For pet lovers, few things are more comforting than snuggling up on the couch with your cuddly critter to watch a movie or read a book. However, pets can leave behind hair and dander that wreak havoc on allergies, as well as dents from claws and spots from oils in their coat. While several textiles provide easy cleanup and stain resistance, the furniture fabric best suited for you and your dog will depend on your preferences, your lifestyle and your budget.
While smaller dogs of non-shedding breeds have little impact on furniture, large breeds that love the outdoors can cause wear and tear that will have you replacing your furniture every few years.
Leather is one durable option, with some leathers processed with protective solutions to make them resistant to scratches and fading, as well as easy to clean.
Microfiber is another pet-friendly favorite and usually a less expensive option than leather. It's a synthetic fabric that can imitate suede, denim, velvet or other textures while resisting stains.
A relatively new type of space-agey stain resistant fabrics treated with acrylic are also hitting the pet owner market. A leader is Crypton Super-Fabric which is woven with synthetic or natural fibers pre-treated with an antimicrobial and stain-resistant latex. Such a couch costs about the same as a leather sofa, although style selection is more limited.
Ease of Cleaning
High-tech modern textiles resistance to stains, dirt and odors makes them easy to clean with a damp cloth and a drop or two of enzymatic laundry detergent. Wipe leather weekly with a leather wipe or damp cloth to remove hair that may collect in corners or around the furniture's edging. Microfiber can be a bit harder to clean, depending on the base fabric and weave used in the furniture. The most pet-friendly varieties such as micro-suede can be wiped down with a damp cloth and a few drops of detergent. Other types require special solvents for cleaning, or can only be vacuumed; make sure you know beforehand how to clean what you're purchasing.
Large dogs who spend time outside not only shed more, but they're liable to bring in a lot of dirt with which to make dark stains. Microfiber is the most susceptible, as tiny spaces collect dust, debris and dander that are difficult to completely remove. The surface will eventually become discolored with the dog's body oils if he lies in the same spot much of the time. The fabric can also develop a doggy smell over time, even if the fabric does not appear stained. Dark colors or patterns will minimize visible stains. Distressed leather is the best bet for hiding large scratch marks, but if you prefer smooth leather, you can buff out claw marks and body residue with a soft cloth and specially formulated products.
In addition to pet-friendly qualities, the best fabric for your home depends on your comfort preferences. During winter, leather can feel cold and slippery when you sit on it. Summer weather can make leather stick to the back of your legs if you favor shorts or skirts. Some brand-name textiles provide soft, comfortable surfaces that breathe during summer and are ideal for snuggling into during winter months.
By J. T. O'Connell
About the Author
A former world-class swimmer, J.T. O'Connell shares her love of adventure travel, extreme sports and pets through thousands of published articles. O'Connell studied journalism at Grand Canyon University, and brings professional experience as a tour guide and travel consultant. She authors the blog, Traveling With Large Dogs.