Carpet Cleaning Tips

How to Clean Shaggy and Wool Rugs

Shag and wool rugs have been around for a while, and recently they have made their fabulous return in many contemporary homes. A simple wool rug can give any cold, empty room a cosy and welcoming appearance. But in order for it to have a happy and long life, you need to know how to clean any shag pile rug properly and what to do for its regular maintenance.

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So keep on reading if you are:

  • a homeowner looking for ways to clean and maintain your rug
  • a parent with a wild kid who made a mess on the rug again
  • a pet owner whose pet is often ill and has accidents often
  • an overall connoisseur of wool and shag rugs

Before you start cleaning or trying any of the described methods, remember that there are many convincing imitations of wool and shag rugs. Even if they look and feel like the original, those rugs may be completely synthetic, thus making the cleaning methods completely different.

Always read the label first.

Now, let’s move on to…

How to clean a shaggy rug

What makes shag rugs so comfortable and fun to lie on, is their long and flappy pile. It’s soft, warm and probably your kids favourite place to play in the winter. That same pile is also the reason why shag rugs are a bit tricky to clean. However, tricky does not mean impossible, so don’t worry.

Here is how to wash a shag rug successfully and most importantly – without damaging it.

How to vacuum a shag rug properly

  • Take the shag rug outside and give it a good beating to remove all the loose dirt and dust.
  • Take it back inside and vacuum carefully. Check which one of your cleaner’s settings will not suck off the fibres of the rug, and go with it. If you don’t have a suitable “high pile” setting on your vacuum cleaner, you can clean the rug with an upholstery attachment by going between the rows of thread.
  • Rugs have two sides, so flip it over and vacuum the underside as well. Once a month is usually enough, but that really depends on the level of traffic. To avoid sucking in the rug, you can step on one of its ends.

How to deep clean a shag rug

The obvious choice here would be to actually call a professional carpet technician, as they not only know every type of rug there is and how to clean it, but also come with a special carpet cleaning machine, that doesn’t damage the rug. Still, if you want to learn how to clean your shaggy rug by hand, this is what you need to do:

  1. Make a cleaning solution by mixing 4 parts of cold water and 1 part of any delicate laundry detergent. It’s best if you do it in your bath or a washtub. The detergent must be as simple as possible – no softeners included, no scents and definitely no bleach.
  2. Take your shag rug and soak it in the tub. Swish it around the cleaning solution for approximately 20-30 minutes.
  3. Take the rug out and squeeze it carefully to remove all of the detergent. Place it somewhere close.
  4. Empty the tub from the remaining dirty liquid and fill it with clean cold water.
  5. Rinse the rug thoroughly.
  6. Squeeze it again until it’s no longer dripping and leave it to air-dry in a shady place. Direct sunlight will not speed up the drying process and will damage the colours of your shag rug.
  7. You can dry it faster by using a fan to blow on the rug for a couple of hours. However, bear in mind that shaggy rugs absorb a lot of water and will need a bit more time to become completely dry.

Cleaning with dry solvents

Although a bit risky, you can clean your rug with dry solvents. On the good side, you won’t have to use water in the process this way. You will need a dry carpet shampoo, which comes in the form of powder.

  1. Start by vacuuming the rug thoroughly by following the instructions above.
  2. Sprinkle the powder equally over the rug.
  3. Spread the shampoo gently by using a soft brush.
  4. Let the product work for around an hour.
  5. Vacuum the powder.

How to get spills out of a shag rug

The everlasting rule of removing the spill right after it has occurred, applies double when it comes to shag rugs. The fibres are very quick to soak up any type of liquid, making it almost impossible to clean up afterwards. So, if you happen to spill a glass of red wine over your carpet, it’s crucial that you act fast.

Immediately grab a white cloth, or any other colourless fabric piece, and blot the spill so it transfers from the carpet. Do not rub the spot, it will only make it even worse.

  1. By using a white, absorbent cloth, blot the spill slowly. This will transfer it from the rug to the cloth.
  2. Rinse the rag and repeat the step, until all of the liquid has transferred from the shag rug.

If this doesn’t help, consider doing the following:

  1. Mix a solution of equal parts white vinegar and lukewarm water.
  2. Take a clean cloth and soak it in the solution.
  3. Before going for the spill, perform a spot-test on a small, hidden area, like on a corner, for example. This way you make sure that the fibres won’t get damaged by the cleaning solution.
  4. If everything is okay, gently massage spill with the cleaning cloth, without rubbing too much.
  5. Repeat this until the spill is completely removed from the shag rug. You may have to rinse and re-wet the cloth a couple of times until the area is completely clean.
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How to clean a wool rug

When it comes to washing wool rugs, the best option is to leave them in the hands of professionals. Still, many people consider this unnecessary, especially when talking about regular maintenance and removing small stains. So if you want to learn about how to clean a wool rug yourselves, continue reading as we will explain the safest ways of doing it.

