Sustainable Haven Blog

Kayce Cleans | Advice for the Sustainable Home | Vol. 1

As an advice column enthusiast myself, I'm very excited to introduce my own column Kayce Cleans, where I'll be dispensing sustainable tips for cleaning up life's dirty little messes. 

From stubborn stains to grubby partners to pointers for fixing, decorating and organizing your space: give me your home challenge and I'll try to help. Email your questions to Now let's hit the deck!

Just in time for us to hit the refresh button for Spring, my first column is dedicated to deep cleaning upholstery, dealing with all of Fluffy's fluff and finally getting rid of little things previous tenants leave behind. Fur-st things first...

How can I stay on top of the cat hair? Just any tips whatsoever would be helpful. We Swiffer the place every couple of weeks, but it's just everywhere and we have completely failed to keep up with it.

Furballs! Animals provide so many benefits that totally outweigh the mess they leave behind but, oy, the mess part can be really annoying. The thing that will make the biggest improvement in your life is a really excellent air purifier. Be prepared to spend money ($200-400) on a good one but it'll be a life-changing purchase. Not only will it suck hair and dander out of the air before it lands all over your stuff, it'll also filter allergens, germs, mold, viruses and any unpleasant odors. I can't say enough about the benefits! 

When shopping, you'll want to pay attention to what size room the air purifier is built to filter and if the purifier will require expensive filter replacements. I have a RabbitAir purifier and chose it because it's powerful, incredibly quiet, doesn't require expensive filter replacements and is a nice, streamlined machine. 

On a similar front, a really incredible vacuum can also make the clean-up a million times easier. Dyson vacuums, while expensive, are incredible machines that will impress (and horrify) you by what they pick up. They make a pet-specific model with a variety of de-furring accessories and I've heard very positive feedback about its effectiveness. Also, to help with these larger expenses, check your credit card rewards to see if you can apply your points toward gift cards to places like Home Depot; that's how we got our Dyson and didn't pay a cent extra for it!

Finally, a less expensive life-saver is a special pet fur rake called the Furminator. This thing lives up to its name, as I've seen it take an entire shopping bag full of fur off of one animal. It's a fine-tooth comb that's much different from traditional brushes because it digs very deep into the underfur of the animal and pulls away an incredible amount of loose hair that hasn't been shed yet. Brush your animals once or twice a month and you're going to be shocked what you come away with. That's a TON of fur that won't ultimately end up all over your house!

How do you clean a fabric sofa? Or just, refresh the material a bit?

It can be intimidating to clean a fabric sofa that's had some wear but it's not an unbearable chore and, best of all, no harsh chemicals are needed. Who wants to cozy up to a big patch of Resolve?

First off, deodorize the sofa with lots of baking soda. I like to make a little "shaker" for jobs like this. I place a cup or so of baking soda into a mason jar that has a two-piece lid and add 30 or so drops of my favorite essential oil. Then I top the jar with a square of parchment paper and, using just the rim part of the two-piece lid, press the parchment paper down over the top of the jar and screw on the rim to secure, leaving the paper taut. Shake the baking soda/essential oil mix vigorously to blend.

Then, using a fork, quickly jab decent-sized holes into your parchment paper.

And shake, shake, shake all over the sofa fabric. Remove your cushions and spread the mixture over every square inch, even the innards. Leave for a few hours or even overnight to let the baking soda absorb odor and transfer the oil's scent. Then vacuum well.

Now to clean the fabric. Grab some gentle soap (castile soap is perfect for this) but avoid detergent soaps like those you would use for your laundry, as they're too harsh and don't rinse easily. Mix a couple capfuls of liquid soap (or melt a little bit of gentle bar soap) in a bowl of warm water, making sure it's nice and sudsy. Dip your clean rag into the mixture and wring out excess water. Using some elbow grease, use your soapy rag to work the nap of the fabric well and in every direction, rinsing your rag periodically with clean water from the sink and re-dipping in the soap mixture as you go. This will remove the majority of surface dirt. Finish by rinsing your rag with clean water and go over the couch completely with the damp rag, removing any residual soap.

If you have stubborn stains, trying using a more concentrated mixture of soap and water on the stain. Vegetable glycerine is also an excellent stain solvent and is really easy to find. (HAVEN's castile soap already has vegetable glycerine in it and is effective on greasy fabric stains.) Mix one part soap and one part glycerine with three parts water and dab the solution onto the stain. Let sit for a 10 minutes and dab again with a clean, damp rag to remove stain. Try not to rub the fabric, as it will only push the stain deeper. Once you're satisfied the stain is gone, remove excess moisture by pressing the spot with a dry rag. You can also shake a layer of baking soda over the area to absorb the moisture so it doesn't seep into your sofa cushions and vacuum up baking soda after it dries.

Finally, do one last round of germ-killing and deodorizing. HAVEN's Air & Linen spray is perfect for this task, but if you don't have any on hand, grab a bottle of distilled white vinegar. Top the bottle with a sprayer or decant the vinegar into a clean, dry spray bottle. Spray vinegar over the entire surface of the couch and let it dry. This will remove any lingering odor and bacteria. Don't worry, the smells fades quickly. Now just deodorize and vacuum your sofa regularly so you only have to do small, manageable clean-ups from now on.

Now I think you deserve a big bottle of vino and an at-home movie night, friend!


Side note: I love infusing vinegar with fresh herbs to mask the natural scent of the vinegar. Fresh basil is my favorite. Simply wash and dry a couple handfuls of basil leaves and bruise them to release their scent. Place the bruised leaves and vinegar in a sealed jar for 2-3 days to fully infuse. Strain the leaves and you'll be left with some pretty kickass vinegar that doesn't smell so, you know, vinegar-y.

I have tape that is stuck to my window -- it's been there since I first moved in, and I can't get it off. 

Ah, don't you just love all the little things people leave behind for future renters? When we moved into our place, the previous tenants left us an enormous box of Euro-brand Ovaltine, some other weird, unidentifiable snack food and a six-pack of beer. The beer made up for any annoyance, so I can't complain.

Lucky for you, tape is very easy to remove once you know what to do. My favorite tool for adhesive removal is a heat fun (Typo. Keeping it. A heat gun is fun.) but coming in at a close second is a bottle of any citrus essential oil. Grapefruit is my favorite. Place 3-4 drop of essential oil on a cotton ball and rub the oil over the entire surface of the tape. Let sit for 10 minutes and the tape should easily peel off as the oil breaks down the gummy adhesive.

If any goo is left behind on the window, rub the adhesive with the oil-soaked cotton ball until it's all removed. Wash the oil off your window and, voila, a perfect view!

Note: Essential oils shouldn't be be used undiluted on the skin because they're very potent, so wear some rubber gloves.

Thank you to those readers who submitted these great questions and I look forward hearing more. Feel free to include pictures of your problem project, as I'd love to feature them in a before/after segment.

If you have any helpful hints to add to my tips, please let us hear them in the comments. Thanks for reading!

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