A sofa cleaning guide for pet owners

July 26, 2022 - 5 min read

This article was written for the United Kingdom market and the advice provided may not be accurate for those in the United States.

dog on sofa
dog on sofa

We love a cuddle on the sofa with our furry best friend, but there's no escaping the fact that pets shed hair, scratch furniture, and sometimes whiff a bit.

Unfortunately, pet insurance doesn't cover you for your dog or cat damaging your own furniture and most home insurance policies don't cover pet damage either.

Follow our top tips on cleaning your sofa and protecting it from odours, claws and muddy paws.

1. Vacuum your sofa regularly

Vacuum your sofa at least a couple of times a week so that you can pick up any pet hairs and prevent unpleasant smells.

Odour-causing materials and bacteria will have less chance of building up if you vacuum regularly.

When vacuuming, make sure you get into every corner and in between the sofa cushions to reach those pet hairs, crumbs, and anything else that might be hiding in there.

There’s a good range of vacuums available that have been designed for pet owners and specialise in removing pet hair.

Alongside regular vacuuming, you can also use a classic lint roller or hair magnet brushes to pick up pet hairs from your sofa.

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2. Tackle stains immediately

For pet owner, muddy paws on a sofa are a familiar problem. But don't just ignore them and think you'll brush it off later.

Stains that have already set in are much more difficult to remove. Sometimes trying to clean them can damage the fabric fibres and make things worse.

Whether your cat bumps your wine hand or your pup rolls in something unspeakable before retiring to your best armchair, you need to act quickly and not panic.

Try to remove as much excess spillage as soon as possible by blotting with either a paper or cotton towel.

Check the manufacturer's instructions which will be on the inside label of your sofa. If the instructions indicate that detergents are okay to use, apply a detergent or a cleanser designed specifically for your sofa.

3. Use odour sprays and pet wipes

There’s a wide selection of odour sprays and pet wipes available. Most are suitable not only for sofas but carpets, bedding and clothing.

Both young and older pets can be prone to accidents but using sprays and wipes can help remove unpleasant smells and leave a clean, fresh scent after use.

It might surprise you to know that baking soda can be useful in getting rid of stains and odours. Simply sprinkle your sofa with baking soda and leave to sit for at least 20 minutes before vacuuming. If the smell is more severe you can leave the baking soda on your sofa for a few hours or overnight.

Clean your cushions and throws

If you have any cushions or throws on your sofa you should wash these regularly to remove any unpleasant smells.

It’s best to use cushions that have removable slip covers as these are much easier to put in a washing machine.

If you have non-washable pillows, get some slip covers for them. You can wash them regularly to help prevent pet odours from lingering in your home. You could even use it as an opportunity to update the colour scheme of your home, perhaps to co-ordinate with your pet.

What type of sofa should you buy if you have pets?

There are a now more pet-friendly sofas and furniture available for cat and dog owners.

When choosing a sofa you should think about the type of covering material best suited for you and your pet. You want a material that won’t easily be damaged. And one that won’t trap pet hairs or absorb pet odours.

There’s a growing selection of pet-friendly furniture available for cat and dog ownerslike those from Swyft which have been designed specifically for pet owners. Their sofas are easy to clean and use pet-friendly upholstery fabrics

Microfibre has become a popular choice for pet owners. It looks like suede and is easy to clean and maintain. Swyft furniture uses microfibre. It's stain resistant and protects furniture not only from pets but from other typical household accidents and spillages.

Fabric verse leather sofas

The advantage of leather is that it’s a durable material and easy to clean. It’s a good choice for pet-friendly furniture and if you do find any paw prints on your leather sofa its easy to wipe these off.

Leather doesn’t have a weave, so any pet hairs or odours won’t become trapped between the fibres. With leather, pet hair wipes right off and doesn’t cling to the smooth leather surface. It means you sofa can easily be cleaned by dusting or vacuuming.

Depending on the animal, fabric sofas can also be a good choice for pet owners. Fabric sofas don't become scratched in the same way that leather does. Fabric tends to be better at dealing with pet claws.

Fabrics with a tight weave are a good protection against pets. Your pet’s claws are less likely to cause damage and moulting hair is easier to remove than on fabric with a looser weave.

When choosing which fabric to go for, you might want to consider a canvas, denim or man-made microfibre sofa as these are great for dog and cat owners.

Choosing a colour

Choose colours that hide fur and fit into the colour scheme of the room your sofa is in. Darker colours are recommended over lighter colours as they don’t show dirt as easily.

You could decide on a fabric that’s the same colour as your pet so their hair won’t stand out as much.

Protecting your sofa from pets

It will often be easier to prevent your pet leaving stains or damaging your sofa than trying to fix the problem after the event. You can keep pets away from a sofa through good training and the use of accessories like pet gates and barriers.

Keep lots of toys nearby that will keep your pets busy and occupied and this will hopefully stop them from jumping on your sofa too often.

Remember to wipe your dog's paws if they've come from outside. This can stop muddy paw prints getting on your sofa and prevent unpleasant smells.

You can choose to have a pet bed or scratching post nearby, this should encourage your pet to use those instead. Cats have an instinctive desire to use their claws, so a scratching post is ideal for them to keep their claws sharp and clean.

Irina Wells
Content Marketing Executive

Irina is a former content marketing executive for ManyPets. She has contributed to a number of personal finance sites, including Loot Financial Services and Claro Money.