How We Cleaned our Large Shag Rug At Home

posted by Andrea | 08/20/2019

Do you have a large rug you’d like to wash but aren’t sure how to do it because it doesn’t fit in your washing machine or even the machines at the laundry mat?

If so, I hope the tips in today’s post will give you the knowledge and can-do spirit to try cleaning your own rugs at home. 

It’s not the easiest thing I’ve ever done, but it certainly isn’t overly difficult! I promise!



Remember the gloriously soft, super fluffy shag rug I put in Clara’s nursery almost exactly 2 years ago? 

The rug that’s SO soft and fluffy our kids regularly go into the nursery just to lay on the floor!?!?


Yup, that rug! 

THAT is the rug that Clara threw up on… more than once! 

Each time I briefly considered putting the rug directly into the trash, but then I remembered how much I LOVE this rug. 

Each time I looked into having it professionally cleaned, but it would cost almost as much as the rug itself, and the soiled area was so small considering the full size of the rug. 

Each time I ended up cleaning it on my own… and each time it came out quite clean and fresh-smelling. I was extremely happy with the results. 

Thankfully, Clara is now feeling much better (it was a 24 hour bug each time) and our rug still has lots of life left in it!

So how did I clean the rug at home? 

STEP 1: I scooped up (literally scooped with a gravy ladle) as much of the solid matter as I could. 

STEP 2: I cleaned up as much of the liquid matter as I could, using several old rags and paper towels.

STEP 3: I removed the rug from the room and brought it out to the garage (and opened the windows!)

STEP 3. b, c, d, e & f: I removed all bedding and pjs and put them directly into the wash. Then I wiped down the walls, the bed, and the hard floor with disinfecting spray (while Dave gave Clara another bath). Then I remade the bed, took out the trash, and put Clara to bed. 

STEP 4: I used a wide-tooth comb to literally comb any additional chunks and grossness out of the long, shaggy rug fibers (this worked surprisingly well — I did not include photos for obvious reasons!) 

STEP 5: I draped the rug over our front porch railing, sprayed the affected area down with a hose and scrubbed it with carpet cleaner. I saved the rest of the cleaning until morning as it was already very late and very dark. 

STEP 6: The next morning, I laid the rug on a cleaned-off area of the drive and scrubbed it with a mixture of OxiClean and very hot water. (These brushes are very similar to the one I used).

I ended up pouring a bunch of the hot OxiClean water directly onto the rug and scrubbing for probably close to 10 minutes. 

STEP 7: I rinsed the area (once I felt like it was clean) using the Jet setting in our garden sprayer. I used a LOT of water to rinse out the OxiClean and any other residue that might have been left behind. 

STEP 8: I “bleached” it in the sun. I laid the rug over our saw horses in the hot sunshine ALL day. This allowed it to drip dry and get bleached out a bit by the sun. (Thankfully, the weather has always cooperated for me here!)

STEP 9: I dried it REALLY really well. After the rug was almost dry from the sun, I draped it over a few chairs in our extra garage and let a fan blow on it all night long. 

STEP 10: I vacuumed the rug on the highest setting (highest height, not highest power) after putting it back into the room. 

I should mention that I did a “smell test” and a “feel test” before bringing the rug back into our house! 


I have an extremely sensitive nose, and I can truthfully say I have never had even the slightest whiff of a foul odor in her room — so I’m quite confident the rug is clean! 

Obviously, it’s not the quickest or easiest process ever, but this method worked well for me, it saved me a bunch of money, and it allowed me to keep the rug I love for a little longer! 

So, on the off-chance you find yourself in a situation where you can’t just pop a dirty rug into the washing machine, give these steps a try!

Filed under: HomeCleaning

Leave a comment


  1. Kate


    I’ve never tried it but I have heard of taking area rugs to the car wash and clipping them on the clips for your floor mats and then spraying them down. Not sure it would work with a shag rug and I’ve never tried it myself but thought I’d share!


    Andrea Reply:

    good idea! My only question would be how to transport the sopping wet rug back home again.


  2. Calliope


    That’s how I washed my large carpets (cheap ones from IKEA, i don‘t recommend this method on good woolen carpets). By hand with a brush and tons of water. And then a friend told me about power washing them (not too close though) and I‘ve never looked back!
    If they are very dirty first I will apply allover a good amount of oxiclean, let it be for a few hours and then remove detergent with the power washer. If it was in a bedroom and justs need some freshen up I skip the oxi clean.


  3. Michele Arias


    Thank you so much for the tips! I have a rug that I want to clean right now Singh is should help.

    Thanks a bunch also for sparing us the photos! 😉


  4. Siobhan


    Thank you for the tip, and for sharing your story. I’ve definitely been there cleaning that kind of mess in the middle of the night..oye.

    This is not related to the rug so no worries if you can’t respond right now -I’m struggling to keep the inside rubber gasket of my front load washing machine clean. It has a mildew smell and actual mildew stains on it. I have not had luck with the front load washing machine cleaner, and scrubbing hasn’t made much of a difference either. I’ve looked into replacing it, and the cost is about $250.00.

    You have tips that work really well so I’m curious if you’ve had this experience and any advice for it.


    Andrea Reply:

    hmmm, everything I’ve been told is to leave the door of front loading machines open pretty much all the time, so it can dry out.
    Since yours already has stains on it, I guess I’d suggest trying to clean it with a mold/mildew cleaner and then maybe running a load of rags through with some vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser.

    That’s not a professional opinion though!