Scenic Erie Station Village

Putting Borax to Use in Your Apartment

Box of 20 Mule Team Borax. Image credit: 20 Mule Team Borax.

February 2024


There was a time when pretty much every household kept borax in the laundry room. It was commonly used to brighten laundry and remove stains. Over time, it’s been replaced by a myriad of newer laundry products. But just because it’s dwindled in popularity, remains an inexpensive, versatile, and effective solution that can be used in countless ways in your apartment or townhome. This naturally occurring mineral, mined from seasonal lakes, has a plethora of uses that extend far beyond traditional cleaning. This article delves into the essence of borax and explores its myriad applications around the house.

What is Borax?

Borax (sodium tetraborate) is a naturally occurring mineral composed of sodium, boron, oxygen, and water. It has a long history, dating back to ancient times when it was used in ceramics and goldsmithing. Borax is renowned for its alkaline (acidic) properties and gentle abrasive texture, making it a safe and eco-friendly alternative to harsh chemicals. Borax is a white powder, and you can find it in the laundry aisle of the grocery store.

How Can Use Borax?

Cleaning agent. Borax’s most common use is as a cleaning agent. Its alkaline nature makes it effective in breaking down grime, soap scum, and stains. You can create a general-purpose cleaner by mixing borax with water.

Freshen shoes. Just sprinkle 1 or 2 tablespoons of borax into each shoe, shake around a bit, and let sit overnight. Shake out the borax before wearing and you’ll have fresh, deodorized shoes.

Pest control. Borax is a natural insecticide. It can be used to deter ants, cockroaches, and other pests. By mixing borax with sugar and water, you can create a bait that attracts pests, which then ingest the borax and are eliminated.

Preserving flowers. Borax can be used to dry and preserve flowers. By gently burying fresh flowers in a mixture of borax and cornmeal, you can maintain their shape and color for extended periods.

Mold and mildew remover. Its anti-fungal properties make borax an excellent choice for tackling mold and mildew. A solution of borax and water can be sprayed onto affected areas to stop growth and prevent future occurrences.

Deodorizer. Borax can neutralize odors, making it a great addition to your cleaning regimen. Sprinkling borax in trash cans, litter boxes, or even on carpets (followed by vacuuming) can help eliminate unpleasant smells.

Laundry booster. Adding a half cup of borax to your laundry can boost the cleaning power of your detergent, brighten whites, and eliminate odors. It’s particularly effective in hard water, as it softens the water, allowing the detergent to work more effectively.

DIY crafts. If you have kids, you should know that Borax is a key ingredient in homemade slime. It acts as a binder that turns a glue and water mixture into a gooey, fun substance. There are lots of recipes for it online, including this one.

Unclogging drains. Mixed with boiling water, borax can help unclog drains. Its alkaline nature helps to break down organic matter that may be causing blockages.

Safety and Precautions

While borax is natural, it’s important to handle it with care. It should be kept out of reach of children and pets. When using borax, wear gloves, especially if you have sensitive skin, and ensure the area is well-ventilated. Although it’s safer than some chemical cleaners, it should not be ingested or used in food preparations.

With all the ways you can use borax around your Erie Station Village apartment or townhome, be sure to pick up a box the next time you go shopping. You’ll find it to be much less expensive than other laundry products and helpful in countless ways.