The Many Uses of Borax

Sodium tetraborate decahydrate, commonly known as borax, is a natural mineral made of sodium, boron, oxygen and water, and is a good thing to have in your storage. It has many uses in your home, and if kept in a dry location, the shelf life of borax is virtually unlimited.

Borax and pest control

  • Keep roaches, waterbugs, and ants away by sprinkling a combination of equal parts all-natural borax and sugar.
  • Keep the mice out by sprinkling borax on the floor along the wall.
  • Kill fleas by sprinkling borax on your carpet.  Leave it for an hour and vacuum it up thoroughly.
  • Combine cornmeal with borax. Pour into shallow dishes and place them in areas where pests are a problem.

General uses for borax

  • Make an all-purpose cleaner by mixing 2 tablespoons borax and 2 cups hot water in a spray bottle.
  • You can remove oxidation from metals with borax. The ingredient is also used as a flux in welding.
  • As a laundry detergent, add one cup of borax to each load and significantly boost your cleaning power.
  • Make your own dishwasher detergent by mixing 1 tablespoons borax and 1 tablespoons baking soda.
  • For removing urine odors from a mattress, wet the mattress rub in borax with a damp cloth. Let dry, then vacuum up the remaining residue.
  • Just 1/2 cup of borax poured down drains will help unclog them.
  • Pour 1 cup of borax into toilet bowls at night and in the morning, scrub bowl with a toilet brush.
  • A paste of water and borax can scrub away sticky residue from adhesives.

Borax for homemade candle wicks

This is an unusual application of borax but will help homemade candles produce less ash and smoke.

  • Dissolve 2 tbsp. table salt and 4 tbsp. borax in 1 1/2 c. warm water.
  • Soak a 1-foot length of regular cotton kite string or twine in the solution for 15 minutes.
  • Hang the string with a clothespin for five days to be sure it is completely dry.
  • Use a paper clip to dip the string in melted wax three or four times, coating it completely. Hang it up to dry as before.
  • Store wicks rolled up in a newspaper.

Is borax toxic?

Safety Source for Pest Management states the following regarding uses and toxicity.

“While exposure to boric acid has been linked to adverse health effects, experts agree that careful application offers a safe and effective alternative without the indoor air problems associated with sprays. Boron is a naturally-occurring element in the earth’s crust and background levels even circulate in the human bloodstream. Boric acid’s exposure risks are minimal because of its method of application.

However, while boric acid has become one of the chemicals of choice for many urban pest control programs, it can be toxic. EPA considers boric acid as a moderately acutely toxic due to acute effects including oral and dermal toxicity, and eye and skin irritation. EPA’s reregistration document states that a subchronic borax feeding study using dogs resulted in blood and metabolism disorders as well as effects to the testes, endocrine system, brain weight, and size ratios among various organs and glands. In chronic oncogenicity studies using mice, rats and beagle dogs, boric acid and borax were found not to be carcinogenic; however, testicular effects and decreases in body weight resulted at high dose levels. EPA has classified boric acid as a “Group E” carcinogen, indicating that it shows “evidence of noncarcinogenicity” for humans. In reproductive and developmental toxicity studies using rats, mice and rabbits, maternal liver and kidney effects and decreased weight gain as well as decreased fetal body weights were observed. In two studies, at the highest dose levels, no litters were produced. Prenatal mortality occurred at the highest dose levels in the rabbit study. Boric acid does not cause mutagenicity (U.S. EPA 1993).”

This is a good item to keep in your storage, just use some common sense. It is inexpensive and readily available in most grocery stores. You’ll find it in the laundry soap aisle.

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21 Responses to The Many Uses of Borax

  1. Sandy Taylor says:

    Awesome timing!

    I just learned how to make my own home-made laundry detergent, and like you said, one of the primary ingredients is Borax. I made a photo tour here: http://www.wildriverrogues.com/2012/05/homemade-laundry-detergent-photo-tour/ and I’m tickled to say that not only are our clothes wonderfully clean, but they smell wonderful too. 🙂

    Thanks Howard,

    ~ Sandy Taylor

  2. Willie Bonillas says:

    Its been in my life and household since I was born. I even had a 20 Mule Team wagon set bought from the Borax Co. By the way, I’m over 60. 🙂

  3. Jennifer says:

    I remember 20 Mule Team Borax being the sponser of Death Valley Days. (OLD show).

    • Darlene says:

      I am looking for the model of the 20 mule team ” Death Valley Days” which has the red wheels and mules. I need the kit for repairs for the one my Dad has. Would you have any idea where one could be gotten at a reasonable cost.

  4. Brian Rich says:

    Oops,
    For pest control, you want boric acid, not borax. Not the same thing. Bugs just crawl right over borax.

  5. Bill G says:

    Your page is for uses of borax, and you then mention pesticide uses for boric acid.
    This may confuse many people.
    Borax is not boric acid.
    Boric acid is formed from combining borax with sulphuric acid.
    They are two completely different things.

  6. Shirley says:

    Combine borax with resolve and you can get ink stains out of white polo shirts and other tough stains!!!

  7. Joyce says:

    Trying to get rid of mice

  8. mel says:

    Can i use borax welders’ choice as herbicide and fungicide? Please i need your kind answer. Thank you.

  9. YOU TUBE. mouse traps homemade – has several interesting mouse traps

  10. Gary Alston says:

    I was thinking of insulating my basement on the cheap using pallets filled with shredded paper soaked in borax (fire retardant) then paneled. Is this feasable? Do you have any suggestions or ideas on additional additives?

  11. Josh says:

    Animal testing is wrong as hell. But i will give 20 Mule Team another look thanks to this article. Cheers, PA

  12. RayK says:

    Small amounts of 20 Mule Team Borax spread into the garden provide trace amounts of boron. Also, at the same time, toss around some Epsom Salts. Your garden will thank you.

  13. SouthernAZ says:

    As I recall, it can also be used as a flux in soldering

  14. Joe Dokes says:

    Also good for drying fish roe to use as bait. Helps it stay on the hook longer.

  15. t.urbanik says:

    1 teaspoon of borax in 1/2 gallon of water well mixed when used
    with “oakum” is a extremely good gun barrel cleaner.
    The oakum deforms better than patches.and cleans the rifling grooves much better than gun patches and cleaning solutions.
    Oakum is used by plumbers for waste pipe joint packing

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