Borax is a naturally occurring mineral also known as sodium borate, a chemical compound of the element boron. It is a soft, white, many-sided crystal that dissolves readily in water. While borax and baking soda are not the same thing, they have some similar applications—namely they can be used for both household cleaning and laundry. Borax also can be used as a pesticide, preservative, and more.
Take a look at these borax-based recipes as ways to save money around the house.
Borax can irritate the skin and eyes, and it can be dangerous when inhaled or ingested. However, borax is generally safe for humans, as the average person wouldn't come in contact with enough to be harmful. But it's still best to handle it with care.
1. Laundry Booster
Borax can make an excellent laundry booster. It will whiten whites, soften hard water, neutralize odors, and help to remove stains.
What Is Hard Water?
Hard water is water that has a high concentration of minerals, including calcium and magnesium. If you notice white scaling on your faucets, you probably have hard water.
- Dissolve 1/2 cup of borax for every gallon of water. Then, pre-soak your laundry items for about 30 minutes in the borax solution before laundering. For tougher stains, flush the items with water first before pre-soaking in the borax solution.
- Add 1/2 cup of borax to your wash to boost your laundry detergent's cleaning power.
2. Stain Remover
Use borax to remove stains from stainless steel, porcelain sinks, and more.
- 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. Use this to clean outdoor furniture.
3. Toilet Bowl Cleaner
You can use borax to clean toilets, as it will help to loosen stubborn buildup.
- Pour 1 cup of borax into the toilet bowl at night before you go to sleep. The next morning, scrub the toilet bowl with a brush.
4. Dishwasher Detergent Booster
Cloudy glassware, bits of food, and stain spots are all signs that your dishwasher itself needs cleaning. Borax can help. And it can increase the power of your dishwasher detergent.
- Scrub the bottom and inside door of your dishwasher using borax to give it a thorough cleaning.
- Line the bottom of the dishwasher using borax. Then, run your next load of dishes as normal to increase the cleaning power of the detergent.
5. Flower Preservative
Borax removes moisture from cut blossoms and leaves, which helps to create perfectly preserved dried flowers.
- Mix equal parts part borax and cornmeal in a small container. Then, in an airtight shallow container in which you can fit your flowers, spread a 1/2- to 1-inch layer of the mixture across the bottom. Carefully pour some of the mixture directly into the blooms. And then lay the flowers into the shallow container, gently sprinkling the mixture over them so they're just covered. (Don't add too much, as the weight might damage the blooms.) Finally, seal the container, and keep it in a warm spot for about two weeks for the flowers to dry.
6. Pest Repellent
Borax can serve as a powerful insect repellent and insecticide. Just make sure kids and pets won't encounter it if you're setting it out to control pests.
- Sprinkle borax in areas where you've seen roaches. When they walk through it, it has a poisoning and dehydrating effect.
- Borax alone will often repel ants. So mix one part borax to three parts sugar to act as bait, and then sprinkle it where you have an ant problem.
- Borax can also be helpful when it comes to other pest infestations such as bed bugs. Studies have shown that ingestion of boric acid in even small amounts results in a high mortality rate.
How Safe is Borax? Because Health & Center for Environmental Health.
Low-Toxic Cockroach Control. University of Nebraska Extension Service.
Sierras, Angela. Wada-Katsumata, Ayako. Schal, Coby. Effectiveness of Boric Acid by Ingestion, But Not by Contact, Against the Common Bed Bug (Hemiptera: Cimicidae), Journal of Economic Entomology, vol. 111, no. 6, 2018, pp. 2772–2781. doi:10.1093/jee/toy260