What Is Borax And What Does It Do?

Borax is a naturally occurring mineral (a compound of the element, Boron). It is a colorless crystalline solid that dissolves in water to make a basic solution. Borax is commonly available in powder or granular form and has many industrial and household uses (some listed below). It is often purposed as an affordable, natural cleaning, odor-eliminating, eco-friendly cleaner used around the home.

Where does borax come from?

One of the largest deposits is in Boron, California, home to the Rio Tinto Boron Mine (formerly the U.S. Borax Boron Mine). The largest borax mine in the world.

Rio Tinto Boron Mine in California

Image credit: By Marcin Wichary – Flickr – commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=23194101

What can you do with Borax?

(list below)

Borax is used in a variety of laundry and cleaning products. Perhaps most famously the “20 Mule Team Borax” laundry booster.


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20 Mule Team Borax
(view on amzn)

Being preparedness-minded and looking for more natural solutions to problems, I do keep a supply of Borax on hand:

Today there are lots and lots of cleaners and brands to choose from. Many of these cleaners are marketed towards specific cleanup purposes with their unique ‘special’ formulas.

Here’s the thing… More profits are made if they convince you that you need these special cleaners – “re-formulated”, “improved”, or “advanced”, etc..

The brands are constantly reinventing themselves and offering more choices and formulations, however, somehow you keep paying more and more.

Borax though (marketed as a laundry booster), has many household uses. It is comparatively quite cheap (inexpensive) when making your own cleaning solutions. It cleans, disinfects, deodorizes, softens water, and even “neutralizes” ants.

Let’s look at a few uses for borax:

Borax Uses

Laundry Booster (add 1/2 cup Borax to wash load for brighter, cleaner, deodorized clothes)

[ Read: How To Make Your Own Laundry Detergent ]

Floor Cleaner (1/3 cup Borax, 1-gallon warm water, squirt of dishwashing detergent, splash of ammonia)

Window Cleaner for filthy windows (1/3 cup Borax, 1-gallon warm water, wash with a soft cloth (don’t “scrub”), then rinse using fresh water with a soft cloth before drying to minimize streaks. Squeegee works best for no streaks.)

Toilet Disinfectant and Cleaner (1/2 cup Borax added to basin water, let stand for a while, then clean with the toilet brush)

Car Wash Cleaner (1/8 cup mixed with about 1.5 gallons of water)

Eliminate Urine Odor on a mattress – handy for accidents while toilet training a youngster (dampen area, sprinkle and rub in Borax, let dry, and vacuum)

Ants (mix equal amounts of Borax and powdered sugar, place near ant problem area – keep away from pets). Use on ant and termite nests.

Carpet Stains (mix Borax with water to make a paste, rub into the stain, let dry, and vacuum)

Unclog drains (dump 1/2 cup Borax into the drain, let stand for 15 minutes, then dump in hot or boiling water )

Prevent Weeds from growing in pavement cracks (sprinkle Borax in cracks)

Garbage Disposer cleaner and sanitizer (dump 1/4 cup Borax into disposer, splash in just a little water, and let stand for an hour or so, rinse with hot water)

Tile and Grout Cleaner (sprinkle Borax with just enough water to paste, scrub with brush)

Carpet Powder Deodorizer  (sprinkle Borax on the carpet, let stand overnight, and vacuum)

Flea Killer (sprinkle Borax on the carpet, let stand overnight, and vacuum)

Fruit Trees (Sprinkle a cup of borax around a full-sized apple tree (or a couple of tablespoons around a young tree) every 3-4 years to add boron, a trace mineral, to the soil. It is needed for good cell wall growth and for fruit and seed development.)

Tub Soap Scum Removal (2 parts baking soda, 1 part salt, 1 part borax)

Fungus (It takes very little of the chemical to utterly INTERDICT the growth of fungus, so you could make up a batch in warm/hot water, and apply liberally. Rose growers have known this for decades.)

Welding Flux (Use 20 Mule Team Borax for welding flux when performing a forge weld)

Bed Bugs (Sprinkle where necessary – the same as for fleas)

RV Dirty Water Holding Tanks (Use it in the dirty water holding tanks in an RV / motor home to eliminate those unpleasant smells)

Borax is an antifungal/antimicrobial