If you hadn’t known it already, borax is one of the most useful cleaning secrets you can have around the house. You’ll usually find borax in the laundry aisle of your local grocery store. Along with baking soda and vinegar, it’s a great product to help keep your home fresh and spotlessly clean.

Borax, or sodium borate (tetraborate), comes from the evaporated lakes in Turkey and sometimes California. It’s used in a lot of different commercial applications including cleaning products.

Borax works because it has a high pH of about 9.5. This is slightly alkaline so it helps to break down acidic, oily, and fatty substances, like food stains and grease. But borax is great for a lot of other uses too. Check these out:

Laundry Detergent

Of course, one of the primary uses for borax is as a “laundry booster”. It helps to break up stains and allow your laundry detergent do its job better. Just follow the directions on the box and everything you wash in the machine will come out cleaner and softer than you would normally expect.

Cleaning Cookware

Borax is perfect for cleaning porcelain or aluminum cookware. Sprinkle a little powder onto pots and pans and then rub them with a damp dishcloth. Soon, you will find they will be completely clean. Rinse thoroughly and they’ll be ready for use once again.

Dissolve Sticky Messes

You can wipe up sticky and gummy adhesive by mixing up a solution of 2 parts borax with one part water. Dab a cloth into the mixture and rub the mess. Soon, you will find that the adhesive has dissolved completely. Rinse clean and the gooey mess will be long gone.

Cleaning Showers & Tubs

Sprinkle a little borax onto a damp cloth or sponge and use it instead of harsh cleanser to clean your showers and tubs. The solution will also work great on fiberglass without leaving scratch marks. Then rinse with clean water and everything will look fresh and new again.

Warding off Pests

You can keep roaches, ants, and water bugs at bay by mixing up a powder made of 1/2 sugar and 1/2 borax. Sprinkle it wherever bugs enter your home from outside. The sugar will attract the insects and the borax will do them away for good!

Preserving Flowers

Borax can help you preserve many varieties of your freshly cut flowers by removing the moisture from the leaves and blossoms. This helps them stay fresh longer and not wilting and drying out.

Mix two parts cornmeal with one part borax in a shaker and sprinkle the mix into the bottom of a box. Place the flowers in the box and then sprinkle a little bit more over the top. Cover the box and place it in a dark corner of a room or closet for about two weeks until the flowers are dry.

Killing Weeds

Sprinkle a little borax on weeds that spring up through walkway cracks and anywhere else you want to get rid of them. Be careful not to accidentally get any on the plants you want to keep or you may lose them too.

Deodorizing your Refrigerator

Mix a tablespoon of borax in a quart of warm water and dip a sponge or cloth into the mixture to clean the inside of your refrigerator. It not only cleans well but also deodorizes the fridge and leaves it smelling fresher than ever before.

Car Upholstery

Another affordable way to clean something you hadn’t thought of is the upholstery in your car. Get dirt and grime off of your car’s upholstery and even the floor mats by sprinkling a little powdered borax right out of the box and then rubbing everything clean with a damp cloth. Rinse the cloth out and wipe again until the powder is gone.

Removing Rust

Mix together a tablespoon of borax and a spoon of lemon juice and enough water to make a thick paste. Use a plastic scrubber or sponge and apply the paste to any rusty items and you’ll soon be able to scrub all the rust away. In just a minute or two, you can rinse and dry the items and they’ll look and work great the next time you need them.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Here’s another use for borax that will work great. It involves using borax with castile soap, a useful product we’ll cover here next month. Mix a cup of baking soda with 1/3 cup of borax and 1/3 cup of castile soap and add it to two cups of warm water. Add some lemon juice for fragrance and pour it into a squeeze bottle.

Squirt about half the mixture into the toilet and let it stay for about 5 minutes to clean and dissolve any mineral deposits. Use your toilet brush and swab away and your toilet bowl should look and smell fresh as new.

Prevent Humidifier Odors

To rid your humidifier free of germs and odors this winter, every couple of weeks, mix up 1/2 cup of borax into a gallon of water and add it into the tank. Run the humidifier for 10 or 15 minutes and then dump the tank out and rinse with clean water and it should be germ-free and ready for action.

Remove Sink Stains

Borax is great for helping you remove stains from stainless steel or porcelain sinks. Mix a cup of borax and a quarter cup of lemon juice into a paste. Dab the mixture with a clean cloth or sponge and rub the paste into the stains. Rinse with warm water to clean all the paste away along with any trace of the stains.

We’ve only scratched the surface of the many unusual uses for borax. It’s not just a laundry soap additive. We’ll add a few more interesting uses in a future article.

If you live in the Chicago metro area and are interested in learning more about our home cleaning services, and how we can help you maintain a safe and healthy living environment, please give us a call. Our number is 708-599-7000. Or, contact us online and we’ll give you a free house or office cleaning consultation.