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How Do Microfiber Sofas Hold Up?

Jan Burch

A quality microfiber sofa is comfortable, durable, easy-care and resistant to the wear and tear of busy households, including those with pets and kids.

A lot of controversy surrounds the durability of microfiber upholstery on sofas, couches and other furniture. Many users, including parents and pet owners, praise microfiber for its durability, easy care, comfort and long-lasting good looks. Yet other owners complain that microfiber feels stiff and scratchy, stains easily, and shows wear and tear after only a short time using it. The reason for these different experiences lies in the quality of the microfiber itself.

In Favor

Microfiber fabrics are made of synthetic fibers that are many times thinner than a human hair. When these fibers are densely woven together, the resulting fabric is tough and water-resistant. For this reason, microfiber upholstery naturally repels stains and resists fraying, pilling and snags.

Satisfied owners of microfiber furniture report that it stands up to all the abuse that a busy household with kids and pets can throw at it. Food and drink spills, and even ink stains, are easily removed. Many people like the way microfiber feels cool during the summer heat, but it's soft and cozy in the wintertime.

Cat owners, in particular, praise microfiber because their cats won't claw on it. Microfiber's smooth, tight weave, unlike rough fabrics such as tweed or chenille, doesn't attract cat clawing. It's still possible to get an occasional claw mark in the microfiber, such as when kitty climbs up to her favorite perch on top of the couch, but these marks don't tear and are usually not noticeable. In quality microfiber, the threads will eventually return to their original position and close up the claw holes.

Arguments Against

Many disappointed microfiber users complain of static that holds lint and pet hair. The static also makes material cling uncomfortably when you sit on it. Poor-quality microfiber can feel stiff and coarse. Some users have noticed that the nap of microfiber can get distorted by sitting on it, leaving unattractive patterns that need to be brushed out every time you use it.

Some light-colored microfibers may pick up stains from blue jeans and other dark clothing. These stains and other spots and spills of daily life are difficult to remove from microfiber that is of poor quality. Poor-quality microfiber sofas have exhibited ripped seams, material that tears easily, and nap that becomes permanently flattened.

Choosing Quality Microfiber

Quality counts when purchasing a microfiber sofa. The material should feel firm, smooth and soft. Because good microfiber breathes, it should feel cool to the touch. It should not generate static or cling to you when you sit on it. If a microfiber couch feels stiff and scratchy, reject it; it's probably a poor-quality fabric.

In addition, make sure that seams and zippers are secure. The threads stitching the seams together should be nearly invisible when you look at them closely. Finally, make sure the furniture has been treated with a stain-repellent finish.

The best place to buy microfiber sofas and other furniture is in a showroom, where you can see and touch the piece to judge these qualities for yourself. However, if you're shopping through a catalog or online source, try to obtain sample swatches of the microfiber fabric. Reputable furniture companies will provide swatches of their upholstery fabrics, usually at a nominal cost.

Caring for Microfiber Furniture

  • Vacuum the furniture regularly to remove dust and dirt, using an upholstery brush to refresh the nap.
  • If your sofa has removable cushions, periodically reverse them and change their positions relative to each other. This will rotate the pressure spots, so the cushions wear evenly. It also helps reduce flattening of the cushions.
  • Removable cushion covers can usually be washed with your laundry. Check the manufacturer's care instructions for appropriate laundry procedures.
  • If you have a spill, blot it immediately with a clean cloth or paper towel. Spritz with an all-purpose cleaner or another product recommended by the sofa's manufacturer, and blot again with a clean towel. Using rubbing alcohol to clean spills and stains is another possibility, but test it first on an unseen part of the upholstery to see if the alcohol causes fading or bleeding .