Author & Founder of Ruan Living
Sophia Ruan Gushée is a sought-after nontoxic lifestyle expert or “healthy home guru." She is the author of A to Z of D-Toxing: The Ultimate Guide to Reducing Our Toxic Exposures and the founder of Ruan Living, a multimedia company. Ruan Living produces podcasts and workshops to empower people to detox their home, diet, self-care, and technology of toxic chemicals, heavy metals, and electromagnetic fields. Sophia is a graduate of Brown University and Columbia Business School, is a certified yoga teacher, and Sophia also serves as a member of the Well + Good Council and the Advisory Council for the Brown University School of Public Health.
Maria Marlowe: [00:00:33] Welcome back to the Happier and Healthier podcast. Today’s guest is Sophia Ruan Gushée. She’s a sought after non-toxic lifestyle expert. And today, she’s going to be sharing how we can detox our home. This is a topic that’s come up many, many times on the podcast with all different functional medicine, doctors and wellness practitioners. Once we’ve cleaned up our diet. No eating healthier and more organically. And then our beauty products. It’s time to look at our home because our home can be a source of a lot of toxins from our cleaning products to our scented candles, our furniture, our rugs. All of these things can contribute to our toxic load. So Sophia is going to share some of her tips and best practices for how we can detox our home before we get started.
Maria Marlowe: [00:01:24] Check out these brands that make the Happier and Healthier Podcast possible. If you’re looking for better health and especially better digestion, then you have to check out my favorite probiotic brand, Hyperbiotics. Digestive health is the root of our overall health. And it’s so important to get it under control and get it healthy. Not just so you’re not embarrassed with gas and bloating or constantly running to the bathroom or maybe never running to the bathroom because you’re constipated. It is so important that we nourish our gut and take care of our gut because when it’s not healthy and it’s not working properly, it’s only a matter of time before we start seeing other health problems, whether that skin problems, autoimmune problems, and lower immunity, because our digestive system is so intricately linked with our immune system and so much more. So if you’re having digestive issues currently, gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, of course, definitely check with your doctor. But you probably also want to look into a probiotic.
Maria Marlowe: [00:02:30] Sophia, thanks so much for being here. I’m excited to talk all things non-toxic living with you. How did you get interested or started on this path?
Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:02:41] It started with my daughter when I became a mother in 2007. My background is actually in distressed investing for institutional investors. And it’s relevant only in that a big part of my job was to learn about new chaotic situations with imperfect information to dive in and learn quickly, assess good information from not reliable information to project trends and identify opportunities to create value. And when I became a mom in 2007, I was about 34 years old and I felt very removed from babies. And the insecurity of taking good care of my new infant led me to develop this nightly ritual of reviewing carefully selected reading materials at night to then schedule for the nanny the next day. How I wanted my daughter’s schedule to be like her nap schedule and her feeding schedule. And it was through this nightly ritual that I started accidentally learning that there were toxic chemicals and heavy metals in products that would affect my daughter the next day. I usually learn this stuff after midnight. I could not ignore it and go to sleep. And it was so alarming to learn it during a time when I should have been sleeping. And I had the I ended up applying my professional skills towards this area. So when I read for me, the first thing I learned about was BPA in some baby bottles and carcinogens with this one carcinogen, nitrosamine, and some baby bottle nipples. And to realize my daughter might be ingesting this. The next day was so alarming. So I get to a computer and try and answer. Are there credible sources to back up this claim? And I often found really credible sources that led me to want to make an alternative choice.
Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:04:53] So then I was on Amazon from like 2:00 to 4:00 in the morning trying to figure out, well, why do I buy instead? And this just led to eight years of research from a mother just trying to buy non-toxic products for her young and growing family. And I discovered so much science along the way that I felt I wish my younger self knew. I thought many parts of the public would like to know and that the medical community should know, too. So I ended up organizing my research into a book called To A Sea of Detoxing. The Ultimate Guide to Reducing Our Toxic Exposures. Publish that in 2015 and the science is cited throughout. Because I wanted it to be something that a person could share with their physicians so that they could start work together on making more mindful choices that consider the toxic chemicals, heavy metals and even the radiation from what we buy and do.
