What Are the Best Pet-Friendly Fabrics?
If you live with pets, you know the kind of damage they can do to your furniture. Claws, teeth and fur can all wreak havoc on your couches, armchairs and ottomans. Therefore, it’s important to know the most pet-friendly upholstery fabrics available so you don’t waste time and money reupholstering furniture that won’t be able to stand up to your pet’s paws and claws. While no fabric is 100% pet-proof, certain types of fibers and fabric options are more resilient than others. In this blog, we’ll cover the top pet-friendly fabrics as well as our recommendations for the best upholstery brands for pet owners.
Leather & Faux Leather
Real and faux leather furniture are popular choices for pet owners. They are both stain, odor and puncture resistant, and fur doesn’t cling to them. It’s easy to brush away loose fur with a dry rag or dust catcher, and most stains wipe up easily with soap and water, or whatever cleaning solution the manufacturer recommends. Another benefit of real and faux leather is that since the material is nonabsorbent, pet dander can’t embed itself, making your furniture allergy-friendly for guests with dander and pet allergies.
While real leather is more puncture resistant than faux leather, both are susceptible to aggressive cat scratches. Some dogs may be attracted to natural products like real leather, and if your dog likes to chew on things, your couch may suffer the consequences. If budget is a concern, real leather is very expensive and also limited in color and pattern options. Thankfully, faux leathers have risen in popularity and quality over the years, and Sailrite’s faux leather offerings will hold up well to Fido’s roughhousing. Not only are faux leathers a less expensive alternative to real leather, but they also come in a wider variety of colors and textures to match your style and aesthetic.
Our top recommendations for faux leather upholstery are Ultraleather® and Nauga Soft. They both come in a wide variety of colors and are well suited for a number of indoor upholstery projects. Ultraleather is a premium, PVC-free polyurethane leather alternative that offers the look and feel of the finest European calfskin. It has a supple hand, offers fantastic durability and has a rich grain texture that subtly mimics the look of real leather. Nauga Soft boasts an incredibly high wear rating (1,000,000 double rubs!), making it suitable not only for your home but also the healthcare and hospitality industries. This vinyl upholstery fabric pairs the look and feel of fine leather with superior tear strength and abrasion resistance. It’s scuff and scrape resistant and protects against bacterial and fungal microorganisms.
- Fur won’t stick to furniture
- Resists punctures
- Easy to clean
- Odor and stain resistant
- Will show scratches
- Not completely cat-proof
- Real leather is expensive
Olefin & Polyolefin
Olefin and polyolefin fabrics are another option for pet owners. They are synthetic fabrics renowned for their durability and strength. These fabrics are a great alternative for someone who likes the look and feel of traditional upholstery fabric, and Sailrite offers the best synthetic olefin and polyolefin fabrics on the market. With a wide variety of color and pattern options, you’ll have no trouble choosing a fabric that coordinates with your home décor.
Geobella® is a long-lasting, eco-friendly upholstery fabric made from 100% solution-dyed olefin yarn recycled from post-industrial waste. This fade-resistant, stain-resistant sturdy fabric is ideal for high-traffic areas and homes with pets and kids. In fact, Geobella proudly claims that their fabric “wears like iron” and that it’s “life proof” for any home. Geobella does have a stiffer hand than other upholstery fabrics, but for some pet owners, its benefits might outweigh it’s tougher feel. It’s even bleach cleanable for serious stains, making it a virtually indestructible fabric that will look great and last for years.
Bella-Dura® is a high-performance upholstery fabric known for its ability to handle everyday wear and tear. Bella-Dura fabrics are woven from proprietary polyolefin fibers that have been specially engineered to deliver premium abrasion, stain, odor and mildew resistance. Bella-Dura is also anti-pilling, and the fibers are infused with antimicrobial silver ion technology that can withstand 1,500 hours of UV fade resistance. Lastly, the fabric is solution-dyed, meaning it can be cleaned with bleach for tough stains and disinfecting purposes without damaging the color or quality of the fabric.
Something to be aware of, though, with these fabrics is that they are woven. This means it is possible, especially for cats, to get their claws stuck in the weave and cause rips or scratches. A dog’s nails are not as sharp as a cat’s and would not cause any kind of damage to these fabrics. But if you have a cat that loves to scratch and has very sharp claws that you don’t trim down routinely, it’s possible this is not the best choice for you.
