Sharing furniture with dogs and cats can lead to rapid deterioration of traditional fabrics. Pet owners tout leather and micofiber for qualities that keep them looking nice for years at a time. The best fabric for you depends upon your budget, cleaning expectations and pet's habits.
While both microfiber and leather are more durable than traditional cloth upholstery, you may still end up replacing items every few years if your pet is going to be a regular visitor to your furniture. Leather is generally more expensive than microfiber and ranges from hide imbued with protectants to buttery-soft material that will show pet wear more easily. Microfiber ranges in textures from Ultrasuede, which faintly mimics the feel of soft leather, to more traditional textures that resemble velvet, denim, chenille or twill.
Cats who scratch furniture will be drawn to microfiber's soft feel, but the ultrafine synthetic fibers are more likely to let your cat's nails slide right past than fray like traditional fabrics. Most cats avoid leather provided a scratching post is readily available as an alternative. Dog claws can scratch leather, but you can buff marks away. Or you can select a distressed-look leather, which leaves marks virtually unnoticeable. You can easily brush away dog claw marks from micro-suede and most other microfiber materials.
You can wipe hair easily away from leather, which does not attract pet hair or allow it to collect on its smooth surfaces. Pet hair clings to most microfiber weaves and often collects on the sides and front of your furniture even if your dog or cat is not allowed up on it. Micro-suede fabric attracts hair the least of all microfibers, with hair easily removed with a slightly damp cloth or vacuum.
Ease of Cleaning
Leather is easily maintained by wiping away dust weekly and conditioning as needed. Microfiber can be vacuumed, but pet dander and dust is never completely removed from between the fibers, resulting in the couch becoming more prone to a "doggy" smell over the course of its use. Some microfibers will stain from oils and dust on your dog's coat, leaving discolored areas. Before buying microfiber furniture, check the label to verify whether it can be cleaned with water or solvent-based products, or whether it may only be vacuumed.
Make sure you feel comfortable on the fabric you intend to purchase. Leather can feel slippery and cold when you sit on it during the winter and can stick to bare legs in summer. Both situations are easily remedied if you don't mind sitting on a cotton throw. Microfiber pillows and cushions can become misshapen over time, as some weaves can stretch with repeated use by pets cuddling into them.
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