Best Upholstery Fabric Options for Cat & Dog Owners

Best Upholstery Fabric Options for Cat & Dog Owners

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Ashley Poskin
May 26, 2015
(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

When that luxurious velvet sofa catches your gaze for the first time, it's easy to think, "I can totally do this, Fido will learn that he is not allowed up. Simple as that." We've all been there, but let's get real.

Even if you become the dog whisperer and are indeed successful in keeping him off the sofa, it doesn't necessarily mean it will stay clean. No matter what kind of animal you have, their hair magically finds its way through the air and onto your fabric, so it's best to decide on an upholstery fabric you know you can work with before you even go out shopping.

No matter what kind of animal you have, their hair magically seems to find its way through the air and onto your fabric, so it's best to decide on an upholstery fabric you know you can work with before you even go out shopping.

Consider how their hair show up on the upholstery as well as whether it will embed itself in the weave and be difficult to clean. Consider how the fabric will react to their nails: will it show scratch marks or become easily damaged? Additionally, you'll want to make sure you choose a fabric that is fairly easy to clean, as drool marks and paw prints are a possibility.

Pattern is a DO but Tweedy Textures are a DON'T: Fabrics with patterns are a good option to consider for hiding evidence of pet hair. Patterns can help to camouflage the hair as well as marks or stains. This works especially well if a predominant color in the pattern and the pet hairs are similar. It's tempting to go with a tweedy fabrics to help to camouflage pet hair but the weave can allow the hair to become wedged in the fibers which makes it difficult to clean.

Consider Synthetic Fiber (Ultrasuede/Microfiber): It's not always easy to get excited about this choice aesthetically (that said, there are always exceptions, especially if the shape of the sofa or chair is super stylish), but it's about as close to "pet proof" as you can get. Cats don't seem to like scratching it (especially if there is a scratching post nearby) and even if they try, it's easy to brush away, if it even shows up. Cleaning is easy too, especially if the upholstery code is "W": you can use a simple solution of soap and water.

Lots to Love with Leather: The allure of leather is that it is mostly resistant to odor and it doesn't attract pet hair. If by chance some actually happens to find its way onto the cushions, it wipes off easily with a dust cloth. Cats seem to avoid leather as long as there is a scratching post nearby, and if your dog leaves a scratch you can usually buff it out. If it's an option, choose distressed leather, it will draw less attention to scratches and scuffs.

Embrace Outdoor Fabric: Widely available and intended for (surprise) use outdoors, this fabric is extremely easy to clean and can be found in beautiful colors and prints and natural materials. While it might not always be as soft as the synthetic fibers mentioned above, it's got more going for it in the way of patterns and prints. If your pet has found a favorite chair or spot on a specific sofa, it might be worth the effort to get a slipcovers made out of this fabric.

Fabrics to Avoid: chenille, velvet, wool, linen, silk, and tweed

For additional protection: If your sofa came into your home before your pet, protect what you've got by scotchgarding the upholstery. You can also take protective measures by purchasing slipcovers that are easy to remove and clean, or simply throw a blanket over your sofa.

Have an upholstery fabric success story? Share it with us below!

More helpful links for keeping your upholstery clean:

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