Maria Marlowe: [00:05:54] What are some of the most toxic areas of our homes? Is it the cleaning supplies, the furniture? Where should we be focusing our attention?
Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:06:03] You’re right. A lot of people have heard that cleaning products can be toxic and more people are realizing that their beauty and personal care products can be toxic. But I think a lot of people don’t think about their household furnishings like their mattresses and carpets and shower curtains. And even what’s most shocking is children’s products. I think I had an assumption that there were stricter standards for products designed and sold for infants and children, and that’s just not true. So I think that more parents should just be aware that there are products that can expose children and household air and dust to toxic or risky chemicals and even heavy metals.
Maria Marlowe: [00:07:02] Yeah, I have a friend who has a young daughter and she recently sent me a frantic text about a bed that she had ordered for her daughter. And then it came with this Prop 65 warning about toxic chemicals. So can you talk a little bit about that? Because I feel like I’m seeing this Prop 65 warning on everything from suitcases to furniture and everything in between.
Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:07:25] Yes. Thank God for California. So California enacted a law that gives consumers the right to know if products sold to people who live in California. If those products contain chemicals that are in among the list of chemicals that California has found to be contributing factors to cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm. So the rest of the country benefits from Prop 65. So people should keep in mind, I’m not really sure how many chemicals are now on this list in California. But if it grows over time and it’s definitely a red flag when you see Prop 65 on a product, too, it’s been disappointing is that I’ve ordered products online and didn’t see the Prop 65 label online before I purchased it. But only after receiving it. And it might be something little like a pair of scissors. And I then think I’m not going to bother returning it. It might cost me more and shipping to return it. But so it is a wonderful warning or tool for consumers. It doesn’t mean that just because a product doesn’t have Prop 65 that it’s safe. But so if you do see Prop 65, you do want to think twice about whether you want it in your home.
Maria Marlowe: [00:08:54] And is there anywhere that we can find non-toxic furnishings? Because I feel like all of the mainstream furniture stores or most of them, they all seem to have this warning on many of their products.
Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:09:07] It’s really hard. Nontoxic furniture is hard to find at affordable price points. I know that IKEA has enacted some standards. I haven’t looked in a few years, but they try and they’re European based. So that helps because the European Union does have stricter standards than the US does. And years ago I was shopping for a sofa and I stopped by Crate and Barrel. And I think I think all the retailers are considering how to be more mindful. It’s quite complex. It’s more expensive to use materials that are not flammable. So the naturally flame retardant materials include 100 percent pure wool and that probably can be expensive. But another label, if you’re furnish your shopping, another label to look for is called TB1 17-2013. And that’s a law that modified requirements for certain household products to pass a flammability test. And historically, the key way that manufacturers past had products pass this test is to include a lot of. Chemical flame retardants and some of these chemical flame retardants have been found to be toxic. So eventually the laws changed so that the flammability test was modified. The key thing to know is when you furnish your shopping, you want to look for this label. TB 1 17-2013. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that there are no toxic chemical flame retardants in it. So when your furniture shopping, consider products that have this label. And then the second step is to verify with the retailer.
Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:11:09] And I would also verify with the manufacturer that there are no toxic chemical flame retardants. I do find that some salespeople, they’re not intentionally trying to deceive, but they don’t necessarily know. And maybe they’ll just guess whether they’re chemicals, flame retardants in furniture. So I would just verify with the manufacturer as well.
Maria Marlowe: [00:11:31] Ok. And if we already have furniture in our house that has these chemicals, is there anything that we can do to lessen their impact?
Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:11:41] Yes. So it’s important to recognize that most things in our home are made of petroleum based ingredients. And for some reason, that helps me understand that over time, these ingredients don’t they’re not inert. They don’t just stay in the products like polyurethane foam is a material that is used in many household products. It’s often the core material and mattresses. It makes up cushioning in sofas and chairs and under carpets or rugs. And it’s made of. I mean, there are many different ways to make it just like there’s so many different ways to make a chocolate chip cookie. There are also so many different ways to make polyurethane foam and plastics and synthetic fibers. And these ingredients can off gas into the air over time, like if temperatures increase in as humidity levels change and just through normal wear and tear. And also some of these chemicals become part of household dust. So scientists who study chemical flame retardants, they’ve actually recommend I mean, they find them in household dust. They also end up on our fingertips and we absorb them into our bodies through our skin and ingest them as dust on our fingers. And lots of people, including especially kids, will put their fingers in their mouths often. And they also put a lot of other household things like remote controls in their mouths. But scientists who study these chemical flame retardants, they say one of the most impactful things you can do is just wash your hands before you eat. And so if you’re a parent, you know, that’s actually it’s such a simple tip and people been doing it from the beginning of time. I feel like we do it less so in moderate in our modern lifestyles. But having children, it’s something I still have. My oldest is twelve and she’s been hearing that since she was little. And I still have to remind them before every meal did you wash your hands. They haven’t. Go wash your hands. And that’s really high impact now with all these viruses infections going around. You know, it’s just another reason to do something that’s good for you.
Maria Marlowe: [00:14:08] I know. I think sometimes we overlook the simplest things. Like I was watching a news story on this Corona virus that is going around. And they said the scientists, the researchers said the best thing that you can do to prevent it is to wash your hands. And everyone’s waiting for some big, you know, something? And it’s just to simply wash your hands. So that’s a great tip. And just a great habit to get into. I don’t honestly wash my hands every single time before I eat. I’m just I’m cooking it. So just a great reminder to always do that. And what about air quality and air filtration and vacuuming, those sorts of things? Can that help to remove some of that dust?
Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:14:46] Absolutely. So I would prioritize. You know, if you’re head of a household and you’re just thinking how to detox my home, what helps us to prioritize fighting the dust? So cleaning dust is definitely high impact. And one really helpful high impact way to have less toxic dust is to have less stuff. It’s just another reason to edit your stuff and buy mindfully. But riding on the coattails and Marie Kondo, you know, if it doesn’t spark joy, then don’t have it in your home. De-cluttering has many benefits, but another is detoxing your indoor air and dust. And I also will work with people to put on a different lens when editing, there are things to consider. What I call household repeat offenders, and that’s just really like a does in materials that make up most things in our home.
Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:15:45] And it’s just an easier way to ask yourself, is this item worth having in my home? Maybe you have a certain, I don’t know, stuff day and I don’t know. Your children have tons of stuffed animals, but knowing that most of them are filled with polyurethane foam and they might have chemical flame retardants and they might be toxic and for other reasons. It definitely helps me when I edit this stuff because I just am aware of. It’s always like a risk-benefit analysis. And I just think that more people should be aware of the risks of things in their home and then they decide for themselves is it worth it to me.
Maria Marlowe: [00:16:22] And for someone who is listening to this and is inspired to embark on a healthier home and they want to detox their home? What are some of the first steps? So it sounds like de-cluttering as one. What other steps could they take? And if they want to start replacing some of their furniture, let’s say things are old and they’re ready to upgrade where’s the first place that they should start.
Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:16:47] Ok, so zooming out, I would. And I’ll go back to a question you asked earlier about indoor air. Indoor air tends to be at least two to five times more polluted than outdoor air, even when compared to the outdoor air quality in the most industrialized cities.
Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:17:04] And certain fumes have been found to be like 50 times higher, like formaldehyde. So that fact helps me develop some common sense. So cracking open your windows to let your home breathe when outdoor air quality is good is a really is a free way to detox your indoor air quality. You just want to be mindful of outdoor allergens. And if it’s mosquito season, do you want to be thoughtful? If you live in a home near farming, you want to consider whether the nearby farms are spraying pesticides, but generally carrying out your home when outdoor air quality is good is a really wonderful thing to do. And second, any sort of combustion activity like cooking, burning candles, using the fireplace, whenever something’s burning, that activity often releases compounds that are not good for us. So ventilating during those times is helpful for indoor air quality. And third, air purifiers have been found to be effective and you want to look for one that has helped helper filter, but also consider whether the filter is designed to detox air for the square footage in the space that I’ll be in. I think that’s something people don’t really think about. And the air purifier that I like. It’s Intellipure.
