The uses of the natural mineral deposit known as “borax,” are numerous. I use borax because it’s inexpensive, natural, non-abrasive and non-toxic. Even if you don’t pinch pennies, having a box of borax in your cleaning closet will save you an emergency trip to the store. Borax uses generally fit into one of these categories: cleansing agents, sanitizers, craft-making, garden-helpers and insecticides.
Borax is found in earth deposits and is non-toxic. It’s a derivative of the element boron and can be purchased in a soft, crystallized form at any hardware or grocery store. At my house, we’re not just frugal, we strive for healthy and holistic, too. Because of borax’s light footprint on the planet and low cost, it ranks high on my list of household staples – I wouldn’t be without a box. Here are a few uses for borax that even your grandmother may not have known!
Top 12 Uses for Borax
- Kitchen cleaning. Borax makes a terrific paste when mixed with water or lemon juice. Use it as necessary to remove rust from porcelain and metal.
- In the dishwasher. Pour a cup of borax into your empty dishwasher at bedtime, turn it on and wake to a rust-free, sanitized dishwasher in the morning. For full loads, just a tablespoon or two will erase water and mineral spots.
- In the bathroom. Borax can be used to pre-clean a toilet 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, it won’t give off fumes!
- 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.
- In the garden. There are too many garden uses to list. Borax is a great fertilizer – the element boron is a common one in topsoil, and worn out soil will benefit. As good as it is to plants, too much can be a bad thing: it’s a great weed-killer especially along brick paths, in cracks and crannies where weeds love to pop up. Sprinkle a little of the powder there on a sunny day.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- In the garage. 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.
- In the laundry. Its use as a detergent booster is the one most widely known. But it can be used to pre-treat tough stains, 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.
- On the patio. Outdoor furniture, resin flower pots, dingy siding – all welcome scrubbing with a borax paste. Rinse with water and you’re done. This non-abrasive cleaner won’t leave a residue, isn’t hard on your wicker or other finishes.
- 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: take the bed outside, sprinkle 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.
- Everywhere else. 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
Anyway you sprinkle it, borax is an awesome (and non-toxic) alternative to other store-bought cleaners. It’s cheap, versatile, and effective!