Fur babies. It’s a real thing. Your pets are members of the family. Do you love them? Absolutely. Do you want them to be happy, to be comfortable in your home or office? Of course. Do you want them to wreck your furniture? Um. No.
Whether you’re buying new furniture for your home, helping someone design their space, or reupholstering your existing sofa or chairs, it’s important to factor in your furry friends. They are uniquely loveable but they carry unique challenges from a home furnishing standpoint.
There’s the shedding, scratching, and the digging. And there’s the drooling and other unpleasantness that happens on occasion where you’d least like it to happen. Also, where did your pup even pick up that smell when you were with him the whole time?
You don’t need to choose between style and function. Today we’ll dig into pet-friendly fabrics that offer the durability you need for all the wear and tear you can see. And we’ll explore the possibilities for maximizing the antimicrobial properties of your fabric for the hazards you can’t see.
Let’s get clear about pet-friendly fabric performance priorities. Whatever upholstery you choose for your furniture, when it comes to pets you want it to be slow to stain, quick to clean, and hard to tear or puncture. That’s the baseline for pet-friendly.
First, we’ll go through how some of the most popular upholstery options perform in all those areas even before enhanced treatments are considered.
Vinyl and Faux Leather
When we covered fabrics for automotive applications we talked about aiming for less porous materials and fabrics that are easy to clean. The same holds true for pet-friendly choices. Top of the list are vinyl and faux leather.
Both are essentially non-porous — meaning what gets spilled or otherwise “finds” its way onto your furniture can’t sink in and stain. That also makes vinyl and faux leather super easy to clean. Just vacuum and wipe with whatever cleaner brings the results you’re after.
And both have a wide variety of style options. Faux leather feels almost like the real thing and has the added green appeal of often containing recycled leather. For instance, our ever-popular Saddle faux leather is 50% Recycled Leather and exceeds 200,000 Wyzenbeek Rubs — aka, it’s heavy-duty and ideal for residential, commercial, and hospitality upholstery projects.
We won’t linger long on leather today. All in, we love leather. It’s rich with character and style and, with a little loving care, ages well. As a pet-friendly option, it can be great — but with some caveats.
Yes, as long as it’s maintained with lotions or leather replenishment and stain preventive tools, it will have the wonderful qualities of the soft feel of leather and the quick cleaning similar to vinyl and faux leather. But it is a hide and inherently somewhat porous. So vigilance around whatever liquids may find their way onto it is required.
Also, while leather is often very tough (again, hide) and restores easily from most light scratches and dings if your cat or dog likes to work those claws or dig things will likely not end well. All that to say, we love leather but proceed with caution depending on your particular pet’s tendencies. And plan on a higher level of diligence and maintenance.
What if you don’t want the look or feel of leather or vinyl? Are there more traditional fabrics that will last against the demands of a pet home or pet-friendly business? Yes indeed. The key with woven fabrics of any stripe is to pay attention to the tightness of the weave.
Do you have an old-school fisherman’s sweater? Would you rather be wearing that loose woven sweater or your tightly knit button-down shirt when you brush up against something that’s prone to have exposed nails or other pokey (technical term) type things on it? Clearly, the shirt. Because sooner or later that sweater will get irrevocably pulled in some unfortunate way.
Same for your sofa or chair. And tighter weaves also help reduce the chances of hair getting stuck in between the fibers themselves.
Best bets will be weaves like canvas but linens, twills, even tweeds aren’t out of the question. Just be clear about how much your pet loves to poke, dig, pluck, or unravel — and keep that sweater in mind. Aim for tighter weaves and woven fabrics will be your friend.
One last quick tip for pet-friendly woven fabrics. The cushions on many upholstered pieces are removable. Choose a washable fabric for the win. When messes get really intense you can unzip and wash it out. This is all the more convenient if you’re refreshing your look with a slipcover instead of fully reupholstering.
First off, today’s velvets are not your grandma’s velvet. Velvet has come a long way in terms of its durability and subsequent flexibility. And there are few choices that warm and deepen the vibe of a space quite like velvet.
We’ll get into special treatments in a moment, but many of today’s velvets are made from nylon which is itself fairly non-absorbent. Making velvets quite often “naturally” liquid and stain-resistant. So, many of those everyday drips and drabs can be easily wiped up and/or cleaned.
Velvet has one big drawback. While velvet can be vacuumed up, it also acts like a brush and picks up shedding hair. (The same holds true for corduroy or a microsuede, btw.)
If coming home to that velvet vibe is what you’re dreaming of, just be prepared to do a bit more maintenance. And be intentional about the color of your pet’s coat and the color of your upholstery — dark hair needs dark velvet, light hair light colored velvet.
Fabrics that naturally minimize the fuss of messes or scratches and tears are, of course, important. But there’s still the potentially invisible ugliness that comes with pets. They get into all kinds of things. And they bring it into your home or business and the furniture that lives there.
Yes, we’re talking bacteria, mold, and fungi. All words you don’t want to be associated with your favorite snuggle spot or any other high traffic area, be it commercial or residential.
That’s where antimicrobial comes in. Any antimicrobial is specifically designed to kill and/or inhibit the growth of bacteria and viruses — essentially cleaning that nasty stuff you can’t see.
Sometimes also referenced as bacteria or germ-resistant, many fabrics across all the varieties we’ve explored are now treated during the manufacturing process so the protective agent is built into the fabric itself. (Check out this article on Crypton fabrics to learn more about our favorite.)
But you’re not limited to pre-treated fabrics.
Thanks, in part, to the awareness generated by the events of the last couple of years, there are now a wide array of readily available antimicrobial sprays you can use on furniture and clothing. These sprays are yet another tool in addition to old standby stain protection sprays like Scotchgard.
So if you’re favorite fabric isn’t already treated or you’d just like that extra added sense of confidence, pick your favorite fabric and spray away.
Love those fur babies. Make them feel like the member of the family that they are. And know that whether you’re choosing upholstery for your home or office, with just a little bit of intentionality you can have it all. Your furniture can be all that you need it to be — crisp or cozy, modern or classic — without sacrificing durability and the peace of mind of knowing it’s clean and safe for everyone.
As ever, our team here at KOVI is just a call, email, or chat away when you’re ready to find the perfect — or is that purrfect? — pet-friendly fabric for all your furniture needs.