Life’s too short to waste it doing household chores, but unfortunately, they’re not something most of us can avoid. Luckily, there are ways to blast through them faster, and plenty of them involve good old fashioned borax, a salt of boric acid. The magic powder has dozens of applications, from cleaning your laundry to removing unwanted pests.
20. Deodorize your refrigerator
If you haven’t cleaned your fridge in a while, then it could be putting out some less-than-pleasant odors. After all, food can give off all kinds of smells, whether it’s within its best-by date or not. To get your refrigerator feeling fresh again, then, try wiping it down with a solution of borax and hot water.
19. Freshen-up your mattress
Your fridge isn’t the only thing that could benefit from borax, however. Mattresses – magnets for dead skin, dust and sweat – could do with a helping hand, too. To clean a stain from a mattress, simply spray water over the offending mark and sprinkle with borax. Rub the powder into the stain and leave it for an hour, before vacuuming any leftover powder.
18. Get rid of ants
Dealing with an ant infestation using borax is as simple as mixing it with honey or powdered sugar, in order to create two baits – one solid, and one liquid. That’s because adult ants can only consume liquids, while larvae can consume solids. Then, simply drop the baits onto and around any ant trails you can see.
17. Make candle wicks
Making homemade candles seems simple – it’s just wax, after all – until you get to the wicks. Fortunately, borax can help. All you need to do is dissolve it in warm water, along with some salt, and soak strips of thick cotton or twine in the solution overnight. Once they’ve dried out, dip the strips in hot wax, and your wicks will be good to go.
16. Add it to your laundry
If adding borax to your laundry loads has never occurred to you before, then you’re missing out. Indeed, there are plenty of benefits that adding just half a cup can offer, from making your whites whiter to zapping any particularly pungent odors. And not only will it make your clothes even cleaner, it’ll even remove any leftover soap residue.
15. Unclog your drains
Store-bought chemicals can be expensive and are often powerless against clogged drains. If you’re finding yourself frustrated by their ineffectiveness, then, you could try using this magic ingredient. Simply pour a cup of borax down the offending drain, followed quickly by a pot of boiling water. An hour later, finish it off with cold water, and the drain should be completely unclogged.
14. Remove rust spots
Tackling rust as quickly as possible is imperative if you don’t want it to spread. But rather than wasting money on expensive treatments, a simple solution of borax and lemon juice, in a 2:1 ratio, should do the trick. Let the mixture sit on the rust, then scrub it in, before wiping it off with a rag soaked in warm water.
13. Use it as a weed killer
A borax solution is a great way to combat weeds in your garden, but it should be handled with care. After all, it won’t discern between weeds and any plant life that you actually want to grow. To this end, it’s a good idea to use a spray bottle to apply the solution, as this will give you a little more control over how far it spreads.
12. Clean your carpets
Spilling any liquid on a carpet is a homeowner’s worst nightmare, but there’s no need to panic if you have borax to hand. Simply lift out as much of the stain as you can using absorbent paper, before sprinkling some borax over the offending area. Next cover with a damp cloth and press the cloth into the carpet with the back of a spoon. Repeat this process until blotting with a clean cloth brings up no stains, then rinse the area with water from a spray bottle.
11. Get rid of mice
There are plenty of ways to get rid of mice, but if you don’t have any traps to hand, then borax can work in a pinch. Simply mix it with something sweet, such as sugar, and leave it where any mice tend to scamper. It will act as a poison when ingested, causing the rodents to head off to find water.
10. Preserve flowers
Dried flowers can make for beautiful home décor, and they’re far easier to maintain than regular flowers by virtue of the fact that they don’t need any maintenance. And making them couldn’t be simpler: just mix one part borax with two parts cornmeal, coat the flowers in the mixture, then leave them in an airtight box for two weeks.
9. Remove adhesive residue
Removing a sticker – say, a price tag – from a fresh purchase is right up there with life’s most frustrating tasks. After all, it never comes off in one clean swoop, leaving you to pointlessly claw at it with your fingernails. Fortunately, a dab of vegetable oil and some borax makes for a paste that’ll lift that residue right off.
8. Get rid of cockroaches
They say prevention is better than the cure, but if you’ve already got cockroaches, you may think it’s too late for that. In fact, borax can do both at once by discouraging them from returning. Just sprinkle it around in places where they turn up, such as behind kitchen appliances or underneath your fridge, making sure your kids and pets won’t stumble across it.
7. Remove hard water stains
Hard water stains in your toilet can be truly unsightly. Fortunately, borax can help. Simply pour a quarter cup into the bowl and spread it with the brush. Then, follow it up with a cup of vinegar. After 20 minutes, the stains should scrub right off. For more stubborn stains, mix the borax and vinegar beforehand to make a paste, then apply as normal.
6. Clean fine china
If you happen to own any fine china, you’ll know that cleaning it can be tricky. After all, it’s inherently delicate and often hand-painted – and you don’t want to accidentally rub away the artwork. Borax, then, is a tried-and-tested solution for cleaning stubborn stains without damaging the dishware.
5. Clean your oven
Ovens are usually the most dreaded part of the kitchen clean-up, but borax can make light work of it. Indeed, simply dissolve one part borax in two parts hot water, then wipe down the oven with the resulting solution. Leave it to rest overnight and scrub it off the next day – any stains should vanish.
4. Homemade dishwasher detergent
Instead of spending extraordinary amounts of money on store-bought dishwasher detergents, it’s incredibly easy to just make your own. All you need to do is mix equal amounts of Borax and baking soda – one tablespoon of each per cycle. Not only do they both naturally disinfect your dishes, but they’re mild abrasives, too, so will remove any dried food.
3. Make homemade flubber
It might not be the most necessary hack on this list, but it’s probably the most fun. Yes, you can make homemade flubber for your kids (and yourself) using borax dissolved in hot water. Simply add it slowly to a mixture of cold water, glue and food coloring to create the gloopy, pliable gunk.
2. Clean your garbage disposal
After a while, your garbage disposal may not be as efficient as it once was – at least, depending on what you try to cram down it. If you suspect it’s clogged, then, you can use borax to alleviate the situation. Just pour half a cup into the disposal, wait half an hour, then rinse hot water down the chute.
1. Clean your pots, pans and dishes
Tired of your old pans looking past their best? A simple solution of half a cup of borax to a gallon of hot water may be just what you need. Indeed, the mix will likely be far gentler on your dishes than harsh soaps full of chemicals. And you can even add essential oils to give it a fresh scent.