The Best Home Decor Fabrics for Kids (For Couches, Pillows & More!)
We had brand new white couches delivered just two days after we brought our third baby home from the hospital. I’m pretty sure our family thought we were NUTs to custom order bright white couches with young, messy, rambunctious boys underfoot. While I could just throw my hands up and say “We’re not going to have anything nice until the kids are out of the house,” I learned early on that the right fabrics make all the difference in enjoying your kid-filled home without stressing or chasing after every spill with a stain stick. While I haven’t tested every fabric out there, I have used (and researched) many options, so today I’m breaking down the best home decor fabrics for kids and how to take care of them (so you can have your kids…and white couch too!)
The Best Home Decor Fabrics for Kids
I’m going to start with one of the few fabrics on this list I haven’t personally tried. But my research indicates that if you truly want the most durable fabric possible, Crypton is your choice. Aptly named, this fabric is stain-repellant, odor-resistant, eco-friendly, and highly durable, making it your best option for “kid-proof” or “pet proof” upholstery. Anecdotally, it sounds like you can spill just about anything on this fabric and it will either repel (thanks to built-in stain repellency on every fiber) or clean quite easily (thanks to soil release technology). Crypton is available by the yard; and more and more retailers like Wayfair, Pottery Barn, and Ethan Allen are carrying furniture in this fabric too. (Source)
A quick look at the available colors/patterns indicate that Crypton fabrics are intended for furniture staples, with colors and patterns being simple, neutral, and ahem…a bit boring. This is great for investment couches, ottomans, and chairs; but if you are looking for statement pieces or fun throw pillows, you might find the options a smidge limited. Additionally, standard Crypton fabrics are not UV resistant, so they may not be the best choice for outdoor furniture or those near windows. This fabric is the most expensive option on this list (ranging from $40-70/yard), and furniture upholstered in it will be at the higher price point. Finally, it’s not bleachable, so cleaning can sometimes require specialty products and techniques.
Sunbrella fabric is another option that often rises to the top of “Best Home Decor Fabrics for Kids” lists…and for good reason! While not stain-repellant, Sunbrella fabrics are stain resistant, durable, comfortable, and colorfast to UV rays. The company started primarily as a manufacturer for outdoor awnings, pillows, and cushions, but has expanded into the interior space as well. They do not look or feel like your typical “outdoor” fabric. Rather, they are soft and durable, and now come in countless (and very fun!) designs, patterns, and styles.
Tub chair in Sunbrella Luxe and Sunbrella Lido
Sunbrella fabric is sold by the yard, and many furniture retailers like Wayfair, West Elm, and Pottery Barn (among others) are offering furniture and pillows in it as well. Like Crypton, these fabrics/pieces can be quite expensive. (I’ve had the best luck shopping with coupons during sales, as well as on eBay for discounted yardage.) Finally, Sunbrella fabrics are easily washable and are durable enough for bleach cleaning, the washing machine, and treatments by professional cleaners. (Source)
Tub chair in Sunbrella Luxe and Sunbrella Lido
Our new white couches are upholstered in Sunbrella fabric. Having used this fabric extensively on pillows, chairs, and ottomans with great luck, I knew it was the only way to have white couches with kids. Whenever I notice stains or splatters on our cushions, I simply toss them in the washing machine and they come out like new!
White couch and dotted throw pillow in Sunbrella fabrics
For my very first upholstery project, I walked into a specialty home decor fabric store and asked what “reasonably-priced” fabric I should use. Without hesitation, the knowledgable staff pointed me toward microsuede. I was shocked, since it struck me as a soft/gentle fabric; but sure enough, 8+ years later our white microsuede nursery rocking chair still looks amazing (despite 4 moves and lots of baby spit up ). I even made two ottomans (white and yellow) with microsuede, both with amazing results.
Rocking chair in white microsuede
Microsuede is known to be highly durable, easy to clean, water resistant, and stain resistant. It comes in countless shades (but not as many patterns); and is pretty inexpensive, coming in around $8-$10/yard. (Source)
Microfiber boasts many of the same attributes as microsuede (microsuede is technically a type of microfiber). You’ll know it for its super-soft texture and somewhat higher “pile.” It’s very common on furniture because it’s one of the least expensive “durable” fabrics out there. Furniture-lovers like it because it’s easy-to-clean, hides stain well, and tends to hold up to rough living. However, I’ve heard many times that it’s horrible for pet-owners because the pile shows hair and claws can easily pull out the fibers.
