If you’ve ever watched a film or television show from the 1960s or 1970s, you’ve probably seen it. A long shaggy looking carpet on the floor. This look has been synonymous with “hippie” culture since the middle of the 20th century. But, did you know that shag carpet is coming back in style? If you are considering shag carpet, read on. We’ll tell you everything you need to know about cleaning this type of carpeting and provide a list of the top five best vacuums for shag carpets.
Updated shag carpeting can be found in many stylish homes around the country. Modern shag carpets do not need to have the 1960s look of the older versions. In fact, many are plush and understated. However, one thing that has remained the same is the need to clean shag carpets. These types of carpeting and rugs are notoriously hard to clean. So, if you want a good looking and stylish statement piece, you will need to put some consideration into how you are going to keep it clean. Luckily for you, we have provide a handy buyer’s guide along with our top 5 list.
If you’re in a hurry and don't have time for the details, here are our best picks Vacuums for Shag Carpet:
- What is Shag Carpeting
- Shag Carpet’s History
- The different Types of Shag Carpets
- What Does This Mean for Cleaning?
- Cleaning Problems with Shag Carpets
- What to Look for in a Vacuum for Shag Carpet
- Top 5 Vacuums for Shag Carpet 2020 - Comparison table
- Top 5 Best Vacuums for Shag Carpet on the Market Reviews
- 1 Soniclean Soft Carpet Upright Vacuum Cleaner
- 2 Hoover T-Series WindTunnel Rewind Plus Bagless Corded Upright Vacuum
- 3 SharkNinja Rocket DuoClean Ultra-Light Corded Bagless Vacuum
- 4 SharkNinja Rotator TruePet Upright Corded Bagless Vacuum
- 5 Kenmore 10701 Bagless Compact Canister Vacuum with Turbine Brush
- Shag Carpet Care Tips
- Vacuum Care Tips
- Final Words
What is Shag Carpeting
First of all, you are probably wondering what shag carpeting actually is. Sometimes you will find it under the name of frieze pile. Essentially, it is carpet that has long, twisted fibers. Shag carpet look shaggy, hence the English version of the name. Historically, the term shag comes from the Old English sceacga and is related to the Old Norse skegg (beard).
The long fibers in shag carpeting make it extremely soft, but also notoriously hard to clean. It can be made of many different materials, which will be discussed in more detail below. Your choice of material will greatly affect the maintainability of the carpet. Yet, any shag carpet will need to be vacuumed at least once per week and deep cleaned often.
Shag Carpet’s History
Although it is associated with the 1960s in the United States, shag carpet has been around for much longer. Most scholars—yes, there are scholars that study shag carpeting—put this specific type of carpet’s origins in the Middle East and Central Asia. However, there is some evidence to support the idea that long, shaggy carpet was available even in Ancient Greece.
No one agrees as to where shag carpeting first appeared. It is likely that it rose to popularity in those countries around the same time. However, what is known for sure, is shag carpet’s rise to popularity in the United States in the 1960s.
Shag carpet first became popular in the U.S. because of the hippies and beatniks of the 1960s and 1970s. Part of the reason for this association was because of the then unconventional style of shag rugs. At the time rugs were more commonly made of smaller, denser packed fibers, and dull colors. This meant that by buying and using long, brightly colored carpets, thehippies and beatniks were making a statement. Their home décor choices were are unconventional as their lifestyle choices.
In the 1980s shag carpets were beginning to go out of style. Not only were these carpets notoriously hard to clean, but they also were seen as old-fashioned. As the culture began shifting away from the counter-culture of the 1960s and 1970s, American’s choices in carpets also began changing.
Shag carpeting was not gone forever, though, because recently it has seen and resurgence in popularity. Its soft and plush nature make it a hit with consumers. There are also far more choices in material, color—you can purchase a neutral toned shar carpet today—and cleaning options.
If shag carpeting is something that you have considered putting in your home, then read on. In order to make it not look like a disheveled 1960s shag carpet, you need to clean it properly. To do this you will need to buy the most effective vacuum for cleaning shag carpets that you can.
The different Types of Shag Carpets
Today there are many more types of shag carpets to choose from than there were in the 1960s and 1970s. The largest difference between today’s modern shag rugs are the great variety in choices of material.
Material indicates the type of substances that the carpet fibers are made from. In carpet buying you will also likely hear the term “pile.” That indicates the height of the fibers. Every different carpet material can be made into a certain pile. All shag carpeting has a frieze, or long, pile, while it can be made from many different materials. Here are the most common materials to find shag carpet made from.
Wool is probably the material most people think of when they think of shag carpets. There are two common ways that wool shag rugs are made: noodle and shaggy. Noodle rugs have thick fibers that are cut off at the top. Because they are tightly woven, they look like long noodles sticking out of your rug. However, noodle rugs are the softer of the two wool shag rug options.
