Borax: A Budget Friendly, Eco-Friendly Wonder Product

A 12-ounce box of Borax costs just $3.62 at my local supermarket—yet it outperforms a variety of more expensive products that have a higher environmental impact. It contains no chlorine or phosphates and can be used in myriad ways. 

Bathroom: 

  • Shower and sink: I had been using baking soda to clean the shower and sink for years until a friend recommended Borax.  After giving it a whirl, I am trying to get the word out––Borax really works! In “I Don’t Want No Scrub” Grist compared eight eco-friendly cleaning products on the market.  The author found that Borax was her favorite as well, despite the fact that it costs just a fraction of what you’d pay for many high-end green cleansers.  Furthermore, Borax works far better than more traditional products like Dow chemical’s “scrubbing bubbles” for a much lower environmental cost.
  • Toilet: Again, the scrubbing action is awesome!  Plus, Borax has natural deodorizing abilities.  You can leave it in the toilet bowl overnight to freshen up the bathroom by morning. 

Kitchen:

  • Refrigerator: Those anonymous sticky spills in your fridge can be quickly scrubbed off with Borax. Plus, like baking soda, you can use it as a deodorizer.
  • Garbage pail: Sprinkle some in the bottom to handle smells and use it to scrub the pail when needed.
  • China: Who knew!  Borax is excellent for scrubbing fine china.  I am not really a fine China lover—but some of you may be thrilled to learn this

Laundry:

  • Baby clothes and delicates: I never even knew about this until Roscoe was out of his baby clothes.  Honestly, I washed them with regular laundry soap and they seemed fine.  Still Borax conditions water so can be used to gently hand wash delicates or can be added to the washing machine for baby clothes.  
  • Laundry Booster:  When you have a weeks worth of dirty cloth diapers, it’s nice to know you can toss in a little Borax with the wash to handle the load. 

Living area:

  • Carpet cleaner: After blotting the stain, just cover with Borax and allow to dry.  Then vacuum and you’re done.  It even works on wine and alcohol stains!  
  • Pest control: You can actually use Borax to control ants in your home.  Treehugger also offers strategies for using Borax on fruit flies here.
  • Super bouncy balls, slime, or silly putty: I kid you not.  Borax can actually be mixed with glue and a few other ingredients to create homemade bouncy balls, slime or imitation silly putty.  This stuff is amazing!  I’ll have to wait a few years, since Roscoe would most likely try to eat our science project at this point. 

While Borax is cheap and eco-friendly, you do have to use caution with it.  Unlike some higher-end green products, it can’t be ingested or rubbed into the eyes.  Other than being careful to keep it away from my toddler, I love the way it cleans our home and keeps our environment healthy. 

Every week the Green Baby Guide will be hosting the Thrifty Green Thursday Blog Carnival.  If you have a blog and some thrifty green ideas of your own, please join us!  See this post for details.

Comments

  1. Wow, I had no idea that Borax could do so much. (And, um, had no real idea that it was Thursday again either)

  2. It’s funny, I had a box of borax from a long time ago because it’s an ingredient in flubber (that stuff they have at OMSI). So when I was switching over to cleaning with baking soda and vinegar, I actually did start experimenting with the borax because it lists all these uses on the side of the box. Sure enough, it does work pretty well. I still wonder what’s in it though! I think it’s somehow a powdered form of boric acid? Which doesn’t sound good. I actually have a recipe somewhere for homemade dishwasher detergent which uses borax. I’ll have to look for it – I haven’t made it because I haven’t run out of the stuff I have yet.

  3. Borax is my secret-cleaning-weapon! I use it for all of the above-mentioned cleanings, but my favorite use for it is to polish the faucets and handles on my sinks and tubs. You know how they never seem to sparkle after you finish cleaning them? Well, a little borax sprinkled on a sponge and rubbed over the metal makes them sparkle like new!

  4. Thanks for your Borax faucet-polishing tip Dorothy! Eileen, you inspired me to do more research on Borax–and the results were pretty interesting. Borax is a mineral that has been used for hundreds of years in ways I never imagined. Egyptians used borate sales it to preserve mummies, the Chinese used them to glaze pottery, and in Europe they were used to clean metals before welding. Borax is also used to make fire retardants and fungicides. It can cause skin irritation and shouldn’t be ingested, but is otherwise considered safe. I think my journey through borax history has actually increased my reverence for the humble green box! If you want to read more, check out this website:

    http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-borax.htm

  5. Whew, thanks for doing that research Joy. I feel better now. Because at first I was thinking, it may have been around a long time, but so has say, lead. I have been making the borax ant traps and they really work! One box seems to go a long way too.

  6. I know it’s not Thursday and I’m a little late, but I wanted to comment on Borax and how I love using it for everything too. I keep a box on hand all the time for cleaning the toilet, adding to laundry (see my post about homemade laundry detergent using it http://katydidandkid.blogspot.com/2008/08/diy-laundry-detergent-it-really-works.html). I love the stuff!

  7. Oh, and I’ve also made the slimy stuff for kids during one of the summer camps I taught. They loved it!

  8. That’s good to know. I have never known about using borax before. Do you have any site that give out the recipe? How do you use it? Just any amount? TIA.

  9. Amy, if you’re interested in the recipe for laundry soap, check out Kathleen’s site (Katydid and Kid). You can find the wacky recipes for slime, superballs etc. linked in the post. Also, directions on all the other fantastic uses for borax are conveniently located right on the box! You can also check out the link to borax–(the 20 Mule Team brand) at the top of our blog for more info. There are many different brands of Borax, but it’s essentially the same stuff.

  10. WOW- I am impressed, I have been looking for tips on how to make natural cleaners at home now that we have a 6 month old- thank you so much! Great Post

  11. A little late, but here’s my Borax tip: It’s a great way to help rid one’s house of fleas. Sprinkle it, mixed with salt, into the carpets, making sure to brush it into the corners and edges. Wait about two days, and vacuum it up. Be careful, though, if you have a really good Hepa filter – you’ll have to clean it frequently when vacuuming the Borax back up.

    I’ve also used it to wash my massage sheets, to counteract the oil smell. Borax really is a very useful, yet inexpensive, thing to keep around the house.

  12. Thanks for the tips on borax! I just bought a box, but wasn’t sure how non-toxic it actually is. Didn’t know there were so many uses! Thanks! I’ think I’ll add it to my blog as well! 🙂

  13. I like your website – super !

  14. Thank you for this–I’m just starting to use borax and realizing what great product it is for so many different tasks! I’m using it as dishwasher detergent. I mixed half borax, half baking soda and added 1 tablespoon to the load. Worked GREAT at cleaning. But noticed my drinking glasses have a slight haze on them even though I used vinegar as a rinse aid. Any ideas on that?

  15. Borax can do many other things as well

    Check out this link

    http://www.earthclinic.com/Remedies/borax.html

  16. I got a recipe to kill drain fruit flies including borax it worked great but since lost it I’ve tried looking on line with no luck. If you know it please email me

  17. Kathy, I’m not familiar with that particular recipe, but here’s another one you might try:

    Before you go to bed, pour the following down the drain:
    – 1/2 cup salt
    – 1/2 cup baking soda
    – 1 cup of distilled vinegar

    In the morning, pour a gallon of hot water down the drain. To make sure they don’t come back, repeat this process every few days for two weeks to kill any eggs that might be hiding out.

    If you’re just sick of it, you can also pour bleach or borax down the drain, followed by hot water, every day for two weeks.

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