How to Use Borax in Frugal and Effective Ways

Home Recipes for Using Borax Around the House

Glass container of borax with soft bristled brush and fabric in bucket

The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

Borax is a naturally occurring mineral also known as sodium borate, a chemical compound of the element boron. Borax is a soft, white, many-sided crystal that dissolves readily in water. People have been using borax for over 100 years to clean their home and for use in their laundry. It does not cause cancer, nor does it accumulate in the body or absorb through the skin. It is not harmful to the environment.

Most of the world's supply comes from Southern California. It has been estimated that there is more than a 100-year supply of borax in just one of California's many mines alone.

Borax is a laundry booster, cleaner, pesticide, preservative, and so much more. Take a look at these borax-based recipes as ways to save money around the house.

Laundry Booster

Borax will whiten your whites, soften hard water, help remove stains, and deodorize your wash. This recipe is a traditional laundry booster:

What Is Hard Water?

Hard water is water that has a high concentration of minerals including calcium and magnesium, among others. If you notice white scaling on your faucets, you probably have hard water.

  • Dissolve 1/2 cup of borax for every gallon of warm water. Pre-soak your laundry items for about 30 minutes in the borax solution. For tougher stains, flush the clothes and fabrics with water first before pre-soaking in hot water. Then do not forget to add even more borax to your wash to boost your laundry detergent’s cleaning power.
Borax in glass container next to basket of laundry for cleaning

The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

Stain Remover

Remove stains from stainless steel or porcelain sinks. Here is the recipe:

  • Make a paste of 1 cup borax and 1/4 cup lemon juice. Using a sponge or cloth, rub the stain with the paste. Rinse with warm water. Mix 1 teaspoon dish detergent, 1 teaspoon borax, and 1 quart warm water in a spray bottle and use to clean outdoor furniture.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Loosen the grime buildup in your toilet bowl with borax.

  • Pour 1 cup of borax into the toilet bowl at night before you go to sleep. The next morning clean out the toilet bowl with a brush.

Dishwasher Detergent Boost

Cloudy glassware, bits of food, and stain spots are all signs that your dishwasher itself needs cleaning. Borax can help. Increase the power of your dishwasher detergent at every cycle.

  • Scrub the bottom and inside door of your dishwasher using borax.
  • Line the bottom of the dishwasher using borax.
  • Run your next load of dishes as normal.
Borax being scrubbed inside dishwasher door for cleaning

The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

Preserve Fresh-Cut Cut Flowers

Borax removes moisture from cut blossoms and leaves and helps prevent the wilting that would normally result. Follow these directions:

  • Two different mixtures (by weight) are recommended: two parts borax and one part dry white sand, or one part borax and two parts cornmeal.

Control Pests

More refined, borax becomes boric acid. It is a powerful insect repellent, insecticide, and pesticide.

  • For roaches, waterbugs and ants, sprinkle a combination of equal parts all-natural borax and sugar. Borax does damage to digestive systems and outer skeletons of these pests.
  • Sprinkle borax on the floor along the walls (mice like to run along the side of walls). They do not like getting borax on their feet, so they are less likely to return to that area of the house.
  • Sprinkle borax on dog beds, carpets, and other areas where you suspect that fleas are hatching.
Borax and sugar sprinkled along floor walls to prevent insects

The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska


Borax releases boric acid, which is a poison. Note that very high doses would need to be ingested to harm a pet or human.