Maria Marlowe: [00:18:39] Yes. I love Intellipure as well. It’s the most effective filter that I found. I’ve even had the CEO of Intellipure on the podcast to talk about the importance of air quality and how to choose an air filter. So you guys can check that out. That is episode 56. And what sets the Intellipure apart from other air filters is that it can capture particles that are much, much smaller, actually 40 times smaller than the typical HEPA filter. So Intellipure is used. This type of filtration system is used in hospitals and medical settings because it allows it to capture very small particles and things like viruses, bacteria, mold, fungi. And it’s really the most effective filter currently on the market. So if you’re interested in checking it out. Vinny did give us a discount code. It’s HAPPIER for 10 percent off.
Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:19:39] You’re exactly right. It captures particles much smaller than have the filter and it has a kill zone for bacteria and viruses, which I had never considered before, learning more about Intellipure. So I use Intellipure here as well.
Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:19:57] And so another high impact thing is to have no shoes policy. So we actually track in a lot of not just dirt, but pesticides and carcinogens like coal tar, which is found in the pavement materials of roads and driveways. We track these things into our homes, including heavy metals, like lead and cadmium. And so the EPA has a study that sometimes referred to as the doormat study, which found that if you have a large doormat at the entrance of your home and. Wipe the bottom of their shoes on the doormat. And then also leave them by the door. It can reduce lead dust by as much as 60 percent. So that’s also a simple way to detox your household dust.
Maria Marlowe: [00:20:49] And do you have a great way? Because I do instate that no shoe policy. But inevitably, there’s always a guest that insists on wearing their shoes. So any best practices for that?
Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:21:01] I know I have that challenge as well. I started putting when my children were young and crawling on the floors. I had a sign that had a like a little drawing of a baby crawling on the floor and just a friendly sign saying something like, please remove your shoes for the babies crawling. Something like that. That’s genius. It’s also hard to catch. Sometimes people just come in and they don’t you know, it’s hard to write how everyone verbally. So I found a sign helps. I mean, I still had people who would walk in with their shoes on, but the sign helped. I think that just remind communicating in more than one way and knowing you’ll have to remind people multiple times is something I had to go through as well.
Maria Marlowe: [00:21:46] Mm-hmm. And in terms of let’s say someone wants to upgrade some furniture, should they start with a mattress? What do you think is the most high-value change they can make?
Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:21:58] So I recommend people think about their chronic sources of exposures. And so often most people sleep in their homes most nights. And so that’s about a third of our life. And so zoning in on your sleep area is really high impact and your mattress is something your on for hopefully, hopefully, seven to eight hours or more and inhaling whatever fumes your mattress might be off-gassing. And so, yes, I always feel so bad recommending someone reconsider their mattress because I know it’s expensive. But when I was first learning about the risks from mattresses, my firstborn was 4 months old and I’m reading that SIDS, studies were examining whether certain crib mattresses increased the risk of SIDS, which is really alarming when you actually have a child within the first year of life.
Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:23:02] And I read about these studies in New Zealand that wrapped in crib mattresses in a certain way because the rate of SIDS had been increasing. And they found that babies who slept on these wrapped mattresses, there were like no kids who died of SIDS, whereas in the rest of the population, the rate continues to increase. And that was enough for me. Just the possibility it might increase your risk led me to want to find the most nontoxic mattress possible. And I was willing to pay anything for it. But then I found options ranging from two hundred and fifty dollars to five hundred and fifty dollars at that time. And I just want to understand, what am I getting for my money? Is the five-fifty price point more pure than the 250? So I ended up having to understand all the components of a mattress to feel like, OK, I am comfortable paying X amount for this mattress.
Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:23:59] And so I find it a topic that’s difficult to talk about. But I have had lots of clients come to me because they developed autoimmune issues and other serious things and they felt like the symptoms became triggered after they bought a new mattress. Wow, that’s pretty scary. I don’t think you can really say that one thing like a mattress will cause anything. It helped. It contributes.
Maria Marlowe: [00:24:28] So the factors, it’s always something like that. Chronic illness is typically a multi-factorial problem. And it’s not just one thing. And maybe that’s the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:24:40] It helped me to learn more about some studies on heavy smokers. So studies on heavy smokers, which, if I remember correctly, was defined as twenty-five sick, at least twenty-five cigarettes a day, which is a lot even among heavy smokers, like twenty-four percent of male heavy smokers died of lung cancer. And it was like 18 percent for females. And it was just interesting. I mean, others suffered health issues in other ways.
Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:25:09] But I thought, wow, there we know they’re like 70 carcinogens in cigarettes and then smoking it creates even more. Only twenty-five percent died of lung cancer. So just because you’re exposed to a carcinogen, a cancer-causing compound doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily get cancer. And for some reason, that helps me like. Well-intentioned mom who is trying to figure out how to create a healthy home. There are so many things I learned that upset me about my children’s exposures, and it was a relief to realize just we were exposed to carcinogens all the time and our bodies are really smart and capable of processing that and detoxing and repairing. And so you really just wanted to decrease your body’s burden and boost its immunity.
Maria Marlowe: [00:25:59] And I think it’s also a great reminder that wherever we do have control or more control over things, that that’s where we can make the better choices to help ensure that our body is able to detoxes things like making sure we’re having a healthy diet, meditating, having a healthy lifestyle, exercising. All of these things help make our body strong to handle all of this toxic burden that we’re exposed to now.
Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:26:25] Exactly. Exactly. So back to your question about how to detox the bedroom if you consider your mattress. And if it’s made of polyurethane foam, just know that the chances are it will probably off gas fumes. It probably has chemical flame retardants. So you can just make sure you clean the bedroom area often of dust. Air it out when outdoor air quality is good. And de-clutter your bedroom because then you’ll have less toxic air and dust. But also a really important thing is the wireless devices in the technology plugged around your sleep area. I personally have found it really helpful to unplug lamps and other things around the bed. And studies have found that sleeping near a cell phone that is on undermines the body’s ability to go into a deep sleep. So most people can turn their phones to airplane mode and make sure Bluetooth is off. And many people tell me that they noticed an improvement in their sleep right away.
Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:27:43] So that’s another thing that you can do to boost the quality of your sleep, which is when your brain detoxes and your body repairs and restores. And so you really just want to do everything to maximize the benefits of sleep. Your sleep time. Also, consider that cordless phones can also emit radiation that can be as strong as cell phones. It depends on the model, but also just rethink whether you want them in your sleep area.
Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:28:13] Distance is your friend. The further away these things are from your body, the less stressful on your body. And consider where your Wi-Fi router is. If and if you don’t need it at night, then shut it off. I have a Wi-Fi kill switch and you can set your Wi-Fi router to connect it to a timer so that it automatically goes off at a certain time. Each night automatically comes on. Most people won’t miss the Wi-Fi router while they’re sleeping. And it’s just less energy coming at your body.
Maria Marlowe: [00:28:48] That’s a great tip. And I didn’t realize that you could do that. If that’s something you hook up to. How do you put your Wi-Fi on a timer?
Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:28:56] My home system is pretty complicated, so I had to have someone program it. But I’ve heard from many others that it’s worked for them, but I haven’t done it myself. I have a lot of things connected to a centralized system, but so people should know it’s possible that’s an option. And you have to consider like every once home is so unique. But if you have like security tied to it and music, you know, turning the Wi-Fi router often on it might I don’t know how that might reset some systems, but it’s worth considering.
Maria Marlowe: [00:29:34] Yeah. And it’s just a great reminder to do it. I have had so many guests on here, functional medicine, doctors and hormone experts and all of these people, many of them mention that the benefits of turning off your Wi-Fi at night. And so I think it’s just another really great reminder that it is something that we should be doing if we can’t figure out how to do it automatically, at least doing it manually for the time being because it does make a difference.
Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:30:02] Yeah. I consider the radiation from our technologies another type of air pollution. And what’s hard about it is it’s invisible with all these things that I deal with. They’re invisible, but there are meters out there that I’ve hired experts to come measure my home because I was having so much trouble sleeping in there. Certain spaces like my office, which had just undergone a renovation. I just noticed that I couldn’t stay in my office for more than 20 minutes before my. It felt unbearable in my heart and my tongue would go numb. And there were weird things happening basically with like my electrical system, my biological electrical system, and for a long time, I didn’t know what it was. And then when I realized, oh, I wonder if it’s the renovation and the new wiring and then TV is everywhere. And I thought, oh, should I hire an EMF consultant. EMF is for electromagnetic fields?
Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:31:00] I thought, oh, that’s so crazy that it’s a waste of money. My husband’s gonna think I’m nuts. I think I’m nuts. But I eventually was so desperate to feel better because I just. I thought this is strange that I know if I’m going to I need to print something in my office. I have 20 minutes before becomes unbearable for my body. And then it turns out I eventually hired someone and the electromagnetic fields in my office were extraordinarily high and I could see it measured with the meters.
Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:31:31] And that really helped to make real something that is invisible. And I noticed there are huge drops by just turning Bluetooth off on my computer because these things, these devices come automatically like the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are automatically on. So you have to manually turn them off. And I thought I had turned wireless off my computers. It didn’t occur to me I would have to turn Bluetooth off also. And then after I realized how strong the Bluetooth exposure was and it was affecting me doesn’t affect everyone, but it affected me. I turned it off. I saw how the meter dropped in the numbers so significantly. And I realized. Duh! How else is the wireless keyboard working with my computer? I can’t believe I didn’t think of that.
Maria Marlowe: [00:32:24] Yeah. And I actually had a doctor on here who, she stopped using wireless altogether. So at home, she was just using the old plugin, which we think is dated and antiquated. But if you’re sensitive especially, it makes sense. You don’t need to actually use wireless. You can still use the plug.
Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:32:40] Yeah. So I’ll say because I know a lot of people listening will probably live with others, either a partner or children or roommates and you can’t control other people. And so I’m sensitive and I work from home. So during the day when it’s just me, I minimize my exposures. I don’t work with Wi-Fi. I have an Ethernet connection. We have landline telephones. And I have my Wi-Fi router off. But it’s set up so that when my husband is home and he wants things to work wirelessly, he can turn it on and he can be happy living the way he wants to live. And he compromises and he tries. But it’s such a big change in behavior and it’s it is more inconvenient. And so I don’t expect him to live on my terms 100 percent, but I control what I can control. And then when, you know, it’s always a compromise with the people you live with.
Maria Marlowe: [00:33:46] And for someone who’s living in an apartment building where they’re surrounded by hundreds of Wi-Fi routers, it’s not just their own. Is there any best practices or ways to minimize that? Is there anything that can help?
Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:34:01] That’s a great question. It’s definitely a challenge. There’s a meter I have on my website. I have a curated Amazon store, and it’s one that’s been recommended by a few EMF experts because it’s it does a decent job of telling you if wireless is on from a device, it doesn’t tell you everything.
Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:34:23] And it’s pretty easy to read. But that is helpful to maybe tell you if there’s radiation coming from through a wall that you share with a neighbor or a floor. And it could tell you if there’s like radiation from computers and also the Wi-Fi router. I mean, I think it’s really challenging, to be honest. And EMF products. I’m really cautious. It’s hard to know you’re not causing more harm. I think generally it’s hard to know if they work and sometimes they can intensify exposures. The thing is, with radiation, it it can get absorbed and be conducted through certain materials like metals. It can bounce around. So there are things like certain paints you can use on walls to supposedly shield from radiation. But it’s complicated because if you don’t shield everything, then it might make things worse. It might create more chaos of energy, which is stressful on your body in a different way. And if someone forgets and there’s. Wireless. There’s like a wireless device within that space and it just intensifies the radiation. So I find it like something that should be approached really, really thoughtfully and definitely with a certified expert.
