Borax, the common name for sodium borate, is a mineral widely used as a home cleaning product. Best known as a detergent and a cleanser, it has a wide number of potential uses in the home. Tips and suggestions for the most common uses can be found in books and online, including recipes for cleaning solutions and for treating stains and controlling pests. Although borax is generally recognized as safe, it can be toxic if consumed in large quantities, and care should be taken when using it around pets and children.
Unlike many commercial cleansers, borax does not contain phosphates or chlorine, and it is not harmful to plumbing or septic systems. Many experts recommend it as a natural and eco-friendly alternative to harsher chemical cleansers. In the laundry, it acts as a detergent booster, a stain remover, and a water softener. It can also be used to remove stains and odors on carpets. When mixed with hot water, borax can also be effective as a drain cleaner for minor clogs in pipes.
Its versatility as a cleaner, degreaser, and deodorizer makes this mineral a natural substitute for commercial cleaners. Diluting borax with hot water creates an all-purpose cleaning solution that can be used to sanitize and deodorize many surfaces, such as outdoor furniture and trash cans. Rinsing a small amount with hot water through a garbage disposal helps to cut down on unwanted food waste odors. Applying a mixture of borax and lemon juice can remove or minimize the appearance of rust stains. The powder is non-abrasive, and can be used as a gentle cleanser on many surfaces.
One of the most popular uses is for pest control. Sprinkling borax around the perimeter of a room can help keep out ants, cockroaches, and other bugs. Mice are also likely to stay away from treated areas. As a simple flea control measure, consumers can sprinkle the powder onto carpets, allow it to sit, and then vacuum it up. Pets and children should not be left unsupervised in areas where borax has been applied.
Natural home cleaning enthusiasts recommend borax as an all-purpose alternative to buying a cupboard full of specialized cleaners. Care should be taken to use this product only as directed. Gloves are recommended when handling the undiluted powder, as it may cause skin irritation in some individuals. Borax should not be ingested. Consult with a medical professional or a poison control center if ingestion occurs or is suspected.