Here are some borax uses for anyone interested in green, environmentally friendlier cleaning.
There are many borax uses which have been eclipsed by complex chemical cleaners from the supermarket shelves. But perhaps we have exchanged this valuable, safe cleaner for a toxic "pig in a poke". Many modern cleaning chemicals are not entirely safe and certainly not eco-friendly.
So just how eco-friendly is borax? How safe is it as a household cleaner?
How do you use it for best results - and what can it clean? This article gives a few pointers.
Borax has been used as a cleaner for generations. It had a place in many Victorian homes. Now it has rather gone out of fashion, superceded by modern synthetic cleaning agents.
But it can still be a useful part of your cleaning programme, especially if you value eco-friendly cleaning methods.
It's a natural product, in that it can be mined. It occurs as a deposit in Death valley in the states. It is produced in the chemical stew which arises in a volcano. It can also be synthesised.
Borax is a name for a compound containing sodium and boron: sodium borate and sodium decahydrate are the commonest names. Boron is a valuable trace element in soils and foods. In concentration, however, boron is toxic.
It's particularly toxic if swallowed so this cleaner needs careful handling and storage. It can cause skin irritation from contact, especially in sensitive individuals. For this reason it's best to wear rubber gloves when using it.
Most borax comes as a crystalline powder rather than a fine powder so there is little danger of inhaling it. If there's any question of the powder blowing about it might be wise to wear goggles and a face mask. It does not give off any significant fumes at room temperature so it's quite safe in that respect.
Borax is alkaline. Don't mix it with acids. You can use it in combination with other safe eco-friendly cleaners such as baking soda or salt.
Borax uses in the house
Borax uses include not only cleaning but also insect control. It can be used to deter and kill fleas, cockroaches and ants.
Other borax uses include bleaching and de-greasing. It's good to add a spoonful of borax to washing up water or to laundry. Borax has a mild bleaching effect because hydrogen peroxide is released in small amounts when it is combined with hot water.
You can use borax for cleaning tiles and paintwork too. It also seems to clean up grout quite effectively.
There is a multitude of other borax uses. As it produces no smell and is safe if handled correctly this is a powerful natural cleaner for anyone who wants to live a more eco-friendly life. It is rated as a low risk product for the environment. In concentration it could be harmful to aquatic life but these kinds of concentrations are unlikely to arise from domestic use.
Borax uses: safety advice
Keep it well away from food and wipe up spills properly. Store it where small children have no access because it is quite dangerous if swallowed.
Other than that, borax is a useful and effective cleaning agent which is well worth keeping at home. See my website, Greenfootsteps.com for other safe natural cleaning products.
This article is one of a series on green cleaning methods.