One of the wool’s main features and at the same time, issues, is the thicker quality of the material. Yes, it’s warm and comfortable to sit and lay on, but it also collects way more dirt in its fibres than you normal carpet, for example. The obvious way of preventing grime build up is to clean the rug regularly, of course, but you have to know how to do it the right way, especially when you are dealing with a natural material like wool.

Regular cleaning of wool rugs

  • Vacuum your wool rug at least once a week by using the proper carpet setting. If the rug is placed in an area with more foot traffic, then vacuum it more often. Do it widthwise – from side to side, not lengthwise – from end to end. Vacuum the backside of the rug at least once a year.
  • Treat fresh spills immediately with the correct stain cleaner for wool.

How to deep clean a wool rug

Now you know that wool rugs should be generally cleaned every week or so. But just as any other type of rug or carpet, a thorough cleaning is also necessary, even if it’s not as often.

Carpet manufacturers say that wool rugs should be deep cleaned every 12 to 18 months, and one of the most effective ways to do so is by hot water extraction. Remember to check the rugs tag before you resort to this cleaning method. If steam cleaning is not an option, then follow the next steps:

  1. Take the rug outside, imagine that this is your worst enemy and give it a good beating. Let the anger shake out all the loose dirt and dust.
  2. Vacuum the rug from both sides, again using the proper machine setting.
  3. Find a clean area in your patio or driveway. If you don’t have one, you can place a plastic sheet on the ground and put the wool rug on it.
  4. Wet the rug with your garden hose.
  5. Make a diluted foamy mixture from cold water and some kind of gentle dishwashing detergent or a wool laundry liquid.
  6. Apply the solution to the wool rug with a clean sponge mop.
  7. Rinse the rug with cold water.
  8. Try to squeeze as much water from the rug as possible. You can use dry towels to soak up the moisture.
  9. Leave it to air-dry someplace shady, far away from heat and sunlight.
  10. Wool absorbs a lot of water and will probably stay wet for a long time, so make sure to check the weather program for rain in the coming days.

How to get stains out of wool rugs

In order to prevent stains from settling into your wool rug, take care of any spills as soon as they hit its fibres. Blot the area with a microfiber white or light-coloured cloth. Don’t scrub the spill.

In case you already have a stain settled in, here are 2 effective ways to spot clean a wool rug properly:

How to clean a wool rug with baking soda

  1. Spray the wool rug with a bit of cold water until it’s slightly damp.
  2. Pour a generous amount of baking soda onto the stained area.
  3. Let the soda stay for around half an hour and then vacuum the rug.
  4. Leave it to air dry in a shady place.

How to remove stains from a wool rug with vinegar

  1. Make a cleaning solution by mixing half a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid, two cups of cold water, and half a cup of white vinegar.
  2. Treat a small, inconspicuous area to test if the rug will have some sort of a reaction to the cleaning solution.
  3. If everything is okay, continue to apply the mixture to the stained areas by using a clean sponge or a cloth.
  4. Blot the spot with a fresh white towel and cold water. You can absorb most of the moisture by applying more pressure.. Repeat until the rug is almost dry.
  5. The best way you can dry a wool rug is to leave outside in a shady spot, away from heat and direct sunlight.
  6. If you are not able to do so, lift up the moist part of the rug and place it against a piece of furniture which is not upholstered.
  7. To speed up the drying process, place a fan across it and let it dry the wool rug.

Need more advice on how to maintain your carpet or rug? Then, why not read our helpful post on the topic. It’ll show you how to vacuum, clean and maintain a carpet so it looks presentable at all times. For the sheepskin rug enthusiasts, see our article on how to clean a sheepskin rug.

Professional carpet and rug cleaning

As we mentioned earlier, the safest way to deep clean a shag or a wool rug is by trusting the specialized carpet cleaning solutions by Fantastic Services. The hot water extraction method we use is proven to be the most effective way for dealing with pretentious rugs and carpets.

  1. The rug will be carefully vacuumed.
  2. The carpet technician will pre-treat every stain with the proper detergent.
  3. After that, they will inject the rug with a mixture of a special detergent and mild temperature water in order not to shrink or damage the wool.
  4. The machine will extract all of the built-up dirt leaving your rug clean and fresh looking.
  5. If requested, they can also use a special machine called an AirMover, to speed up the drying process.

You will get to enjoy good quality results without having to go through the trouble of cleaning the rug yourself. And most important – with no risk of damage.

Learn more about the different carpet cleaning methods and see how you can book a service.


  • Shag and wool rugs are a great addition to almost any type of room but they require very special care.
  • Place the rugs in areas with lower foot traffic and a smaller chance of damage.
  • Regular maintenance will not only ease the cleaning of the rugs but will also prolong their life.
  • The DIY methods above are mostly good for removing singular stains and for general cleaning.
  • If you need a deeper clean, it’s best to leave the rug in the hands of professionals so you don’t damage it by accident.

Header image source: Depositphotos / belchonock

No matter of the cleaning method, remember to always do a small spot test on hidden part of your carpet. Depending on the size, nature, and age of the stain, some of them might be impossible to remove. We cannot take responsibility if any of the above-mentioned methods do not work on your carpets. Read our disclaimer here.

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