The History and Care of Fine Shag Carpets

You may think the shag rug is an invention of the bohemian 1960s, but the history of the shag rug goes back into ancient history. The shag rug’s origins have been traced to the Middle East and Central Asia, where they graced palatial homes and more modest digs alike. Its development has also been connected to Ancient Greece, where the first shaggy rugs were crafted from goat hair and known as Flotaki rugs. They were highly valued by both kings and peasants for their warmth and comfort.

In recent years, shag rugs have been experiencing a stylish comeback and are seen as essential accents for cutting edge retro-inspired design in fashionable residences. The modern version of the shag rug is composed of loops that are cut and left intentionally long to create the shaggy look. In finer quality versions of the updated shag rug, the thicker pile is mingled with accent yarns.

With that resurgence in popularity comes questions of how to care for this rug that has been prized for centuries. Here are some tips on how to keep your shag rug in top condition:

1. Vacuum Often: One of the main cleaning concerns of shag rugs is that the dirt can become embedded in the long fibers. Regular suction-only vacuuming (no brush), about twice a week, should be sufficient to stop the dirt from building up and turning the pile dingy. To keep the pile of area rugs from tangling, flip the rug over, shake out the dirt and debris, and vacuum the back. If your rug is in a high traffic area or you have pets, you may want to increase the vacuuming frequency to three times per week, or even daily. Diligent vacuuming can go a long way to giving your shag run a long and lustrous life. To combat odors and add cleaning oomph, use dry carpet shampoo powder from time to time. Just be sure to completely remove all granules.

2.  Spot Cleaning: Your second line of defense with shag rugs is prompt spot cleaning. As soon as you detect a spill or stain, blot up as much as you can and then follow up by cleaning the affected area. While there are many kinds of cleaners available, the most economical and efficient is good old white vinegar and water. Mix equal parts of water and vinegar together and use to dampen stain or spot thoroughly. Let sit a few minutes and then blot the solution up. Repeat blotting until the area is dry.  Tip: When you are spot-cleaning, use a rag or towel whose color won’t transfer to the rug. White is generally best.

3. Consider the color: When choosing a color of shag rug for your space, consider the use and traffic of the area to be covered. White shag rugs may be better left to homes free of pets and children. If you have an active home but still want the high style of shag, try opting for a color that will not show dirt as quickly.

4.  Check the Care Label: Knowing the fiber content of your rug and following the care label and instructions is an essential step to cleaning and care. Whether your rug is made from a natural fiber such as wool, a synthetic fiber such as acrylic, or a blend of fibers, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommended cleaning suggestions.

5. Professional Cleaning: Hiring a professional to clean your shag carpet can be an expensive proposition. However, if you are diligent about spot cleaning and vacuuming, the shag rug, like any other carpet, should only need professional cleaning about every 5 years. If you aren’t as committed to vacuuming and spot cleaning, you may find you need a professional cleaning as often as once a year. Steam cleaning on your own is another option, but be prepared for a long drying time for the rug. You will want to use a fan to help accelerate the drying time.

6. Take it Outside: As an alternative to vacuuming, every so often on a sunny day take the rug outside and hang it inverted over a railing or sawhorse. Beat out the dirt and debris with a broom or mop handle. Turn it back over and leave it outside in the sun for a couple of hours to kill off bacteria and dust mites and bake out any indoor odors that may have accumulated. Your rug will be fresh-smelling and debris-free after a day in the sun.

By following these care suggestions, you will enjoy the beauty and comfort of your shag rug for years to come. For the very finest in shag rugs and carpet expertise, visit The Rug Warehouse web site or stop by our expansive Los Angeles showroom.