Choosing Kid and Pet-Friendly Fabric for Your Furniture

Best Upholstery Fabric for Kids and Pets

For the pet and kid-free home, choosing fabric for your furniture is a cinch. Aside from concerns surrounding coffee or wine spills, pretty much anything goes. It generally comes down to the aesthetics. But, when you add in sticky fingerprints, cat claws, and constantly-shedding dog hair, reality quickly sets in. Ensuring you have furniture that can hold up to the nonstop barrage of mess is essential. In fact, it’s one of the most sought-after requests we get from our clients. If you’re in a similar bind and wondering how to prevent covering every surface in plastic, read on. Our no-fuss guide to choosing kid and pet-friendly fabric for your furniture with make it easy!

This poolside indoor lounge area, a custom bench upholstered in kid and pet-friendly Sunbrella fabric makes for the perfect spot to rest - all without worrying about water damage. (Interior Design: Carla Bast | Carla Bast Design)
In this poolside indoor lounge area, a custom bench upholstered in a Sunbrella fabric makes for the perfect spot to rest – all without worrying about water damage. (Interior Design: Carla Bast | Carla Bast Design)

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A beautiful Cryton-upholstered sofa sectional is both functional and ultra-stylish with its inviting cream color and is oh so kid and pet-friendly! / Source
A beautiful Cryton-upholstered sofa sectional is both functional and ultra stylish with its inviting cream color. / Source

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Using Sunbrella fabric, this cane chair is durable and chic, ready to repel any stains or spills. / Source
Using Sunbrella fabric, this cane chair is durable and chic, ready to repel any stains or spills. / Source
A floor cushion that doubles as an ottoman and extra seating gets a high score for durability thanks to its outdoor striped fabric. / Source
A floor cushion that doubles as an ottoman and extra seating gets a high score for durability thanks to its outdoor striped fabric. / Source

Kid and Pet-Friendly Furniture Fabrics

Crypton, Sunbrella, and most other outdoor fabrics are by far the best on the market for homes with kids or pets (or both). These fabrics are made to resist just about anything that comes their way. Virtually waterproof, stain-proof, and claw-proof, they are must haves to consider if you want the toughest fabrics for the job. Kid and pet friendly fabrics aren’t necessarily uncomfortable or stiff, many are engineered to be just as cozy as their less durable counterparts. Want a nice creamy white sofa or a bold blue armchair? It’s easy to find a color or pattern that fits your home’s style to a T – all while being (nearly) impossible to ruin.  Outdoor fabrics are one of the best kid and pet-friendly fabrics for your furniture.

Is Leather Furniture Kid-Friendly?

Leather is a cinch to wipe spills off of but beware of the type of leather you choose. A treated leather fabric will feel less supple but will hold up better to scratches and claw marks over time. Untreated leather will have that quintessential softness but is much more likely to show wear and “character” as you use it. Depending on their coating or materials, they are pretty darn great for repelling stains and pet destruction. Faux leather is ALWAYS a great choice for kid and pet-friendly furniture!

Is Velvet Furniture Kid and Pet-Friendly?

Velvet (and microfiber fabrics) are generally indestructible! Look for synthetic velvet with a high rub count @40,000 or more. Velvet doesn’t have “loops” in the weave which prevents snagging from paws and claws. It has a dense top layer; spills don’t instantly sink down into it. Because of the natural varying visual pile, stains are pretty easy to hide…just a swipe of the hand in the opposite direction. A regular vacuum or lint roller will keep it lint and fur-free. HOT TIP: A regular squeegee works wonders on fabric like velvet, just give it a quick once-over!

A leather sofa is an excellent kid- and pet-friendly furniture piece and pairs beautifully with any color palette. /  Source
A leather sofa is an excellent kid- and pet-friendly furniture piece and pairs beautifully with any color palette. /  Source
A cozy and inviting green velvet armchair helps to repel stains or claw tears and is stylish to boot. / Source
A cozy and inviting green velvet armchair helps to repel stains or claw tears and is stylish to boot. / Source

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An easy-to-clean blue velvet sofa anchors this neutral-heavy living room. Velvet is a luxury favorite kid and pet-friendly fabric for furniture / Source
An easy-to-clean blue velvet sofa anchors this neutral-heavy living room, bringing out the deep moody hues in the gallery wall artwork. / Source
Upholstered in faux leather, these kitchen island barstools are the ultimate in durability and quality; food or drink spills easily wipe up, and the soft grey blends in seamlessly with the overall room design. A great choice for the kid and pet-friendly home! (Interior Design: Carla Bast | Carla Bast Design)
Upholstered in faux leather, these kitchen island barstools are the ultimate in durability and quality; food or drink spills easily wipe up, and the soft grey blends in seamlessly with the overall room design. A great choice for the kid and pet-friendly home! (Interior Design: Carla Bast | Carla Bast Design)

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Are Linen and Silk Kid and Pet-Friendly Fabrics for Furniture?

Linen, silk, and any loose-weave fabrics are undoubtedly beautiful within a space. We recommend using these only if you have older kids, an adult-only home, or a totally pet-free space. Linen is the hardiest AND easiest to clean. You’ll probably be okay with the occasional spill if it’s cleaned up in time.

Silk and other loose-weave fabrics can be tricky and not typically kid and pet-friendly fabrics for furniture! They are generally more delicate materials that are prone to snagging or tearing if you’re not careful. So, use these in less-frequented spaces in your home (versus the TV sectional or often-used reading chair). 

While tweed is beautiful on a sofa, it is easily damaged by pet claws, so it’s best to use it in a pet-free home. / Source
While tweed is beautiful on a sofa, it is easily damaged by pet claws, so it’s best to use it in a pet-free home. / Source
Linen-upholstered furniture is fairly straightforward to clean and visually stunning, but it doesn’t take heavy wear and tear as well as Cryton or Sunbrella do. / Source
Linen-upholstered furniture is fairly straightforward to clean and visually stunning, but it doesn’t take heavy wear and tear as well as Cryton or Sunbrella do. / Source
Even bedroom furniture - like an end-of-the-bed bench or a duo of linen-upholstered chairs - can be tough to clean if they are used by pets or children; it’s best to reserve these fabrics for less heavily-trafficked areas. / Source
Even bedroom furniture – like an end-of-the-bed bench or a duo of linen-upholstered chairs – can be tough to clean if they are used by pets or children; it’s best to reserve these fabrics for less heavily-trafficked areas. / Source

Choosing kid and pet friendly fabric for furniture is tricky! If you choose wrong one, it can completely dash your hopes of design longevity. But the good news is that it is possible to get it absolutely and unapologetically right – you just need to carefully select your fabrics and ensure that they’ll meet the needs of your household day in and day out.

By Megan Johansson, Contributor to Carla Bast Design

10 Responses

  1. Great synopsis! Indoor outdoor fabrics have come a looooooong way since the days when your only choice was a scratchy, plasticky green and white awning stripe! It is amazing the fabric technologies available now!

  2. This is a great guide for choosing the right fabric for our home upholstery. With so many choices available, this article helps us distinguish between our best options. Most retail salespeople never explain this, leave it to a Designer to get it right.

  3. Thanks for this info! I’m trying to reupholster some furniture I love and want it to be
    more pet-friendly. This gives me great ideas of what to look for!

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