Pet-friendly sofas

Pet-friendly sofas

A guide to the most pet-friendly materials for sofas, and tips on how to keep them clean... 

With just under half of all adults in the UK owning a cat or dog, Britain really is a nation of animal lovers. However, when it comes to our sofas, the relationship with our furry friends is not always quite so positive. We look at the best material for sofas if you have pets, and consider some top tips for helping to protect your sofa and keep it looking beautiful.

When it comes to choosing a sofa, there are a number of things you’re likely to take into account, including the fabric, design and colour. If you have animals sharing your space, these considerations are even more important. Add to the mix muddy paws, moulting hairs, and those (inevitable) little accidents, and you’ll need to think about how durable your chosen sofa is, and how easy it will be to maintain.

The best pet-friendly material for sofas

First and foremost, you should consider the material your chosen sofa will be made from. It’s best to choose a fabric that’s less likely to snag or trap hair and dirt, and will be fairly easy to keep clean.

Loose or open weave fabrics

Open weave fabrics are generally best avoided as a rule. While some natural fabrics are hypoallergenic and dirt-repellent, open weave fabrics can easily get caught in your pet’s claws, making your sofa susceptible to snagging and damage.

The fibres can also trap pet hair and dander particles, which can lead to a build-up of debris — not to mention odours — over time.

Tight weave and synthetic fabrics

Fabrics with a tight or flat weave, such as synthetic microfibre, can be a better option as they are less likely to pull, or trap dirt and smells inside the fibres.

However, synthetic fibres are not always as comfortable as natural fibres, and they don’t have the same overall durability.

Silk, suede or velvet fabrics

Some fabrics are best avoided if you have pets. Velvet loves pet hair, and will happily hang on to it! Velvet can also crush easily, and will need regular maintenance. Meanwhile, silk, chenille and other delicate fabrics can stain and mark easily, and can be difficult to clean in the event of any pet-related mishaps.


Leather is a popular choice for pet owners. Unlike some fabrics, leather is easy to wipe down, and it won’t snag on your pet’s claws. What’s more, as leather has no weave it won’t trap hairs or absorb liquids or odours in the same way as a fabric sofa.

The main downside of leather is that it can scratch. However, the great thing about leather is that it’s durable and hard-wearing, and it ages gracefully over time, with light scratches or markings often adding to its character. Aniline leather can be more delicate, so it’s worth taking extra care.

On balance, when it comes to pet-friendly sofas, leather is tougher, longer-lasting and the easiest to maintain, making it a good investment if you have furry friends.

Choosing a pet-friendly design

As well as choosing a robust material, the right design and colour scheme can also be key to helping to helping your sofa to stay in good shape.

It’s best to avoid lighter colours, which will generally mark more easily. Opting for a patterned material or a bright theme can help to hide pulls and markings. Including a colour tone that’s similar to your pet’s coat can also be a good move! Light hairs will show up more readily against a dark material, and vice versa.

You should also bear in mind the style and design of your sofa - for example, if you have a pet that’s likely to chew or claw the furniture, it’s best to avoid a sofa with any tempting features such as exposed wooden legs!

Keeping your sofa clean

When it comes to keeping your sofa clean and fresh, there are some golden rules:

  • Don’t let dirt and hair build up — as well as being unsightly, dust and dirt can also be abrasive, particularly to leather. Giving your sofa a weekly once-over with a dry brush, a microfibre cloth and/or the soft brush attachment on a vacuum cleaner (depending on the material) will help keep it looking in great condition
  • Deal with spillages straight away — to help prevent them from setting in, tackle stains and spills promptly
  • Turn the cushions regularly — cleaning and turning any removable cushions will help to keep the sofa looking plump and stop an accumulation of dirt or wear and tear in the area where your pet sits
  • Always check the manufacturer’s instructions — it’s also important to check the cleaning codes and avoid using harsh detergents
  • Keep odours at bay — baking soda offers a simple, pet-friendly way to tackle odours. Simply sprinkle some on your sofa, leave it on overnight, and vacuum it up the next day.

You can read more about keeping your sofa clean in our guides: How to clean and care for a leather sofa and How to clean a fabric sofa.

Protecting your sofa from damage

Here are some key tips for preserving your sofa when there are animals about...

  • Use a protective cover

If your pet often joins you on the sofa, it might be worth considering using a blanket or washable sofa cover, which will help to protect against dirt, hair and general wear and tear, and can be easily removed for cleaning or whipped off when you have visitors!

  • Offer an alternative

If you want your sofa to remain in tip top condition, you could offer your pet their very own bed or armchair to curl up on! Providing a scratching post or chew toy can also provide an attractive alternative to your beloved sofa.

  • Groom your pet regularly

To help reduce the problems posed by pet hair and sharp claws, make sure you give your pet’s coat a good brush and wash regularly, and keep those claws well-trimmed.

  • Banish those muddy paws

If muddy pawprints are a problem, keep an old towel by the back door, ready to wipe your pet down as soon as they come in — and before they head for the sofa.

By planning ahead and following these simple steps, you — and your pet — can enjoy your sofa for years to come!


At Raft, we make beautiful and enduring furniture for the home and office. You can view our range of stunning leather and fabric sofas here