Using Borax around the home

June 7th, 2007
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I always thought borax to be an extremely toxic man-made chemical, best avoided – but it turns out it’s a naturally occurring substance with many uses. It’s cheap and relatively environmentally friendly when handled with the proper care (i.e. don’t eat the stuff and keep out of reach of pets and children) and used minimally.

Borax, also known as sodium borate or sodium tetraborate, occurs naturally and is mined in the Mojave Desert (Boron, California), other US states, in Chile and Tibet. It can also be created synthetically from other boron compounds. The mining side of borax production isn’t all that earth friendly, but compared to some other chemical compounds used around the home, it’s likely lesser of the many other evils, so it’s a “greener” choice.

Borax used in all sorts of products – pesticides, insulation, makeup, detergents and other cleaners. In our house we have recycled cellulose fiber for roof insulation that’s been treated with Borax in order to make it flame retardant. The other side effect of this treatment is that it discourages vermin from nesting and kills insects.

Handy Borax tips

Warning – as mentioned in the start of this article; it’s *relatively* safe to use. Given it’s insecticidal properties, that indicates that it does have some level of toxicity and should therefore be treated with care. Ingesting Borax is certainly not recommended, although in some countries it’s used in foods in small quantities as a replacement for salt. Given that it does have some toxic properties, I was very surprised to find it used as a food additive and in makeup. It’s always advisable to wear gloves when handling borax as it can cause skin irritation for some people. Borax should also not be inhaled.

Insecticide

- Sprinkle borax powder around your refrigerator and stove as a cockroach deterrant.
- A mixture of borax and sugar or honey will attract and kill silverfish and ants

Urine smells and stains

- Half a cup of borax in with your wash to rid clothing/bedding of urine smells and stains

- Dampen urine stains on mattresses, carpets etc with a little water; sprinkle borax on, allow to dry then brush or vaccuum up

- Remove urine smells from diaper buckets by adding warm water and a quarter of a cup of borax

- A quarter cup of borax in your toilet, let sit, then brush around toilet bowl sides. This will also help deodorize the toilet brush

General washing

- For pre-soaking, one tablespoon of Borax per gallon of water. Allow to soak for 30 minutes

- Safe to use on colors, add half a cup of borax for a brighter wash and to boost your washing detergent’s cleaning power

General deodorizer

- Dissolve 1 tablespoon of Borax in a quart of warm water and use as a refrigerator wipe/deodorizer.

Mold and mildew

- For outdoor furniture and bathroom tiles, mix a teaspoon earth friendly dishwashing liquid and one teaspoon borax with one quart warm water. Pour in a spray bottle, spray on furniture/tiles, allow to sit, rinse and then air dry.

Cookware

-  Sprinkle Borax on pots and pans and rub with a damp sponge or cloth to remove stains and buildup - using Borax in this way will not scratch your cookware

Floors

- In a half bucket of warm water add a third of a cup of Borax and a teaspoon of earth friendly dishwashing detergent

I was reminded today that sometimes we forget that simple water and a bit of extra elbow grease is all that’s often needed for cleaning. When that’s not enough, substances such as baking soda and borax are effective “greener” cleaning solutions than many of the other products available commercially today.

Do you have any have any handy borax tips? Please add them below!


Michael Bloch
Green Living Tips.com
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