Borax Uses – Nature’s Natural Cleaner
Sure, borax earned its fame as a laundry detergent booster. But there’s so much more. The uses for borax are many. Read on.
Borax is an inexpensive product with loads of other uses in and around the home. Because it’s a naturally occurring mineral deposit, and non-abrasive and non-toxic as well, borax is an obvious choice for your cleaning cupboard. There are many more uses for borax beyond the washing machine.
A spin-off of the element boron, it comes in an unassuming box at your grocery or hardware store in powder form. It’s easy on the environment – and that’s a plus for all of us. Here are some uses for borax you need to know to pinch a few pennies, leave a light “footprint,” and keep your home, garden and garage spotless.
Best use for Borax
Let’s start outside first:
#1. Gardening and landscaping. Borax, sprinkled along brick paths, paver seams and driveway boundaries discourage weeds. Oddly enough, because of its origins (the element, boron), borax makes a great fertilizer. Boron was once plentiful in American topsoils – not so any longer. Your tired garden dirt will thank you.
- For fertilizer, a plot of about 1,000 square feet will benefit from 5 tablespoons scattered liberally at tilling. Never exceed ½ tsp per gallon if feeding at watering.
- As a weed killer, mix ½ cup per gallon of water and spray at the base of plants or along edging.
#2. Along the deck and sidewalks. Stained and mildewed siding tolerates a pre-scrub with non-abrasive borax paste before power washing as does vinyl fencing. Simply rinse with water. Lawn furniture including canvas chaises brighten up with a sponge and solution of ½ cup per water gallon.
#3. In the garage. I love the combined cleaning and sanitizing strength of borax and the fact that I don’t have to feel guilty about using it outside. Take the borax and scrub brush outside when you tackle the garage. It makes a great tire rim cleaner. Sprinkle it around the perimeter of the garage or basement as a bug and pest deterrent. A thick paste made with water shines up garden shovels and tools in addition to removing rust. Keep a jar of borax near your garden tools for quick access. Finally, feel free to pour a cup, along with a liberal amount of water, into the bottom of your trash cans (ewww); it not only disinfects but cleans. Leave that for most of the day and swish around the inside with a brush once or twice. You can tip the contents outside worry-free: no phosphates or yucky chemicals for the storm drains.
Next, the home:
#4. Around the kitchen. Borax makes a terrific paste when mixed with water or lemon juice. Use it on rusty porcelain, metal, and stove coil liners.
#5. Dishwasher sanitizing. Pour a cup of borax into your empty dishwasher at bedtime, turn it on and wake to a rust-free, sanitized dishwasher next morning. For full loads, just a tablespoon or two will erase water and mineral spots.
#6. In the laundry. Its use as a detergent booster is the one most widely known. But you can use to pre-treat tough stains (even old stains, thank merciful heaven), and as a soak (dirty diapers). Water, washing soda and a mild bar soap can also be used with borax to make a thrifty laundry detergent.
#7. In the bathroom. My favorite cleaning destination – ha! Borax powder in a toilet makes a great pre-cleaner. Use it before scrubbing: soak the basin with a cup of borax for an hour, then flush it down the toilet. A paste of borax and dish soap makes a frugal scrub that removes rust (and other gunk) from the bathroom sink, the toilet tank and bowl. Because of its pH, borax also removes mineral stains and soap rings in the tub and shower. Best of all, there are no nasty fumes!
#8. To deodorize and sanitize. Borax freshens mattresses – and erases any possibility of bed bugs should you be concerned. Sprinkle a light dust over your mattresses; wait several hours for it do its job and then vacuum. Kitchen trash cans and pet carriers could use a wipe down with a spray bottle mixture, wipe dry and then toss in a little powder to deodorize until next time.
#9. Hard cleaning jobs. In general, if the other specialized products you’ve tried aren’t doing the trick, don’t throw in the towel until you’ve tried borax. Lemon juice and borax make a terrific metal polish (avoid silver), borax in a heavy paste with water wears away stubborn stains without damaging surfaces. It’s environmentally smart so it won’t corrupt your septic system or nearby waterways.
#10. Insect and pests. Neither ants, nor fleas or cockroaches are fond of borax. Sprinkle it around the corners and cracks of window sills, countertops, into carpets, at the bottom of trash bins, in the pantry and food cupboard. Either because of its pH or the crystalline composition of the boron, borax makes a wonderful deterrent.
#11. Pets. Pet beds which are home to mites and fleas and other yard-born hitchhikers can be treated regularly with a sprinkle of borax powder. Use it in between washings to deodorize and de-bug your furry friend’s pad: sprinkle it liberally with borax, set it there for the afternoon and shake vigorously before bringing it back inside. As a cleaner, borax can be mixed ¼ cup borax to 1 cup water to clean up pet messes, too. Let it sit as long as possible before shampooing.
#12. Randomly. In a spray container mixed with water, borax works well as an all-purpose household cleaner. Countertops, microwaves, fridges – all will benefit. Use the same spray as an indoor-insecticide for houseplants. Mites, ants and scale detest it. Use ¼ cup borax to 2 cups hot water
Tip: Borax can take a while to dissolve. Unless you’re using it as a paste or additive to the dishwasher or clothes washer, use a bit of hot water to speed up the process; it will turn a milky white and you can begin adding the concentrate to your water bucket. When I have that urge to clean every little thing – c’mon, you have days like that, too – I actually start with a hot water bucket filled with half a box of borax and move around the house with this bucket-solution like a dirt-fiend. I highly recommend it.
Solution-mixing: As a rule, more than ½ cup to a gallon of water is toxic to plants and acts as a weed-killer on them. If you’re headed outside with the stuff, keep it in mind.
Space to space, borax is awesome and sustainable!~ I’m never without it, now.