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How to Make a Shaggy Rug Fluffy Again

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Bare feet on a soft shag rug is one of the best at-home feelings. If you don’t take proper care of your shag rug, it can mat or flatten. When you know how to fluff a shaggy rug or carpet, you will keep it looking its best.

How to Fluff Shaggy Rugs

​Properly fluffing carpet fibers has several steps, each of which is important. For starters, you need take the rug outdoors and use a rug beater to loosen the dirt. Because a shaggy rug is so deep, you have to shake the deeply lodged dirt loose.

After that, you need to clean the rug by thoroughly vacuuming. Most of the time, the reason a thick carpet or rug mattes and looses its shape is because it is dirty. If it has been dirty for some time, it could take several cleanings to restore its shape and ply.

After vacuuming, you can determine if the rug needs a deeper clean, such as a steam cleaning.

Use a Rug Beater

​A rug beater allows you to loosen the dirt and debris that settle deep in your thick shag ​rug. Your shaggy carpet fibers are not like most carpets – because they are so thick, they are a magnet for dirt to settle in and stick for a long time.

Not to mention all of the bacteria and germs that can (and will) take hold inside of your carpet’s fibers.

Using a rug beater makes everything else you do in your cleaning more effective. Beating your rug isn’t enough to fluff and clean your rug, but it makes all of the other efforts a lot more effective.

When using the rub beater, make sure you use straight, even motions. Using sideways motions as your beat the rug could pull or tear your carpet fibers. You also don’t want to be overly-aggressive – this will only matte your carpet fibers more, which is the exact opposite of what you want.

Fun Fact:  did you know there are a lot of different common terms for the rug beater? 

  • Carpet beater
  • ​Rug beater
  • ​Carpet whip
  • Mattenklopper
  • Pillow fluffer
  • Rug whip
  • ​Dust beater
  • ​Carpet duster
  • Wicker slapper
  • Rug duster

Rug beaters are certainly old fashioned – they were used heavily to clean carpets prior to the invention of the vacuum cleaner. Nowadays, most of the best vacuums come with brush rollers, which mimic the effects of a carpet beater, although on a much smaller scale.

However, if you want to truly fluff your area rug, it starts with getting all of the deep-seated dirt out, which is where a rug beater can give you a huge advantage.

Vacuum Your ​Rug

Something as simple as running a vacuum over your shaggy rug will help with refreshing the fibers. Depending on the high or low pile of your rug, you might need to adjust your vacuum’s height settings.

Keep in mind this isn’t as simple as vacuuming normal carpet such as berber.  You’ll need to put some muscle into it, as the carpet is thick.

To deepen the cleaning of your shaggy rug, sprinkle some baking soda on the carpet fifteen minutes before you vacuum. The baking soda will penetrate the fibers, helping lift ground-in dirt and neutralize odors.

Vacuum Regularly

Maintaining a regular vacuuming schedule will keep your carpet looking refreshed. This is because you are not waiting too long in between cleaning and you are not allowing dirt to accumulate deep in the fibers.

For the best carpet results, plan to vacuum high traffic areas at least every other day. You can run the vacuum over lower traffic areas once a week to get up any scattered crumbs, dust, or dirt.

Make sure you also take time to move any furniture once every two weeks and vacuum underneath. Alternatively, you can avoid moving furniture by utilizing a nice canister vac, which has hoses and attachments to help you out.

​​Doing this every few weeks will reduce any dust bunnies and refresh carpet areas that have been packed down by furniture.

Close up of a shaggy rug

Rake the Carpet

The act of raking is not only for leaves and baseball fields, you can also rake your carpet. Whether you have a short carpet or a long shaggy style carpet, a carpet rake is great for refluffing fibers, reducing mattes, and giving your carpet a deep clean. 

When you are learning how to fluff a shaggy rug, follow these carpet-raking steps to ensure you are giving your carpet it’s best revitalization.

  • Use a carpet rake before vacuuming.
  • Use a push and pull motion of the rake across the carpet.
  • Use this motion to open up the carpet fibers for a better vacuuming session.
  • Vacuum the carpet normally.
  • Follow up with the carpet rake again and groom your carpet.

Groom the Carpet

When you are grooming your carpet, simply pull the rake in one direction to bring back its texture. When using the rake, make sure you aren’t stabbing deep into the carpet and then applying hard pressure to move it. The rake should sit into the carpet a little and glide through it easily.

Woman cleaning carpet

If you have a high pile shaggy rug, make sure you are working through your carpet easily. The rake should have strong yet flexible teeth like the Roberts Carpet Rake & Groomer. This 12-inch rake gives you a wide cleaning area while having a long handle to save your back.

Roberts 70-127-3 Carpet Rake & Groomer
  • Extra Long 51 In. Handle
  • 12 In. Wide Head To Cover Large Areas Quickly
  • Specially Designed Bristles Reach Deep Into The Base Of Carpet
  • Brand Name: Roberts

Carpet raking is also great for dealing with pets that shed. The rake will dig deep into the carpet to pull up the loose hair. If you have a pet that sheds, save clogging your vacuum and rake up the hair before you run your pet hair vacuum over the area.

Use a Steam Cleaner

No matter how often you vacuum and clean your rug, it will eventually need a good steam cleaning to remove ground in dirt, debris, and even some stains. All carpets should get the steam clean treatment at least once a year.

When you use a professional grade steam cleaner, it forces hot water deep into the fibers of your carpet, reaching the lowest levels that vacuums can’t always clean. The steam cleaner can also help with stains, odors, and give the carpets fibers a good refreshing.

Fluffy carpet

There are a few different ways you can steam clean your carpet.

Hire a Professional

Search for a licensed professional carpet cleaner. Professionals have been trained in how to take care of all types of carpet, from standard cleaning to helping you out with difficult stains.

Hiring a professional and talking with them can also give you a better idea of how to clean your carpets on your own and what products are best for your carpet. While this can be a higher out of pocket cost, you will get the reassurance that your carpet is being taken care of by someone who knows what they are doing.

Rent a Machine

If you would rather take carpet cleaning matters into your own hands, you could rent a steam machine at your local grocery or hardware store. These machines are easy to use and are a one of the cheapest options for steam cleaning your carpets.

You can purchase one of the special carpet cleaning solutions where you rent the machine, or you can opt to use a DIY vinegar carpet cleaner instead.

Purchase a Machine

Purchasing a carpet steam cleaner is a great investment in the long run. Renting a steam cleaner is about $30 to $40. If you are planning to steam clean your carpets more than once a year, you can save a lot in the long run.Owning your own carpet steam cleaner also gives you the freedom and flexibility to clean whenever you choose. You won’t have to feel rushed into cleaning within a certain time frame.


Knowing how to fluff a shaggy rug will keep your carpeting looking new for many years of enjoyment. Maintain a cleaning schedule. This will keep your carpets clean and reduce how much dirt and debris get embedded into the fibers.

Lauren Moldvay is a freelance writer from Virginia and the mother of one (not always) sweet little girl. She specializes in trying to help others find easier ways to clean, manage the home and save money with DIY projects.