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Borax: what it is and uses in domestic cleaning

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What is borax

Borax is a white substance consisting of boric acid and sodium salt, used in pharmacy and industry, which can be found in its natural state. In particular, it is an important compound of boron and the trade name for boron salt.

The common use of the term ‘borax’ refers to a group of related compounds, which are distinguished by their water content:

  • Anhydrous Borax or Sodium Tetraborate (Na2B4O7)
  • Borax pentahydrate (Na2B4O7 – 5H2O)
  • Borax decahydrate (Na2B4O7 – 10H2O)

What borax is used for

Borax has been an ingredient in cleaning products for decades, but it is also an ingredient in many other household products, such as

  • Protection against insects, particularly found in products for killing cockroaches and as a moth preventative
  • Fungicides and herbicides.
  • Toothpaste and mouthwash.
  • Cosmetic products.
  • Laundry potentiator.
  • Water softening agent.

Uses of borax as a household cleaner

Its properties make this chemical compound excellent for household cleaning. Below, we will look at seven applications as a household cleaner:

1. Carpet Cleaner

One way to clean carpets effectively is to use borax. It is advisable to use this substance together with sodium bicarbonate to eliminate mites and other microorganisms living in carpets.

To clean carpets properly you can mix two cups of this substance and one cup of baking soda. When the mixture is dry, pour the preparation on the carpet, let it act for about half an hour and vacuum.

2. Laundry detergent

It is usually used as a detergent enhancer in the washing machine, as it enhances the removal of stains and odours. For this compound to have its effect as a detergent, half a cup of borax has to be put in the washing machine together with the clothes and the detergent has to be put in the usual way.

Among the benefits of washing with this product are the following:

  • It bleaches clothing.
  • Enhances the anti-stain action of the detergent.
  • It neutralizes odors.
  • Maintains the pH of the water at ideal values for cleaning.

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3. Protection against insects

If combined with citric acid, borax can be used as an insecticide in the home. Boric acid powder is effective against cockroaches, ants and termites.

4. Cleaning in the kitchen

Borax is a mild cleaner, perfect for use on porcelain and aluminum cookware. Simply sprinkle on pots and/or pans, rub with a damp cloth and rinse well.

It is also known for its properties in eliminating odors, so it is often used in the cleaning of the refrigerator and the trash can to disinfect them and remove the bad smell. A solution of one litre of warm water and a spoonful of borax is sufficient to eliminate odours.

5. Cleaning in the bathroom

Sprinkle borax on a damp sponge or soft cloth and use it as you would a powdered cleaner. You can even use this method to clean fiberglass surfaces without scratching the finish. After cleaning, rinse the surface well with clean water.

You can also use it together with white vinegar and essential oils to make a totally natural toilet cleaner.

6. Removes rust

Use it to remove rust from any type of surface. To do this, mix a little lemon juice with two tablespoons of borax and apply to the area. After one hour you can remove the product with a damp cloth.

7. Unlocks drains

Due to its acidic properties, borax is used as a pipe and drain cleaner. To unblock pipes, mix half a cup of borax with two cups of boiling water and pour it down the drain. Let it stand for fifteen minutes and then pour warm water down the drain to remove any debris.

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