About ten years ago, you could quickly get a box of borax in laundry rooms. Borax is an excellent option if you are interested in natural cleaning methods, want cleaner clothes, or looking for homemade solutions. So how do you go about using it, is it safe, and the benefits. Read on to learn more.
Borax, also known as sodium borate, is a natural-occurring mineral salt. In the world, it’s usually mined from California and Turkey. The end product is a white powder that you can easily find in the cleaning supplies section at your local grocery store. There are different brands meaning you have to find one that suits your budget and requirements. So how does it work when mixed with laundry detergent?
How Borax Works
You need to understand that borax is an extreme alkaline, with a pH of about 9.1. This makes it a solution that helps fight any acidic stains. They may be mustard or tomato anytime it’s dissolved in water to use as a pre-treating solution.
When you add it to a laundry load of your washing machine, you can expect white clothes to become whiter. When combined with a laundry detergent, expect cleaner clothes and stronger stain removal abilities.
How to Mix Borax with Laundry Detergent
There are several items you need before mixing borax with laundry detergent. They are:
- Powder laundry detergent
- Washing soda
- A bucket or tub
- Warm water
- A half-cup of borax for every gallon of water
Start by filling 2/3 of a large bucket or tub with warm water. Add a ½ cup of borax for every gallon of water. Make sure you allow it to dissolve in the water completely.
Now you can add a ½ cup of washing soda per every gallon of water. Make sure these measurements are precise, as any changes may affect the outcome you are looking for. Add a three-quarter cup of laundry detergent for every gallon of water. Now you can add your laundry to the bucket or tub.
Keep in mind you should avoid starting your laundry immediately. Instead, let the load soak for about 5 – 6 hours. During this period, stir the load every hour or so. Now you can remove your clothes from the tub or bucket and put them inside your washing machine. Wash as usual, and you will get the best results from cleaning clothes, especially those with stubborn stains.
Can I Use Borax as a Laundry Booster?
Do you have kids or messy adults? If so, you can use borax as a great way to prevent fading or ensure their clothes get the best clean possible. Use the following steps to use borax as a laundry booster.
What You Need
- Measuring cup
- A sealable container (if possible, use a mason jar)
- 2 cups of water
- 1 tablespoon of borax
As you can see, the ingredients and items above are different from what you had just seen. So this is the process, and make sure you follow it to the letter:
Step 1: Heat the Water
Heating the water is the first step to ensuring borax is paired effectively with the water. Coldwater tends to have pairing and bonding issues, meaning it will not be as effective as intended.
Secondly, hot water makes borax more soluble, which works better on your clothes. This gives you a better and deeper clean. The best way to go about this is to ensure your two cups of water heat to a simmer before starting the mixing process.
Step 2: Add Borax
Take a tablespoon of borax and put it into the sealable container or mason jar. You can then add the heated water while it’s warm. The reason behind using warm or hot water is it ensures the borax dissolves better. This results in a more effective cleaning solution.
Step 3: Mix the Solution
Close the mixture of your mason jar or sealable solution and shake well. Ideally, shake the closed jar for about 15 to 30 seconds for the best result. Once done, you can let it sit in the container until you are ready to use it.
Step 4: Add to your Laundry
When you are ready to use it, start pouring about half a cup of the solution into your laundry. Take note this is to be added to laundry that is using detergent. This is the most effective way for borax to act as a laundry booster. When added, do your laundry as usual, and you will be amazed by the results.
Is Borax Safe for Laundry?
Marketed as a green product, borax doesn’t contain any chlorine or phosphates. Sodium tetraborate is the main ingredient which is a naturally occurring material. Sometimes people confuse this main ingredient with boric acid. It may be because they have similar properties.
Take note boric acid is normally used as a pesticide. This is why it’s more toxic than sodium tetraborate.
So does it mean borax is completely safe because it’s considered a natural material? Nope! It comes in a box with a caution label to alert users of the possible consequences when it’s swallowed or comes into contact with their eyes.
Keep in mind some people may come into contact with borax in various places, such as at their workplace or home. For example, if you work in a borax refining and mining plant, you may contact it.
The National Institute of Health has determined that borax has some side effects. They include, but are not limited to:
- Hormone issues
Let’s take a deeper look at each.
When a young child ingests 5 – 10 grams of borax, they are likely to experience shock, diarrhea, severe vomiting, and death. Sometimes the point of contact is through hand-to-mouth transfer. This may occur when a kid plays with slime made with borax. For adults, the estimated exposure is 10 – 25 grams.
As per findings by the David Suzuki Foundation, borax can have significant health risks. If you feel like the risks are too great, you can use alternatives. They include:
- Cosmetics with natural ingredients without boric acid or borax
- Mildew and mold fighters like white vinegar or salt
- Clothing detergents such as powdered or liquid oxygen bleach, washing soda, or baking soda
- Disinfectants such as essential oils, white vinegar, salt, half a lemon, or food-grade hydrogen peroxide
In the European Union and Canada, borax is strictly restricted in some health and cosmetic products. They also require any products with this ingredient to be labelled as inappropriate for use on damaged or broken skin. Unfortunately, such regulations are non-existent in the United States.
