11 ways to use borax at home

  • Borax is a mineral that has been used for cleaning since the 1800s.
  • It is alkaline, so it softens the water, allowing for more effective cleaning.
  • Borax can be used for laundry, mopping floors, and making all-purpose cleaner.

Homemade cleaning solutions are useful when you are looking to save money, reduce waste, or reduce the use of certain chemicals like bleach. A workhorse that all DIY enthusiasts can use in their home is borax.

Borax is a natural mineral that has been used as a cleanser since it was discovered in the late 1800s. Being a great all-purpose cleaner, it dissolves stains and lifts dirt, says Fredrika Syren, founder of The Zero Waste Family and author of ” Zero Waste for Families “.

From mopping floors to cleaning laundry, here are 11 ways to use borax at home.

What is borax?

Borax in a small bowl on a dark background.

Borax is an alkaline mineral.

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Borax, also known as sodium borate, is a naturally occurring mineral that forms when salt lakes evaporate or as a byproduct of mining. It contains the element boron, an element that is an ingredient in the cell walls of plants.

Borax helps increase cleaning power by softening the water. Hard water, which about 85 percent of Americans have in their homes, has a lot of calcium as well


, so it can leave mineral deposits and prevent soap or detergent from dissolving, says Syren. This makes the soap less effective in cleaning. When you add borax, it binds to calcium and magnesium, removing them from the water. Much of the cleaning power of borax comes down to this role as a water softener. When the water is soft, detergents and soaps work more effectively, says Syren.

Also, borax is alkaline. Alkaline materials, those with a high pH, ​​are great for breaking down fats (such as oils and fats) and proteins, including those that cause odors. That’s why borax can help remove stains from your shift or remove odors from your mattress. With that in mind, here are the specific ways you can use borax at home.

1. Boost the laundry detergent

Just a little bit of borax can improve the cleaning power of the laundry detergent. Add borax when washing whites or fighting acid stains like tomato sauce, says Syren.

How to do it: Add 1 tablespoon of borax with your regular laundry detergent. If you have hard water (which you can detect using a water test strip), add half a cup to each wash cycle, says Syren.

2. Renew your garbage disposal

Garbage disposal can get downright bad, but cleaning it with borax can help remove accumulated dirt, reducing stinky odors.

How to do it: Sprinkle the disposal with 1 tablespoon of borax. Let it sit for an hour, then run the disposal for 2 minutes with running warm water.

3. Fight mold

The mildew and musty smell that accompanies it can make even a clean home look dirty, but it’s common for mold to form in the bathroom or basement, particularly in the hot, humid months. A borax solution removes mold and can prevent it from returning since borax is toxic to plants in high concentrations, says Syren.

How to do it: Combine 1 gallon of warm water with half a cup of borax. Spray the solution on an area that has mold and allow it to dry. Then, wipe with a slightly damp cloth. To prevent mold from forming, let the mixture dry without drying it (you shouldn’t see any residue).

4. Remove the crayon or pen from the walls

Borax can cut pastel wax and pen ink, so it’s perfect for those dreaded moments when your kid decides the wall is your canvas. While it’s safe for most surfaces, it’s best to test in an inconspicuous area before using it, says Syren.

How to do it: Mix 1 tablespoon of borax in 1 cup of warm water, says Syren. Apply the mixture on the wall, covering the stain. After 10 minutes, dry the mixture with a damp cloth.

5. Remove odors and stains from the mattress or carpet

Glass of wine spilled on a mattress.

Borax helps pick up stains and odors.

TRAVELARIUM / Getty Images

Just as borax can lift dirt and debris, it can wipe out odor-causing particles. This is especially useful on carpets and mattresses, after spills or accidents.

How to do it: Lightly dampen the mattress or carpet by spraying it with water or vinegar. Sprinkle a small amount of borax on top. Then lightly rub the mixture in a circular motion. Let the mixture dry completely, then vacuum the residue.

6. Clean your floors

Borax removes dirt and stains from tiles, linoleum and wood floors, says Syren. Adding it to the floor cleaning solution softens the water and improves the cleaning power.

How to do it: Fill a bucket with warm water. Add 2 tablespoons of borax, 1 tablespoon of castile soap and 4 tablespoons of vinegar. Mix well, then wash normally.

7. Undress the laundry

Even when the laundry comes out clean, invisible dirt, minerals and other materials can accumulate. Stripping your laundry, letting it soak in a mixture of borax, detergent, and water, removes these particles, giving you sparkling clothes.

How to do it: Fill the bathtub or basin with warm water. Add half a cup of borax, half a cup of baking soda, and 3/4 cup of laundry detergent for each quart of water. Mix well, then add the laundry. Leave to soak for 5-6 hours, stirring every hour. Then, run a normal wash cycle.

8. Clean your toilet

Cleaning toilets with borax couldn’t be easier, says Syren. Borax helps remove any stains or materials, which means you don’t have to scrub for long.

How to do it: Just sprinkle half a cup or borax into the bowl. Let it sit for an hour, then brush and rinse. For hard water stains, leave the borax on overnight.

9. Clean the grout

Over time, bathroom, kitchen or floor joints can become dirty and discolored. Borax can remove those stubborn stains.

How to do it: Combine one part of borax with two parts of baking soda. Add enough vinegar to make a paste. Wear gloves, then use your fingers or a toothbrush to apply the mixture onto the grout, pressing lightly. Let the mixture sit for 20 minutes, then pat dry with a damp cloth.

10. Remove the rust

Rusty gardening shovel in the grass.

You can use borox to remove rust from household items such as pots, tools, or gym equipment

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Rust forms when acidic material, including water, comes into contact with metal. The alkaline borax counteracts this, breaking through the rust spots. Borax can be used to get rid of rust from stainless steel cookware, old gym equipment, and anything else in the house that has gotten a little rusty.

How to do it: Make a paste using equal parts borax and lemon oil or vinegar. Put on gloves and use a dry cloth to spread the paste over the rusty surface. Let it sit for an hour, then pat dry with a damp cloth.

11. Mix all-purpose cleaner

Add borax to your homemade all-purpose cleaner for extra potency. “It’s ideal for cleaning and safe for cleaning almost anything,” says Syren. This spray solution can be prepared in advance and used on countertops, microwaves, windows and more.

How to do it: Dissolve 1 teaspoon of borax, 1 teaspoon of castile soap and 2 tablespoons of vinegar in 2 cups of hot water. Let the mixture cool, then pour it into a labeled spray bottle, using a funnel to prevent spills. Spray the surfaces, then wipe with a paper towel or microfiber cloth. Be sure to keep the mixture out of the reach of children or pets. You can keep this mixture for up to three months, but be sure to shake or stir it before use as borax can settle to the bottom.

Takeaway from the insider

Borax is an alkaline mineral that softens water. Fresh water is better able to remove stains and odors, which is why borax is a great cleaning solution. Borax can be diluted in water and used for daily chores, from washing laundry to cleaning counter tops. While safe for cleaning, borax can irritate the skin, so always use gloves when handling it.

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