Shaggy wool shag rugs use thin fibers placed closely together. This sacrifices some of the soft texture but increases your ability to clean the rug properly. Shaggy shag rugs are also more durable than the traditional noodle shag wool rugs.
Flokati is a type of wool shag carpet from Ancient Greece. It merits its own subsection because of its influence over the history of shag carpets and its differences in texture.
Flokati carpets are often called sheepdogs because of their similarity in texture to that animal. They are usually white or cream and are 100% wool –even the backing is from wool. The long pile fibers are fluffed to give it its characteristic extra-soft texture.
Leather shag rugs are made up of strips of cut leather. This is probably the most expensive and also the most chic shag carpet material. These are expensive rugs that are fairly impractical for most daily life. This is probably why they are quite rare. If you want a leather shag rug, you need to place it in an extremely low-traffic location in your home, so that it will not come in contact with foods, liquids, pets, or children.
We do not recommend getting an acrylic rug because they are highly flammable. You don’t want to put a fire hazard in your home, so we say pass on the cheap acrylic shag rugs.
Synthetic shag rugs are not the same as the plastic acrylic ones, so they are safer to put in your home. There are a wide variety of synthetic materials—polyester, nylon, and viscose to name a few—that can be used in a shag rug. Each has their own benefits and disadvantages.
Synthetic rugs are nice because they can be made to look similar to other materials, like leather, and are significantly cheaper and easier to clean. However, you get what you pay for, so synthetic shag carpets will not be as high quality or durable as their “natural” material counterparts.
What Does This Mean for Cleaning?
The material that is used to make your shag carpet significantly affects your ability to keep the carpet clean.
Wool carpets can be a problem to clean because dirt and grime can get caught between the layers of the fibers. This is problem for all shag carpets but is especially an issue with wool because it cannot stand up to the heat of traditional carpet cleaners, which makes it hard to get all of the dirt out.
Leather shag carpets are probably the easiest to clean since you can just use a leather cleaner on them. However, this material does not handle spills—especially water—well and will show every bite mark from a curious animal.
Acrylic and Synthetic carpets are fairly easy to clean. But, as we mention above, because of their fire hazard capabilities, we do not recommend using acrylic carpets. Synthetic carpets are safe and can be carpet cleaned. They are still hard to vacuum correctly with damaging the fibers.
Cleaning Problems with Shag Carpets
Shag carpets are extremely hard to keep clean. They tend to catch dirt, which can decrease their attractiveness fairly quickly. Most carpets will get dirty and fade over time, but shag carpets tend to do this much quicker than other piles. Plus, they can quickly pick up smells as the cotton backing absorbs all spills and holds onto scents. Some other cleaning problems no matter the type of material your shag carpet is made from—except maybe leather—are as follows.
Vacuums and Shag Carpet
Vacuuming especially can be a chore with shag carpets. The tufts of fibers, especially on wool carpets, pull out of the backing easily. This means that if you use a traditional vacuum the long fibers could get either pulled out and stuck in your vacuum or damaged in other ways. Pull out enough fibers and you will no longer have a nice, full looking shag carpet.
In order to clean your shag carpet effectively with a vacuum you need to make sure you have bought the correct vacuum to use with shag carpets. Certain vacuums are better suited to shag carpets, which makes it easier to clean your pride and joy without any damage.
What to Look for in a Vacuum for Shag Carpet
So, how do you find the vacuum for shag carpet that will work the best? There are a few things that you need to keep in mind when searching for a vacuum to go with your shag carpet. Below are some of the most important.
- No regular vacuums. Shag rugs are so thick that regular upright vacuums will not be able to properly clean the fibers. Instead, you will likely pull out the carpet and you could ruin your vacuum.
- Vacuums for shag carpets should have an upholstery attachment. These small attachments have a gentle suction, so they will not ruin your rug. Additionally, they allow you to clean your shag carpet row-by-row.
- You need suction control. The more control you have over the level of suction you vacuum creates, the easier it will be to clean your shag carpet without damage. You need enough suction to clean the carpet, but not enough to pull out the fibers.
- The lighter the vacuum, the better. Heavier vacuums will weigh down the carpet fibers and make it harder to get them clean. A high weight vacuum with the proper attachments can still be used to clean your shag carpet, but it is best to purchase one as light as possible.
- Carpet rakes are helpful. Carpet rakes do not go onto your vacuum, but they are designed to plump up your carpet fibers. Using a carpet rake before you vacuum your shag carpet can help you clean more successfully.
