by Dr. Marty Becker, Kim Campbell Thornton and Mikkel Becker
By Kim Campbell Thornton – Andrews McMeel Syndication
We’re in the market for a new sofa, and my friend Tamela Klisura, an interior designer, is urging me to get one in a light neutral shade instead of the colorful patterns that I love — in part because they hide pet hair so well.
“It’ll get dirty,” I argued. Dogs will be napping on it all the time, after all.
Tamela, who has three dogs herself, pooh-poohed that.
“They have performance fabrics now that clean up really easily,” she says.
She’s right. You don’t have to buy furnishings that are the same color as your pug or Labrador’s fur — or the Holstein cow pattern I’d need for my chestnut-and-white cavaliers. If you’re considering buying new furniture, reupholstering what you have or putting down new flooring, you have a lot of options to help keep your home looking and smelling clean, even if you have multiple dogs and cats.
Many fabrics and carpets these days are made to withstand odors and stains from spills, dog drool, pet accidents or animals who simply need a bath, thanks to a moisture barrier that keeps liquids and other messes on the fabric’s surface instead of soaking in. They can even be safely disinfected with a product that knocks out pathogens including E. coli, salmonella, MRSA, parvovirus and canine distemper virus.
“Those Crypton fabrics are made for a variety of high use and abuse,” says commercial architect Heather E. Lewis of Animal Arts, a firm that designs veterinary hospitals, shelters and other facilities. “What I have seen as an architect is an explosion in the number of cleanable fabrics that are used in health care, and those fabrics are also appropriate for use in a home.”
Flooring and carpets are also more pet-friendly, thanks to advances in materials. Vinyl, for one, has come a long way. Rosemary George replaced her wood floors with commercial-grade vinyl. “It looks just like wood but holds up better and is impervious to accidents,” she says. Melissa Frieze Karolak has vinyl planks in her basement, “luxury” vinyl in one bathroom and old-fashioned linoleum in the laundry area. “I like them all, and so far they have held up well to our two dogs and three cats,” she says.
If you’ve ever wished that you could just throw large rugs into the washing machine, well, now you can. A company called Ruggable makes lightweight rugs that go over a nonskid pad. The low-pile rugs, which come in a variety of styles, sizes, colors and patterns, are stain-resistant and waterproof. When they need to be cleaned, even the 8-by-10-foot size fits in a home washing machine.
“I have Ruggables and love the look, durability and washability,” says Marion Schuller, responding on Facebook to a friend who was considering buying one. “There is little or no padding, but the dogs like them and choose the rug instead of tile.”
Another option is carpet squares made with solid vinyl backing. When vomit, urine or poop accidents happen — and they will — the affected squares can be pulled up and cleaned or replaced altogether.
Wall-to-wall carpets are also made now to resist depredations from dogs and cats. Some are treated to prevent stains from forming after spills or pet potty accidents, prevent urine from penetrating to the pad and resist soiling. They can be good choices for people with asthma or allergies who prefer carpet to hard-surface flooring.
Whether it’s furniture or flooring, homes are being designed around pets. “I think that’s cool and it makes it easier for busy families,” says Lewis, who has kids and pets. “I love to see that.”