- Bleach cleanable (when needed)
- Fade resistant
- Repels most dog scratches
- Looser weave than microfiber
- Will show cat scratches
- Stiffer hand (Geobella)
The biggest selling point of microfiber is the fabric’s tight weave. There aren’t any loops in this type of fabric, so your pet’s claws won’t get stuck and shred your newly upholstered furniture. The surface of the fabric is plush and suede-like, meaning sharp claws are less likely to sink in and gain traction. This is an ideal choice for cat owners whose felines treat furniture like their personal scratching posts. As long as you keep your cat’s claws trimmed to a reasonable length, this fabric should stand up to the abuse.
Sailrite’s microfiber offering is Ultrasuede®, a high-quality ultra-microfiber known for its luxurious, suede-like feel. The soft, plush texture of this fabric delivers not only comfort but high-end style and elegance to your home. It’s made from 100% recycled polyester, and it never sags, stretches or loses its shape, meaning your furniture will look great year after year. Ultrasuede is extremely abrasion resistant (200,000 double rubs). Due to its extremely tight weave, dirt and dust can’t penetrate the fabric and are easily wiped away with a medium-bristle brush. The odor- and stain-resistant properties of Ultrasuede also make it a great choice for that rambunctious canine in your life.
Microfiber is not water resistant the way vinyl and faux leather is, so stains and spills need to be wiped up immediately. Another concern is that this type of material will attract pet fur like a magnet, so your furniture will need to be cleaned frequently with a vacuum or lint roller to remove the loose hair.
- Very tight weave
- Good cat claw resistance
- Highly abrasion resistant
- Odor and stain resistant
- Luxurious feel
- Attracts loose fur and dander
- Absorbs stains and odors
Fabrics to Avoid
You definitely want to stay away from fabrics with loose weaves and nubby texture like tweeds, chenille and corduroy. These fabrics are like catnip to your feline! Your cat won’t be able to resist sinking his paws into your furniture and flexing his claws like your couch is his new cat tree. Dogs who are allowed on furniture can also damage textured fabrics with their rough nails and paws as they jump on and off the couch. Fabrics with loose weaves will also trap and hold fur and dander, making it nearly impossible to fully remove these allergens.
You also want to avoid delicate fabrics like silks and linens. These fabrics aren’t durable enough to sustain a pet. You’ll begin to notice areas where the fabric is wearing thin due to your pet hopping on and off the furniture or roughing up the seats with their paws. You also don’t want a fabric that pills, especially if you own dogs. The abrasion and abuse your couch endures from your pup jumping on and off will cause some fabrics to pill within a very short time span.
Colors & Patterns
Depending on what type of pet you have and how messy they are, either solids or patterned fabrics will better suit your needs. Patterns hide stains and small scratches better than solids. Bold ikats, geometrics and florals distract the eye and hide fur and blemishes. Dark colored upholstery will hide stains, dirt and “accidents,” but if your dog or cat has light colored fur their fur will show.
You need to consider all the factors and select a color that not only coordinates with your home décor and personal style but also works with your pet’s fur color. Neutrals like dark grays, browns or camel-colored fabrics will blend well with most pet hair and will fit into most homes’ color schemes. You can always select neutrals for your big upholstery pieces — couches, armchairs and ottomans — and introduce pops of color with bright and fun throw pillows, curtains, lampshades, wall art and blankets.
As the saying goes: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It’s not enough to upholster your furniture in a pet-friendly fabric, though that is the most important step. You also need to maintain the quality and lifespan of your fabric with regular maintenance and cleaning. Your upholstery can only do so much, the rest is up to you. Check to see what products can be used on your chosen fabric. 303® Stain Guard for Indoor Fabric is a fantastic protective spray for upholstery that helps repel liquids and prevent pet stains.
Another way you can prolong the lifespan of your upholstery is to provide your pet with distractions. If you can’t keep your cat off the couch and fear an attack of his claws, put scratching posts and toys near your furniture so your cat is attracted to those items and keeps his claws off your newly upholstered couch. Pet repellent spray is also an option. It deters your pet from scratching and chewing on furniture and pillows, but it requires weekly or even daily application. However, this will train your pet to stay off your furniture entirely. So if you like your pet cuddling with you on the couch, this isn’t the solution for you. It also goes without saying that keeping nails and claws trimmed and clean will also help keep your fabric looking fresh and scratch-free. Brushing your pet regularly will trap loose fur and keep it off your couch.
Unfortunately, there is no all-encompassing, pet-proof fabric that will prevent every issue that comes with owning a pet: stains, odors, sharp claws, abrasion and chewing. We hope this blog provided you with some valuable information about the types of upholstery fabric that hold up best to dogs and cats, along with our recommendations for the best pet-friendly fabrics. If you’re still not sure which fabric is right for your home and pet, consider ordering fabric samples. We sell samples of all of our upholstery fabrics and keep them stocked and ready to ship. Select the ones you like best and see for yourself if they will work in your home.