Top 5 Vacuums for Shag Carpet 2020 - Comparison table
#1 Editor’s Choice
Black and Gold
HEPA Filtration, Bagged, Corded, Sonic Cleaning Technology
27-foot power cord, 8 foot stretch hose, 5 height adjustments, air powered hand tool, 12-inch extension wand, crevice tool, upholster/dusting brush
Dusting brush, 5-inch crevice tool, upholstery tool, accessory bag, hard floor hero, and car detail kit
Under appliance wand, pet power brush, pet multi-tool, duster crevice tool, accessory bag
Floor brush, cyclonic technology, telescopic wand, swivel and bare floor brush, dusting brush, and crevice tool
Top 5 Best Vacuums for Shag Carpet on the Market Reviews
1 Soniclean Soft Carpet Upright Vacuum Cleaner
Soniclean’s Soft Carpet Vacuum Cleaner is unique among this list because it is built especially for carpets with soft fibers and long piles. To achieve this goal, Soniclean has created special soft nylon brush bristles that are gentle enough to use on soft carpet like shag.
The vacuum gives off 200 sonic vibrations per second, which help it to loosen and remove dirt form even the hardest to clean materials. Finally, the motor has a direct-air Paramagnetic design. This allows the soft carpet vacuum to have just the right amount of suction for shag carpets.
2 Hoover T-Series WindTunnel Rewind Plus Bagless Corded Upright Vacuum
Hoover’s T-Series WindTunnel Rewind Plus is another upright vacuum that can be used on shag carpets. It is lightweight, which means that it will not sink into the carpet as you are cleaning.
The T-Series WindTunnerl Rewind Plus also has five carpet height positions, so no matter how thick your pile, it will not snag. It also includes an upholstery/dusting brush as part of its accessories. As we mentioned above, this is one of the most important tools for cleaning shag carpets properly. These attachments come with an eight-foot stretch hose, which means that you can clean most shag carpets without having to roll the vacuum onto the material.
3 SharkNinja Rocket DuoClean Ultra-Light Corded Bagless Vacuum
Another extremely light vacuum, SharkNinja’s Rocket DuoClean is a bagless vacuum that has a bristle brush for perfect cleaning of deep pile carpets like shag. If the vacuum wasn’t light enough, it also converts into a hand vacuum, which make getting to those hard to reach places on your shag carpet a breeze.
The Rocket DuoClean vacuum does have powerful suction. So, you will want to watch its performance on your shag carpet. However, the bristle brush roller and duster attachment allow you to back-off of the hard suction easily.
4 SharkNinja Rotator TruePet Upright Corded Bagless Vacuum
SharkNinja is known for making high-quality, lightweight vacuums that are perfect for cleaning shag carpets. The Rotator TruePet is the only vacuum on our list that is made specifically for homes with pets. It comes with a motorized brush and pet-multi tool that will help your clean a shag carpet that is exposed to pets.
This vacuum will work great on hard and carpeted floors. But, it is best on carpets, since its LED lights help to illuminated dirt that had fallen in-between the rows of the shag carpet. It also employs swivel steering that gives you even more control over the vacuum’s maneuvering.
5 Kenmore 10701 Bagless Compact Canister Vacuum with Turbine Brush
Kenmore is a trusted name in vacuum manufacturing. It makes sense that they would have come up with a good vacuum for shag carpets. The 10701 Bagless vacuum is a canister model, which makes it easy to move around. Canister model vacuums also do not have to be moved onto the shag carpet, so you will not be compressing the fibers as you clean them.
It is specifically good for shag carpeting because of the telescoping wand that comes with a dusting brush/crevice tool. The wand and the attachment add up to becoming a great all-around tool for cleaning the softest of shag carpets.
Shag Carpet Care Tips
We’ve already touched on the best thing you can do to keep your shag carpet looking great, clean it. Most people who own shag carpets vacuum them at least once a week, but sometimes people will vacuum two or even three times a week depending on the use of the carpet. Make sure to steam clean your shag carpet every two to three years as well.
Another way to keep your shag carpet nice is to brush or rack the fibers regularly. This fluffs them out which can keep them from tangling and becoming matted. The more traffic on the carpet, the more often you will need to rack the fibers.
Finally, that brings us to our most important point. When you are caring for a shag carpet, you need to be strategic about where in your home you put it. If you place the shag carpet in an entryway or other high traffic area, it will get dirty much more easily. However, if you put it in a room that never gets used, you will not be able to enjoy it. Know that the more you use the shag carpet, the dirtier it will be and the more maintenance it will require.
Vacuum Care Tips
Keeping your vacuum in perfect working order will help it continue to clean your shag carpet well.
Shag carpets can be totally worth the effort. Even though they are coming back in popularity, they still make a statement. They are also soft and plush and feel very luxurious. But, to keep them looking their best, you need to keep them clean. Buying one of our picks for the best vacuum for shag carpets can set you on the way to having the best-looking shag carpet around.