16 Ways to Use Borax, the Champ of All-Natural Budget Cleaning

updated Aug 25, 2023
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Though once a household cleaning staple, borax (aka sodium tetraborate) fell out of favor over the past few decades as other more modern cleaning products took center stage. But the powdery white mineral has recently regained its popularity as a cleaning agent for a surprising reason: borax is also a primary ingredient for making slime—an incredibly popular activity for children (you can also make slime with liquid starch and glue). 

It turns out, as a household cleaner, borax has stood the test of time. Here are some ways to use up your big, 64-ounce box of borax long after the kids abandon their DIY project.

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1. Make an all-purpose cleaning spray

To create an all-purpose spray, dissolve 2 teaspoons of borax into 4 cups of hot water, then mix with 1 teaspoon of dish soap and 4 tablespoons of vinegar. Use this to clean countertops, appliances, windows, and more.

2. Clean your tile floors

Combine 2 tablespoons of borax and a gallon of warm water. Use this to mop tile or vinyl floors.

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3. Freshen the garbage disposal

Put 3 tablespoons of borax down the drain and let sit for 15 minutes. Turn on the hot water and run the garbage disposal for 1-2 minutes.

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4. Get rid of bug infestations

Mix equal parts borax and white sugar, then sprinkle it anywhere you see ants. (Just be careful if you have kids or pets—borax should never be ingested.) Ants will pick up the sugar and bring it back to their nest, consume it, and die.

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5. Clean the dishwasher

Sprinkle ¼ cup of borax throughout the bottom of the dishwasher, then fill the dispenser with your preferred detergent and run the dishwasher as usual. This will not only freshen the appliance, but also leave glassware sparkling.

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6. Make a stain-removing cleaning paste

Mix 1 cup of borax and ¼ cup of lemon juice until a paste forms. Use this to get rid of clean stained sinks and countertops.

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7. Prevent mildew buildup

Dissolve 1 cup of borax in 1 gallon of warm water. To clean mildew stains, pour the mixture into a spray bottle, spray onto bathroom tile, then let sit for half an hour. Wipe away with a damp rag. To prevent mildew buildup, spray the formula on tile and let dry.

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8. Kill weeds

Combine 1 cup of borax with 2 gallons of water. Pour the formula into a spray bottle, and spray onto weeds, avoiding any plants you do not want to eradicate.

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9. Clean laundry

Mix 1 tablespoon of borax and 2 cups of hot water in reusable container. To give clothes a deeper clean and help preserve color, add ½ cup of this mixture to laundry, add detergent as usual, and run the machine. 

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10. Dry and preserve cut flowers

Combine 1 cup of borax and 2 cups of cornmeal in an airtight container. In a separate container, spread just enough mixture to cover the bottom. Trim freshly cut flowers just below the bud and place upright in the container. Gently sprinkle more of the borax mixture into the container to cover the flower buds. Cover and let sit in a warm, dry room for two weeks, then remove dried flowers from the mixture and discard.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Apartment Therapy

11. Freshen smelly shoes

Combine 2 tablespoons of borax and a liter of warm water in a spray bottle. Shake thoroughly to mix. Use spray bottle to coat the inside of your shoes, then let sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Scrub and rinse the inside of your shoes, then let dry.

12. Polish chrome bathroom fixtures

Sprinkle borax directly onto bathroom fixtures, then wipe with a damp rag to remove mineral deposits and grime.

13. Unclog the drain

Pour ½ cup of borax and 2 cups of boiling water down the drain, let sit for 15 minutes, then run warm water to flush out any debris.

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14. Remove rust stains

Mix borax with warm water and lemon juice until a paste forms. Apply the paste to rusty areas, let sit for 15 minutes, then wipe with a damp rag.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

15. Deodorize carpets

Mix ½ cup of borax, ½ cup of baking soda, and 20 drops of essential oil. Sprinkle the mixture on your carpet, let sit for 15 to 20 minutes, then vacuum up.

16. Clean the toilet

Pour 1 cup of borax into the toilet bowl and let sit overnight. Clean with a brush, then flush.