Sometimes referred to as "the miracle mineral," this time-honored household ingredient is the natural solution for just about everything under your roof, from cleaning to insect control.
Borax, also known as sodium borate, is an a naturally occurring substance and an eco-friendly solution for many things around the house. Most commonly used as a cleaning agent, the uses extend far beyond that.
I'm excited to share all the ways you can use this natural element to your greatest advantage. Here are 25 to get you started. Let us know about your own special uses and we'll keep updating the list.
(Safety Warning: Just because borax is natural, that doesn't mean it's harmless. You should always use gloves when handling it and keep it out of reach of children and pets. While safe in the diluted solutions, borax could be very harmful to children and pets if ingested.)
1. Keep roaches, waterbugs, and ants away by sprinkling a combination of equal parts all-natural borax and sugar.
2. Keep the mice out by sprinkling borax on the floor along the wall.
3. Get rid of bed bugs by sprinkling borax on your mattress. Let it sit and vacuum it up.
4. Kill fleas by sprinkling borax on your carpet. Leave it for an hour and vacuum it up thoroughly.
5. Scrub dirty pots and pans with a mixture of 1 teaspoon of borax and warm water. Because borax is non-abrasive, it will work on the grime without damaging the surface material.
6. Remove a stubborn stain by mixing 1 cup of borax with 2 cups of warm water and apply the paste directly to the stain. Let it sit, then launder as usual. Remove carpet stains by dampening the stain thoroughly and rubbing some borax on it. Vacuum it then finish it off with a vinegar and water solution. Let it dry and repeat if necessary. Use this same method on soiled mattresses. It will get rid of both the odor and stain.
7. Remove rust by mixing the above solution with a tablespoon of lemon juice.
8. Make an all-purpose cleaner by mixing 2 tablespoons borax and 2 cups hot water in a spray bottle.
9. Removes oxidation from metals with borax. The ingredient is also used as a flux in welding.
10. Make your own floor and wall cleaner by mixing 1/3 cup borax, 1 tablespoons ammonia and 1 teaspoon dish detergent into 1 gallon of water.
11. As a laundry detergent, add one cup of borax to each load and significantly boost your cleaning power.
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12. Remove stains from stainless steel or porcelain sinks with this recipe: Make a paste with 1 cup borax and 1/4 cup lemon juice. Using a sponge or cloth, rub the stain with the paste. Rinse with warm water.
13. Clean your toilet with this solution: Dissolve 1/2 cup of borax with 1 gallon of water. Scrub the toilet with a strong brush, let it sit and flush to rinse. This non-abrasive cleaner can also be used in the bathtub or on counters.
14. Clean outdoor furniture by washing it with this mildew zapping solution: In a spray bottle, mix 1 teaspoon dish detergent, 1 teaspoon borax and 1 quart warm water.
15. Make your own dishwasher detergent by mixing 1tablespoons borax and 1tablespoons baking soda.
16. Minimize odor in your cat's litter box by mixing a few tablespoons of borax in with the litter.
17. Clean your garbage disposal by putting 3 tablespoons of borax down the drain. Let it sit for an hour and flush it with warm water. This will sanitize it, taking care of any smelly bacteria.
18. Remove mildew and mustiness from linens by soak them in 2 cups of borax mixed with 2 quarts of water. Let the linens sit for a few hours, then rinse them clean.
19. Unclog drains with 1/2 cup of borax followed by 2 cups of boiling water. Let it sit for 15 minutes, then run your water for a few minutes to flush it out.
20. Remove urine odor from a mattress. Wet the mattress rub in borax with a damp cloth. Let dry, then vacuum up the remaining residue.
21. Deodorize and clean your fridge by washing it with a borax and water solution.
22. Deodorize your garbage pail by filling it with borax and water. Let it soak then rinse it out. Sprinkle some borax in the bottom once it's clean. This will keep the bugs away and absorb any odor causing moisture.
23. Kill weeds by sprinkling borax where you've seen weeds previously appear. This is useful for weeds that surface in concrete cracks and on walkways, but shouldn't be used in the garden because it will also kill your plants. Sprinkle some borax around the perimeter of the house too and you'll be free from ants and other intruding insects.
24. Soften your water when doing laundry by adding borax to the load.
25. Bring life back to your worn china by soaking it in a sink full of warm water and a 1/2 cup of borax. Rinse well and wash a second time as usual.
Along with these 25 household solutions, borax is used commercially as an ingredient in enamel glaze, adhesives, ink for indelible pens and is more recently being used in place of Mercury for extracting gold in smaller scale mining operations. In some countries, borax is used as a food additive, but is not approved for use as such in the United States.