Maria Marlowe: [00:35:44] Ok. So, yeah, makes sense.
Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:35:47] So I avoid them in my home because I don’t know how to decide to figure out what’s safe.
Maria Marlowe: [00:35:53] Right. And what about cleaning products?
Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:35:57] So I would like people to know that manufacturers of cleaning products are not required to disclose all ingredients. So it’s really hard to know what’s in cleaning products. Often fragrance is an ingredient and that can contain an unknown number of ingredients from a database of like three thousand some study, a few studies done on fragrance have found really alarming compounds that are carcinogens and neurotoxins that I mean a long list of scary things. And so I just after years of trying to find healthier cleaning products that were more expensive that I later with learned were not as safe as I thought, I eventually embraced making my own cleaning recipes. And it is a change of behavior that takes time to be ready for it as you have to slow down and I think have a playful spirit with baking soda, Hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, Castile soap, water, and steam cleaning. But I now love it. I mean it. I’m not saying someone should just do it overnight because then you might just give up because it feels too hard. But it’s a nice thing to work towards because I now buy these ingredients in bulk and have discovered so many uses of baking soda and the other ingredients like I’ll be then baking soda. And it’s just nice how it’s simplified my shopping. It detoxes also my waist and like, you know, the contamination into the environment. And it’s cheaper. And I love experimenting with how to clean and really simple ways.
Maria Marlowe: [00:37:45] I agree. And I think that making your own products is probably the least toxic that you can possibly find. However, for someone who’s listening, who if I go, that sounds great, but I’m never going to do that. Is there a brand that you would recommend that does have a clean ingredient list?
Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:38:03] No. So the Environmental Working Group has a really wonderful database of over 2000 cleaning products. And you can look up the hazard score of your cleaning products. And I found through that experience that it’s hard to find one brand where all the products are as non-toxic as I would like. So you really have to be specific about like the brand for the toilet cleaner and the oven cleaner and the glass cleaner. So that got really complicated for me. And that’s partly why I started just making my own solutions. So just for example, of like how simple it can be. I’ve been studying like how much I can clean with just hydrogen diluted hydrogen peroxide. I recently did a workshop in the city for well and good on making your own household cleaner from just two ingredients of water and hydrogen peroxide.
Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:39:02] And in researching for it, I thought, wow, I think I can clean everything with this. And it kills certain germs and bacteria and vinegar will clean others. And so I’m still researching whether I can clean most of my home with Hydrogen Peroxide and water and then baking soda is it’s good to think of it as like a scouring agent. So if you have really tough grease on the stove, I’ll just sprinkle the baking soda on the stove, maybe spritz it with water and just let it sit for a while and then clean that. And it’s really effective.
Maria Marlowe: [00:39:39] Oh, well, that actually sounds quite simple. It doesn’t sound that hard.
Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:39:45] No. And I keep you know, I’m in the process of being so close to cracking this, to simplifying it as much as possible. And another thing I started doing, which I really like, is I use these I love the glass spray bottles I have. It’s amber colored. And you can also add essential oils, which is a really nice thing to incorporate in your home. But in the kitchen sink, there’s a bottle of one hundred percent pure vinegar and then another bottle of hydrogen peroxide. And you can like when I’m cleaning fruits or vegetables, I also if I have time, I don’t do this all the time, but I’ll maybe put the raspberries like berries in a bowl of water. And I’ve been and just spritz it with vinegar to let it set and kill some bacteria that, you know, I heard from a, I learned from a cancer community that a lot of those people with compromised immune systems will do that. But also, when you’re cutting when you’re cleaning, cutting boards and you want to disinfect, wash the cutting board, then spray it with vinegar and then follow it by hydrogen peroxide because they kill different germs and bacteria. And that’s a really effective way to disinfect your cutting boards.
Maria Marlowe: [00:40:56] Oh, that’s a great tip. I wanted to bring up plants. And what are your feelings on having plants in the home?
Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:41:04] So plants offer many, many benefits. And I know often people talk about plants detoxing air and they can. But you’re right. You actually needed a lot of plants. You probably need to live in a green house for the plants to be effective air purifiers. But they do detox air and some will release even more oxygen at night. So certain ones are good to have in your bedroom. But just visually having seeing them has been found to create biochemical reactions in you that are soothing and healing. So I recorded a podcast with the scientist who’s done a lot of work on the science of healing spaces and important in a healing space. Ideally, you want views of nature or to have views of nature, but sometimes you don’t have a view of nature. But you can incorporate them in your home through images and even plants. So there’s a lot of science showing many benefits to having plants in your home. I also found that taking care of them. I mean, I have low maintenance plants and I figured out ways to make them even more low maintenance.
Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:42:25] But in New York City, the leaves of the plants get dusty. And just having these spray bottles with water and some essential oils going around to remove the dead leaves and spritz them with water has become like a mindfulness activity. And it gets me away from my computer, which is really good. And it’s become like a self-care soothing practice. And I noticed when my 7-year-old gets really upset about something, I’ll distract her by saying, you help me take care of the plants, you really need some water. And she lights up and it completely changes her mood.
Maria Marlowe: [00:43:01] That’s so sweet. I love that. Personally, I love having plants all around my apartment. I feel like it brings a little bit of nature inside, which is especially important since there is very little nature outside the city. I find them to be very calming and relaxing. And I just like the look of it. I love a home that has a lot of plants. That said, I know a lot of people are worried that they can’t keep their plants alive. And I know that I’ve killed a number of plants in my day. So I’m curious if there are any types of plants that are well-suited for survival in an apartment and maybe with a little bit of neglect.
Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:43:42] There is one known as snake’s tongue, which is really hard to kill. They’re very sturdy and they can be neglected. They release oxygen at night. So those are also good to have in the bedroom.
Maria Marlowe: [00:43:57] Yeah, that’s a great tip. I have heard of that plant before. So I definitely need to pick that one up. You can order them on Amazon now or can you really? Yeah. Wow. And it will come fresh. That’s interesting. Yeah. You can order everything on Amazon. Right. Is there anything about non-toxic living or detoxing your home that we haven’t talked about that you really want people to know?
Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:44:20] I would like people to know that I know the idea of detoxing your home and habits can be overwhelming. But what I found is just like we talked earlier about washing your hands is such a simple, high impact tip. Many of the solutions I’ve discovered are similar to that. They’re actually easy if you just know what to do and incorporating it more into your life. Balancing our modern lifestyles with some of these old fashioned things has become a really I just find that it brings a lot of mindfulness into my life.
Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:44:57] And so, you know, with all the benefits of a mindfulness practice, I think practical, non-toxic living is very aligned with that. And you end up doing things that are good for not just your home and body, but also our planet. And it can you know, I’ve discovered so much more connection. It’s a path that leads me to feel more connected to other life forms. And there are many benefits. And so I’d like to also let people know that I’m launching a RUWAN detox immersion program where I work with people to customize a roadmap to detox home diets, self-care, and technology to handhold them in developing a practical plan to detox those key pillars of our lives.
Maria Marlowe: [00:45:49] One last question that I ask all of my guests. If you can leave our listeners with one tip or one piece of advice for living a happier and healthier life. What would that be?
Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:46:01] It would be to not be so hard on yourself and to like we’re constantly meant to grow and evolve and just pick one little thing, even just choosing to learn more about something deserves a huge pat in the back. And there’s nothing we do perfectly. Whether it’s exercise or eating well or sleep. And so I think it’s just having the right intentions that deserve a lot of applause.
Maria Marlowe: [00:46:36] Yes, I agree. Well, thank you so much for being here, Sophia. If you want more from Sophia, she is the author of A-Z Of Detoxing, which you can find on Amazon. She also has a ton of great tips on her website, nontoxicliving.tipss. And you can also follow her on Instagram @ruwanliving and that’s r u w a n Living.
Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:46:58] Thank you so much. This has been really great. Thank you so much for having me. Nice talking to you.