possibly pull and damage the fibers.

Tip #5: To remove spills and stains, treat your shag rug with the appropriate cleaner

How large is the stain? Was it red wine? Is it oil-based? If water was spilled on a wool shag rug, always remember that water will take long to dry; thus, mildew may form.

If you are not sure what to do, it is best that you seek professional cleaning services in caring for your rug.

If you are right there when the spill happens, quickly take a white, absorbent facecloth or paper towel to soak up the spill.

Tip #6: If the shag rug is small, have the rug tumbled in a dryer

Do not use heat; just air. This will also “fluff up” your shag rugs after cleaning.

Tip #7: Steam clean your shag rug

Pass over all of the surface area with the floor tool. Steam will release dirt and stains onto the cloth.

This is can be a quick way to clean and refresh shag rugs as well as any type of carpet. Let it dry (shag rugs can take a long time to dry). Steam clean your shag rug at least once or twice a year.

Tip #8: Dry shampooing your shag rug occasionally won’t hurt

cleaning carpet

  • Sprinkle on the rug absorbent, carpet-shampoo granules.
  • While still switched off, us a vacuum’s cleaning head bristles to brush the granules on the rug.
  • Allow the shampoo to sit for about one hour or according to the length of time stated on the instruction label.
  • Vacuum out the granules thoroughly.


It is not far-fetched that high-pile rugs or shag rugs will go out of style, just like it did back in the 1970s.

Taking care of this type of rugs is labor-intensive and costly. People are realizing that it is just too challenging to maintain these rugs.

If you want to keep a high-pile rug just the same, you need to commit to owning one and invest in the most suited and best vacuum cleaner to maintain it aesthetically as well as hygienically.

Most vacuums nowadays come with instructions that can help you maximize their features, and there are many how-to guides online about how to effectively clean carpets and rugs.

Last Updated on February 22, 2021 by Gemma Tyler Protection Status