I’m trying to find an expression for the following case. In some neighbourhoods, people take their blankets or rugs out of their windows or to the balcony and they “shake” them or whatever the right verb is and they let the fresh air goes into their stuff and let the dirt fall off. How to express this act of “shaking”. Let’s say, can I say something like

She took their rugs to the balcony and air them (or shake them).

My dictionary says “shake the rugs” is ok but not sure if it sounds ok. Thanks

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    here in Britain, if I had a rug or towel or other thing made of cloth, and it had dust or something dry and powdery on it, I can say that I will take it outside and shake it, or shake it out. I shake out my shirts and trousers after they have been washed, so that they will dry without wrinkles. Feb 9 '19 at 10:11
  • I am trying to think of a name for the action I would use - it is what you do when you crack a whip - grasp the thing at one end or side, then throw it away from yourself so it is extended fully, then pull sharply. The cloth item often makes a 'cracking' sound. Feb 9 '19 at 10:30

I would use "air them", though that could mean a more passive way of doing it (hanging them up in fresh air), or "shake them out". The out there isn't to do with where it's being done - you can shake something out indoors. To shake something just means to agitate it, but to shake something out means to do so in such a way as to make sure anything caught up in is likely to be dislodged, that folds and creases open up, and so on.

With rugs, people also sometimes beat them, though that's different from what you're describing - it involves hanging them straight and hitting them with something to help the dirt get dislodged.

Minor point that isn't in the question - if you're using and as you are, the verb air or shake should be in the past tense - aired or shook. Or you can make it an adverbial of purpose and replace the 'and' with to.


"Beat the rug" is the term I've heard. It can be used for either hitting the rug with something, or merely shaking it.

Maybe it's only me, but I had no idea what you meant by "air" them until I read the body of your question. My first assumption was that it was about removing a stench from the rug. Everyone I know would immediately know what you mean by beating though.

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