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How to Use Borax for Household Cleaning

written by: Lindsay Evans•edited by: Donna Cosmato•updated: 6/28/2011

Borax is used in many homemade recipes for natural household cleaners. What is borax and how can you use it in your natural cleaning routine?

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    What is Borax?

    Borax, such as the commonly found 20 Mule Team brand, is made from natural mineral compounds found in the earth. Borax is a totally natural substance, made from pulverizing mined sodium tetraborate or disodium tetraborate crystals. The fact that borax is not a synthetic chemical does not make it non-toxic to humans, however. Borax should only be used externally to clean household surfaces or clothes and rinsed off surfaces used to prepare food.

    Borax is often called a "natural laundry booster." Borax increases the effectiveness of other cleaning products by creating a basic solution when dissolved in water. The addition of borax in your laundry routine is especially helpful if you have hard water. On it's own, borax can kill some microorganisms, making it a natural disinfectant as well.

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    How to Clean with Borax

    borax Laundry Booster: In it's most common household role, borax can give a boost to your normal laundry detergent by helping to whiten clothes and remove stains. Add 1/2 cup of borax to each large load in your washer along with your regular detergent.

    Porcelain and Stainless Steel Scrub: Combine equal parts borax and baking soda to make a gentle scrub for porcelain and stainless steel surfaces. Sprinkle on the mixture and clean surface with a damp sponge. Rinse thoroughly with warm water. This can be used in addition to other methods to naturally clean rust stains off porcelain.

    Deodorizing: To deodorize garbage pails and diaper pails, sprinkle 1/4 cup borax in the pail. Add a little warm water and scrub the pail clean. Rinse thoroughly.

    Automatic Dishwasher Detergent: Mix equal parts borax and baking soda and use 1-2 Tablespoons in place of automatic dishwasher detergent. Or use the mixture in conjunction with your regular detergent by using 1 Tablespoons of each per dish load.

    All-Purpose Spray Cleaner: Dissolve 2 Tablespoons borax in 4 cups warm water. Add 1/4 cup white vinegar and shake to mix. Use on countertops, sinks, tables, and more. Wipe counters with warm water after cleaning to rinse.

    Cloth Diaper Soak: To soak and rinse cloth diapers before washing, fill the washer with warm water and 1/2 cup borax. Add diapers and turn off washer to allow diapers to soak. Resume washing cycle after diapers have soaked at least 1 hour. Follow with your normal washing routine.

    Carpet Stain Preventer: When something spills on your carpet, blot up the spill and then sprinkle on borax. Let borax dry, then vacuum. If the stain remains, make a paste of borax and water and repeat treatment.

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    Some natural materials such as borax can be harmful for pregnant or nursing women. Please read our disclaimer regarding the information in this article.