Navy ottoman in microfiber
Our current blue ottoman is made of microfiber and we love it. I can say, without a doubt, that the higher pile of the fabric definitely hides stains. When the kids want to eat something messy in front of the TV, we tell them to sit on the ottoman instead of the white couches!
Navy ottoman in microfiber
Velvet is one of my favorite fabrics to have in our home. Not only does the luxe texture instantly elevate and add interest to a space, but it’s another fabric that is durable, easy-to-clean, somewhat budget-friendly, and super cozy for couches and pillows.
Because of its texture, spills and stains tend to stay “on the surface,” making them easy to wipe up if caught quickly. Velvet drapes and throw pillows can usually be thrown in the washing machine (always read the label first); and it vacuums up nicely as well (although we tend to use a lint roller on the top of our headboard to pick up dust). Velvet pile can “bruise” over time (e.g., get stuck in a certain direction), but it can usually be fixed with a good steaming. (Source)
Outdoor fabric is an obvious choice for porches, patios, and boats; but it’s also worthy of consideration for indoor spaces too. Outdoor fabrics are specially-treated to withstand UV rays, as well as any moisture. In fact, most liquids will bead up and roll right off outdoor fabrics. They now come in a huge range of colors and price points, with many being quite affordable (less than $10/yard).
It’s important to note that non-Sunbrella fabrics can have a plastic-y, stiff texture, so they might not be what you want for your main couches or if you have super sensitive skin to certain chemicals. That said, outdoor fabrics are great for pillows, floor cushions, bench cushions, tablecloths, stool covers, and other areas that get a lot of use.
Tablecloth and curtains in outdoor fabrics
Last, but certainly not least, is leather. From a durability and clean-ability standpoint, I probably should have listed this fabric first. Many large households swear by leather furniture since it’s practically indestructible and wears beautifully over time. Leather is naturally repellent to most stains and smudges, and can be easily wiped down with a wet cloth. However, it is definitely one of the more expensive options for upholstery, and you are limited to a certain aesthetic since leather comes in a small range of colors and hues.
Colors & Patterns
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that darker colors and busier patterns (of whatever fabric you choose) will better hide stains and wear-and-tear than light colors and subtle patterns. Our old blue sectional wasn’t covered in anything super durable. Yet although we knew stains were there, you could never really see them thanks to the saturated blue hue. Likewise, our patterned Sunbrella tub chairs could have stains on them…but I’ve never seen them nor noticed thanks to the ultra-busy design.
Navy upholstery hides stains well.
Protecting Your Home Decor Fabrics
Despite amazing technology that can now make fabrics resistant to stains, odors, UV lights, microbials, tears, and more, no fabric is completely destruction-proof. Although I know our Sunbrella chairs, pillows, and couches can hold up to our rambunctious kiddos, there are still some things I do to make sure these fabrics look great and hold up as long as possible.
Consider coating your upholstered items with a spray-on protectant like Scotchgaurd (always check with the manufacturer first). Although it can be tricky to get a thorough, even coat on large items, we’ve had great luck with it on our smaller ottomans and pillows.
Stains do not get better with time. The longer you let a stain sit, the less likely it will come out. Whenever a chocolatey-hand escapes my notice and ends up all over one of the couches, I strip the covers and toss them in the washer immediately. Consider keeping stain kits (specific for your upholstery), prepared spray bottles, and/or a mini vacuum at the ready so you can tackle the inevitable spills as soon as they happen.
Change Your Habits
Having “nice things” with kids may warrant you change some habits, at least temporarily. Until our kids are a little older, we’ve stopped doing “Pizza & Movie Night” on the couch. We eat pizza first at the table, then move to the couches (with clean hands) to watch our movie. Our kids have learned that some foods are okay on the white couches (e.g., popcorn, pretzels, string cheese), some can be eaten on the blue ottoman (e.g., chocolate chip granola bars), and some must be eaten at the counter/table (e.g., popsicles, Oreos, anything that makes your fingers orange). We’re not “fussy” around our couches, but these simple habits can keep them looking better, longer.
Keep Wipes Handy
Finally, even if you no longer have kids in diapers, you may want to consider stocking up on baby wipes! We keep a pouch of wipes next to the kitchen table and in the family room so we can very quickly wipe sticky hands before they run off to play!
I hope you found this guide to the best home decor fabrics for kids helpful. I know it can be a bit scary to invest in an expensive couch (or other item) that could potentially get ruined by innocent-but-sticky hands or rough-and-tumble kids. But in my own experience (and based on my research), these fabrics are almost always worth the price if you want furniture that looks great AND stands up to fun family life too!