A Sofa-Cleaning Guide for Pet Owners

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A Sofa-Cleaning Guide for Pet Owners
When you have pets, accidents happen.....


When you have pets, accidents happen. Unfortunately, sometimes that means those accidents happen on your furniture. But all is not lost. With a few tips and tricks, you can keep your sofa looking good and feeling comfy as a favorite spot for both you and your pet. Renew the look of your sofa with our guide on removing stains, getting rid of pet hair, and hiding wear and tear.

Removing Stains and Odors

So, you’ve just noticed your beloved four-legged friend has left behind a less-than-pleasant calling card on your upholstered sofa, chaise or club chair. Ugh! Getting these stains out may seem impossible, but with a few handy tricks up your sleeve, you can restore your couch to its former glory.

1. Soak it up. For liquid accidents, first soak up as much of the liquid as you can. Start by blotting the mess (not rubbing, as this could damage the fabric fibers), then lay down a towel to absorb what remains. This will help to reduce any odors and will make the stain removal process that much easier later on.

2. Air out the cushions. After you’ve soaked up the liquid, air out any of the removable pieces of your sofa, including cushion inserts. You can also vacuum upholstery with a HEPA vacuum to help alleviate any lingering odors.

3. Spot clean or wash. Before you apply any cleaning solutions to your sofa, check the manufacturer's instructions. If the instructions indicate that detergents are okay to use, apply a detergent or a cleanser designed specifically for upholstery. Then gently dab at the spot, rinsing with water as necessary. Baking soda and pet-specific enzymatic cleaners can also be effective at removing the stain. Avoid steam cleaning, as the heat can cause any stains to set in.

If your sofa has machine-washable slipcovers, pre-treat any spots or stains with an upholstery detergent before laundering (again, check manufacturer’s instructions).

4. Neutralize the odors. Baking soda can be helpful in removing stains and odors. Leave this on for a few hours or overnight, depending on the severity of the smell, and then vacuum it up. You could also apply an enzymatic spray, which is formulated for pet messes and designed to naturally eliminate odors. Vinegar, if safe for your specific fabric, can also help neutralize strong smells.

If you find a stain that’s already dry and set into the fabric, it may be best to call a professional upholstery cleaner. Stains that have already set in are much more difficult to remove. Sometimes trying to clean them can damage the fabric fibers and ultimately make the mess look worse. Professional cleaners can work to get messes out without pushing them into the fabric and cushions.

Removing Pet Hair

It’s a matter of life for many animal owners: Pets shed. While shedding comes with the territory of owning certain breeds of dogs and cats, removing pet hair is relatively simple for upholstery. An easy trick? Dampen a pair of rubber gloves or a sponge and simply glide your hands across your sofa. The hair will clump together, making it come up with minimal effort. Classic lint rollers and hair magnet brushes can also be great at helping to pick up your furry friend’s hair from your sofa.

Hiding Wear and Tear

When you have pets in the home, sometimes stains and shedding aren’t your only worries — your sofa may show some wear and tear over time. Whether you have a pup who loves to scratch and burrow into the cushions, or a cat that uses the sides of the sofa as a scratching post, it’s inevitable that your sofa may not be what it once was when you have a pet in the home.

If you notice a rip on the upholstery, start by applying a small amount of fabric glue to the tear to prevent it from spreading. If the tear continues to grow — or you anticipate that it might soon — call in a professional upholsterer. They’ll be able to expertly cover up damage and prevent it from getting worse.

Sometimes you’ll notice wear on your sofa simply because it’s your pet’s favorite place to relax. If you find that your dog or cat tends to sit in the same spot on your sofa, lay down a blanket or add extra pillows. This will keep oils and dirt from setting in this particular spot — and it’s an easy way to elevate your space and make it feel cozy.


Sara Marie Hall writes about furniture and housewares on behalf of Crate and Barrel. She graduated from Eastern Illinois University with a bachelor's degree in journalism. Currently a resident of New York City, Sara spends her free time exploring the city with her Shih Tzu, Kanye. 

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