For busy households, it may feel like keeping a clean home is a Sisyphean task. The second you sweep up that dirt the beloved pet has tracked in, a beloved human has spilled some grape juice or a glass of wine. With the potential for disaster in the form of stains, tears, and other blemishes, having an unstained sofa feels like an unattainable dream.
We’re here to say don’t give up! Choosing the right fabric for your sofa can go a long way toward preserving it for years to come. We’ve spoken with the experts and rounded up our five favorite sofa fabrics that are tough enough to stand up to the hustle and bustle of a busy home, all while looking stylish.
First Things First
When choosing the right couch for your home, the first question you should ask yourself is, “How will this sofa fit into my family’s life?” For example, do you have pets that like to hang out on the couch? Are your little ones (or the adults in the home, for that matter) prone to spills?
Pro tip: Check the color of the stains on your old couch before choosing a shade for your new one, because color can help camouflage accidents.
The fabrics we recommend below are available in a variety of colors, patterns, and textures, so you’re bound to find something that fits your family’s home. Without further ado, let’s talk about our five favorite choices: microfiber, wool, leather, vinyl, and denim.
Microfiber tops just about every list of durable fabrics, and for good reason. Max Alcabes, CEO at Sleepers in Seattle and Savvy Home, explains why the material is so popular: “Microfiber fabrics are made from polyester, which is naturally a very strong fiber. More importantly, a microfiber is compression fabric…abrasives such as dirt and hair cannot embed within the fabric, which would otherwise cause [the fibers] to soil and ultimately unravel.” Microfiber can usually be wiped clean with a wet cloth.
Pet owners can also rejoice: “Couches made from [microfiber] fabric are great for cat owners, as their closely woven fabric makes them impossible for pets to hook their claws and cause scratches,” says Harriet Jones, a cleaning and maintenance supervisor for Go Cleaners London.
When choosing a sofa, you want something that will stand the test of time. Whether it’s kids, pets, guests, or anything else, your sofa should be in it for the long haul. Wool is a great choice for a busy family because it can withstand heavy wear. “It does not wrinkle or snag, which provides a high durability over time,” Jones says.
This natural fabric can endure years of movie watching, pillow-fort building, and pet napping without showing its age. Unlike leather, microfiber, or vinyl, wool is not water- or stain-resistant.
You can dress this one up or down—leather is an incredibly versatile material that works well in just about any room. “Leather is classic, leather is smooth, leather is beautiful,” says Summer Shadforth, marketing manager of Fantastic Cleaners Australia. She added that leather’s natural water resistance makes it easy to wipe off dirt and spilled food. Even pesky grease stains can be easily wiped up with a dry cloth.
Many homeowners find that leather is worth the higher price, due to its ease of cleaning and aesthetic properties. One thing pet owners should keep in mind—this material does show claw marks and can be torn by sharp items.
Vinyl is a great affordable choice for families on the go. It cleans easily and can withstand plenty of sitting, scooching, and jumping. Though not quite as durable as leather, vinyl will stand up to wear and tear for years. “To maintain [vinyl], spray the surface with a mild cleaning detergent or water, and wipe until the surface is dry,” Jones says.
Vinyl is available in a myriad of colors and textures. Nonetheless, make sure you’re getting your vinyl sofa from a supplier you trust—cheaply made vinyl may rip or tear easily.
We know what you’re thinking—a denim sofa?! Well, rest assured that a denim sofa isn’t going to look like a pair of jeans took over your living room (unless, of course, that’s the look you’re going for). In fact, a denim sofa might just reflect your favorite things about your jeans—they’re tough, they can stand up to dirt, and they go with just about anything. Best of all, denim spot cleans with mild soap and water, so no need to stress over spills.
Seve Kale is an award-winning freelancer writer and former content intern for NewHomeSource. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in December 2013 with a degree in Government, Humanities and Spanish.
Prior to working with NewHomeSource, she interned in the Press Section at the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires and traveled extensively throughout South America