These easy-to-clean materials repel pet hair, dirt, and stains.

By Jessica Bennett
February 09, 2021
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Pets are part of the family, and they like snuggling up on the sofa as much as we do. But if you let your dog or cat hang out on your upholstered furniture, they can do some serious damage to the fabric. Pet hair, claws, teeth, drool, and accidents can leave your furniture stained, scratched, and worn.

Although the only way to completely pet-proof your furniture is to keep them away from it altogether, some upholstery fabrics wear better than others. The best pet-friendly fabrics are durable, resistant to stains, and easy to clean. In general, pet-owners should avoid loosely woven or nubby-textured fabrics, which can easily get snagged by nails or claws. These fabrics also tend to trap more pet hair and dander, making it more difficult to clear away allergens. You should also avoid delicate materials like linen or silk that will wear thin or pill with continued use.

Credit: MC2 Photography Inc

Whichever type of fabric you choose, a medium shade (not too dark or too light) hides stains best. Patterned fabrics also tend to disguise small stains or scratches better than solid ones. Choose pet-friendly fabrics for sofas, chairs, ottomans, pillows, and other upholstered pieces that often provide a perch for your pet. And if you're not in the market for completely new furniture, consider purchasing slipcovers in pet-friendly fabrics to cover your existing seating. Here are a few of the best pet-friendly fabrics to look for when shopping.

1. Leather and Faux Leather

Leather is ideal when you have pets, says interior designer Kimberly Kelly, who fosters dogs. This material is durable and wipeable, and pet hair won't stick to leather's smooth surface. To easily clear away fur and dander, vacuum the surface or wipe it down with a dampened microfiber cloth. Mop up accidents or stains as they happen and gently blot with a lightly moistened cloth if needed. Leather naturally develops a worn patina over time, so minor scratches or scuffs will blend right in.

2. Velvet

Interior designer and mom Rachel Van Kluyve loves velvet. "It's hard to beat the wear and tear it can take," she says. Although it might look luxurious and delicate, velvet stands up well to pet-induced wear and tear thanks to its tight weave and low pile. The short fibers prevent odors and liquids from seeping in, and pet hair and dirt can be easily brushed off the surface.

3. Outdoor Fabric

Try using a stylish outdoor fabric for pillows and upholstery to make your furniture more pet-friendly. Designed to withstand harsh weather outside, these materials repel water and resist stains and bacteria, making them a smart choice for pet owners. You can now find outdoor fabrics in a wide range of colors and patterns, so you don't have to sacrifice style for durability.

4. Microfiber

Microfiber is a synthetic material that's known for its stain resistance. Liquids don't easily seep into the surface, and most spots can be cleared away using a little soap and water. The fabric has a soft, velvet-like texture and a tight weave that won't get snagged by your pet's claws. Remove pet hair with a vacuum or lint brush.

5. Canvas

Canvas is great for homes with pets because it resists tears and doesn't trap dirt or hair. The tightly woven material is extremely durable and easy to clean with soap and water. Consider using canvas slipcovers for a simple way to protect your furniture. Remove the cover when it gets dirty and toss it into the washing machine to easily eliminate dirt, dander, and hair.

Even the most pet-friendly fabrics won't prevent all stains, odors, and damage. For more protection, consider using a product like Scotchgard Fabric & Upholstery Protector ($10, The Home Depot) that helps repel spills and make cleaning easier. And if you're really worried about damage to your furniture, it's best to keep your furry companions off the sofa in the first place.

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