If inhaled or ingested, borax is quickly broken down in the body. Researchers and scientists have linked exposure to borax to health complications.
High exposure to boric acid and borax disrupts your body’s hormones. They impair libido, reduce sperm count, and impair the male reproductive system. For instance, a study done by scientists on rats discovered that they experienced atrophy. This was on their reproductive organs or testes when they were fed borax.
In women, borax is likely to reduce fertility and ovulation. High levels of exposure in pregnant animals showed the product to cross the placenta border. This means it causes fetal development resulting in low birth weight and other complications.
Irritation of the eyes and skin is a common cause of borax exposure. The body is also irritated should the substance be inhaled or exposed to certain individuals. Some people have reported skin burns resulting from the use and exposure to borax.
Signs of exposure include:
- Respiratory problems
- Eye irritation
- Mouth infection
How to Use Borax Safely
Now that we know the possible risks of borax, it’s time to evaluate how we can use it safely. Please take note the best way to use it is a laundry product when combined with detergent. That said, the safety tips to follow include:
- Cover any open wounds on your skin when using the product. It’s easily absorbed by your body when it comes into contact with such areas
- Avoid contact with your mouth, nose, and eyes to reduce the risks
- Avoid using borax near your pets. This includes avoiding the use of the same where pets are likely to be exposed
- Never leave the substance in the reach of children, even if it’s in a box. Never use the product to mix with laundry detergent where your kids are likely to get exposed
- Make sure your laundry is rinsed thoroughly when you mix your laundry detergent with borax
- Wash your hand thoroughly with soap and running water after making a detergent and borax mixture
- Keep the product safe from your mouth to prevent accidental inhaling
Benefits of Borax
Last but not least, let us look at the benefits of borax when combined with a laundry detergent. They are:
1. Whitens Clothes
When mixed with your laundry detergent, borax ensures your whites get whiter. It enhances the action of bleach or any laundry detergent. If you are not a fan of bleach, borax is a great option.
2. pH Buffer
Since it has a high pH of about 9.24, borax ensures the water’s pH is about 8 pH. This means it’s more alkaline, making a good base for cleaning clothes. It acts as a buffering agent. This ensures the water is kept at the right pH for an effective cleaning even when detergent or other cleaners are added.
3. Softens Hard Water
When you use hard water to clean your clothes, you find it hard for your clothes to get clean. Why? Because hard water reduces the effectiveness of any laundry detergent, you use. This is why you may get dingy and gray-looking clothing after a wash. The sodium in borax helps soften hard water to ensure your clothes look great.
4. Removes Soap Residue
The borates ensure the soap is dispersed throughout the clothes meaning your clothes get a better rinse when you use borax. You can try washing your clothes without detergent to see how much detergent comes out. Most clothes, especially machine-washed ones, have detergent residue on them. Borax helps ensure minimal detergent residue remains on your clothes after a wash.
5. Laundry Odor Neutralization
This substance inhibits mold and fungi. They often grow in moist laundry environments of your washing machine and are known for creating a musty odour. Borax is renowned for removing the ammonia odor common on baby bed pads, diapers, and incontinence pads in baby clothes. It also works well on enzymes responsible for bad smells common from workout clothes.
6. Stain Removal
Last but not least, borax increases the stain-removal ability of your laundry detergent. You get improved stain removal when you pre-soak your clothes using any of the two laundry and borax detergent mixing methods above. This is due to the alkaline pH of the substance that helps break down acidic stains.
Which is Better, Oxiclean or Borax?
Even though Borax and Oxiclean are all-purpose cleaners, laundry aids, and stain removers, they have a few differences. When appropriately used, borax is safe, although it poses a greater environmental and health risk. This is why it’s rated an F compared to Oxiclean’s B rating by EWG.
Both products have a similar performance and cost. However, Oxiclean is available in various forms, such as laundry detergent, liquid spray, and powder. Borax is only available in powder form.
Feel free to use borax as long as you take the necessary measures to ensure your safety and the safety of other family members and kids in your household. It’s a great option for cleaner clothes, especially if you want your whites to become whiter. Use the information above to ensure you use it safely and with the best results.
Here you can learn how to strip laundry using borax, among other products.
I have also written a complete guide on everything you can mix with laundry detergent that may interest you to read next.
I’m an expert organizer and a big laundry enthusiast. I’ve created this website and Organizing TV on YouTube to share practical guides about some of my favorite subjects; making clothes fit well, doing laundry and folding clothes effectively, and organizing wardrobes with a focus on saving space since I live in a home with limited space myself. You can learn more about me here.