5 Household Uses of Borax

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Borax has been in use for decades and has become increasingly popular. Alexander Oganezov/Shutterstock

Borax, also known as sodium borate, is a naturally occurring mineral that first appeared in the eighth century C.E. in dry lake beds of Tibet and along Silk Road trading routes. It was originally marketed in the 19th century as a cure-all and a wonder material, and today, it is still used for various purposes, including as a household cleaner, to make kid-friendly slime, to kill pests, and to preserve fresh flowers.

What is Borax?

Borax is a white dried powder substance made of boron, sodium, and oxygen. It is mostly used as a household cleaner and can be added to washing soda or laundry detergent for exceptional cleaning power. It can also be mixed with baking soda to create a DIY all-purpose cleaner for fighting grime and mildew around the house. Borax is readily available in the laundry aisle of grocery stores or big box retailers.

How to Make a Borax Mixture

Although borax fell out of favor when other major brands came onto the market, it can still be used for everyday cleaning needs. To make a borax solution, dissolve 1/2 cup of borax powder in 1.5 cups of hot water, mix the solution with 1 teaspoon of dish soap or castile soap and 4 teaspoons of vinegar, and add a few drops of your favorite essential oil or lemon juice for a clean and calming scent.

5 Uses of Borax in the Household


You can mix a borax solution and use it to kill ants (and other pests) at the source. Maryana Stopchak/Shutterstock

1. Ant Killer

To stop your ant problem at the source, create a solution with 1/4 cup of sugar, 1 cup of warm water, and 1 tablespoon of borax powder. The sugar will attract the ants to bring the sweet, deadly treat back to their home. Borax powder is considered safer in small doses than boric acid, but it should never be ingested. Always keep your ant traps away from children and small pets. You can also use the borax solution to kill other pests, including spiders, mites, roaches, and water bugs.

2. Household Cleaner

Use the borax mixture to get the grime-fighting power of commercial cleaning sprays without harmful chemical additives. Spray on areas prone to soap scum and mildew buildup, such as porcelain sinks, bathtubs, and showers. Use the borax spray to spot clean carpet, stainless-steel surfaces, and outdoor furniture. Add some lemon juice to the mixture, and you’ll have a potent rust remover. Apply a few dabs of the mixture to rust stains, let it sit for a few hours, and then scrub, rinse, clean, and dry.

3. Using Borax in the Garden

Borax is an effective herbicide that can be used in the garden. Simply sprinkle it directly onto the weeds you wish to eliminate and watch them wither away. You can also sprinkle a few tablespoons of borax around your young fruit trees every few years to replenish the soil with boron. This mineral will enhance the development of fruits and seeds while prolonging the life of your fruit trees. Additionally, you can use borax to preserve freshly cut flowers. Mix equal parts borax and cornmeal in a small container, cover thin-petalled flowers like tulips and roses with the mixture, and seal them for two weeks. The powder will dry the petals, enabling you to keep your arrangements forever.

4. Eliminating Bad Odors


Mix a small amount of fresh lemon with your borax solution to add a pleasant scent.
Kudzina/Shutterstock

The garbage disposal, trashcan, and shoe rack are typically areas with bad odors in your home, but you can tackle these issues with a borax paste. Instead of spending hours scrubbing away in the bathroom, sprinkle 2 tablespoons of borax around the rim of your sink, tub, and toilet bowl. Use a damp sponge and warm water to create a light paste with the borax, and let it sit for a few hours. To rinse, carefully pour a few cups of boiling water over the paste. This will not only clean the bathroom but also leave it smelling fresh.

5. Enhancing Your Laundry Detergent With Borax

Borax was a popular ingredient in homemade laundry detergent for generations, but it lost some favor when manufacturers started producing synthetic alternatives with pleasant scents. However, many consumers now use borax as a laundry booster for their favorite detergent. All you need to do is add half a cup of borax to your detergent when washing a load. If you need to whiten and brighten dingy clothes, soak them in half a cup of borax and a gallon of water for at least an hour before washing them normally.

Now That’s Useful

One of the most unusual uses for borax is treating dog mange, a skin ailment that causes rashes, hair loss, and weakened immune systems. Mix borax and hydrogen peroxide and apply it to your dog’s fur with a damp washcloth to eliminate mites that have burrowed deep into your pet’s skin. You can also use your borax cleaning spray or detergent booster to clean dog beds and remove any stains on the mattress surface. A clean, hygienic bed will reduce the risk of pests returning and allow your pet to get the rest it deserves.

FAQ

1. What is borax and where can I find it?

Borax, also known as sodium borate, is a naturally occurring mineral that is often used in household cleaning and laundry products. It can be found in most grocery stores or online.

2. Can borax be used as a natural insecticide?

Yes, borax can be used as a natural insecticide to kill ants, cockroaches, and other pests. Mix borax with sugar and water to create a bait that the insects will consume and then die from.

3. How can I use borax to clean my carpets?

Mix borax with baking soda and sprinkle it over your carpet. Let it sit for a few hours and then vacuum it up. This will help deodorize and clean your carpets.

4. Is borax safe to use in my laundry?

Yes, borax is safe to use in your laundry and can help boost the cleaning power of your detergent. It can also help remove stains and brighten whites.

5. Can borax be used as a natural weed killer?

Yes, you can use borax as a natural weed killer. Mix it with water and spray it on the weeds. However, be careful not to use it on any plants you want to keep as it can be harmful to them as well.

6. How can I use borax to clean my toilet?

Mix borax with vinegar and pour it into your toilet bowl. Let it sit for a few hours and then scrub with a brush. This will help remove stains and disinfect your toilet.

7. Can borax be used to clean my dishwasher?

Yes, you can use borax to clean your dishwasher. Sprinkle it on the bottom of the dishwasher and run it through a cycle. This will help remove any buildup and leave your dishwasher smelling fresh.

8. How can I use borax to clean my oven?

Mix borax with water to create a paste and spread it over the inside of your oven. Let it sit for a few hours and then scrub with a brush. This will help remove any baked-on grease and grime.

9. Can borax be used to clean my windows?

Yes, you can use borax to clean your windows. Mix it with water and use a sponge to clean your windows. Rinse with water and dry with a clean cloth.

10. How can I use borax to clean my shower?

Mix borax with water to create a paste and apply it to your shower walls and floor. Let it sit for a few minutes and then scrub with a brush. Rinse with water and dry with a clean cloth.

11. Can borax be used to clean my jewelry?

Yes, you can use borax to clean your jewelry. Mix it with water and soak your jewelry for a few minutes. Scrub with a brush and rinse with water. Dry with a clean cloth.

12. Is borax safe to use around pets?

Borax can be harmful to pets if ingested in large amounts. Keep it out of reach of pets and use caution when using it around them.

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