What Kind of Vacuum Do I Need for Shag Carpet?

Don't cut corners when it comes to buying a vacuum cleaner for a shag carpet. While it may be tempting to purchase an inexpensive vacuum cleaner, a quality vacuum is an investment that pays off by extending the life of your shag carpet, keeping it fluffy and luxurious for years.

Shag carpet
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Proper care keeps shag carpet looking its best.


A suction-only vacuum is best for cleaning shag carpets, because a vacuum with brushes or a beater bar can cause the fibers to fray and unravel over time. More immediately, the long fibers may wrap around the beater bar, pulling out the fibers and causing serious damage to the rug.

Cannister or Upright

A cannister vacuum is effective for cleaning shag carpet and is especially useful if you have more than one type of flooring in your home. Use the powerful nozzle with a brush or beater bar for cleaning regular carpet, then remove the nozzle and replace it with a suction-only attachment for cleaning shag or hard surfaces. If you prefer an upright, use a vacuum cleaner with an adjustable brush or roller bar that can be lifted up and away from the carpet. Some vacuum cleaners come equipped with a switch to disengage the brush or beater bar.

Vacuum Cleaner Care

Without benefit of a brush or beater bar, high suction is needed to pull soil and grit buried in the long fibers. Most quality vacuum cleaners are equipped with two or three power levels and have ample power to clean a shag carpet. However, without proper care, a vacuum cleaner soon loses suction power. To keep your vacuum functioning at a high level, change the bag as soon as the bag fills to the indicator line. Use quality bags recommended by the vacuum manufacturer. If your vacuum is bagless, empty the container often. Clean filters regularly and change them as needed.


Vacuum a shag carpet once or twice a week, depending on the amount of traffic. Vacuuming often prevents grit and dirt from settling into the base of the carpet, where it is more difficult to remove. Grit allowed to remain in the carpet eventually wears out the long fibers. Use a crevice tool to clean around the edges. If your vacuum cleaner isn't cleaning properly, unplug the vacuum and check for clogged hoses and worn or broken belts.